Saturday, October 12, 2019

UPDATED: Anishinaabekwe to lead 3-day Water Walk 90 miles along Lake Superior; Michigan Tech to honor Indigenous Peoples' Day with cultural events Oct. 14-16

By Michele Bourdieu

People of the Heart Water Walkers will walk 90 miles on behalf of life's most precious resource, Nibi (water), from the Copper Harbor Lighthouse to Keweenaw Bay's Sandpoint Lighthouse Oct. 19, 20 and 21. (Image © Isaac Murdoch and courtesy People of the Heart Water Walk)

[BREAKING NEWS: According to a Facebook post by the Anishinaabek Caucus of the Democratic Party on Friday, Oct.11, 2019, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed Oct. 14, 2019, Indigenous Peoples' Day!

 Click here to read the full proclamation on

Governor Whitmer's Proclamation follows recently proposed legislation by State Sen. Jeff Irwin (SB 568), State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (SB 569) and State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (HB 5112) to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day in Michigan, as well as an executive order earlier this week by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declaring the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples' Day in Wisconsin.]* 

HOUGHTON -- This year Indigenous Peoples' Day is commemorated beginning on Monday, Oct. 14, with a series of events at Michigan Tech -- including lectures, films and discussions on Native American culture from Monday through Wednesday and library exhibits of Indigenous Learning Resources at both the Van Pelt and Opie Library on campus and the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton through Oct. 28.

While not directly part of the Indigenous Peoples' Day program, the People of the Heart Water Walk will be led by Anishinaabekwe from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Oct. 19-21, along the shores of Lake Superior. People of all colors, faiths, and philosophies are invited to join the Water Walk in unity to bring awareness to life’s most precious resource, Nibi (water). The Water Walk is conducted through Anishinaabe ceremonial protocol and ways of understanding the natural environment.

People of the Heart Water Walk poster. Click on poster for larger image. (Poster courtesy People of the Heart Water Walk Facebook page)

Water Walkers will begin at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Astor Shipwreck Park (where Fannie Hoe Creek flows into Lake Superior across from Fort Wilkins Park) and will proceed to Mohawk this first day. On Sunday, day two, water walkers will cross Portage Canal into Houghton. Water walkers will end their journey the third day, Monday, Oct. 21, at Keweenaw Bay's Sandpoint Lighthouse.

"In this work for the water, the women lead the ceremony, carrying a copper vessel filled with Nibi from Copper Harbor Lighthouse to Sandpoint Lighthouse located in Baraga, MI.," writes Kathleen Smith, habitat specialist in the KBIC Natural Resources Department. "The water continually moves through the 1842 Ceded Territory throughout the day starting at sunrise and into the afternoon. The men support the women by carrying an eagle staff beside them as their protectors," Smith explains.

Walkers will lodge in personal homes and community centers each night. Food and drinking water will be provided to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles. All are welcomed to participate in bringing awareness to Nibi. You can join in and walk at any point on the journey for as long as you can and feel called to do so.

Michigan Tech Indigenous Peoples' Day events

Monday, Oct. 14:
12 - 12:30 p.m. -- Michigan Tech Husky Statue. The Woodland Singers: Honoring Land, Place, and People

6 p.m. - 8 p.m. -- Fisher Hall 138. Documentary and Dialogue: American Indian identity in contemporary media

Tuesday, Oct. 15:
12 - 1 p.m. -- Noblet 144, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. Brown Bag Lecture with Kalvin Hartwig (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa)

4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. -- Hamar House. Reception for Kalvin Hartwig and Katy Bresette (Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe)

6 p.m. - 8 p.m. -- Fisher Hall 138. Short Films: Waadookodaading and This Is Who I Am, with special guests Katy Bresette and Kalvin Hartwig

Wednesday, Oct. 16:
UPDATED TIME: 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. (EDT) -- Noblet, Forestry Building 144. Anishinaabemowin Distance Learning Session with Dr. Margaret Noodin. The first 40 participants will receive a free copy of Bizhiw Miinawaa Miinan - Lynx and the Blueberries by Cecelia LaPointe (Waub Ajijaak Press) [Note: This was originally posted as 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Central Time.]

6 p.m. - 8 p.m. -- Fisher Hall 138. Feature film: Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)

Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign

The Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign at Michigan Tech began with a group of faculty, students and concerned community members meeting several times a semester and inviting / sponsoring guest speakers of indigenous origins -- including Native Americans, a Peruvian filmmaker, and an Israeli writer concerned about rights of Palestinians -- as well as films, activities and discussions on topics related to indigenous peoples' rights around the world.

At the same time, the group interested Michigan Tech students in the effort to have the university officially adopt Indigenous Peoples' Day, especially since Michigan Tech is located within Ojibwa (Chippewa) homelands and treaty-territory established by the Treaty of 1842 -- the territory of Native American nations in Gakiiwe’onaning (Keweenaw Bay), Gete-gitgaaning (Lac Vieux Desert), Mashkii-ziibing (Bad River), Odaawaa-zaaga’iganing (Lac Courte Oreilles), Waaswaaganing (Lac Du Flambeau), Miskwaabikong (Red Cliff), Wezaawaagami-ziibiing (St. Croix), and Zaka’aaganing (Sokaogon Mole Lake).

Treaty map showing dates of treaties and tribal groups located in ceded territories. Click on map for larger version. (Map courtesy Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission [GLIFWC])

Michigan Tech's Undergraduate Student Government (USG) presented a Resolution to Commemorate and Actively Support Indigenous Peoples at Michigan Technological University on Feb. 15, 2017. It was adopted on March 1, 2017, and revised on March 15, 2017. The Resolution reads in part as follows:

"BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the Michigan Tech Undergraduate Student Government (USG) urges
Michigan Technological University to commemorate Indigenous Peoples every year from this year, 2017,

"BE IT ALSO RESOLVED THAT, the Michigan Tech USG urges Michigan Technological University to actively support the recognition of Indigenous Peoples worldwide, including education and dialogue on diversity and solidarity, social justice, and indigenous decolonization.

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the Michigan Tech USG urges Michigan Technological University to actively support the recognition of and education about the Ojibwe People's’ presence and contributions to Michigan Tech and the larger community in the region and forward."

Michigan Tech's Graduate Student Government (GSG) voted in favor of a similar Resolution on Feb. 13, 2017.

According to Kellie Raffaelli, assistant dean and director of Michigan Tech's Center for Diversity and Inclusion, "President Mroz approved the proposal for the University to recognize the second Monday of October as Indigneous Peoples' Day on January 24, 2017."

