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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Finlandia celebrates grand opening of Hirvonen Hall in Hancock

By Michele Bourdieu, with additional information and photos from Finlandia University Communications

Visitors, including Hancock Schools alumni, attend the July 23, 2022, grand opening of Hirvonen Hall (former Hancock Public Schools building), new home of Finlandia University's  College of Health Sciences programs. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- Hirvonen Hall, the new name for the former Hancock Public Schools building above Quincy Green in Hancock, Michigan, is now official, following the July 23, 2022, ribbon cutting, grand opening, open house and visitors' tour. The event was in conjunction with a Hancock Central High School alumni reunion.

Hancock Central High School alumni gather for a group photo in front of Hirvonen Hall on July 23 -- part of the 2022 HCH All-School Reunion weekend. (Photo © and courtesy Finlandia Communications)

Finlandia renamed the building, acquired in 2009, to recognize the Hirvonen family’s legacy -- many years of extraordinary leadership and generosity to Suomi College/ Finlandia University. 

Finlandia's new president, Tim Pinnow, welcomed visitors and recognized Mike Lahti, Hancock businessman for over 40 years, who owns the fourth floor of the building and who has served on Finlandia's Board of Trustees since 2011. Lahti and members of his family assisted with renovations of the building, and Mike cut the ribbon for the grand opening.

Finlandia University's new President, Tim Pinnow, addresses visitors at the July 23, 2022, grand opening of Finlandia's Hirvonen Hall, the former Hancock Public Schools building, re-named in honor of the Hirvonen family, who have generously supported Suomi College/Finlandia University over the years. Mike Lahti cuts the ribbon. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

After the ribbon cutting, Dr. Fredi de Yampert, Dean of Finlandia’s College of Health Sciences, welcomed visitors in the auditorium and described the innovations to the building.

Dr. Fredi de Yampert, Dean of Finlandia’s College of Health Sciences, addresses visitors in the auditorium of Hirvonen Hall. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

President Pinnow recognized visiting members of the Hirvonen family, Linda and Mark Hirvonen of Marquette, for their family’s extraordinary legacy of leadership and generosity. Their father, Ray, who passed away at the age of 93 in December 2021, donated over one and a half million dollars to Finlandia in his lifetime in addition to serving on the Board of Trustees for Suomi College/Finlandia University. In addition to Hirvonen Hall, the Ray and Peg Hirvonen College of Health Sciences has been named in honor of the Hirvonen family’s legacy, which began with Ray Hirvonen's father, Matti.

In the auditorium following the welcome to visitors, members of the Hirvonen family and their spouses join Finlandia President Tim Pinnow and Dr. Fredi de Yampert for a photo. Pictured are, from left, Michael Allkins and Linda Hirvonen, President Pinnow, Dean de Yampert, Mark Hirvonen and Kathy Blake. (Photo © and courtesy Finlandia Communications)

Mark and Linda Hirvonen's grandfather, Matti Hirvonen, a Finnish immigrant, started the family business with bottling companies in Mohawk, Ontonagon, Gwinn, Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette. 

"My grandfather had an interest in Suomi/Finlandia dating from his first business in Mohawk," Linda said. "My Dad (Ray Hirvonen) was a teenager when my grandfather died."

Ray attended the University of Michigan and, after graduation, returned to Marquette to take over the Marquette Bottling Works with his brother, Mel. Ray married Margaret (Peg) Johnson in 1951 and they had three children -- Linda, Matt and Mark. Mark Hirvonen worked with his father, Ray, and his uncle Mel in the family business.

"We all started working there when we were 9 or 10," Mark noted. "It was a real family business."

Linda said she worked for the business until the age of 16 and later while in college. Ray and Peg's other son, Matt, also worked at the shop through college, she noted.

"All three of us have served all these years on the [Hirvonen] foundation board," Linda said.

The Ray and Peg Hirvonen Charitable Foundation continues to serve many local organizations in the Central U.P. of Michigan and the Treasure Coast of Florida (where Ray and Peg spent winters).

Ray Hirvonen was very active in community organizations in Marquette and served on several boards, as well as the Suomi/Finlandia Board of Trustees.*

Following the auditorium introduction, visitors toured Hirvonen Hall, welcomed by Finlandia students in the health sciences programs, including nursing and physical therapy. 

