Sunday, November 18, 2018

Copper Country Disaster Case Managers helping flood victims

Logo courtesy Flood Recovery Project.

HANCOCK -- If you still need help recovering from the June flood, assistance is available.

The Flood Recovery Project - Copper Country, created in October, will assist Copper Country residents facing long term effects from June 2018 flooding, also locally known as the Father’s Day Flood.

Marci Vivian and Dennis Leopold will staff Flood Recovery Project - Copper Country as Disaster Case Managers. They are assessing needs and stand ready, reaching out to help those affected by the Father’s Day Flood. They are also looking into enhancing counseling options specific to flooding.

"This is a commitment to holistically getting their lives back to a place of normalcy," said the Rev. Paul Perez, of the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. "The work of disaster case management is not only material but it’s psychological, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being."

Marci and Dennis work with the Copper Country Team Disaster Recovery Group -- comprised of local church and community leaders, and nonprofit and government agencies. They also work in partnership with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). UMCOR is the humanitarian disaster recovery arm of The United Methodist Church.

Their work "officially" got up and running Oct. 5th -- four months after the June 17 flood. There are still a lot of questions Vivian and Leopold are assessing in terms of the community’s needs. They plan on reaching out, at least initially, to as many people as they can.

One thing they know for sure? Lots of people still need help.

Based on their first 150 calls, and how many people registered for aid, they estimate they’ll be overseeing about 80 households for disaster case management.

"We are finding that there are people out there still not recovered," Vivian said. "For a lot of people in the Copper Country, not everybody has the resources."

The case managers have compiled a list of flood-impacted residents from a variety of sources and have been making calls since early October. However, they fear there are more residents out there who are still in need of help. After initial contact is made and a need is expressed, a home visit is scheduled to further assess needs.

From there, the plan is for the case managers to connect the residents-in-need to appropriate organizations and nonprofits and walk them through their full recovery process.

"The need from household to household can vary greatly, and funds will be distributed accordingly," Leopold said.

"Because it’s getting colder, we’re looking for people without furnaces, hot water heaters, as well as homes that have not been cleaned and sanitized yet," Vivian said. "A lot of appliances were submerged, so those have been big needs at this time."

No cost to residents for this service

The disaster case manager service does not cost residents anything; they simply have to reach out to Vivian and Leopold indicating they need help to start the process or opt in when they receive a call from the case managers.

"Our case managers assist from the beginning of their client’s case to the close of it to aid and empower that person to work toward their long-term recovery," Perez said.

"A lot of times we don’t realize the length of time it takes for a community to recover from a natural disaster," Vivian concluded.

How to contact case managers

Leopold and Vivian are based out of the old D and N Bank building (now Huntington Bank) in Hancock, Room 402, and can be reached by phone at (906) 231-6856.

Volunteers, funding needed

They are looking for volunteers with a background in construction to help with flood damage assessments and home repair.

Funds for flood recovery are being collected through the Keweenaw Community Foundation, located in Hancock, as well as Lutheran Social Services -- Lutheran Disaster Response c/o Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Houghton.

For more information visit

Friday, November 16, 2018

Rozsa Center to host 21st annual Home for the Holidays Gift Mart Nov. 24

The 21st annual Home for the Holidays Gift Mart will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, in the Rozsa Center. (Poster courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts)

HOUGHTON -- Start your holiday shopping with hand-crafted, U.P. made gifts at the 21st annual Home for the Holidays Gift Mart, open to the public, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

This year the Gift Mart will feature more than 40 regional Upper Peninsula artisans and crafts-makers offering fresh holiday arrangements, seasonal décor, handmade jewelry, folk art, basketry, pottery, candles, soaps, woodware, photography, paintings, fiber arts, baked goods, jams and jellies, maple syrup and MORE!

The Rozsa Center is on the Michigan Tech campus. Click here for a map and directions.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Dylan Miner -- artist, activist, scholar -- connects art, indigenous peoples' issues, environmental concerns, more ...

Poster for "This Land is Always," a presentation given by Dylan Miner -- Métis artist, activist and scholar -- on Oct. 29, 2018, at Michigan Tech. In addition to discussing his art, some of which is part of the exhibit "Never Empty" at the Rozsa Center, Miner spoke about indigenous peoples' history, language, ecological concerns and socio-political issues. (Photos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

By Michele Bourdieu
With videos and photos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now

HOUGHTON -- Dylan Miner identifies strongly with his  Wiisaakodewinini, or Métis, ancestors -- a people of mixed indigenous and European ancestry who have lived in both Canada and the United States. Since his own family ancestors lived on Drummond Island in Lake Huron, water, land and settler colonialism are important elements of his art, his activism and his scholarship and teaching.

