Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Carnegie Museum to host monthly Keweenaw Natural History Seminars beginning Sept. 30

HOUGHTON -- The Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw (Houghton) will host Monthly Seminars about our local landscape on the third Tuesday of each month beginning Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, through Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in the Community Room, downstairs at the Carnegie Museum. The museum opens at 6:30 p.m. for refreshments and introductions; a lecture and discussion will be from 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Dr. William Rose, Michigan Tech professor emeritus, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences and organizer of these Keweenaw Natural History Seminars, will present the inaugural lecture, "Geoelements of the Keweenaw and Isle Royale," on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Dr. William Rose talks about Keweenaw geology at a beach near Point Isabelle on Lake Superior during one of his July Geo-tours.* (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"Isle Royale and the Keweenaw share almost identical geology, but have very different human occupation," Rose says. "Geoheritage is about how geology and earth science guide people's lives. Geoheritage is stronger here than almost all places. In spite of this, it is hard for most residents to describe how this works. For Keweenaw and Isle Royale there are five main elements of geoheritage. They can be described simply by five words:  Lavas, Sandstones, Fault, Glaciers and the big Lake. In this lecture I will describe how these five geoelements affect all of our lives here."

Rose has  developed a website which provides extensive basic documentation on Keweenaw Geoheritage. To reach that website, click here.

"The Keweenaw is very special, and it guides our lives," Rose notes. "The connection we feel is strongly influenced by our natural history, as well as our cultural history. In exploring our region’s natural history, we will ask, 'What are the elements of Keweenaw Natural History?' and 'How can the community discuss, participate and celebrate these elements?'"

Other Seminars in the series this fall include "The (un)natural history of Huron Creek, a working stream on the Keweenaw Peninsula" (Oct. 21) by Dr. Alex Mayer, Michigan Tech professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering; "Lake Superior’s natural history and future" (Nov. 18), with Dr. Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor, Chemistry; and "Animal Elements of Keweenaw and Isle Royale" (Dec. 16) by Dr. Rolf Peterson, Michigan Tech research professor, School of Forest Resources and  Environmental Science.

Click here to read more about the Carnegie Museum seminar series.

* Editor's Note: Watch for an article on the July 25-26 Jacobsville Sandstone Geo-tour -- coming soon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Finlandia to host 16th annual Sibelius Academy Music Festival

HANCOCK -- The 16th annual Sibelius Academy Music Festival will be presented by Finlandia University from Sunday, Sept. 21, to Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, in Chicago, Hancock, and Calumet.

This year's festival musicians will feature classical pianist, Kristina Annamukhamedova, whose repertoire will feature the works of Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin and Sibelius, and a female a cappella vocal group, Ensemble Norma, whose music straddles folk, pop and jazz.

The festival's western Upper Peninsula series of concerts and events begins at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 23. Norma Ensemble will perform at The Bluffs in Houghton. A free Meet the Musicians event will be presented at 7 p.m. at the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. The musicians will discuss their lives as musicians, and present informal performances.

A special classical piano concert will be scheduled at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 24, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock.

Also on Wednesday, Sept. 24, a folk dance, led by professional folk dancing instructors,  will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Finnish American Heritage Center. Oren Tikkanen and friends will provide the music and Eero and Rosann Angeli will lead the dancing. Admission is $10. Finlandia students attend free. Light refreshments will be provided.

The grand finale festival concert is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26, at the Calumet Theatre, Calumet, Mich., with all musicians giving full-length performances.  Tickets are $15; $5 for students; Finlandia students attend free.

For additional details and ticket information, call 906-487-7250 or visit

Mobile food pantry available in Hancock Sept. 18

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University Campus Ministry and Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank are working together to bring a mobile food pantry to Hancock at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 18, in the parking lot of Old Main on Finlandia’s campus. It is hoped this will be a regularly occurring opportunity.

"We know there are people in need in our community, and we’re happy to help our neighbors in any way we can," said Soren Schmidt, campus pastor at Finlandia.

The food pantry will be available with no questions asked. Volunteers from throughout the Finlandia University community will be on hand to help distribute food.

There will be 15,000 pounds of food available delivered in a refrigerated truck. The food should serve up to 300 families, and will be available on a first-come first-serve basis.

