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The Fight for Water & Treaty Rights in the Great Lakes

More than Dusty Historical Documents: Treaty Rights in the Penokee Hills

An excerpt from an excellent article by Ron Seely on treaty rights and the proposed GTAC project. Read the full article here.

THE PENOKEE RANGE – 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 harvest camp is helping make real the practices the treaties protect, including collecting food and natural medicines, from wild onions to mushrooms to maple syrup and tamarack bark,” said Glenn Stoddard, a lawyer who represents the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Organizers of the camp also are inviting non-tribal members to visit so they can show them the wild Penokee landscape and the proposed mine site.

“Many people aren’t even aware of the treaties,” Stoddard said. “They haven’t been educated about them. Also, society has become much more urban so the activities covered by the treaties are foreign to people.

“The camp is intended to educate people about these things. It is one thing to be in a courtroom talking about the treaties. It is another to be out in the woods and see people exercising their rights. Then it makes sense to people.”

Read the full article here. http://www.wisconsinwatch.org/2013/07/28/in-penokees-camp-tribes-flex-treaty-muscles-to-block-mine/

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