The Fight for Water & Treaty Rights in the Great Lakes

The People

line_wh2The Activism

JK_lk_smJessica Koski is a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. After obtaining her Masters in Environmental Management from Yale University, Jessica has returned to her reservation to serve her community. The threat facing the KBIC is real. Lundin Mining has purchased Rio Tinto’s Eagle Mine at Eagle Rock, a sacred place for Jessica’s people. Rio Tinto/Kennecott is also exploring other sites on the reservation itself. The KBIC has found no relief in Michigan’s courts. Jessica is now exploring how the treaties between her people and the United States might hold a remedy. Further pressing the issue of sovereignty, Jessica recently accompanied her tribal president to the United Nations, seeking to find common cause with other indigenous people whose way of life is similarly threatened.

MW_beach_smMike Wiggins, Jr., is the Tribal Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Wisconsin’s Bad River is home to wild rice beds that are central to the physical and cultural health of Mike’s people. Taconite mining in Minnesota has killed vast stretches of rice beds and the Bad River beds could suffer the same fate should GTAC’s taconite mine proposed for the Penokee Range be permitted. The mine would send contaminants down 23 streams and rivers into the Bad River which flows through Mike’s reservation.

My tribe shouldn’t be inherently doomed to suffer environmental impacts because our homeland happens to be near a collection of metal in the ground…and it’s gonna take trust responsibility to assert that.

BT_smBob Tammen, is a retired electrician and a resident of the former mining town of Soudan, Minnesota. He worked for many years at mining operations along the Iron Range in Minnesota and Michigan, including U.S. Steel Minntac and the Empire and Tilden mines. Over the years he saw what the industry was doing to the environment and the economy. The proposed Polymet Project spurs them on now, as Bob, along with his wife Pat, travels the region in the cause of improving the industry and protecting the landscape they love.

The O’Dovero Family owns and operates a beef and dairy farm in Mellen, Wisconsin at the base of the contested Penokee Range. Their hard work has served the community and supported their family for five generations. And they know what an open pit taconite mine would mean for their farm and their community. It would put them out of business and ruin the landscape and waters of Mellen.


The Science

CH_river_smCyrus Hester is a natural resources scientist for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He works to educate decision makers and local communities about complex issues related to ecology, geology, and land-uses. A veteran who is intimately familiar with the dynamics of conflict, Cyrus hopes that sound science and respectful dialogue can provide common ground for what The New York Times recently identified as the most politically divisive place in America.

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