To volunteer at the mobile food pantry, or to learn more about the event, contact Soren Schmidt at, or 906-487-7239. Tentatively the next planned mobile food pantry will be mid-to-late December.

Portage Library Storytime Schedule begins Sept. 17

HOUGHTON -- Storytime for the school year begins on Wednesday, Sept. 17, at the Portage Lake District Library and will be held every Wednesday and Thursday from 10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Young children are invited to come for stories, craft projects, occasional music, and lots of fun. Pre-registration is not required.

Storytime will also be held on the first and third Saturday of each month from 11 a.m. - 12 noon beginning Sept. 20 and will be presented by the Houghton High School Key Club.

During inclement weather, Storytimes will follow school closings. For Saturday programs, please call the library to check for cancellations.

Children are also encouraged to use the Children’s Listening Center at the library. Music, foreign languages, and stories on CDs are available for use during their visits to the library. Up to four people at a time can use the equipment, including parents who want to help their children learn another language or simply enjoy music or a good book together. Please ask a librarian to help you get started.

All library programs are free and everyone is welcome. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

MTU offers computer help for beginners at Portage Library

Students from the Computer Science Department at Michigan Tech are providing free tutoring at the Portage Lake District Library for beginning computer users. These computer help sessions with individual tutors are held every Friday from 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. throughout the academic year except on days when Michigan Tech is not in session.

"Online at the Library: Help for Beginning Computer Users" will show participants how to use the internet to keep in touch with people, share pictures and letters, find information, solve computer problems, and much more. Tutors will help each participant with his or her own particular needs. People may attend as many of the sessions as they wish, and those who have laptops may bring them.

Library programs are free and everyone is welcome. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

Calumet Art Center to offer classes beginning September, October

CALUMET -- Calumet Art Center is offering several classes beginning in September and October. Pre-registration and payment are required for all classes. Each class is open for registration until it fills.

Here is the schedule:

Twining Class

Students will create an 18” x 13” twined rug using recycled wool. Twining is an ancient form of weaving which is done on a portable loom. The rug will be completed at the last class session.

Class Dates: Sept. 24, Oct. 1, Oct. 8 and again on Oct. 29, Nov. 5 and 12.  Class Time: 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Class Fee: $65. Materials Fee: $20.

Leather Class

Students will make a pouch using soft, tanned deerskin, a Glover’s needle, and various stitches while learning to make the best use of material. Embellish with beads, draw designs with a heated steel rod (similar to wood burning). You may also bring your own materials. If time permits, we will also make a fetish. These pouches can be used to hold many things such as scissors, stones, tobacco or items that are special to you.

Class Dates: Sept. 27, Oct. 4, 11, 18. Class Time: 10 a.m. - Noon. Class Fee: $135.   Materials Fee: $65.  

Fun with Clay Class

This is an intermediate class. Experience the processes of hand building, texturing and the use of terra sigillata.

Class Dates: Sept. 23, 25, 30, Oct. 2, 7, 9. Class Time: 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Class Fee: $145. Materials Fee: $40. Firing Fee: $20.

Lampwork Bead Class

Students will be provided detailed instruction about the tools and methods used to manipulate hot glass in the flame of a torch. Through demonstrations and hands-on practice, each student will use age-old techniques to create wound glass beads with a variety of shapes and patterns.

This is a 12 hour class split between two days. There will be an hour for lunch, so plan on bringing a brown bag lunch as well as something to drink. Each student must bring his/her own didymium safety glasses. This class is limited to ten students, and the age group is 16 and up. Register early.

Class Dates: October 25, 26. Class Time: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Class Fee: $135. Materials Fee: $35.

To register call the Calumet Art Center at 906-934-2228. Visit for more information.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Public invited to Community Visioning Meeting for Saving Energy Sept. 17

HOUGHTON -- The Houghton Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) invites the public to attend a Community Visioning Meeting for Saving Energy -- to be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. this Wednesday, Sept. 17, at the Finnish American Center, 435 Quincy St.,  Hancock.

The program will start promptly at 6:30 p.m. In addition to exhibits, the program will include a presentation on Bio-energy in Finland, roundtable discussions and more.