Mike and Sharon Lahti, both graduates of Hancock High School, joined the tour.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, Mike and Sharon Lahti of Hancock pause for a photo in Hirvonen Hall. "This is where we met," Sharon said. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Renovations to the building began in 2019 following a joint venture between Finlandia and Mike Lahti. Finlandia and Lahti are committed to preserving the building’s historical character, enhancing its community spaces and creating inspiring learning environments.**

"As my wife Sharon and I are both graduates of Hancock High School, I am pleased that I was able to be a part of the renovation to make the building, once again, a viable place of learning in the center of our town," Lahti said.

Two former teachers at Hancock High School, Carol and David Waisanen, were also touring the building. They had just returned from a trip to Finland.

Carol and David Waisanen, former Hancock High School teachers, visit the new Finlandia Esports area, located in the former school library on the fourth floor. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The fourth floor of the building houses several local businesses and organizations, including the Superior School of Dance.


* For more details on Ray Hirvonen's life, see his obituary in the Marquette Mining Journal here.

** See also the Jan. 4, 2022, Finlandia News article on Hirvonen Hall, "Campus and Community: Together for Good."

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Yoopers for Ukraine raise community awareness with Walks for Ukraine, global actions for Ukraine, more ...

By Michele Bourdieu

On a rainy July 20 afternoon, Angi Denesynko of Ukraine serves Ukrainian dumplings that she made to participants in the Walk for Ukraine in Houghton. Her younger daughter, Riana, with umbrella and sunglasses, is prepared for rain or shine. Pictured at right are Nadija Packauskas, co-founder of Yoopers for Ukraine, and Ženia Vorodis, active member of the group. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)
Since July 4, 2022, Yoopers for Ukraine have been active in creating awareness of the tragic five-month-long war in Ukraine by continuing their weekly Walk for Ukraine across the Portage Lift Bridge, participating in community events and fundraisers, and joining international groups in their global actions condemning Russian President Putin's aggressive attacks and war crimes.

July 20 Walk for Ukraine

Just before the July 20 Walk for Ukraine began, participants posted this banner they had created for their July 16 participation in #terroRussia -- a worldwide, coordinated action that calls upon our political leaders and policymakers to officially name Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism (see below) (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

As it began to rain on Wednesday, July 20, Yoopers for Ukraine postponed for a short time the beginning of the Walk to enjoy some tasty Ukrainian dumplings made by Angi Denesynko of Ukraine who recently moved to Houghton with her daughters, Alisa and Riana.

Angi Denesynko serves some Ukrainian dumplings she made for participants in the July 20 Walk for Ukraine. Click on YouTube icon for larger video screen. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Angi and her daughters, Alisa, left, and Riana, pause for a photo with Nadija Packauskas, co-founder of Yoopers for Ukraine (behind Alisa), and Nadija's father, Vytautas Packauskas. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Walkers head across the Portage Lift Bridge to Hancock as rain lets up. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Kids are undaunted by the windy, wet weather as they cross the Portage Lift Bridge from Hancock to Houghton to complete their walk, displaying signs and flags to rush-hour traffic. John Loosemore of Hancock, carrying NATO sign, and his three children -- Kaitlyn, Jethro and Jacob -- have been participating in almost all the Walks for Ukraine. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

July 16: #terroRussia Action 

This poster calls attention to a call for action to name the Russian Federation under Putin a state sponsor of terrorism. (Image courtesy Yoopers for Ukraine)

On Saturday, July 16, with a demonstration on the Houghton waterfront, Yoopers for Ukraine joined Women for Ukraine and other groups in an international day of the action #terroRussia, a worldwide, coordinated action that calls upon our political leaders and policymakers to officially name Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

At Bridgeview Park on the Houghton waterfront, Yoopers for Ukraine displayed posters and other media to call attention to the #terroRussia action. (Photo © and courtesy Adelina Oronova)

Part of the #terroRussia display at Bridgeview Park, these paper airplanes painted with red symbolize Russia's attacks on Ukraine. (Photo © and courtesy Adelina Oronova)

Yoopers for Ukraine has also called attention to Senate Resolution 623, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Lindsey Graham on May 9, 2022, which says the Senate views the actions of the Russian government, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, as acts of terrorism and calls on the Department of State to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

In addition, Women for Ukraine has started a petition to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi "to formally recognize the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism under the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, Arms Export Control Act, and the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. This same legislation named Syria, North Korea, Iran, and Cuba as state sponsors of terrorism. The Russian Federation, per these benchmarks, 100 percent qualifies as a state sponsor of terrorism under U.S. law."*

July 13 Walk for Ukraine

The Wednesday Walks for Ukraine attract some regular supporters and, each week, new participants. On July 13 Keweenaw Now spoke with Dawn Anderson and Bob Turner, local residents who are now offering English lessons (ESL) to immigrants from Ukraine who have recently arrived in the Keweenaw.