Editor's Update:
* Contact your State Senator and State Representative in your own district and ask them to support these bills to establish Indigenous Peoples' Day in Michigan, since the Governor's Proclamation is only for this Monday, Oct.14, 2019. To find your State Representative, click here. To find your State Senator, click here.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Visual Art Faculty Show "Proof of Concept" Opens in Rozsa A-Space gallery

What You Do Not Know You Know, by Jess Portfleet, is part of the new visual art faculty show, "Proof of Concept," in Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center A-Space professional gallery. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center)

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the Rozsa Center are excited to announce the fall gallery exhibition, "Proof of Concept," a visual art faculty show, which runs from Thursday, Oct. 10, through Saturday, Nov. 9, in A-Space, the Rozsa professional gallery. An opening reception will be held from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11. Gallery hours are M-F 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. - 8 p.m. on Saturdays. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

"Proof of Concept" showcases recent works of art by five faculty members from Michigan Tech’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts: Anne Beffel, Susanne Q. Kilpela, Terri Jo Frew, Lisa Gordillo, and Jess Portfleet. It includes painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, and social practice art. A companion exhibit of Susanne Q. Kilpela’s drawings will take place in Michigan Tech’s Van Pelt and Opie Library, on the first floor. Visitors are encouraged to visit both the library and the Rozsa gallery to view the show.

Persistent Dilemma, by Susanne Q. Kilpela. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center)

The five artists are working in diverse media, and for many different reasons. Susanne Q. Kilpela -- who teaches a variety of courses at Michigan Tech in ceramics, drawing, and art history -- works in clay for "its delicacy and its strength." She likes to discover beauty in unusual places and her work is inspired by nature’s forms. Jess Portfleet’s sculptures include ceramic forms, yet she focuses on reinterpreting objects and their use by staging objects in unusual ways. She says her work "explores complex human moments"; and to do that she makes use of scaffolding, props, and alternative methods of support.

Artist Anne Beffel teaches courses that focus on developing creativity, and she runs a public art space in Wadsworth Hall known as The Studio Here Now. Beffel finds that her work "underscores the role art can play in creating attentiveness, which is the foundation for empathy, inclusion, and fair access to resources." Her research emphasizes her vision for a "peaceful society in which individuals have equal access to resources and opportunities."

Terri Jo Frew’s favorite materials are drawing and embroidery. She is interested in breaking down the boundaries people create between "art" and "craft." She frequently combines these more traditional forms with conceptual ideas and says that she hopes to challenge those "antiquated ideas about arts hierarchies" with her work. 

Painter and sculptor Lisa Gordillo is focusing her current work on landscapes and borders. Gordillo is also the Rozsa Gallery Director, and is excited that the gallery has a chance to present works of art from the arts faculty.

"It will be wonderful for us to have a chance to share our work and our inspirations with students and the community and to showcase the diverse kinds of art we make," Gordillo says.

Gordillo adds that the faculty artists are often inspired by their students. 

Susie Kilpela also expresses this idea: "People often ask me if my students have become inspiration for my work. What inspires me is their energy and their enthusiasm for life ahead."

For more information about these artists click on their names here to visit their Web sites: Anne Beffel, Terri Jo Frew, Lisa Gordillo, Susanne Q. Kilpela, Jess Portfleet.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Water protectors canoe, kayak on Menominee River to raise awareness of proposed Back 40 mining project's threats to environment, culture

By Michele Bourdieu
Menominee tribal members Jwin Zillier, left, and Dawn Wilber paddle down the Menominee River during a four-day, 48-mile canoe trip in July 2019 to call attention to public opposition to the proposed Back 40 open-pit mine. Menominee tribal member Wayne Swett, who accompanied them in a second canoe, took the photo. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Three hardy water protectors, members of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, spent the July 4th weekend this year on a four-day canoe trip down the Menominee River, which forms a border between Wisconsin and Michigan. Why?

"The reason why we did it was to bring awareness of opposition to the Back 40 mine from the Menominee people and members of other organizations in the Marinette-Menominee area," said Dawn Wilber, Menominee tribal member.

This map shows the route taken by the water protectors on their trip down the Menominee River. (Map courtesy Protectors of the Menominee River Facebook group)

Wilber and her fellow Menominee tribal members Wayne Swett and Jwin Zillier began their journey near the Menominee cultural sites they hope to protect from Aquila Resources' Back 40, a projected open-pit metallic sulfide mine for gold, copper and other metals -- a mine that could send billions of pounds of pulverized, highly reactive acid-generating rock containing lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and other toxic heavy metals into a pit only 147 feet away from the Menominee River, which is considered the origin of life for the Menominee people.

This ancestral burial mound is one of the Menominee sacred archaeological sites located very near the Menominee River and near the proposed site for the Back 40 mine on the Michigan side of the river. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) -- formerly Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) -- is the regulating agency for the proposed mine; however, the people, water, land and air in both Michigan and Wisconsin would be impacted by the mine if it goes through. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Wilber, who is a teacher of Menominee language and culture at the Menominee Indian High School on the Menominee Reservation where she lives, also said the three Native canoers wanted "to be able to connect with our ancestors and to travel that river as our ancestors once did."

She said the three were grateful for the concerned citizens who helped them along the way and joined them for parts of the trip, including Tina Lesperance, a member of the Coalition to Save the Menominee River, who lives near the river on the Michigan side.

"Tina helped by checking up on us, making sure we were O.K., making sure we had a place to stay or camp for the night," Wilber said.

Menominee water protectors set out on their canoe trip from the location of Menominee sacred sites to the mouth of the Menominee River to call attention to the projected Back 40 open pit gold mine, which could destroy their cultural sites and pollute the river. Dawn Wilber and Jwin Zillier are in one canoe; and Wayne Swett is joined by Anthony J. Corey, videographer, in the second canoe. (Video © and courtesy Tina Lesperance)

Wayne Swett, a resident of Menominee, Mich., said he and Wilber, of Keshena, Wis., had planned the canoe trip for a couple of years before it became a reality in July 2019.

"We picked the week before July 4 because there would be a lot of people on the river and we wanted to spread awareness concerning the Back 40 mine," Swett told Keweenaw Now. "We interviewed people along the way, and they were 100 percent against the mine."

Like Wilber, Swett spoke of connecting with their Menominee ancestors.

"We also wanted to do this canoe trip to honor our ancestors and travel as they had when the rivers were basically the highways and there were no vehicles," Swett said.

Wilber noted the eagles they spotted during the trip were guiding them.

