The Fight for Water & Treaty Rights in the Great Lakes


The following organizations are working to protect treaty rights and the environment in the Great Lakes region. The viewpoints expressed in the film are not necessarily the viewpoints of these organizations.


Featured Organization

Earth Guardians |

The Earth Guardians are a tribe of young activists, artists and musicians from across the globe stepping up as leaders and co-creating the future they know is possible. Their mission is to grow a resilient movement with youth at the forefront by empowering them as leaders and amplifying their impact. There are currently Earth Guardians’ crews in Minnesota and Michigan.

Follow the Earth Guardians on Facebook at,



Bad River Watershed Association |

The BRWA is a growing group of people who recognize the unique beauty of the Bad River watershed, the strength that it brings to the lives of those who live there and the need to make sure decisions on how to use land within the watershed are made with the best available knowledge concerning how those decisions alter watershed resources.line_blk77

Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority |

The Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA) is established by the Bay Mills Indian Community, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians for the purpose of ensuring the conservation and wise utilization of the natural resources reserved to the Tribes in the Treaty of March 28, 1836. Under the CORA charter two committees were established. The Great Lakes Resource Committee serves as the inter-tribal management body for the 1836 Treaty fishery, and the Inland Lands and Waters Resources Committee oversees inland resource matters.line_blk77

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund |

CELDF believes that we are in the midst of an escalating ecological crisis, and that the crisis is the result of decisions made by a relatively few people who run corporations and government. They believe that sustainability will never be achieved by leaving those decisions in the hands of a few – both because of their belief in limitless economic production and because their decisions are made at a distance from the communities experiencing the impact of those decisions. Therefore, CELDF believes that to attain sustainability, a right to local self-government must be asserted that places decisions affecting communities in the hands of those closest to the impacts.line_blk77

Federation of United Tribes |

The Federation of United Tribes is a new organization. Based on the beliefs and traditional views of the Indigenous People of the U.S., their purpose is to unite all Indian Tribes, Nations and Bands on environmental concerns and crucial issues that affect all indigenous peoples. Respect for all living beings on Mother Earth is common ground that we all share. Two factors: the Treaties made with the U.S., and the Protection of Mother Earth are the founding elements of this Unification. The Federation will provide an opportunity to unite around the treaties protecting Mother Earth and Tribal Rights for the next generations.

Join the Federation’s Facebook group at,

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness |

Many factors threaten the wilderness character of the Boundary Waters including haze, noise, logging, mining, development, fire suppression, and loss of native species. Leading the effort to protect and restore the BWCAW from such threats is the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. The organization formed in 1976 to protect this vulnerable area. Today, the Minneapolis, Minnesota based organization of 3,000 members is a sentry against further harm in the BWCAW and the Quetico-Superior Ecosystem. By partnering with other conservation groups and activating its membership, the Friends ensures that a “voice of wilderness” is always heard during policy debates.line_blk77

Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission |

GLIFWC represents eleven Ojibwe tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan who reserved hunting, fishing and gathering rights in the 1837, 1842, and 1854 Treaties with the United States government. GLIFWC provides natural resource management expertise, conservation enforcement, legal and policy analysis, and public information services in support of the exercise of treaty rights during well-regulated, off-reservation seasons throughout the treaty ceded territories.line_blk77

Honor the Earth

Honor the Earth is a Native-led organization, established by Winona LaDuke and Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, in 1993 to address the two primary needs of the Native environmental movement: the need to break the geographic and political isolation of Native communities and the need to increase financial resources for organizing and change. As a unique national Native initiative, Honor the Earth works to a) raise public awareness and b) raise and direct funds to grassroots Native environmental groups.


Idle No More |

Originating in Canada, Idle No More believes that the Treaties are nation to nation agreements between The Crown and First Nations who are sovereign nations. The Treaties are agreements that cannot be altered or broken by one side of the two Nations. The spirit and intent of the Treaty agreements meant that First Nations peoples would share the land, but retain their inherent rights to lands and resources. Instead, First Nations have experienced a history of colonization which has resulted in outstanding land claims, lack of resources and unequal funding for services such as education and housing. There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well. Idle No More believes in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and has a vision and plan of how to build them.line_blk77

Indigenous Environmental Network |

IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues. IEN’s activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, the health of both indigenous people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.line_blk77

Keepers of the Water |

Keepers of the Water is an Indigenous women’s led organization guided by traditional Anishinaabekwe values and responsibilities. They work to protect the waters of the Great Lakes acting in spiritual and political ways. For information on volunteering contact,

The Lake Superior Binational Forum |

The Lake Superior Binational Forum is composed of twelve Canadian and twelve American stake-holders representing industrial, Tribal/First Nations,  business, environmental, recreational, tourism, health, labor, and academic interests. The Lake Superior Binational Forum is part of the broader Lake Superior Binational Program to Restore and Protect the Lake Superior Basin as agreed to by all state and provincial governments around Lake Superior as well as by the federal governments of Canada and the United States.line_blk77

Madison Action for Mining Alternatives |

MAMA is a grassroots group in the Madison area working to build action-oriented solidarity with communities fighting to save water, air, ecosystems, and sustainable economies from proposed or existing mining projects. We are active in fights against the proposed Gogebic Taconite mine, frac sand mining, and tar sands pipelines. Follow MAMA on Facebook at,