Dawn Anderson and Bob Turner tell Keweenaw Now why they are participating in the July 13, 2022, Walk for Ukraine in Houghton. They also announce their plans to give English lessons (ESL) to refugees from Ukraine. (Video by Keweenaw Now)
Local residents Joe Morgan and Jill Martin also showed up to support the July 13 Walk for Ukraine.

Martin said, "It seems like the Ukrainians need so much heart and so much help."

Joe Morgan, left, and Jill Martin display their signs of support for Ukraine during the July 13 Walk for Ukraine in Houghton. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Participants in the July 13 Walk for Ukraine return from Hancock to Houghton on the Portage Lift Bridge, displaying their signs to passing traffic. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

July  9: Yoopers for Ukraine in Strawberry Festival

On July 9, 2022, Yoopers for Ukraine participated in the annual Strawberry Festival parade in Chassell, winning first prize in the Patriotic category for their float!

Vytautas Packauskas of Yoopers for Ukraine stands proudly with the group's prize-winning float during the July 9 Strawberry Festival parade. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

"The crowd was so loving and stood up and cheered for Ukraine," said Nadija Packauskas, co-founder of Yoopers for Ukraine. "It is always great to see public support for Ukraine and to bring new awareness! Thank you to the Chassell Lions club for extending a personal invitation for us to march! Thank you, Underdog Ukraine and Women For Ukraine  жінки для України for the ideas and our poster!"

Poster created for Yoopers for Ukraine Strawberry Festival participation. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

The Loosemore children -- from left, Jethro, Jacob and Kaitlyn -- ride on the Yoopers for Ukraine float during the July 9 Strawberry Festival parade in Chassell. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

July 6 Walk for Ukraine

On Wednesday, July 6, Yoopers for Ukraine had good, sunny weather for their weekly Walk for Ukraine across the Portage Lift Bridge.

Several new participants joined the regular supporters for the Walk. One of those was the newly appointed pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church, the Rev. Sarah Diener-Schlitt, who brought the youngest participant in the Walk -- her four-month old son, MacKenzie.

The Rev. Sarah Diener-Schlitt, new pastor at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houghton, holding her son, MacKenzie, explains her reason for participating in the July 6, 2022, Walk for Ukraine. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Two local high school students, Rachael Pellizzaro and Bailey Megowen, also joined the July 6 Walk for Ukraine for the first time. 

Two local high school seniors, Rachael Pellizzaro and her friend Bailey Megowen, speak with Keweenaw Now on the ways they learned about the Walk and the Ukraine issues. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Michigan Tech student Stelle Barone, a media specialist who has worked with Yoopers for Ukraine, participated in the July 6 Walk for Ukraine and spoke about his work for the cause.

Stelle Barone tells Keweenaw Now how he picked up media design as a hobby and uses his skills to make flyers and posters to create awareness of the need for peace and justice in Ukraine. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Anna Hill, right, walked with the new Ukrainian family in town -- Angi Denesynko and her two daughters, Alisa (left) and Riana -- on July 6.

Participants in the July 6, 2022, Walk for Ukraine head to the Portage Lift Bridge for their walk from Houghton to Hancock and back. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Pausing on the Hancock side of the Bridge, walkers display their flags and signs to passing traffic. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Supporters for Ukraine cross the Portage Lift Bridge for their return to Houghton on July 6. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Displaying flags, sunflowers and the Independence Day poster for Underdog Ukraine (see below), Tom and Beth Maki of Lake Linden, whose son, Matt, is in Ukraine, join walkers on the Houghton side of the Portage Lift Bridge on July 6. (Photo © and courtesy Adelina Oronova)

July 4 in Dollar Bay

For Independence Day, July 4, Yoopers for Ukraine participated in an international picture event created by Underdog Ukraine, a group of soldiers in Ukraine. 

"They created the graphic and asked us to take 100 pictures which were then sent to the front lines," Nadija Packauskas explained. "We, in Houghton, were the first to send pictures as we started taking them at the Fireworks at Lake Linden July 3rd. It was a powerful movement and so many were pleased to participate. We then took them (the graphic) to the parade at Dollar Bay on the 4th."