"All along the river we counted about nine sets of eagles," she said. They all had a way of guiding us. One circled over rapids, letting us know there were rapids up ahead."

Videographer Anthony J. Corey captured this video of a bald eagle while canoeing on the Menominee River with other water protectors, calling attention to the dangers of the proposed Back 40 mine. (Video © Anthony J. Corey. Posted with permission)

Videographer Anthony J. Corey of Stephenson, Mich., joined the canoers for parts of their trip and shared his videos with Keweenaw Now.

"As long as I breathe the Back 40 project will never become a mine," Corey said.

Videographer Anthony J. Corey paddles down the Menominee River in a canoe with Wayne Swett. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

On another occasion, the canoers observed an eagle and an osprey near an island in the river that was gifted to the Menominee Tribe by Tom Boerner, a local resident who is involved in a contested case challenging the Part 632 Mining Permit for the Back 40.

Dawn Wilber videotaped an eagle and an osprey as the canoers approached the Menominee Tribe's island. "They had a kind of dogfight," Wayne Swett noted. (Video © and courtesy Dawn Wilber)

Swett said he caught a sturgeon and released it the first day on the river. They saw deer walking along the banks and fish jumping out of the river. At one point a five-foot sturgeon jumped out of the river in front of his canoe. Their diet was limited while canoeing.

"We basically lived off venison jerky," he said.

Tina Lesperance was their support system, Swett noted. She had a trailer and helped them portage around dams en route and arranged for them to stay with fellow members of the Coalition to Save the Menominee River.

Lesperance told Keweenaw Now she felt privileged to help the Menominee canoers because the tribal members and the Coalition are fighting the same battle.

Encouraged by Tina, Jwin and Dawn set out on the second day of their trip. (Video © and courtesy Tina Lesperance)

"They're fighting for their cultural sites and we're fighting for the river and they're fighting for the river," she said. "The river means a lot to them. The river is named for them because it's their place of origin."

Lesperance noted she believed the three Menominee canoers had their ancestors and the eagles taking care of them on the trip, since everything worked out so well for them.

"It was an emotional journey of the heart for them, but they also had a lot of fun," she said. 

The three were able to stay at Tina's friend Sue Tasker's cabin near the river one night instead of camping at Tina's father's place, so they enjoyed dinner, breakfast and a shower.

The three Menominee canoers -- from left, Jwin, Wayne and Dawn -- are relaxed and refreshed at Sue Tasker's cabin before setting out again on the river. (Photo courtesy Wayne Swett)

On the third night, after missing a campground where they had planned to stay, the three stayed with Tina's friends Gail and Roger Meyer, who served them a hearty dinner and breakfast and also joined them in kayaks for the final day of the trip.

Gail and Roger Meyer, at their residence on the Wisconsin side of the river, hosted the three Menominee canoers on the third night of the trip and fortified them with a generous dinner and breakfast. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

In addition to the Meyers, several supporters joined Wayne, Jwin and Dawn in canoes and kayaks on the fourth and final day of the trip, heading for the Ancestral Bear in Marinette, Wis.

Members of the Coalition to Save the Menominee River -- including activist Regina Chaltry and her daughter, Gracie -- join Menominee tribal water protectors for the fourth and final day (July 6, 2019) of a trip on the Menominee River to call attention to the dangers of the proposed Back 40 mine. A flag with the Great Seal of the Menominee Nation flies alongside the American flag on the canoe paddled by Regina and Menominee tribal member Wayne Swett. Nathan Lesperance, Tina's son, pulls his son and kayaker, Harold. Tina and Sue Tasker join in their canoe. (Video by Anthony J. Corey. Used with permission.)

As the group passed large vessels on the river, the water was sometimes a bit rough in the wind, but little Harold Lesperance kept on paddling, pausing only to enjoy some natural wonders.

Harold Lesperance, the youngest kayaker, with help from his Dad in the paddle boat, participates in the final day of the Menominee River canoe/kayak trip in July 2019 to call attention to potential threats from the proposed Back 40 mining project. (Video by Anthony J. Corey. Used with permission)

The paddlers happily approached their destination, the symbolic Ancestral Bear in Marinette, Wis., where other supporters  would welcome them.

Supporters Gail and Roger Meyer in their kayaks are seen in this video following Jwin, Dawn and Tony as they head for one more bridge and their arrival at the Big Bear. (Video by Anthony J. Corey. Used with permission)

Jwin Zillier told Keweenaw Now what she learned from the canoe trip.

"I did the canoe ride down the Menominee River for my ancestors, who paddled this river years before me," Jwin said. "While riding on the river, seeing all that nature has to offer us and not taking more than we need only confirmed for me how greedy Aquila is to strip mother earth of her natural riches. They will never realize our need to conserve and protect the water, trees, animals, etc. We have enough of these metals on earth. We should just recycle and think of others."

Jwin Zillier expresses her joy at reaching the paddlers' destination. Supporters wait near Big Bear to welcome them. (Video by Anthony J. Corey. Used with permission)

Greeted by activist Mary Hansen (in wheel chair) of the Coalition to Save the Menominee River, participants in the final day of the July 2019 canoe trip on the Menominee River land their canoes and kayaks and visit with other supporters on shore. Menominee tribal members Wayne Swett and Dawn Wilber celebrate the end of their four-day, 48-mile trip, by embracing the Big Bear, symbol of their tribe. (Video by Anthony J. Corey. Used with permission.)

The Bear in Marinette, Wis., is a replica of the original sculpture on the Menominee Reservation (in Wisconsin), which is 60 miles west of the Menominee River mouth.

Wayne Swett explained the significance of the Bear placed at the Marinette location.

"That's where the Menominee were supposed to have originated from a bear that climbed out of the river," he said.

After landing their canoes and kayaks, paddlers join their supporters for a group photo with Big Bear. (Photo © and courtesy Anthony J. Corey)

According to Menominee culture, their sacred place of origin is located at the mouth of the Menominee River in the border cities of Menominee, Mich., and Marinette, Wis. It was here that their ancestral Bear, Eagle, Wolf, Moose and Crane (their five major clans) were transformed into human form and thus became the first Menominee.*

After their arrival on the fourth day, Wayne Swett pauses for a photo with fellow canoers Jwin Zillier, left, and Dawn Wilber. (Photo courtesy Wayne Swett)

"The trip was an amazing voyage," Dawn Wilber said. "It would be an absolute crime to ruin that absolute beauty."

Wilber noted since the trip others have told her they would love to do a similar trip, even if only for one day.