Miner is Director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and Associate Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. He sits on the Michigan Indian Education Council and is a founding member of the Justseeds artists collective. Miner holds a PhD from The University of New Mexico and has published more than sixty journal articles, book chapters, critical essays, and encyclopedia entries.

Presenting himself humbly as a learner of indigenous languages, Miner introduced himself to the audience at Michigan Tech in two of them.

At the beginning of his Oct. 29, 2018, presentation in the Great Lakes Center at Michigan Tech, Dylan Miner introduces himself in two indigenous languages and presents an example of his "agi-prop" art, or agitational propaganda, calling attention to the threat of the Line 5 Pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. Click on YouTube icon for larger screen. (Videos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

In addition to expressing his environmental concerns, Miner demonstrated how he uses art on social media to call attention to socio-political injustices against indigenous people. He also displayed artwork created by one of his own Métis ancestors:

Miner points out an example of colonial injustice against indigenous murder victims. He explains how he identifies with one of his own ancestors through art.

Bonnie Peterson, a local artist who attended Miner's talk, was impressed by his use of art to communicate messages on social media.

"His work turns the patriarchial power establishment on its head," Peterson said. "He reacts to current events by creating thoughtful, compelling images immediately, and freely distributing them on social media. His image 'no pipelines in/under the great lakes' is especially salient because of the threats to Great Lakes from oil spills, and also robbing the Great Lakes of water."*

Miner also mentioned how he altered some of his images after talking with people directly impacted by extractive industries. He noted as an example his discussions with Menominee tribal activists fighting Aquila's Back 40 mining project, which could destroy indigenous sacred sites and impact the Menominee River. He changed his original design to include the Menominee ancestral bear and the sturgeon.

Dylan Miner altered his original image on this issue after talking with Menominee activists and learning about the mining threat to their sacred sites. (Photo courtesy

Collaboration is important in Miner's work. He spoke about working with others to create projects that combine creative activities with environmental consciousness or stewardship, such as a traditional building of a birch bark canoe, an urban sugar bush, Native kids riding bikes and his recent Drummond Island reclamation project.

Here he explains a project of placing old growth white pine from the bottom of Lake Huron in the vacinity of an industrial site near Toronto on Lake Ontario:

Dylan Miner explains the purpose of his recent project called "On the Lakeshore."

The Rozsa Gallery has been featuring Miner's cyanotype art as part of their recent exhibit, "Never Empty," which continues through Saturday, Nov. 10.

Dylan Miner's awasagaam // on the other side of the water. This cyanotype work is part of the exhibit "Never Empty" in the Rozsa's A-Space Gallery through Nov. 10. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

According to Lisa Gordillo, curator of the exhibit, "Miner’s work reimagines the landscape through digitally adjusted images that counterbalance cyanotype and contemporary processes. Cyanotype is an antiquated photographic method developed in 1842, the same year that the Treaty of La Pointe ceded Anishinaabeg Lands in the western Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin. The artist’s use of cyanotype builds a physical and conceptual connection to colonial Land expropriation, capitalist expansion, and the development of new image-making technologies. Our viewpoint is stirred as Miner distorts his original images, applying pigments, minerals, and smoke, shifting their size and scale."

During his presentation Miner described some of the cyanotype works in the Rozsa exhibit:

Dylan Miner describes some of the materials he uses to create his cyanotype images of water, sky, and forest.

In answer to a question from the audience during his presentation, Miner explained his cyanotype process:

Miner explains how he creates the cyanotype images, including the length of exposure to the sun and the addition of materials to add other colors to the cyanotype blue.

Local artist Joyce Koskenmaki, who attended Miner's talk and visited the exhibit, commented on the cyanotype images.

"Dylan’s cyanotype images at the Rosza are beautiful," Koskenmaki said. "His work and his talk speak to me about art for poor people: art that can be done with simple materials, and art with a message. I felt inspired."

Miner also spoke about his work with the Justseeds artists collective, making images with environmental and political messages that he distributes freely through social media.**

Miner displays some historic IWW (Industrial Workers of the World, or "Wobblies") union images he printed and discusses their relationship with his own work and their timeliness today.

Miguel Levy, artist and Michigan Tech professor of physics, who is active in the local Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign group, said he was especially impressed by Miner's connections between art and indigenous resistance.

