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More than Dusty Historical Documents: Treaty Rights in the Penokee Hills?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

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Tribe Invites Supporters to the Penokees | WI?>

As reported on Earth First! Newswire, and Indian Country News, “The Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe tribe has opened a treaty harvest and educational camp on public lands in the Penokee Hills, near the site of the proposed worlds largest open pit iron mine, upstream from the Bad River Reservation.” Read More at,

www.earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/lac-courte-oreilles-ojibwe-tribe-invites-supporters-to-join-occupation-of-proposed-mine-site-in-wisconsin/

Wisconsin DNR Approves Gogebic Taconite Exploratory Drilling Application?>

The following notice was taken from the Wisconsin DNR e-mail update, dated May 30, 2013, on Gogebic Taconite’s proposed taconite mining project in Wisconsin’s Penokee Hills.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources today approved the exploratory drilling application submitted by Gogebic Taconite, LLC. The DNR issued an exploration license to Gogebic Taconite authorizing the company to drill eight exploratory drill holes. This is the first exploration license issued under the new iron mining law enacted earlier this year.

The company has proposed exploration in a four-mile area located east of Mellen in eastern Ashland and west-central Iron counties. The area of interest is part of the Penokee/Gogebic deposit, a 21-mile long portion of the larger Gogebic Iron Range that stretches east to west from Lake Gogebic, Michigan, to near Lake Namekagon, Wisconsin.

The company had initially submitted an application May 9, but withdrew the initial application and submitted a replacement application May 16 after company representatives decided to reduce the number of bore holes they proposed to drill from 13 to eight.

According to Ann Coakley, DNR Waste and Materials Management director, company officials removed five of the original 13 boreholes from the application to gather additional information needed to address stormwater and potential wetland issues in accordance with applicable regulations. The need for additional information on the five drilling sites was identified during a May 14 site visit by DNR staff to inspect the proposed drilling locations and access roads.

The department had 10 business days to review the application and make a decision. DNR’s decision was based on information contained in the application and supplemental information provided by the company in response to DNR’s request for additional details regarding the exploration proposal. Coakley said Gogebic Taconite may apply for a license to conduct additional exploration borings in the future.

The application, DNR response letter and additional materials are available on the Gogebic Taconite, LLC, potential mining project Web page. You can also sign up for e-mail updates on the project.

GTac to Answer Questions at Public Forum | UPDATE?>

Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 6:00pm | Iron County Courthouse, Hurley, WI

The Iron County Board of Supervisors has voted to hold a special meeting at which officials of Gogebic Taconite will answer questions about the proposed Penokee Hills mine in a public meeting. Questions will only be allowed from county board members, not from the public. Questions should be submitted by the public to their representative. The questions will then be submitted to GTac so that “they can be prepared.” A decision about whether public comment will be allowed has not been decided. For more information visit, www.savethewatersedge.com.

Iron County signed an option lease with GTac that provides GTac with several hundred acres of land for approximately $28/acre. The company can transfer its interest to any foreign or domestic entity. It can return the land in any condition. The lessee can use any other county land to access its leased land. The lease cannot be exercised until the land is taken out of Managed Forest Crop Land status by Iron County. It is unlikely that GTac could begin its operation without the Iron County land because this is where the waste rock will be stored.

It’s very important to get a large showing at this meeting. Phone banking will happen at the Penokee Hills Education Project Office, Monday – Thursday from 4-7 pm. Contact Kaeleen Ringberg at krringberg@gmail.com, if you have questions.

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