The goal of the meeting is to develop a future energy vision. The meeting will offer the opportunity to discuss broad, community-level strategies to promote energy savings.

Why Come?
1- Our energy costs are among the highest in the nation and we need to work together to figure out ways to save.
2- Houghton County could win a $5 million dollar prize
3- You could win great energy-efficient door prizes!

Please join this team effort and invite your friends! This meeting is free and open to all.

Dianda introduces resolution to support energy generation in U.P.

LANSING -- State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) recently introduced a resolution that encourages legislative support for the construction of new electricity generating facilities in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Currently, U.P. residents are paying increasingly large sums to keep the Presque Isle Power Plant (PIPP) -- a coal-fired plant in Marquette -- open and operating. With a capacity of more than 400 megawatts, the PIPP is the region’s largest energy supplier north of Green Bay, Wis.

"The cost of keeping the PIPP operating in our region is above and beyond what our residents can afford, and its closure is imminent," said Dianda. "Without the creation of a new, more efficient power source once the PIPP is shut down, the U.P. will be forced to rely on the construction of transmission lines to import power from Wisconsin. This is an expensive option that will inhibit economic growth, and will likely fail to meet the region’s future demand for capacity."

Dianda’s resolution recommends investment in natural gas, renewable energy and distributed generation, stating that natural gas, solar, wind and small, localized electric facilities are more reliable, and could be more cost-effective than the alternative option of building transmission lines across state borders.

"The creation of new energy facilities in the U.P. will keep our energy costs in check, and spur economic growth in our region by creating a multitude of jobs," Dianda said. "I am hopeful that my fellow legislators will see the importance of this resolution and support the growth of the U.P.’s energy sector. I also hope that Michigan’s energy companies will recognize the opportunity for growth in our region and begin the process of setting up shop in the U.P."

Guest editorial: How to avoid wolf-dog conflicts

By Nancy Warren*

Owning a pet requires responsibility which includes doing everything possible to keep it from harm. Sometimes bad things happen. Forget to close a gate and your pet can escape, become lost or get struck by a car.

So far this year in the Upper Peninsula, wolves have killed eight dogs and injured one. These were not dogs near residences or dogs that escaped yards; they were hounds either hunting or training to hunt bears and other wildlife. Some of the dogs were released at night when wolves hunt. Some dogs wore GPS tracking collars and were one-half mile or more away from the handler.

DNR records show there is little correlation between the total wolf population and attacks on hounds. In 2003, when there were 321 wolves in the U.P., there were 11 attacks on dogs.

Each of the dogs killed or injured in 2014 was released into known wolf pack territories where prior attacks on dogs had occurred. Further, each of these attacks took place during the month of August while wolves were still at rendezvous sites.

Rendezvous sites are the home sites used by wolves after the denning period and after the pups are weaned. These gathering sites are mostly used from mid-June until late September and are often associated with a food source. It is during this time that wolves are most aggressive toward strange wolves and dogs, as the pups are still dependent upon the pack.

As with other wild canids, wolves are territorial and will defend their territories from other wolves, coyotes and dogs. They perceive a pack of dogs yowling and barking through their territory as a threat and will attack other predators that get too close.

Bear baiting, beginning in early August, poses another risk to hunting dogs. Current regulations allow bear hunters and guides to bait with unlimited amounts of meat, meat products, dog food, fish products, cat food and a variety of bakery products including cooked and commercially processed materials, pie fillings and yogurts used in bakery products. Wolves are attracted to these bait piles and research shows they will guard this food source from intruders.

Michigan DNR has posted to its website a list of wolf/dog encounters dating back to 2012, along with the areas where conflicts have occurred.

No one is questioning anyone’s right to use dogs for training or hunting game. But, time and time again, hounders have ignored the warning signs and chose to release their dogs, in known problem areas, placing their dogs at risk. Then, when something bad happens, they cry wolf.

*Editor's Notes:

Nancy Warren, author of this article, is National Wolfwatcher Coalition Great Lakes Regional director. Inset photo of Nancy Warren by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now.