On a rainy July 4, 2022, participants in the Dollar Bay parade pause for a photo with the poster created by Underdog Ukraine -- one of 100 photos to be sent to soldiers in Ukraine. (Photo © and courtesy Nadija Packauskas)

July 23: Silent Solidarity for Ukraine's Widows

This display calls attention to the July 23 event in honor of Ukraine's widows held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houghton. (Photo courtesy Yoopers for Ukraine)

On Saturday, July 23, Yoopers for Ukraine held an event to express silent solidarity across the globe for Ukraine's widows at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houghton. Participants held a 30-minute silent vigil outside the church, beginning at 3 p.m. A video of part of the event can be seen on Facebook here.

Nadija Packauskas reported the following description of the July 23 event on the Yoopers for Ukraine Facebook page:

"Today was a beautiful, solemn day. We stood together with women and men around the world in silent solidarity to honor widows and widowers of this tragic war.

"As we stood in silence staring at our 'fallen soldiers,' looking at our coffin lid, listening to the Ukrainian anthem being played so beautifully, we were reminded of all the widows and widowers, families, children, parents, siblings, loved ones who have lost so much in this brutal daily attack by Russia.

"After our 30-minute vigil, we had a discussion about the 151 days of war, the hours, the minutes, the seconds of horror that our Ukrainian brothers and sisters are facing!

"We impore you to call your elected leaders, ask for more arms for Ukraine, ask for S. Res. 623* declaring Russian Federation as a state that sponsors terrorism and H. Res. 1205** recognizing Russia's actions as genocide to pass!

"We MUST end this war.

"No more widows. No more war!

"Slava Ukraini!!"

Yoopers for Ukraine will hold their weekly Wednesday Walk for Ukraine on Wednesday, July 27. Meet at 5 p.m. on the Houghton side of the Lift Bridge.


* Click here for a video of Nadija Packauskas's presentation during the July 16 #terroRussia event at Bridgeview Park. Click here to sign the petition.

** Click here for H.Res.1205 - Recognizing Russian actions in Ukraine as a genocide.

From the Editor: Michigan Tech graduate Kateryna Lapina, originally from Kharkiv, Ukraine, now living in Colorado, has started a new fundraiser. Kateryna is raising money to buy night-vision goggles for the people defending her hometown of Kharkiv so that they can safely drive at night without their headlights on to go on their missions and deliver humanitarian aid to their neighbors. Your donation will help to save lives of Kharkiv residents. Kateryna and friends will also be climbing very high mountains in Colorado to call attention to Ukraine. Click here to learn about her fundraiser and contribute if you can. Inset photo: Kateryna Lapina in the mountains she loves to climb. (Photo from her Facebook page)

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Water protectors complete 4th Annual Menominee on Menominee Canoe Trip against threat of Back 40 mining project

By Michele Bourdieu, with photos, videos and commentary by Mark Doremus, Wayne Swett, Dawn Wilber* and other water protectors

Canoeists met challenges of strong winds during the 2022 Menominee on the Menominee Canoe Trip. On July 3, the fourth day, they finally approach their destination -- the harbor at Menominee (Mich.)/ Marinette (Wis.). (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Water protectors from the Menominee Indian Tribe have completed their fourth annual four-day canoe trip (June 30 - July 3) down their namesake river.

"This river was named after us, the Menominee River," said Dawn Wilber, an event co-organizer. "So here we are again, for four years, showing our connection to the river. The eagles, the deer, the turtles, the fish -- the Northern Pike jumping -- it's amazing."

Dawn, who teaches Menominee culture and language at Menominee High School in Keshena, Wis., said this year's trip was preceded by a Tour of Ancient Cultural Sites on June 29, 2022, near the launch site for Day 1 of the canoe trip.

Dawn Wilber is pictured here with her nieces and nephews, who attended the June 29 Ancient Tour along with other students. (Photo © and courtesy Dawn Wilber)

"Our kick-off to our 4th Annual Menominee on the Menominee Canoe Paddle this year was an Ancient Tour on June 29th," Dawn noted on Facebook. "We were asked by our Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) to give their students a tour of our Ancient Cultural Sites that still exist from millennia ago. Our students were taken to the different areas, and we explained about what was there and why we need to protect it. We also talked about how important it is to educate themselves so that in the future they can protect it for their children and their children’s children and their children’s children. Just like our Ancestors thought. It was an amazing day!"