"I know next summer I want to do it again," she added. "After this trip I went out and bought a canoe!"

* Read more about the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin on their Web site.

Editor's Update: We have corrected a few names and details since first posting today. Thanks to Tina Lesperance and Dawn Wilber for corrections.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Michigan Tech Professor Emeritus Willie Melton passes away; Memorial to be Oct. 5 in Rozsa Lobby

The late Michigan Tech Professor Emeritus Willie Melton III. A Memorial for Willie will be held Saturday, Oct. 5, in the lobby of the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. followed by a service at 11 a.m. (Photo courtesy Gloria Melton)

By Mark Wilcox*
Posted on Tech Today Aug. 9, 2019
Reprinted with permission.

Michigan Tech Professor Emeritus Willie Melton III passed away from complications of a serious illness July 24, surrounded by his family at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. He was 73. Melton joined Michigan Tech’s Department of Social Sciences in 1976 and served on the faculty for more than 30 years until his retirement in 2009.

From his youth as a native of Chicago, Melton developed a keen interest in civil rights and issues of social justice. Opportunities to meet such diverse leaders as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fred Hampton, and serving as president of the Black Students Association while an undergraduate at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb were formative. In 1969 he earned a bachelor’s degree and began a master's in sociology at Northern Illinois. It was also at Northern Illinois that he met his future wife, Gloria.

In 1971 Melton headed to the Pacific Northwest for a job opportunity at Washington State University and completed his master's degree in sociology the following year. He and Gloria married in 1972 as he began a fellowship at Washington State. Four years later, he earned a PhD with a concentration in family sociology and the couple moved to Houghton and Michigan Tech.

Social Sciences Professor Emeritus Bradley Baltensperger, former Social Sciences department chair, was a long-time colleague of Melton. "In many respects, it was a long way from Chicago’s West Side and South Side to Houghton. But Willie became fully engaged in both the University and the local community," Baltensperger said.

In addition to serving on the University Senate and various department, college and University committees, Melton was involved with numerous community activities and organizations including Dial Help, the Keweenaw Family Resource Center, and Habitat for Humanity. He was a member of the American Sociological Association and active in the Midwest Sociological Association. He traveled to India as a Fulbright Scholar in the 1980s and later to China under the auspices of the East-West Center in Hawaii.

A notable public appearance was his fine portrayal of Rev. Al Sharpton in Michigan Tech Theatre Company’s production of Fires in the Mirror in November 2017. Although he was receiving medical treatment at the time of the production, his performance was pre-recorded and fit in perfectly with the multi-media presentation.

Baltensperger said Melton brought his "calming personality and sociological perspective" to all his professional situations. "He taught a wide range of courses in sociology and social psychology and mentored many students, both formally and informally."

To all his endeavors, Melton brought a sense of humor which Baltensperger described as legendary: "He could take the most mundane of situations and weave a complex and hilarious half-hour story about everything from life in the Chicago projects to cross-country skiing to playing the role of Santa Claus in the Keweenaw. Willie was a great friend and a valuable colleague for 43 years."

Hugh Gorman, the current chair of Tech’s Department of Social Sciences said more than one student changed their major to the social sciences after taking one of Melton’s courses.

"As a teacher, Willie loved helping students learn about human interactions through courses such as Social Psychology and Sociology and the Family," Gorman said. "As a colleague, Willie was someone who always brought positive energy to discussions, even when he was being critical. Above all, he was kind, welcoming and always ready with a listening ear. He will be missed."

Listed among his survivors are his wife, Gloria (former Dean of Students at Michigan Tech); his children, Jacarl and Alicia; his parents; several siblings; nephews and nieces.

Memorial for Willie Melton to be Saturday, Oct. 5, at Rozsa

A celebration of Willie Melton's life will be held Saturday, Oct. 5, in the Rozsa Center lobby, on the Michigan Tech campus. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. followed by a service at 11 a.m.

For memorial gifts in Willie Melton’s honor, please consider Copper Country Habitat for Humanity, 1000 W. Quincy, Hancock, MI 49930; Keweenaw Family Resource Center, 850 W. Sharon Avenue, Suite #6, Houghton, MI 49931; or, your preferred non-profit organization.

The O’Neill-Dennis Funeral Home of Hancock is assisting the family with arrangements. Click here to access the obituary or to send online condolences.

* Guest author Mark Wilcox is a news writer in Michigan Tech's University Marketing and Communications.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Keweenaw March and Sail shows solidarity with global youth-led movement for action on climate change

By Michele Bourdieu

As participants in the Sept. 20 Keweenaw Climate March and Sail event gather to march on the Portage Lift Bridge in Houghton, a young marcher displays a sign that expresses the concerns of today's youth about climate change and Earth's future. (Photo © Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- An estimated 150 students and community residents enjoyed a sunny, mild afternoon on Friday, Sept. 20, for the Keweenaw Climate March and Sail in solidarity with a massive, worldwide, youth-led movement to draw attention to the climate crisis.

The local event included a march and display of signs on the Portage Lift Bridge and a sail by local boaters on the Keweenaw Waterway near the bridge.

Participants in the Sept. 20 Keweenaw Climate March in Houghton line the Portage Lift Bridge and display their signs of protest to drivers in passing cars, many of whom honk in support. The marchers chant, "Climate change is not a lie! Please don't let our planet die!" (Video by Keweenaw Now)

A group of Michigan Tech students organized the event with the help of concerned local residents, like Susan Burack of Hancock -- who initiated the march and signed the group up with the national organizers, the US Youth Climate Strike Coalition. The Michigan Tech students have now formed a group called Keweenaw Youth for Climate Action.

Displaying their signs on the bridge are, from left, Susan Burack, Nanno Rose and Lora Repp. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Participants displayed a variety of hand-made signs expressing their concerns about climate change.

This sign reminds us that global warming and industrial pollution threaten our supply of fresh water in the Great Lakes. (Photo © Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Two Michigan Tech students from Marquette -- Sidney Mechling, left, (holding sign saying "Make America GREEN again") a student in sustainability science, and Ally O'Neill, who is studying environmental science, challenge a certain political leader's failure to understand climate change. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Two members of Houghton High School's Environmental Club -- Samantha Drake-Flam, left, of Ripley, and Abby Ross of Tapiola, join Samantha's Mom, Cynthia Drake, right, for the Bridge March. Cynthia Drake experienced severe damage to her home during the Father's Day Flood of 2018.* (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Becky Darling, left, of Chassell, and Emily Newhouse of Calumet express some of the reasons for the worldwide Youth Climate Strike with participants of all ages. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Keweenaw Now videographer Allan Baker interviewed two young marchers about their reasons for participating in the event:

(Video © Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)**

Concerned Houghton residents Janeen Stephenson, left, and Sherri Lewis display calls for action. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Keweenaw Now asked some Michigan Tech engineering students how they believe their studies will apply to climate change.

