UPDATE: The folks from Bad River incurred $7,000 expenses to get from Superior to Madison. Kossacks, I rarely ask for help. Please donate! All funds go directly to support Bad River's trip to Madison and their activism to protect the water. (Write "For Bad River Ojibwe" on the check).
Donate Here! (note: as of now, the Paypal link at their campaign website isn't accepting donations. However, the regular mail address works for sending checks.)
"I don't think our job is to provide a seat, at the table, for the tribes…"
Rep Jeff Stone (R)
"But I think the most telling part was when the gentleman from the 39th said "Who's the author? It is myself and every Republican in this room. Put us all as the authors of this bill!" ...Well, the only person missing was Representative ALEC."
Rep Marc Pocan, (D)
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa live way up north in Wisconsin, in a pristine and preserved section of the state. This mining bill "fast tracks" permits for an out of state corporation, Gogebic Taconite, to develop a vast open pit iron mine on land that abuts Ojibwe land. The proposed site is on the upland side of a significant watershed. Mining operations will degrade downslope water quality. Wild rice, a staple of Chippewa food, culture and religion, is very sensitive to pollution and acid-balance. So far, our Republican Legislators in the House of Reprehensibles couldn't care less about Native American life, culture or federally granted treaty rights.
The following is a picture diary of Bad River testimony against Bad Mining Legislation that was held in Madison yesterday. Pictures and captions are by Rebecca Kemble, who writes for The Progressive (see her article about the mine).
Wiggins: "The hearing in Hurley was a travesty against the people of Bad River. We were the first to show up and the most eager to testify. The testimony slips were filtered in a way that can only be called discriminatory. We arrived at 9am and didn't get to speak until 5pm. This sent a message that there was an effort to diminish our voice, but it backfired because after 5 it was all Anishinaabe."
Wiggins: "We were not consulted or included in any aspect of this bill. I hear that Scott Manley of WMC is in the Assembly lobby. I used to think that was important, but when you consider what is in the bill it is an act of wrong-doing against all people, not just the tribes."
Joe Rose, Bad River elder: "We entered the 7th fire about 30 years ago. The first steps taken on earth were done with love, honor and respect... What is our meaning and purpose as humans? It's simple: we were put here to live in harmony with all of creation and to never take more than what we need. It's complex: We are caught in the web of life with ecosystems and interrelationships with other living things.
We are undergoing a paradigm shift from values based on money and political power to the new times where wealth is measured in clean water, fresh air and pristine wilderness. Anishinaabe have been given the responsibility to share the knowledge of how to live in harmony with creation."
Rose: "We have to start thinking a new way - not about economic activity but about things that are priceless. We must challenge and eliminate corporate greed. That's what this is all about. Corporate greed. People are starting to have sit ins against Wall St. which is the biggest casino in the world, and they're gambling with investors money, not their own. We've lost more freedom in this country in the past four decades than in the whole rest of American history, especially as it relates to the first and fouth amendments. Look at the Patriot Act. All they have to do is call a Code Orange and you have no more rights. The next thing will be martial law. We better wake up! We're losing our freedoms!"
Rena LaGrew was too nervous to speak.
People told her she was among friends…
Her grandmother Beatrice Brown came to the podium to stand with her...
And Phoebe relayed her comments: "I'm afraid the mine will ruin the rice beds and walleye. There will be health problems with polluted air and water."
Wiggins: "Our fight has just begun. We are just like that Penokee Mountain. We're not going anywhere. We will use every tool in our war chest to defend our water and air. I don't want this just to be rhetoric because it is heartbreaking. We need to talk to these people about babies and how they are born in water and burst forth to take their first breath."
Bad River staff bearer Vincent, elder Joe Rose, Chairman Mike Wiggins, Jr. and Tribal Council member Cheri Pero are introduced to the Assembly floor by Peter Barca
Bad River Band receives standing ovation from all of the Democrats and only a few of the Republicans. Mark Honadel (far right third row back), author of the mining bill, remains seated. Dan Knodl and others look down at their desks. SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! Nick Milroy is chastised by Speaker Pro Tem Kramer for videotaping their entry.
Earlier that day, Heartbeat of Red Cliff Band was arrested in the capitol for setting up his drum and chanting. Aiken-Buffalo said, " the drum is the heartbeat of our people. What this man was doing was praying." He (Lincoln Morris) was cited for disorderly conduct.
So much for prayer in the people's house. And so much for fair and considered legislative process in The United States of Extraction.
"When polluters threaten to upset the balance it will be native people who will challenge them. We've made up our minds. This mine is not going to occur." Joe Rose, Ojibwe