During the Tour, students have lunch at the Woman's Dance Ring where their ancestors once sat. (Photo © and courtesy Dawn Wilber) 

Ann (Annie) Wilber, far right, tells students an ancient story. Students learned about the ancient garden beds, cache pits and burial mounds. (Photo © and courtesy Dawn Wilber)

Dawn Wilber is pictured here with Manih Boyd, Sustainable Education Coordinator, who asked Dawn to give the Culture Tour for her SDI summer program. (Photo © and courtesy Dawn Wilber)

The canoe trip started on June 30 at the Sixty Islands location, where Gold Resource Corp. wants to build an open-pit and underground mine next to the river. Aquila Resources, Inc., tried to develop the "Back Forty" project for almost 20 years before Gold Resource Corp. bought the company out late last year.

The Menominee people lived along the river for generations before they were removed to a reservation in Wisconsin. The proposed mine site and surrounding area contain burial mounds, garden beds, dance rings and other cultural resources that are sacred to the tribe, which opposes the project. 

The voyage was an effort at "re-integrating our people and our youth back into our ancestral homeland," said Annie Wilber, a member of the tribe and event facilitator. "Those are historical sites up there," Annie added. "That's what we're up here protecting today." 

Dawn Wilber's Culture Tour acquainted students with some of those sacred sites and taught them the reason for the canoe trip: protecting the sacred sites and protecting the Menominee River.

Day 1: June 30

Women participants in the canoe trip held a water ceremony just before the launch on June 30. The photo is not the actual ceremony, but represents it. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Canoe trip participants prepare for the launch on Day 1. (Photo © and courtesy Mark Doremus)

Non-native supporters and friends also joined the Menominee on their canoe voyage.

One of them was Mary Hansen, an area resident who has helped organize opposition to the proposed mine.

Mary has an illness that largely confines her to a wheelchair, but she rode a canoe for the first day of the journey, guided by Wayne Swett, a tribal member and event co-organizer who's made the trip every year.

Videographer Mark Doremus interviews Mary Hansen on June 30, Day 1 of the canoe trip. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

"It was unbelievably beautiful," Mary said. "There was a little fear getting in the canoe at first but that worked out okay. I didn't tip it over and dump everybody in the river. So, I was real happy about that."

Mary Hansen takes photos and videos from the canoe paddled by Wayne Swett on June 30, Day 1 of the canoe trip. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Mary Hansen describes canoeing on the Menominee River on Day 1 of the 2022 Menominee on the Menominee Canoe Trip, to call attention to the Back 40 mining project and its threats to the river. Hansen is a volunteer for the Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River. (Video by Mary Hansen)

Mary Hansen took this photo of an eagle's nest from the canoe. (Photo © and courtesy Mary Hansen)

From the canoe, Mary Hansen captures an eagle in flight, a good sign for canoeists, Native and non-Native. (Video © and courtesy Mary Hansen)

Videographer Mark Doremus shared this video of Mary on her Day 1 canoe experience:

Mary Hansen has been fighting to protect the Menominee for years. She finally got a chance to experience the river first-hand when she joined the Fourth Annual Menominee on the Menominee Canoe Trip. (Video by Mark Doremus)

"It was a gorgeous trip and I'm going to be even more protective of this river and the land, and those burial mounds," Mary said.

Swim stops were important breaks for the canoe trip participants. Sometimes they included water fights for fun:

During the first swim hole/lunch stop, Mark got into the middle of a water war getting footage. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Lunch during the first swim stop on Day 1. Wayne Swett commented that Annie Wilber, chief cook for the trip, always fixed up a most appreciated lunch to take along during the 4 days. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Lori Paitl of Menominee, Mich., a friend of Mary Hansen, also joined the canoe trip on Day 1. In a July 1 Facebook post, Lori commented on the experience.

"Yesterday we canoed (12) miles down the beautiful Menominee River with our favorite friends, the Menominee Tribe, through Wind, Rain, Sun and Mild Rapids," Lori writes. "We saw (12) Eagles in (12) miles and (3) huge  Eagle's Nests and almost Got Smacked on the Lips by a super-friendly Sturgeon trying to jump into Oralann's canoe. An AMAZING EXPERIENCE!"