Michigan Tech students, from left, Megan Cole of DeWitt, Mich., a student in civil engineering; Isabelle Cervantes of Woodlands, Texas, who is studying sustainability science and society; Jamie Erdmann of Darien, Ill., studying mechanical engineering; and Cameron Whiteside of Grayslake, Ill., also in mechanical engineering, chat with Keweenaw Now on the bridge. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Michigan Tech student Isabelle Cervantes has witnessed effects of climate change in her Texas town, where schools were closed because of recent flooding.

Mechanical engineering student Jamie Erdmann of Darien, Ill., said she wants to "be the change" by helping to research renewable energy.

Cameron Whiteside of Grayslake, Ill., also studying mechanical engineering, said, "I'm not 100 percent sure what I can do with it (a mechanical engineering degree), but climate change is going to require a lot of young minds to help fix the planet."

"Skippers" sail near bridge in support of Climate March

Several local sailboat owners and their guests sailed near the Portage Lift Bridge at the time of the march to show their solidarity with the youth-led movement.

Captain Bruce Woodry's sailboat, the Sarah Belle, joins other boats on the Keweenaw Waterway in sight of marchers on the Portage Lift Bridge. "Captain Bruce" organized the skippers for the Sail. Guests on his boat include Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor in chemistry and climate change expert; students Alexis Pascaris, her friend Alexander, and Shardul Tiwari. Also Cheryl and her dog Rico. In the boat following them, the Dove, are Evan McDonald and Robert Wittig. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Nancy and Dianne Sprague, who spread the word about the Sail to the local sailing club, are pictured in this video on their sailboat, Nimbus Too, along with crew members Anne Newcombe and Will Cantrell. In the boat following them are Dave Nitz and Mary Marchaterre, with a League of Women Voters sign reminding spectators to vote. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

William Lytle, now Mayor Pro-Tem for the City of Hancock, commented on the banner promoting solar energy for Hancock.

"I personally am glad to see our residents are pushing us to explore clean, local, distributed energy generation," Lytle said. "Their support (financial, technical, and political) is very welcomed within our city."

Following the Sail, Sarah Green led a climate change discussion on Captain Bruce's boat. In addition to her research and teaching on global climate change, Green currently serves as co-vice chair for the Scientific Advisory Panel on the Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6), United Nations Environment Programme.

"It's fantastic to see this worldwide surge in people, especially youth, demanding real action on the climate crisis," Green told Keweenaw Now. "Individuals cannot avert the inexorable increase in global temperature; political courage is essential. And in a democracy politicians respond to citizen pressure."

Editor's Notes:

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

** Lewis Vendlinski and his twin sister, Catherine, participated in the Keweenaw Climate Community Climate Café in November 2016. See "Keweenaw Climate Community to hold 4th Climate Café Dec. 1 at Orpheum Theater; video report on October, November KCC events."

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Cirque Mechanics presents "42FT -- A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels!" at Rozsa Center Sept. 28

Cirque Mechanics video from YouTube courtesy Rozsa Center. Click on YouTube icon for larger screen.

HOUGHTON -- From the inventive Cirque Mechanics who brought us "Pedal Punk" in 2016, comes 42FT -- A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels! At the center of every circus rests a 42ft ring full of thrills, laughs and excitement. 42FT -- A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels, is the latest invention from the creative minds of Cirque Mechanics. The company dares us to leap into the circus ring and experience the timelessness of this evolving art form. The show's unique mechanical interpretation of the traditional, and its story full of the lore of the historic one-ring circus, create a welcoming place, like a big top, where we can be amazed. The action in 42FT is full of theatricality and a modern sensibility, showcasing a galloping mechanical metal horse and a rotating tent frame for strongmen, acrobats and aerialists. Cirque Mechanics' 42FT -- A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels comes to the Rozsa Center stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28.

Creative Director Chris Lashua spent most of his career on a BMX bike and inside a German Wheel. This new production showcases his innate passion and fascination for all things mechanical and acrobatic. The synergy between man and machine, the hallmark of Cirque Mechanics, is magnificently exposed in 42FT -- A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels. It is that synergy that The New York Times called "exceptional, evocative, eye-catching and grossly entertaining…in a word, excellent."

Cirque Mechanics was founded in 2004 by Boston native and German Wheel artist, Chris Lashua, after the success of his collaborative project with the Circus Center of San Francisco, Birdhouse Factory. Cirque Mechanics quickly established itself as a premiere American circus, with its unique approach to performance, inspiring storytelling and innovative mechanical staging. Spectacle Magazine hailed it as "the greatest contribution to the American circus since Cirque du Soleil."

Cirque Mechanics, although inspired by modern circus, finds its roots in the mechanical and its heart in the stories of American ingenuity. The shows, rooted in realism, display a raw quality, rarely found in modern circus, that makes their message timeless and relevant. The stories are wrapped in circus acrobatics, mechanical wonders and a bit of clowning around.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $12 for youth, and at no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech Fee. Discount family packs are available. Tickets are available by phone at (906) 487-2073, online at, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex (SDC), or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Please note the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sixteen child petitioners filed a historic complaint with the U.N. Here's why, in their own words:

From Democracy Now
Posted on YouTube Sept. 24, 2019

Sixteen young people from around the world filed an official complaint this week to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, calling out the lack of government action on the climate crisis. Crafted by petitioners from 12 countries and between the ages of 8 and 17, the landmark case alleges that U.N. member states’ failure to properly address the climate crisis constitutes a violation of child rights.

Speaking on stage, the youth activists shared their names and explained their motivations for filing a complaint and organizing to fight against climate change.

"The world signed a contract between generations that the present world would leave a world worth inheriting to the future," said 14-year-old activist Alexandria Villaseñor as she introduced her fellow petitioners. "And today I want to tell the world, you are defaulting on that contract and we are here to collect."


Democracy Now! is an independent global news hour that airs on nearly 1,400 TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch their livestream 8 a.m. - 9 a.m. (ET)  See more at, including Greta Thunberg's speech to world leaders at the U.N. Climate Action Summit.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Parade of Nations, Multicultural Festival to celebrate 30th anniversary Sept. 21

Representatives of many countries cross the Portage Lift Bridge during the Parade of Nations. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

HOUGHTON -- Exotic international foods. Belly dancing and a Bollywood extravaganza. The Parade of Nations and Multicultural Festival is almost here. This is the 30th anniversary of the annual celebration of diversity in the Keweenaw. 

