Ojibwe Tribes Resist Pit Iron Ore Mine Proposed in Northern Wisconsin

Ojibwe Tribes Resist Pit Iron Ore Mine Proposed in Northern Wisconsin


Accordong to a Wisconsin Public Radio report published in the Ashland (WI) Current, a proposed four-mile-long, $1.5 billion iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties is drawing criticism from nine Ojibwe nations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The mine has been proposed by Gogebic Taconite LLC (GTAC) and would be situated in the Penokee Range. “There’s been no consultation with my tribe and of course we stand to bear the brunt of the environmental impacts that are coming," said Mike Wiggins, chairman of the Bad River Lake Superior Band of Chippewa. "We’ll be drinking, breathing and eating the environmental impacts from this open pit mining project for the next 200 years."

The proposed project is linked to controversial bills being drafted by the Wisconsin State Senate and House that would change the permitting process mining companies must undergo. The bills have been criticized for their potential to reduce public input or weaken environmental standards. "It's a horrible, horrible bill," said State Representative Janet Bewley (D-Ashland), according to a report in the Ashland Daily Press. She cited "fewer requirements for the mining company, a lot of relaxing of (language)—instead of 'must,' it’s 'will attempt to' or 'will strive to.'"

Dave Blouin, chair of the Wisconsin Mining Committee for the Sierra Club, put it more bluntly: "This legislation is a gun to the head of Wisconsin legislators in the guise of economic development," he said.

Tribal officials had come out against the as-yet-unseen bill on May 5, when the Voight Intertribal Task Force of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission condemned it. "The tribes expressed deep concerns about hasty decisions," said Jim Zorn, the Commission's director, "Decisions that would not be based upon the best information available and that you really apply the precautionary principle that the less you know, the more careful you are."

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ann bennett's picture
ann bennett
Submitted by ann bennett on
what I know of our wonderful tribes across this nation of the us and coming from parts of the us to get recogniction; as an historitan but morevover a humantitarian of many; myself; just hope that this will settle; yes the current gov administration doesn't need to mine there; but he's a young entrepreneur backed by larger than him! and u know this; so; his porkbabrrel $ of the constituents is a recognition for his party; granted the money is not in the needs of the people; but again here is politics they the individual is allowed to go; if this affects tribal rights; then yes; fight it; but if there is a compensation negotiation; then; pray all parties will resolve some compensation; but if push comes to shove; stand tall! of course; We; recently worry about the unsubsidiszed farmers in Oregon that the tribes will withhold waters for irrigation; currently on the recent farm reports; We all hope that all in our vast history of persecution of races; tribes; have been somehow compensated; we hope u forgive the politics; and hope that u can forgive those in the current era of the 20th with compassion; as u and your generations have survived under such a polticial white man regime; but things are in the change; and issues of all are recognized now; just ask you as tribes of Wisconsin mining issue and Oregon water rites; know that u have succeeded in being recognized as winners or rights; and maybe give a little back now to those who ask for it; they seem to be humbling themselves to do so; certainly hope brothers u will allow water irrigation to the farmers of Oregon; who deny subsidy from the feds; to say independent; as for the Wisconsin mining; hope u all can see a compromise; remember; vengeance is not ours; but HIS; and we don't need to carry the vengeance of minority persecution further; but if it is meant to be; then so be it; will just have to see where it will go from here; as before; politics is a revolving door and never any peace; but giving up is not a failure; just peace of mind for many! learned the hardway; working for both sides; 37 years; only 1/8th of an indian tribe of Ny but an advociate for both sides of our system to keep some peace; thanx for listening; ab