Midwest Environmental Advocates |

Midwest Environmental Advocates is a non-profit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government for this generation and the next. MEA provides legal and technical support to grassroots groups that are working for environmental justice in the Western Great Lakes region. They believe that every citizen has the potential to make a difference. For more information, visit their website, or Follow them on Facebook at,

The Penokee Hills Education Project |

The Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization.  Their mission is public education, networking, and grassroots organizing on the environmental, health, social, and economic issues of mining that disproportionately affect Native and rural populations. The Penokee Hills Education Project is an education and outreach project of the Mining Impact Coalition and is focused on issues related to the proposed development of iron mining in northern Wisconsin. For information on volunteering contact Allie Raven at,

Save the Wild UP |

Save the Wild UP’s mission is to protect the unique way of life, wildlife, landscape, and freshwater resources of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. SWUP started in 2004 by a small group of grassroots leaders dedicated to fighting sulfide mining threatening their communities and environment. Since then, they’ve expanded to working with communities and allied organizations across the U.P., Wisconsin and Minnesota combining their efforts to address the serious threats to our water and economies. Through public awareness and education they strive to protect the Upper Peninsula from unsustainable development, degradation and dangerous contamination.line_blk77

The Sierra Club – The Crossroads Group (MI) |

The Sierra Club is the largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization in the world. The Crossroads Group of the Sierra Club serves greater Livingston County, western Oakland County and southern Genesee County in Michigan. Their mission is to get people outside to enjoy the natural world leading to their understanding and desire to protect it for our families and for our future. The Crossroads group’s objectives are to protect and enjoy the natural resources of the area, and to practice and promote the responsible use of the area’s ecosystems and resources.  At The Crossroads Group, we want to educate and enlist residents to assist in the protection and restoration of the quality of the natural environment of the area.line_blk77

The Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter (WI) |

The Sierra Club’s mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives. The John Muir Chapter is Wisconsin’s voice for the nation’s oldest grassroots environmental organization, following in the footsteps of legendary Wisconsin conservationists such as John Muir (The Sierra Club’s founder), Aldo Leopold, Sigurd Olson and Gaylord Nelson.line_blk77

The Sierra Club – North Star Chapter (MN) |

The Sierra Club’s members are 2.1 million of your friends and neighbors. Inspired by nature, they work together to protect our communities and the planet. The Club is America’s oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. The Sierra Club North Star Chapter is the leading grassroots voice to preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment.line_blk77

Stand for the Land |

Stand for the Land focuses on news relating to public land issues, treaty rights, and related citizen activism in the Upper Great Lakes Region. Stand for the Land posts up-to-date information regarding proposed metallic sulfide and uranium mining in the Great Lakes region.line_blk77

Sustainable Ely |

Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness has opened its headquarters for Sustainable Ely: Protecting clean water, healthy communities, and the Boundary Waters. Sustainable Ely’s purpose is to build and support a strong base of concerned citizens who will meet, inform, and inspire to action visitors to Ely and local residents; to engage in this work for the purpose of creating a national movement to protect the clean water, clean air, and forest landscape of the watersheds of the Kawishiwi River, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Lake Superior from toxic pollution caused by mining copper, nickel, and other metals from sulfide-bearing ore.  Their immediate focus will be to educate members of the public and inspire them to act in opposition to mining of copper, nickel, and other metals in sulfide-bearing ores in the Quetico-Superior ecosystem by supporting the permanent protection of the Boundary Waters watershed. Follow Sustainable Ely on Facebook at,

WaterLegacy |

WaterLegacy is a grassroots citizens’ group formed in response to the threat of the first sulfide mine proposed in the state of Minnesota.line_blk77

Western Mining Action Network |

WMAN’s mission is to foster and support a strong network that protects communities, land, water, air, and wildlife by reforming mining practices and holding government and corporations accountable. For over a decade WMAN has provided a critical forum for communities and people facing mining in the United States and Canada. Nearly 100 organizations participate in this network. They represent the culturally and geographically diverse towns and cities impacted by this issue.WMAN hosts an active caucus of groups in the Great Lakes region (in both the U.S. and Canada), supports communities dealing with the legacy of coal mining in the southeast U.S., and includes First Nations and other communities working on mining in eastern Canada.line_blk77

Wisconsin Resources Protection Council |

The Wisconsin Resources Protection Council (WRPC) was founded in 1982 to help counter the lack of information about the effects of large-scale metallic sulfide mining on Wisconsin’s precious water supplies, on the tourism and dairy industries, and upon the many Native American communities that are located near potential mine sites.line_blk77

Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve |

The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve is an environmental organization comprised of grassroots individuals who take environmental ethics to heart. They focus on informing the public about the watershed, conducting sound science, and protecting the resources from threats like sulfide mining.


Summer Fellowship with Save the Wild UP | MI

Applications Due | March 30, 2014 Save the Wild UP is offering summer fellowship opportunities during the summer 2014 Northern Michigan University semester. Course credit is available. “Our Summer Fellows Program will get you out into the beautiful U.P. — holding events, exploring pristine wilderness and historic mining sites, door-knocking, reaching out to new people at concerts, community fests and

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