If you are interested in this issue or other local issues involving wildlife, you may wish to attend the Sept. 15 meeting of the Department of Natural Resources’ Western Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council (CAC) on the campus of Michigan Technological University in Houghton. The meeting will take place in the Memorial Union Building, Room A2.  Beginning at 5:30 p.m. EDT (4:30 p.m. CDT), DNR staff will present division reports on current DNR projects and business and answer questions from council members and the public. The council meeting will immediately follow from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. -7 p.m. CDT). Click here for more details.

Portage Library to host Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange Sept. 15

HOUGHTON -- Regular meetings of the Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange are held on the 3rd Monday of each month, September through May, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Portage Lake District Library. The first meeting for this school year will be held on Monday, Sept. 15. Everyone is invited to participate.

Each month features a different type of food, and September’s meeting will be a smorgasbord of foods in all categories. Participants are welcome to bring their favorite dish, salad, dessert or snack for sampling and are encouraged to share their recipes. Copies of the recipes will be made at the library. Please list all ingredients used in making foods that are shared at these meetings and identify the brand names of the gluten-free ingredients. Bringing food is not a requirement for attendance.

Participants are also encouraged to bring their former favorite recipes that they want help converting to gluten-free. Help will be available.

The Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange is organized by and for those who are interested in or required to follow a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free eating requires the avoidance of all wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Most people find it challenging at first, but are excited to find recipes and foods that are fun and easy to make and tasty to eat. The Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange is an opportunity to share those great recipes and learn from others. Everyone who is interested in learning more about gluten-free eating is encouraged to attend.

This program is free and everyone is welcome. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

Sunday, September 14, 2014

DNR’s Western Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council to meet Sept. 15 in Houghton

HOUGHTON -- The Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Western Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council (CAC) will meet on Monday, Sept. 15, on the campus of Michigan Technological University in Houghton. The meeting will take place in the Memorial Union Building, Room A2.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m. EDT (4:30 p.m. CDT), DNR staff will present division reports on current DNR projects and business and answer questions from council members and the public. The council meeting will immediately follow from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. -7 p.m. CDT).

 Agenda items include:

 ∙ Trail proposal presentation, Houghton Keweenaw County Recreation Authority
 ∙ Update on Wildlife Division habitat improvement projects
 ∙ Deer season forecast
 ∙ Trapping regulations on commercial forest land
 ∙ Subcommittee reports
 ∙ Public comment (for public comment instructions, see

The Eastern Upper Peninsula and Western Upper Peninsula CACs are designed to advise the DNR on regional programs and policies; identify areas in which the department can be more effective and responsive; and offer insight and guidance from members’ own experiences and constituencies.

The council members represent a wide variety of natural resource and recreation stakeholders and interest groups. Agenda items are set by the council members, and council recommendations are forwarded to the DNR for consideration.

CAC meetings are open to the public. If you would like to be considered as a future CAC member, please fill out the nomination form found on the DNR website at For more information, contact DNR Upper Peninsula Regional Coordinator Stacy Haughey at 906-228-6561.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to

Saturday, September 13, 2014

New water color exhibit at Michigamme Moonshine Art Gallery

Scotland. Water color by Bill Hamilton. (Image courtesy Michigamme Moonshine Art Gallery)

MICHIGAMME -- A new art exhibit A new art exhibit, "Home and Abroad" -- new water colors  by Bill Hamilton, Brook Powell, and Peg Sandin -- is on display at Michigamme Moonshine Art Gallery and continues through Oct. 24, 2014.

A reception will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. TOMORROW, Sunday, Sept. 14.

Bill Hamilton’s latest creations include vistas from his trips abroad, most recently Italy and Scotland. Anyone familiar with water colors will appreciate Hamilton’s skill and artistic vision.

"I try to pay attention to details in a scene," Hamilton says, "Hopefully my efforts go beyond being a picture to being an experience."

While his trips out of the country have expanded his artistic aspirations, Hamilton continues to enjoy portraying the natural beauty of the Upper Peninsula.

 "My favorite subject is nature," he explains, "and no other place has as many exciting possibilities as right here."

Water color artist Brook Powell’s newest work is taken directly from life. Painting in the open, Powell often chooses a site near the Big Lake and begins painting by actually dipping the paper into Lake Superior to set up a technique known as "wet-in-wet."

Moved by what he perceives, he will work quickly to place colors on the sheet, letting the pigments flow into and past each other. The result is a spontaneous depiction of dynamic sights.