The fun kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 21, when the Parade of Nations marches from Hancock to Houghton across the Portage Lift Bridge.  The Cass Tech Marching Band from Detroit will strut its stuff, and the bumblebee-striped Michigan Tech Pep Band will give its usual wild performance. Floats representing the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Michigan Tech Indian Students’ Association, Chinese Students and Scholars and community groups will be interspersed with the bands, bagpipers, and students and community members in colorful native dress, carrying flags of more than 60 nations.

Parade Marshal is Darnishia Slade from Michigan Tech, longtime chair of the Parade of Nations. Tajah-Rayne Davise, winner of a high school essay contest on the meaning of multiculturalism, will ride in the parade.

Following the Parade, international food booths offer a variety of tasty specialties during the Multicultural Festival in Dee Stadium in Houghton. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

At noon, the Multicultural Festival begins at Dee Stadium. For just $5 to $8, you can get a full meal or choose from international tidbits at more than one dozen food booths. In the Kids Corner, children can paint boomerangs and make Chinese paper dragons and boo-boo bunnies.

The big stage will feature international entertainment including the Finnish Kivijat Dancers, an African Students’ Association performance, bellydancers from 41 North, and other performers. The float winners and the winner of the "I Love Parade of Nations" raffle will be announced during the show.

The Indian Students' Association performs a lively Bollywood number. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

The Parade of Nations and Multicultural Festival is free and open to the public.  For more information, go to   

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Keweenaw Climate March and Sail to join global action on climate change Sept. 20

Poster for Sept. 20 Keweenaw Climate March and Sail courtesy Keweenaw Youth for Climate Action.

HOUGHTON -- This Friday, Sept. 20, a group of local students and community members will join young people around the world in a global strike to push for action on climate change. Marchers will cross the Portage Lift Bridge at 4 p.m. and exhibit signs on the bridge from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. At about the same time, boaters in non-motorized water craft -- sailboats, sculling boats, canoes and kayaks -- will sail under the bridge in solidarity with this climate movement.

Marchers are asked to meet near the parking area under the bridge at 4 p.m. Friday. 

September 20, three days before the UN Climate Summit in NYC (and a visit from Greta Thunberg), young people and adults will strike all across the US and world to demand transformative action be taken to address the climate crisis. In support of the Keweenaw Climate Strike and acknowledging Greta Thunburg's sail across the Atlantic to attend the UN Climate Summit, boaters are invited to join "Sail for the Environment" in the Portage Canal on September 20.*

Tentative details for boaters are as follows, pending weather:

4:45 p.m. - Skipper meeting by VHF Ch 68
5 p.m. - Boats will meet in front of the Houghton County Marina and circle around the canal
6 p.m. - Boats will dock at Houghton County Marina (limited number of free slips available) or depart for home berth.
6:30 p.m. - Dr. Sarah Green will speak a few words on the climate at the Houghton County Marina shelter building.

If you have an interest in being a skipper with your boat, please respond to as soon as possible.

Michigan Tech student John ("Jack") Wilson, one of the organizers of the Keweenaw event, said the global climate strike is led by young people fighting for their future.

"This is a youth led strike, because not only are youth disproportionately affected by climate change, but they are excluded from the electoral process which makes major decisions on this issue," Wilson said. "The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) suggests that we massively reduce our emissions by 2030, in order to avoid reaching the catastrophic implications of a rise of 2 degrees Celsius in global temperature. Even if every country stayed committed to the Paris Accord, we would still see a 3-degree increase by mid century."

Wilson called the youth-led strike necessary because previous efforts like petitions, letters to Senators or calling on governments to divest from fossil fuels have not worked and greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

"Thus far, our societies' actions to address this crisis have been a catastrophic failure," Wilson added. "And so the question that should follow might be 'what do we do now?' To which our attention turns to the social sciences, and the social science says, 'If you want to rapidly change the political direction of a society, in the shortest amount of time, there’s one way to do it, and that way is mass participation in civil disobedience.' - Roger Hallam, PhD of Sociology at Kings College of London and co-founder of Extinction Rebellion."

Wilson noted the youth-led strike follows the example of previous non-violent civil disobedience movements for change.

"The civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, women's suffrage, the liberation of India -- all of these movements which transformed our society -- made their impacts by taking it to the streets," Wilson said. "We hope to follow in their footsteps to address the greatest challenge of our time. If Dr. King did it with one book about Ghandi and the Bible, I think we can do it with 30 years of climate science."

*Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist who has been raising global awareness of the risks posed by climate change and speaking out against politicians' lack of action on the climate crisis.

From Wikipedia: "In August 2019, Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Plymouth, UK, to New York, US, in a 60 ft racing yacht equipped with solar panels and underwater turbines. The trip was announced as a carbon neutral transatlantic crossing serving as a demonstration of Thunberg's declared beliefs of the importance of reducing emissions. The voyage lasted 15 days, from 14 to 28 August 2019. While in the Americas, Thunberg will be attending the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City and the COP 25 climate change conference in Santiago, Chile."

See this Sept. 17, 2019, article: "Greta Thunberg is leading kids and adults from 150 countries in a massive Friday climate strike."

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Watchdog group reveals Enbridge influence campaign aimed at county officials fueled by oil money; UP Energy Task Force to meet in Hancock

The Michigan Association of Counties Facebook page proudly displays Enbridge's sponsorship. (Image courtesy Oil and Water Don't Mix.)  

By Michele Bourdieu, with information from Oil and Water Don't Mix

Michigan Campaign Finance Network report puts a spotlight on a wide-ranging campaign using money to win support for dangerous Line 5 oil pipelines and proposed tunnel.

A revealing new report by a respected, independent governmental watchdog organization documents how the Canadian oil transport giant Enbridge is buying influence with Michigan public officials as part of a multimillion-dollar media and lobbying campaign aimed at keeping its dangerous Line 5 oil pipelines in the Great Lakes and gaining approval for a proposed pipeline oil tunnel to possibly replace them.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network in a new investigation found that, after Enbridge bought $63,000 in paid sponsorships and ads with the Michigan Association of Counties, the group pushed through a resolution backing Enbridge’s Line 5. Houghton County is among several Michigan counties that have already signed the resolution.

