Mark Anthony Rolo: Bad River Band took a stand against big mine

The watershed on the Bad River Reservation in Wisconsin. Photo from Bad River Band

With Indian Country united for the #NoDAPL movement, Mark Anthony Rolo, a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, shares how his tribe went to war against corporate mining interests in Wisconsin:
At the start of the second week of April 2014, more than a foot of fresh snow blanketed the Bad River Chippewa Reservation of northern Wisconsin. I had arrived home to my mother’s place of birth two days before the blizzard because Bad River was deeply entrenched in fighting one of the largest mining corporations in the world.

Gogebic Taconite had secured the go-ahead from the state, not the tribe, to begin exploratory low-grade iron ore mining in the Penokee Hills, which sit at the edge of the reservation. I was brought in as the communications director to help respond to Gogebic’s public relations machine that mostly promised new jobs to one of the state’s poorest regions. As I spun the wheels of my oversized van that snow-filled morning, struggling just to get out of the driveway, I wondered if the impoverished Bad River tribe had even a chance to fend off this storm of big money mining.

What was happening at Bad River was nothing new. The history of stealing millions of acres from tribes and forcing Indians onto reservations was never enough for this country. There was always the gluttony for even more Indian land and natural resources. Whether it be copper or coal mines, storing nuclear waste, or pumping crude oil from the ground, tribal lands have consistently been targeted for resource extraction, and almost always with the federal government’s consent.

Read More:
Mark Anthony Rolo: My Tribe's Stand Against Corporate Mining (The Progressive 10/31)

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