"I get caught up in the excitement of painting," Powell says.

Peg Sandin is also a student of nature. She has become aware of the undulating waves, ever-changing seasons and the energy of growth. Her latest water colors reflect those patterns in a series of vibrant works. Based on direct observation and awareness, Sandin’s creations celebrate the infinite potential for variety in nature’s forms. Much of her work attempts to capture nature’s changing moods.

"After this harsh winter when temperatures were so cold, I noticed a definite change once it reached 30 degrees," Sandin says. "It seemed as if the trees were celebrating the approach of spring!"

Michigamme Moonshine Art Gallery is at 136 East Main in Michigamme. Summer Gallery Hours: Monday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday by chance. For more information call 906-323-6546.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Community Arts Center to host Sept. 12 reception for "Isle Royale Artist in Residence" exhibit

Scoville Point Bay watercolor by Clyde Mikkola. (Image courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- The new exhibition in the Copper Country Community Arts Center's Kerredge Gallery is "Isle Royale Artist in Residence: Selections from the Permanent Collection." For over 20 years artists from all over the country have applied for a residency that provides transport, lodging and precious time to create artwork inspired by the surrounding wilderness of Isle Royale.

The exhibition, on loan from the Park, includes work by 23 artists -- work that represents the many different ways of seeing and experiencing the unique qualities of the island.

A reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 12, at the Community Arts Center, 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Refreshments will be provided.

Anywhere from 90 to 170 applications are received for a limited number of two - three-week residency slots in the short summer season. In return, artists are asked to donate one piece of art to Isle Royale National Park.

The following artists are included in the exhibit: Amy Arntsen, Cynthia Coté, Lee Dassler, Robert Dorlac, Phyllis Fredendall, Greg Green, Yeshe Helander, Gendron Jensen, Christine Kionka, Gary Kolb, Jeff Korte, Joyce Koskenmaki, Clyde Mikkola, John Miller, Bonnie Peterson, George Provost, Tom Rudd and Margo McCafferty, jd slack, Sharon Schafer, Richard Shilling, Dan Urbanski, and Mary Jo Vandell.

This exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information call (906) 482-2333 or email

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Parade of Nations celebrates its 25th anniversary

With flags and signs representing many countries, Parade of Nations participants gather on Quincy Green in Hancock before lining up for the 2013 Parade. (Photos by Keweenaw Now

By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech Director of News and Media Relations
Posted on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted in part with permission

HOUGHTON -- This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Parade of Nations, the popular parade and multicultural festival that has become a harbinger of fall in the Copper Country. The theme -- fittingly -- is Around the World in 25 Years: A Silver Jubilee.

The parade itself and the multicultural festival that follows it in the Dee Stadium are scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 13. But those colorful events -- and a dramatic Step Afrika performance that night at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts -- are just the finale to a week of Parade of Nations Silver Jubilee celebration.

Michigan Tech's Pep Band opens the 2013 Parade of Nations in Hancock. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, Parade of Nations founder Betty Chavis will present the history of the event at a free public program at the Portage Lake District Library. Several international students from Michigan Technological University will participate as well, talking about their countries, their cultures and their impressions of the Keweenaw.*

On Friday, Sept. 12, at Michigan Tech, Arun Gandhi -- the grandson of the legendary Mahatma Gandhi -- will discuss the lessons he has learned from his grandfather. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Rozsa Center. It is free and open to the public.

Representing several countries, international students and community members cross the Portage Lift Bridge from Hancock to Houghton. Chinese students carry their traditional dragon.

The Parade of Nations from Hancock to the Dee Stadium in Houghton will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13. The queen of the 2014 Alpenfest in Gaylord, Lauren Bushong, will march in the parade, carrying the Swiss flag.

From noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13, in Dee Stadium, Houghton the Multicultural Festival will feature nearly 30 international food booths, crafts booths and entertainment.

A large crowd fills Dee Stadium for the 2013 Parade of Nations Multicultural Festival.

International alumni of Michigan Tech have been invited to attend the first-ever international alumni homecoming. Finlandia University, Northern Michigan University and other regional institutions of higher learning have been asked to participate by inviting their international student community to attend as well.