The counties’ group deployed its lobbyist to write pro-Line 5 resolutions for counties. Moreover, the watchdog group obtained an email from Enbridge lobbyist Deb Muchmore revealing Muchmore’s lobbying of an Oakland County commissioner, including providing "key messages" that have largely been debunked by the news media and other sources. That same document is also apparently being widely distributed to state lawmakers.

The report also raises questions about whether Grand Traverse County commissioners violated Michigan’s Open Meetings Act by discussing the Line 5 resolution privately through emails out of the public light.

The Michigan Anishinaabek Caucus, which opposes Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline and proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, posted on their Facebook page a corrected version of the Line 5 resolution signed by the Grand Traverse County commissioners. It sheds a light on documented facts that may be unknown to many public officials. (To access this corrected version of the resolution visit the Michigan Anishinaabek Caucus Facebook page and click on files.)

Houghton County Republican Commissioners vote for Line 5 Resolution 

In Houghton County, the resolution was added to the July 9, 2019, agenda during the meeting. It was not included in the agenda posted for the public and commissioners before the meeting and was not mentioned in the packet of information given to the commissioners for the meeting.

During their July 9, 2019, meeting, Houghton County Commissioners voted 3 (Republicans) to 2 (Democrats) to sign the Enbridge Resolution of support for Line 5 and the proposed tunnel.

According to the minutes of the July 9, 2019, meeting of the Houghton County Board of Commissioners, "A Motion was made by Chairman Koskela seconded by Commissioner Britz to adopt the Resolution for Line 5. Commissioner Anderson expressed concerns and wanted to hear what the State intends to do regarding this matter. Commissioner Janssen stated she wanted more information on this matter. The Motion carried by the following vote: YES:  Koskela, Britz, Tikkanen 3. NO: Anderson, Janssen 2."

Commissioner Gretchen Janssen told Keweenaw Now she voted no because she wasn't prepared to make an educated response at the time of the meeting.

"I now understand the benefits of Line 5 but believe the environmental impact if the line broke is far greater than the benefits of the line," Janssen said. "I would still say no to that resolution. Also, I don’t like being an elected official being asked to endorse a company. It just seems inappropriate to me."

Commissioner Glenn Anderson said he voted no on the Resolution and, at the time, said why he did.

"I said any action on line 5 was premature while we are waiting for Governor Whitmer's Up Energy Task Force, which has been directed by March 31st (2020) to identify cost effective propane sources to replace the estimated 35 million gallons of annual propane that comes to the UP via line 5," Anderson told Keweenaw Now.

UP Energy Task Force to hold public meeting in Hancock Sept. 20

In fact, Governor Whitmer's Up Energy Task Force is scheduled for a series of public meetings on the Line 5/propane issues, and their next meeting will be in Hancock at Finlandia University's Jutila Center.

The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in the Leroy Keranen Conference Room 323 of the Jutila Center, 200 Michigan St., Hancock.

The meeting will include a presentation, a lunch break, and an opportunity for the public to make comments from 2:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

The UP Energy Task Force was created by Executive Order No. 2019-14. The charge to the Task Force according to section 2(a) of the Executive Order is to do the following:
  • Assess the UP’s overall energy needs and how they are currently being met.
  • Formulate alternative solutions for meeting the UP’s energy needs, with a focus on security, reliability, affordability, and environmental soundness. This shall include, but is not limited to, alternative means to supply the energy sources currently used by UP residents, and alternatives to those energy sources.
  • Identify and evaluate potential changes that could occur to energy supply and distribution in the UP; the economic, environmental, and other impacts of such changes; and the alternatives for meeting the UP’s energy needs in response to such changes.*
The Task Force's first report, due March 31, 2020, is to be focused on alternative means to supply propane to the UP consistent with section 2(a) of the Executive Order. The Task Force is required to submit the remainder of its report, also consistent with section 2(a), by March 31, 2021.

Written comments regarding the work of the UP Energy Task Force can also be submitted via email to and will be shared with all UP Energy Task Force members. Comments submitted will become part of the public record and subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Enbridge pumps money into media ads, lobbying for Michigan and Minnesota pipelines

Enbridge’s wide-ranging campaign to persuade Michigan to keep Line 5 pumping oil through the Straits of Mackinac has seen the Canadian corporation and its partners pumping money into print, online, and radio ads in virtually every media market and sponsorships of public radio stations, who in exchange for Enbridge’s money repeat Enbridge’s messages, often multiple times a day. For the first seven months this year, Enbridge spent $105,728 on lobbying, more than the entirety of 2018, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Enbridge’s intensive spending in Michigan on paid lobbying and media ads this year mirrors a similar oil pipeline campaign in Minnesota where the Canadian company has spent $13 million trying to force governmental approval of a pipeline there. It follows the action by Enbridge last year to funnel more than $126,000 into a Michigan Chamber of Commerce PAC that unsuccessfully challenged the Voters Not Politicians redistricting reform measure passed overwhelmingly by voters.

"Enbridge is purchasing influence and political support in Michigan, plain and simple, and they are poisoning our politics along with our Great Lakes environment," said Sean McBrearty, Oil and Water Don’t Mix coordinator. "Our elected representatives are supposed to represent the people. We can’t trust them to do that when they are financially beholden to Enbridge and their oil and gas industry allies."**

Editor's Notes:

* See our June 10, 2019, article, "Gov. Whitmer signs executive order creating UP Energy Task Force."

** Thanks to Oil and Water Don't Mix for information about the Michigan Campaign Finance Network investigation. You can learn more about Line 5 and sign a petition against Enbridge's tunnel project here.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

La Pointe, Wis., passes resolution supporting shut down of Enbridge Line 5

This map shows the location of Mooningwaanekaaning Minis -- Madeline Island -- and its proximity to the Bad River Indian Reservation. Bad River is suing Enbridge because of threats from Line 5, which crosses through 12 miles of sensitive habitat on the Reservation. (Maps and photos courtesy Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa)

By Barbara With*
Posted Aug. 28, 2019, on Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative
Reprinted with permission.

LA POINTE, Wis. -- In a stunning show of support for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Town of La Pointe (Wis.) Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Aug. 27, 2019, to pass Resolution 2019-0827 Enbridge, denouncing Enbridge Line 5 and all pipelines in the Great Lakes, and standing by Bad River in their July 23, 2019, lawsuit against the foreign oil company. La Pointe is on Mooningwaanekaaning Minis -- Madeline Island -- in the middle of the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin.

