Friday, July 16, 2010

Lake Superior Day activities planned for July 18 near Marquette

Lake Superior near Marquette. (Photo courtesy Stand for the Land)

BIG BAY, MICH. -- Several activities are planned for Sunday, July 18, Lake Superior Day, to honor the big lake in Big Bay and on the Yellow Dog Plains near Marquette.

Residents of the Yellow Dog Watershed, whose tranquil life in nature has already been degraded by preliminary mining activities in the area, are inviting everyone to join Native Americans and leaders of various faiths for a day of prayer and fasting, this Sunday near Eagle Rock to honor Lake Superior.

The Lake Superior Day (Sunday, July 18) event near Big Bay in north Marquette County is named "Under the Shadow of Eagle Rock: A Day of Prayer and Fasting."

Residents of the Yellow Dog Watershed hope the public will join in prayers for the protection of the environment where Kennecott Eagle Minerals is building a nickel and copper mine.

New garden planted recently at Eagle Rock, outside Kennecott's fence. (Photo courtesy Stand for the Land)

The event will run from sunrise to sunset with rituals, prayers, meditations and ceremonies every two hours on the hour.

Jan Zender and Rochelle Dale spent 21 quiet years living on the pristine Yellow Dog Watershed, but the married couple's peaceful existence has been shattered by roaring trucks and other mining construction activities.

"Kennecott has really stepped up the pace on the plains, and they are not in one place -- they are all over the place," said Rochelle Dale, a member of the St. Mary Catholic Church in Bay Bay. "They have test sites now on the Pinnacle Falls Road, two miles from Eagle Rock."

Dale said she raised her two children -- Ian, 25, and Kalil, 18, to respect the Yellow Dog Plains. Now, if you ride a bike in the area, you can hear the mine trucks and machines everywhere.

"It's devastating and degrading," Dale said. "This is a part of the land that we love and the reason we live here, and the construction is turning it into something else -- it will never be the same."

Zender and Dale live along the Yellow Dog River about six miles downstream from the mine.

Yellow Dog River near Big Bay, Mich. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

"My husband and I and some of the other residents have invited members of the different faith communities to fast and pray with us (for the protection of Lake Superior and its tributaries)," she said. "There will be prayers for the earth and prayers for all people who are affected by these kinds of things across the world."

Representatives from the interfaith community will hold prayers including Lutheran, Buddhist, Roman Catholic, Unitarian, United Methodist and Jewish traditions.

Members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community will pray to stop the desecration of Eagle Rock, which has been the site of Ojibwa religious ceremonies for centuries, and for the protection of Lake Superior from possible mine-related pollution like sulfuric acid, a byproduct of sulfide mining.

The public can also participate in a sweat lodge, a Lakota tradition, and in yoga and meditation, according to Rev. Tesshin Paul Lehmberg, head priest of Lake Superior Zendo, a Zen Buddhist temple in Marquette.

"This event will acknowledge and celebrate values other than those represented by the bottom line on an accountant’s ledger," Rev. Lehmberg noted. "We will acknowledge and celebrate the long view, the one that sees past the next fiscal quarter down to the seventh generation of our heirs and beyond."

Those present “will acknowledge and celebrate the inestimable spiritual worth of the Yellow Dog watershed and its people, and the pure, ancient waters of Lake Superior, which lie downstream and which bless us all," Lehmberg added.

Rev. Jon Magnuson, Lutheran pastor and event co-organizer, said the public debate about the proposed sulfide mine includes more than an economic equation.

"The quality of water, the forests, and the claims of one of the Upper Peninsula's major Indian tribes that this is a sacred place beg to be heeded by people of conscience," Magnuson said. "Sunday's day of prayer and fasting will be a time to lift up prayers for Kennecott employees and the region's people whose lifestyle is threatened by this wealthy international mining company Rio Tinto, which continues to hold one of the worst records of environmental pollution and human rights violations in the world."

"Spiritual dimensions to current controversies around the environment too often go unrecognized," Magnuson said. "There are bulldozers -- but there are also prayers and songs and we intend that they will echo out over the forests of the Yellow Dog on Lake Superior Day 2010, under the shadow of Eagle Rock."

The event will be held adjacent to the Kennecott leased property line off the Triple A Road. Markers will be posted from the corner of County Road 550 and County Road 510.

Eagle Rock is a 45-minute drive from Marquette. Directions are posted on the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve website.

For more information contact Rev. Magnuson at 906-228-5494 or Rev. Lehmberg at 906-226-6407.

Save the Wild U.P. to hold fundraising breakfast in Big Bay

For supporters who are not fasting, Save the Wild U.P. will be holding a Lake Superior Day fundraising waffle breakfast from 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 18, at the Powell Township School in Big Bay. The breakfast will include eggs, sausage and fruit served with fresh-roasted Dead River Coffee.

Tickets for the breakfast on sale at the SWUP office or Big Bay Outfitters for $8. Kids' tickets are $5, and under 5 years old are free. Proceeds will support Freshwater Future, YMCA Youth Kayaking and Save the Wild U.P.

Other suggested activities for the day include blueberry picking on the Yellow Dog Plains -- they’re ripening every day -- then later, a dip in the Big Lake or the Yellow Dog River to cool off!

If you’re too full to hike, join the Group "Paddle Independence" at 1 p.m. (connected to Lake Superior and safer). If you need a boat, reserve one for a reduced rate from the Outfitters by calling Bill at 345-9399.

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