Baraga and L’Anse Elementary Schools will each receive a $200 art grant for their students to make internationally themed posters.

Their posters will be displayed at the Dee Stadium during the Multicultural Festival on Saturday, Sept. 13.

The headline act, Step Afrika! -- a percussion dance troupe that involves the audience in their heart-pounding performance -- will perform at the Rozsa Center for the Performing arts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale at Rozsa Center. Step Afrika! will give a free mini-performance at the Multicultural Festival Saturday afternoon at the Dee.

University and community organizations have been building floats for the Saturday morning parade. Prize money totaling $500 will be awarded for the winning floats.

For more information on Step Afrika, see

* Editor's Notes: Click here to read more about this presentation at Portage Library TONIGHT, Sept. 10.

Click here for the entertainment schedule.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Portage Library, FOLK to host National Geographic Adventurers of the Year Sept. 11

Dave and Amy Freeman launch their canoe in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. They set out from Ely, Minnesota, and will stop in Houghton Thursday, Sept. 11, on their way to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness of potential pollution from sulfide mining. (Photo © and courtesy Nate Ptacek)

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library and the Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) invite everyone to "Protecting Our Precious Waters," a presentation by National Geographic Adventurers of the Year Dave and Amy Freeman, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11, at the library.

Dave and Amy Freeman at their camp in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. (Photo © and courtesy Nate Ptacek)

The Freemans will tell stories from their three years of kayaking, canoeing and dogsledding 11,700 miles across North America. Their human-powered trek took them from the Pacific Northwest to Key West via the Arctic. From coming eye-to-eye with humpback whales and grizzly bears to hunkering down as Superstorm Sandy battered the New Jersey coast, the Freemans have an unforgettable story to share.

The Freemans live near our nation’s most popular protected wilderness: the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. Both the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior are currently threatened by plans for sulfide mining -- copper and nickel mines. To protect these waters from pollution and to raise awareness about preserving these pristine areas, the Freemans are gathering signatures on a petition canoe they are paddling to Washington, D.C. Their trip coincides this month with the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which established the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

With this petition, the Freemans hope to motivate the federal government to enforce the Clean Water Act and the Wilderness Act.

The Freemans sail their sailboat, Yemaya, with their petition canoe on deck, across Lake Superior. (Photo © and courtesy Nate Ptacek)

"We are going up against multinational corporations who have big shot lawyers, massive PR budgets and billions of dollars," the Freemans write on their Web site. "All we have is a 40-year-old sailboat named Yemaya, a 16-foot canoe covered in signatures and the belief that sulfide mining will not happen in Northeastern Minnesota. Why? Because when Minnesotans and people across the United States and Canada find out about the true threats that sulfide mining poses to the Quetico Superior Watersheds, they won’t let it happen."

The Freemans' petition canoe, signed by many who support the goal of their journey. (Photo © and courtesy Nate Ptacek)

The Freemans are following Chief Buffalo’s example by paddling to Washington, D.C. On April 5, 1852, Chief Buffalo and five men set off from Madeline Island, Wisconsin, in a birch bark canoe on a ten-week journey to Washington D.C. Their journey halted attempts to remove the Lake Superior Chippewa from their land and set the stage for the 1854 Treaty.

On Monday, Sept. 8, the Freemans docked at Madeline Island. They'll soon be on their way to Houghton.*

After paddling 160 miles through the Boundary Waters, the Freemans put their canoe on a sailboat in Grand Marais, Minn., planning to sail across Lake Superior and upper Lake Huron and then canoe via streams and lakes to Ottawa and then to Washington, D.C.

This map shows the Freemans' approximate route for their Paddle to DC journey. Click here for more detailed maps showing the potential pollution from sulfide mining. (Map courtesy

For more information about their trip, visit To learn about their online wilderness classroom, visit

Everyone is welcome to attend this event, and all programs at the library are free. For more information please call the library at 482-4570 or visit For more information about FOLK and mining issues visit

* Click here for the Freemans' Sept. 9, 2014, post, "Sailing through the Apostle Islands."

Update: See also this Sept. 7 article in the Duluth News Tribune: "Taking their message to Washington -- by canoe."