Levy noted, "Regarding Dylan Miner's talk, I found the connections he made during his talk quite illuminating: [between] the social and political dimensions of his art, between indigenous culture and resistance to environmental devastation, and between the revolutionary potential of the indigenous tradition and its points of coincidence with the anti-hierarchical and anti-capitalist traditions of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union." 

Miner commented on the shocking timeliness today of this historic IWW image from the early 20th century.

Emily Shaw, Michigan Tech PhD student in environmental engineering, who introduced Miner, told Keweenaw Now Miner's stories and connections inspired her to ask herself questions.

"So often we view art and science as unrelated but making art and doing science are processes that require us to ask ourselves what do we know and what skills do I have that can contribute to our learning?" Shaw said. "Dylan opened with those questions and shared the story of his art, weaving connections between land abuses, indigenous rights, and labor unions. I left inspired to make such connections in my work as a scientist."

Dylan Miner has also authored and edited several limited-edition books // booklets. His book Creating Aztlán: Chicano Art, Indigenous Sovereignty, and Lowriding Across Turtle Island was published in 2014 by the University of Arizona Press. In 2010, he was awarded an Artist Leadership Fellowship through the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. He has been an artist-in-residence at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, École supérieure des beaux-arts in Nantes, Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, Rabbit Island, and The Santa Fe Art Institute.

* Click here to see more of Dylan Miner's work and learn about his projects. Thanks to Bonnie Peterson for this link.

** Click here to learn more about Dylan Miner and the art he shares on

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw to host KLT meeting, panel discussion on Father's Day Flood Nov. 8; Mind Trekkers Nov. 10

(Poster courtesy Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw)

HOUGHTON -- The Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw will host two events open to the public on Thursday, Nov. 8. The Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT) will hold its Annual Meeting from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Following the meeting, a panel discussion, "An Overview of Green Infrastructure Opportunities and Preparedness for Future Flooding" will be the first in the Carnegie's 2018-19 Keweenaw Natural History Seminar Series: "The Father's Day Flood: Causes, Effects, and Responses." Both events, to be held in the Carnegie's Community Room, are free and open to the public.

The panel will include speakers David Watkins and Alex Mayer, both Michigan Tech professors, who will discuss the role of green infrastructure and land management in flooding mitigation. The speakers will address the causes of flooding, the impact of land use on flooding, and potential practices and technologies we could adopt in our area to lessen the impact of future floods.

The Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw is on the corner of Huron and Montezuma streets in Houghton.

Mind Trekkers at Carnegie Museum Saturday, Nov. 10
(Poster courtesy Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw)

The Carnegie Museum's Science Saturday will present the Mind Trekkers -- science and fun for the whole family -- from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10.

Michigan Tech University’s Mind Trekkers bring the WOW! of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to the hands and minds of K-12 students (and their parents) under the inspirational guidance of the Mind Trekkers team consisting of undergraduate and graduate students. Visit their Web site to learn about their activities and demonstrations.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve to hold 23rd Annual Meeting and Celebration Nov.7

Poster announcing the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve Nov. 7 in Marquette. (Poster courtesy Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve)

MARQUETTE -- Join the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the Ore Dock Brewing Company in Marquette for an evening of celebration, education, and fundraising. This year marks the group’s 23rd anniversary, and each year they host a meeting of the membership to let supporters know of their activities and organizational changes and to elect individuals to the Board of Directors.

Also this year the group is helping the National Park Service celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. During the evening, there will be a short presentation of this historic piece of legislation that has helped save rivers across the country. In addition, the unveiling of the Yellow Dog River Story Map will occur. A Story Map is an innovative multimedia tool that can be used to raise awareness for topics like the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

While you are at the event, check out the silent auction -- which is focusing on providing outdoor experiences as well as offering artwork, gift certificates, and gear as fundraising items. Help yourself to light refreshments and great Ore Dock beer as you jam out to the music of Everything Under the Sun. This local band prides themselves on performing a different show every time and focusing on stage presence, flawless sound, and genuine care for the crowd's desire with a wide variety of music.

There is a suggested $5 donation at the door to help cover expenses. The door donation gets you an entry into a drawing for door prizes like a brand new Patagonia backpack and other sweet goodies. Questions contact 906-345-9223 or

For more information on the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve and their work, visit their Web site.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

41 North Film Festival Nov. 1-4 at Rozsa Center to feature independent films, filmmakers, more...

In a scene from The Unafraid, a new documentary by Keweenaw native Heather Courtney, DACA (Dreamer) student Sylvia speaks at a rally for the right to education. The Unafraid is one of 20 independent films featured in this year's 41 North Film Festival Nov. 1-4 at Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center. (Photo courtesy Erin Smith, 41 North Film Festival director)

By Mark Wilcox, Michigan Tech News Writer
Posted on Michigan Tech News Oct. 30, 2018
Reprinted here in part with permission.