The Bad River suit is to force the foreign oil company to comply with its legal obligations to decommission and remove the 66-year-old pipeline from the Bad River watershed. Oil continues to flow across 12 miles of sensitive reservation habitat, even though the right-of-way easements expired in 2013, and Line 5 is in imminent danger of failing. The suit comes only after several years of mediation that failed to get Enbridge to shut the line down.**

According to the lawsuit:

A meander bend in the Bad River adjacent to where the pipeline is currently buried under the River -- and directly upstream from the Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs -- has been migrating, causing the river to move ever closer to a portion of the pipeline that is buried much shallower than the adjacent river bottom. That bend is highlighted in blue below. When the migrating channel of the Bad River reaches the buried pipeline, the river will erode and remove the surrounding soils (a process known as scouring) until the pipeline is exposed. When this occurs, portions of the pipeline will no longer be supported by underlying or surrounding soils for the length of the exposure, and the unsupported span will lengthen as the river continues to carry away the soils.

This aerial view shows the Line 5 pipeline (slightly diagonal orange line) crossing the meandering Bad River on the Bad River Reservation. Click on image for larger view.

The foregoing circumstances represent an existential threat to the Band, its Reservation resources, and its way of life. They pose a dire threat to the treaty-protected rights of the Band and its members in the lands and waters of the Reservation. Accordingly, in addition to constituting a trespass and unlawful possession of the Band’s lands, Enbridge’s refusal to halt the flow of oil across the Reservation constitutes a grave public nuisance.

Read the entire lawsuit here.

The Tribe continues to monitor and document the dangerous conditions of the pipeline and the imminent danger to the entire Chequamegon Bay because of Enbridge’s refusal to stop the oil. Bad River is hoping to avert a potentially devastating situation before it happens and bring the company’s unauthorized presence to an end.

This photo was taken  where 25-40 feet of Enbridge Line 5 pipe are unsupported and exposed to the elements at the Denomie Creek tributaries on the Bad River Reservation. 

Resolution 2019-0837 Enbridge addresses the 1,244 spills, leaks and releases over a 17-year period, the failure of Enbridge to have a plan to clean up a spill under ice, and the urgency to decommission Line 5, considering the extremity of the problem and the great risk La Pointe and Madeline Island are currently in because of Enbridge’s refusal to stop the oil.

Residents of La Pointe who attended the meeting were in agreement with the resolution.

Mashkiiziibi (Bad River) Band requests Enbridge line 5 cessation of oil flow

On August 21, 2019, Bad River Natural Resources Department and technical experts discovered over 48 feet of exposed pipeline on Enbridge line 5 at the Denomie Creek site identified as slope # 18. Various interactions with storm events combined with the natural unpredictability of the land and water have naturally eroded enbankments throughout the area.

Tribal staff and technical experts are currently on site analyzing the threat and have been directed to prepare for emergency management response. Over the last few years, Bad River NRD has been communicating to Enbridge that these right-of-ways need to be continually and routinely monitored and brushed because of the natural changes of the landscape and threats the pipeline poses. Slope # 18 represents an area that Enbridge bas not presently brushed and maintained on the surface.

In a letter dated August 21, 2019 from Bad River Chairman Michael Wiggins, Jr., to Enbridge President Guy Jarvis, Wiggins states, "I do not need to tell you that the discovery of this exposed and unsupported stretch of pipeline is a highly significant and alarming development." Chairman Wiggins acknowledged two steps considered by the Band to be essential to addressing the situation: 1) The Band requested the cessation of oil flow through the reservation. 2) The Band requested that Enbridge respond and participate in the further investigation of the situation.

The Band filed suit in the Western District of Wisconsin Federal Court on July 23, 2019, asserting invaluable resources at stake and that certain areas were at risk for pipeline exposure.**

With over 7,000 members, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians is located on an 125,000-acre reservation in an area within Ashland and Iron Counties on the south shore of Gichi-Gami (Lake Superior). The Ojibwe people have a long and rich heritage throughout the Great Lakes region prior to European contact and through to today. Treaties signed by eleven Ojibwe Tribes ceded millions of acres throughout the region, including what is currently the upper one-third of the State of Wisconsin, but retained the rights to hunt, fish, and gather in the ceded territories, both on and off of their reservation land.

Bad River Band logo courtesy Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Click here to learn more about the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

* Guest author Barbara With is an award-winning author and composer, international peace activist, founding member of Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative, and defender of Lake Superior and the Penokee Mountains.

** See our July 28, 2019, article, "Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sues Enbridge to remove Line 5."

Monday, September 02, 2019

Nick Estes to speak on Standing Rock, Indigenous resistance Sept. 3 at Michigan Tech

Poster courtesy Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign.

HOUGHTON -- Nick Estes, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and assistant professor in the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico, will present "Our History is the Future - Standing Rock vs Dakota Access," at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, in the Alumni Lounge, Memorial Union Building (MUB) at Michigan Tech.

His talk is about the lessons of the ten-month Indigenous resistance at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016. Estes places this narrative in the context of the long tradition of Indigenous resistance to the United States genocidal wars against the native peoples of this continent and the development of colonial institutions. He notes that the theft of Indigenous lands continues up to the present and is an integral part of global imperialism. In that sense, the Indian Wars have never truly ended. They continue and reach beyond the borders of this country. Thus the spirit of internationalism is an existential necessity, and ending imperialism abroad by ending it at home is a sacred duty of the Indigenous movement.

At Standing Rock in 2016, this spirit of internationalism was evident, as Indigenous nations from around the world made their way to the camp site in solidarity.

Nick Estes places the struggle at Standing Rock in the context of the struggle against capitalism. His recent book, Our History is the Future, closes with the following words:

"The Water protectors also ask us: What does water want from us? What does the earth want from us? Mni Wiconi -- water is life -- exists outside the logic of capitalism. Whereas past revolutionary struggles have strived for the emancipation of labor from capital, we are challenged not just to imagine, but to demand the emancipation of earth from capital. For the earth to live, capitalism must die. Hecetu welo!"

In 2014, Estes co-founded The Red Nation, an Indigenous resistance organization. In 2017-2018, Estes was the American Democracy Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. His work engages colonialism and global Indigenous histories, with a focus on decolonization, oral history, U.S. imperialism, environmental justice, anti-capitalism, and the Oceti Sakowin.*

This event is sponsored by the Michigan Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion; the Michigan Tech Social Science, Humanities and Physics departments; the Episcopal Church; and the King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.

*Oceti Sakowin (Och-et-eeshak-oh-win), meaning Seven Council Fires, is the proper name for the people commonly known as the Sioux.