Mary Pember: Mine in Wisconsin threatens sacred traditions

"Opinakii, the place where the wild potatoes grow, lies just south of the Bad River Reservation on land ceded to the United States by the Ojibwe in 1842. Remote and beautiful, Opinakii is more commonly known as the Penokee Hills, a range of mountains that ride the Northern Continental Divide and is currently ground zero for a battle that stems from a cultural chasm between two worldviews. One vision measures the earth’s resources in terms of jobs and money; the other emphasizes stewardship of the land and water, and a sacred responsibility to preserve both for future generations. This battle will have a drastic impact on tribal sovereignty, economics, political and environmental responsibility and the very survival of a people and their culture.

Facing a possible recall election this year and eager to make good on a campaign promise to create more than 250,000 jobs for Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is supporting the construction of a 4.5-mile-long, open-pit iron-ore mine in the pristine Penokee range, home to the immense Bad River watershed. Remarkably, the many streams and rivers flowing through this watershed flow north into Lake Superior, where numerous towns and cities get their drinking water. The water also feeds into the Bad River slough, the home of the Bad River Ojibwe tribe’s legendary wild-rice beds, where manoomin, the sacred seed, has grown and nourished the people as long as anyone can remember."

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Mary Annette Pember: Wisconsin Endangers a Sacred Tradition (Indian Country Today 1/24)

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