HOUGHTON -- The 41 North Film Festival will be held from Thursday, Nov. 1, through Sunday, Nov. 4, at Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. The festival, now in its 14th year, showcases more than 20 award-winning independent films and filmmakers from around the region, country, and world -- along with special events and music.*

All events are free and open to the public. All films are in the main Rozsa theater unless otherwise noted. Michigan Tech students may bring an I.D. and enter through the south door of the theater to tap your I.D. upon entrance to each film. All others, please see the Festival Admission page for information about how to acquire a free ticket for all the films.

While this year’s films focus on a variety of topics from solar-powered flight to the bizarre world of industrial musicals, several films will be of particular interest to Copper Country audiences.

Bisbee '17: A tragic and complicated past

Described by critics as "a ghost story by way of a documentary," Robert Greene’s Bisbee '17 looks at a former copper mining community’s attempt to grapple with its tragic and complicated past. A brutal act of retaliation against labor organizing efforts in 1917 still haunts the town and defines the relationship of the community to its ancestors. Although Bisbee is 2,000 miles from the Keweenaw, the Bisbee mining district was built by men from Calumet, Michigan. The Calumet and Arizona Mining Company, which cooperated with the other companies in orchestrating the ruthless events of 1917, had officers with close family ties to our local copper mines. It is a story that will be both new and familiar to those interested in local mining history.

Bisbee '17 will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3. Following the screening there will be a Q and A and panel discussion with the film’s director, Robert Greene (via Skype), Sarah Fayen Scarlett and LouAnn Wurst from Michigan Tech’s Department of Social Sciences and Jo Urion Holt from the Keweenaw National Historical Park.

The Unafraid: Heather Courtney and the Dreamers

Keweenaw native Heather Courtney, director/producer of the award-winning Where Soldiers Come From, brings her new documentary, The Unafraid, to the festival. It follows the lives of three DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students, or Dreamers, in Georgia, a state that has banned them from attending their top state universities and disqualified them from receiving in-state tuition at any other public college. Shot in an observational style over four years, this film takes an intimate look at the lives of Alejandro, Silvia and Aldo as they pursue their right to education and fight for the rights of their families and communities.

In addition to the screening of their documentary at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, Courtney and one of the students from the film, Alejandro Galeana-Salinas, will participate in a question and answer session. A reception for them at 9:30 p.m. Friday follows the screening and discussion.

Keweenaw native Heather Courtney, director/producer of The Unafraid, will be one of the filmmaker guests at the 2018 41 North Film Festival. (Photo courtesy Erin Smith, 41 North Film Festival director)

Festival Director Erin Smith says, "Heather Courtney is the kind of thoughtful and committed documentarian who is able to bring us close to her subjects because of her profound respect for them. In her hands, huge, often polarizing issues like war or immigration become grounded in the experiences of people who help us imagine their more subtle and complicated dimensions."

Copperdog: A work in progress

Also of particular interest to Keweenaw audiences, is Copperdog (working title) which follows four women mushers and their dogs as they train for the annual CopperDog 80/150. Director Laurie Little and cinematographer Justin Jones, will be in attendance for this special work-in-progress screening of their film at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4. Some four-legged special guests will be on hand as well.

The Providers: Health care in a rural area

A film of interest to anyone concerned about health care in a rural area is The Providers (2018). Set against the backdrop of the physician shortage and the opioid epidemic in rural America, this film follows three health care professionals working in a remote area much like ours.

A scene from The Providers, a film about health care in a rural area. (Photo courtesy Erin Smith, 41 North Film Festival director)

With intimate access, the documentary shows the transformative power of providers' relationships with marginalized patients, raising as many questions as it answers about health care challenges facing rural communities today. Dr. Leslie Hayes, who is featured in the film, will join Ray Sharp from the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department for a discussion following the film screening at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3. Dr. Hayes was recognized by the White House in 2016 as a Champion of Change and is married to Michigan Tech alumnus David Rich.

STEM in the spotlight

This year, 41 North will screen five films delving into history, issues and accomplishments relating to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) innovation.

The featured films look at high school students competing for an international prize (Science Fair), an early Silicon Valley startup (General Magic), internet censorship (The Cleaners), the first photograph of the moon taken from space (Earthrise) and the first solar-powered flight around the world (Point of No Return).

Following the showing of Science Fair at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, there will be a discussion featuring a panel of STEM educators.

