Environment | National

Center: Bad River Band cites treaties in battle against big mine





The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports on opposition from the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians to a huge mine near the reservation:
The fight over the fate of a massive iron ore mine has moved this summer from the state Capitol in Madison to the forests of northwestern Wisconsin and the green, undulating ridges along which Gogebic Taconite wants to dig its 4½-mile-long pit.

National and state news coverage of the mine has focused on a traditional Ojibwe encampment deep in the woods, about 30 miles southeast of Ashland, at the very edge of the proposed pit. From the rustic camp, started by members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa band, tribal members have launched what seems a cultural offensive – think fry bread, wild onions and birch bark baskets – to turn public opinion against the mine.

But organizers of the camp say it has an even deeper purpose.

Tribal officials and a treaty law expert say the Iron County camp, dubbed a harvest camp by Ojibwe, or Chippewa, lays the foundation for a possible legal case in which the tribe would invoke federal treaties.

Their goal: Block construction of the mine.

The camp and events surrounding it have inflamed what was already a volatile situation as Gogebic takes its first steps toward digging the iron ore pit. The state Department of Natural Resources is pressuring Iron County to take action against the camp, saying the county could lose the right to enforce forest regulations if it does not.

Get the Story:
In Penokees camp, tribes flex treaty muscles to block mine (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism 9/5)

Related Stories:
Mary Pember: Bill would bar tribal activists from public mine site (9/4)
WPR: Bad River Band calls for release of mining company data (08/07)
Mary Pember: Bad River man sneaks up on guards at mine site (07/15)
Bad River Band loses bid to block exploratory work for mine (06/18)