Tuesday, January 01, 2013

IDLE NO MORE: Returning To Our Sacred Places - Migizii wa sin

By Jessica Koski, from her blog*
Posted Dec. 30, 2012
Reprinted with permission

Atop Eagle Rock, Dec. 28, 2012. (Photo © and courtesy Kathleen Heideman. Reprinted with permission.)

"Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty and which protects the land and water. Colonization continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and damage to the land and water. We must repair these violations, live the spirit and intent of the treaty relationship, work towards justice in action, and protect Mother Earth." ~Idle No More**

BARAGA -- In solidarity with indigenous peoples seeking to protect and reclaim their sacred places around the world and the Idle No More movement, we gathered at Migizii wa sin, Eagle Rock, on December 28, 2012. We gathered in support of Chief Theresa Spence and our brothers and sisters in Canada, across Turtle Island, and down to South America.*** We prepared a fire and shared prayers, blessings, songs, and inspiration for our lands, waters, sacred places, Mother Earth, and the future.

On the way to Eagle Rock on Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, are, from left, Kathleen Heideman,  Georgenia Earring, Jaimee Loonsfoot, Nancie Lamb, Margaret Boyer, Charlotte Loonsfoot and Dan MacNeil. (Photos © and courtesy Jessica Koski except where otherwise indicated. Reprinted with permission.)

Idle No More arose from grassroots and First Nations people across Canada in response to Bill C-45 which aims to gain access to natural resources on First Nation lands by removing environmental protections. Over the past two weeks, Flash Mobs and Round Dances have occurred throughout Canada, the U.S. -- from the Mall of America to Times Square, and even Europe, New Zealand and the Ukraine. Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence approaches week three of a fast/hunger strike protest. She is courageously willing to die for her people as she waits for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a representative of Queen Elizabeth to accept her request to simply meet with her and other indigenous leaders to address the issues facing their communities.***

On December 28, the day of the full moon -- Manidoo-Giizisoons (Little Spirit Moon) -- indigenous peoples were asked to gather at their sacred places in solidarity. Eagle Rock, also known as the Home of the White Wolf and the High Place, has been a sacred place to the Anishinaabe and other peoples for centuries. It is located on 1842 Treaty territory in the presently occupied territory of the State of Michigan in the Upper Peninsula near the town of Big Bay. In 2010, Keweenaw Bay Anishinaabe Ogichidaag were arrested at our sacred site to make way for a sulfide mine, known as the "Eagle Mine."**** One of the world's largest mining companies, Rio Tinto, blasted a mine portal directly into Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock, surrounded by Rio Tinto's fence, is to the left in this photo. The portal to their sulfide mine has been blasted into the rock.

Despite grassroots efforts and legal challenges, the company has constructed a mile long tunnel to a highly reactive sulfide copper/nickel ore body they plan to begin exploiting by 2014 beneath a river of Lake Superior. The effects would ripple to groundwater discharges to freshwater springs, a potential new 21-mile haul road through our pristine wetland and medicinal plant areas, processing and permanent disposal of 2.5 million tons of sulfide-bearing tailings at a lake at Humboldt in the Escanaba River Watershed of Lake Michigan, about 45,000+ acres of mineral rights claimed or leased by Rio Tinto, and a half dozen more sulfide mine target sites.

Sign placed at Eagle Rock on Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, in solidarity with the Idle No More movement.**

The Anishinaabe and their supporters who care for this land and do not wish to see the threshold of the world's fresh water poisoned, have continued to gather and pray at and near Eagle Rock -- amidst its strength and in the face of greed and destruction. We gathered again at Eagle Rock at this important time of solidarity with our brothers and sisters across Canada. We are inspired by the revitalization and strength of indigenous peoples, and we pray for the healing of our people and the protection of our lands and waters across Turtle Island.

Recently Rio Tinto sought to fund a program for tribal students. I issued this statement concerning the program: "My belief is that if Rio Tinto wants to begin respecting indigenous rights and leadership, it should halt its mining activities immediately at our sacred place and begin honest and meaningful consultation with our traditional and political leaders."

On Eagle Rock, participants in the Dec. 28, 2012, event display signs in solidarity with the Idle No More movement. Pictured here are, from left, Nancie Lamb, Kathleen Heideman, Georgenia Earring, and Margaret Boyer.

Editor's Notes:

* Keweenaw Now guest writer Jessica Koski, an Anishinaabe from the Otter Clan, is a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) and is KBIC's Mining Technical Assistant. Most of this article appears on her blog: jessicakoski.blogspot.com. We have added a few of her additional statements.

** Learn more about the Idle No More movement by visiting their Web site.

*** Learn more about Chief Theresa Spence and her hunger strike by watching this You Tube video of a Dec. 18, 2012, interview with her. Click here for a Dec. 31, 2012, article about her invitation to Canadian Parliament members, despite her weakened state.

**** See our May 2010 slide show on Eagle Rock, those who marched in Marquette and those who camped on the Rock to protect it until some were arrested.

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