A little something for everyone

With more than 20 films to choose from, the 41 North Film Festival offers a little something for everyone. However, Smith challenges festival goers to choose at least one film that doesn’t seem like something that would interest them.

"After every festival, one of the things I hear the most is how surprised someone was to discover that they loved a film that wasn’t high on their list," Smith notes. "Use the festival as an opportunity to explore something new."

* Click here for the schedule of films and events. Click on each film for a link to a description of the film.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Rozsa Gallery exhibit "Never Empty" features stories about local, national lands; artist reception is TODAY, Oct. 27

Mule Deer, Doe and Fawn. Aerial photograph by Amanda Breitbach. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center)

HOUGHTON -- The exhibition "Never Empty," featuring work by artists Dylan Miner of Ann Arbor and Amanda Breitbach of Nacodoches, Texas, is on display through Nov. 10 in Michigan Tech’s A-Space Gallery, within the Rozsa Center. Gallery hours are Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. A reception will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27. Artist Amanda Breitbach will give an artist talk at 6 p.m. during the reception.

The exhibit, curated by Lisa Gordillo, curator and director of the Rozsa Galleries, features photographs by Breitbach and mixed media paintings by Miner. Both artists’ work investigates stories about local and national lands

"Our collaboration is dynamic and thought-provoking," says Gordillo. "The exhibit digs into the myths and the tensions present in our landscapes and the peoples who have histories there. Both artists work to uncover, and to showcase, stories that may not be present at a first glance."

This exhibit is part of Gordillo’s effort to showcase minority voices within the gallery and to pay special attention to First Nation artists.

biidaanakwagoode // clouds in the sky come here, by Dylan Miner. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center) 

According to Gordillo, "It’s very important for all of us, but especially for Michigan Tech, as our campus sits on Ojibwe lands. I hope this exhibit inspires thoughtful conversations about landscape, land-use and the many heritages of our nation."

Amanda Breitbach’s photographs and Dylan Miner’s cyanotype-process paintings recompose the narratives we often speak when talking about "the land," "expansion," and "environments." Together, the two artists dig into the myths and tensions that exist within the landscape and peoples who have histories there.

Breitbach is a photographer whose work focuses on the complex relationships between people and land. She grew up on a family ranch in Montana; she offers portraits of a farm in decline, centered within the expansive high plains. Dylan Miner is a Wiisaakodewinini (Métis) artist, activist, and scholar. His work reimagines the landscape as he layers pigments, minerals, and smoke on top of Upper Peninsula images.

The artists’ visit is supported in part by the Michigan Tech Visiting Women and Minority Lecture Series, which is funded by a grant to the Office of Institutional Equity from the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative. Both artists will spend time with the community during their visit.

Dylan Miner to present "This Land is Always" Oct. 29

Dylan Miner will present "This Land is Always" at Michigan Tech's Environmental Engineering Graduate Seminar from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, in the Great Lakes Research Center, GLRC 202.

Miner is director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, associate professor, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, Michigan State University.

In this talk and informal conversation, Miner will discuss his artistic and scholarly practices related to political and ecological concerns. He will focus on his recent work in particular, but will also discuss collaborative projects and ways that artists can intervene in larger socio-political issues. Given that his work circulates around Indigenous knowledge and issues, Miner will integrate these ideas throughout.

This program is supported in part by the Visiting Professor Lecturer/Scholar Series which is funded by a grant to the Provost's Office from the State of Michigan's King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

"Ripley Rocks" fundraiser dance for home damaged by Father's Day flood to be Oct. 26

Cynthia Drake's house suffered serious damage from the Father's Day flood last June. A fundraiser dance for Cynthia will be held this Friday, Oct. 26, at Little Brothers in Hancock. (Photo courtesy Cynthia May Drake)

HANCOCK -- Rock Out for Ripley from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, at Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly, 527 Hancock St, Hancock. This rocking dance party is for the Rebuild of Cynthia Drake’s Ripley Falls Home of Healing. The home and property were devastated by the mudslide and flood on Father’s Day, 2018.*

The rushing, overflowing waterfall above Cynthia Drake's home in Ripley brought flooding and a mudslide that did serious damage to the home and property. (Photo courtesy Cynthia Drake)

Dance the night away with good music, snacks and awesome people! DJ Tularemia will be spinning the tunes. Free-will donations will be accepted as well as a snack to share if you like. Betty Chavis is the generous mastermind for this event!

Please RSVP to: or call: 906-370-6686 or click "going" on Facebook at the event.

* See the June 25, 2018, Keweenaw Now article "Father's Day storm spares all but one in Houghton County" by Vanessa Dietz.