Lori Paitl is pictured here on Day 1 with Mary Hansen and Mark Doremus. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Lori continues, "Do Not Even Think About Destroying this Magnificent Gift We have been Given -- the MeNOMINEe River -- To Enjoy, Not Destroy and To Protect for Generations to Come. Borrowing this great point from our dear Water Protector friend, Jeff Lindbom: Be the Voice of The River. Staying Silent is Giving Your Consent. Water Is Life. No Back 40 Mine."

Day 2: July 1

Wayne Swett photographed this early morning, peaceful scenic view of the Menominee River just before the canoe launch on Day 2. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Canoeists stop to see friend Jeff Lindbom, pictured here, on Day 2. "Jeff couldn't join us on this leg so we decided to stop by his place," said Wayne Swett. "He did join us on the river at Stephenson island to the end." (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

The next stop on Day 2 was the favorite swimming hole.

This favorite swimstop gave everyone a chance to rest and cool off. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Dawn Wilber and her two great-nieces -- Izabella, left, and Aurora, take advantage of the favorite swimstop for a little water fight. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Day 3: July 2

Venison and eggs for breakfast first thing on Day 3, July 2. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

First portage at a place called Turtle nation. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Following the portage, the group paddled to their next stop, the home of Sal and Ed Draze. They set up camp and enjoyed the cooking of Annie Wilber and her daughter Jazzlynn.

Annie Wilber and her daughter Jazz prepare a boiled dinner and squash for the group. "Annie spoiled us and kept us well fed as we burned the calories paddling," said Wayne. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Fire keeper Dave Oshkosh moved the sacred fire to the new camp at the Draze residence. The paddlers had a cooking fire and a sacred fire. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Dave Oshkosh, pictured here on June 29, undertook the responsibility of moving the sacred fire from place to place on the trip. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Hosts Sally and Ed Draze welcomed the canoe trip participants for their July 2 overnight stop. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Sally and Ed Draze are volunteers for the Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, a group that opposes the Back 40 mining project. When Sally heard the Menominee canoe trip participants needed a place to stay on July 2, she offered their property.

"Our water front offers easy access for the canoes to be parked and easy take off in the morning," Sally told Keweenaw Now.   We have been involved in fighting against the mine since November of 2015. The Menominee Nation has been very active in the cause too. It was an honor to let them stay at our place as they have done so much for our common cause."

View of the Menominee campers from Sally Draze's morning room. (Photo © and courtesy Sally Draze)

Campers gather around the sacred fire. Coals from the fire are transported from place to place in a dutch oven to keep the fire going during the entire trip. (Photo © and courtesy Sally Draze)

Cooks Annie and Jazz cut up leftovers from dinner to use for breakfast at the Draze home. No waste! (Photo © and courtesy Sally Draze)

Day 4: July 3

Campers rose early to set out on their final day on the river.

"Woke up to birds singing and someone's rooster from across the river," said Wayne Swett. "Moved our sacred fire downriver to the Menominee Bear where we'll finish our 48 mile, 4 day/3 night trip."

Near the Coalition welcome signs, canoes await the July 3 launch from the Draze property. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)**

On July 3, canoeists set out on the river, heading for their final destination -- the Menominee Bear at Menekaunee Harbor, the mouth of the river and the site of the cultural origins of the Menominee Tribe. (Photo © and courtesy Sally Draze)

Wayne Swett said the eagles stayed with the group as they traveled down the river.

"If we stopped for swim break or a launching there was always an eagle close by waiting for us," Swett noted. "Everyone got to drift under this one. This one must’ve just loved seeing us there. He just stayed with us until we passed by."

An eagle (on branch near center of photo) watches over the canoeists as they head down the Menominee River on Day 4, July 3. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

One important swim stop on Day 4 was Hunter's Point. This stop is named for Hunter Peters, who became ill here last year and had to be evacuated.

Swimming at Hunter's Point. "We all thought of you well this day, Hunter Peters, and missed ya!!" said Wayne. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

The group also visited the island that local resident Tom Boerner gifted to the Menominee nation. Boerner has been involved in challenging the Part 632 mining permit for the Back 40 mine.

On Day 4, canoeists pause on the island from Tom Boerner for a group photo. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Happy couple TJ and Cedar are pictured here on the island. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

The final portage destination was Cox Landing.

Canoeists head for the final portage on Day 4. In the foreground is Oralann Caldwell, paddling for Wayne while he shoots photos. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Wayne described the weather on this last leg of the journey: "Arrived at our final portage in Marinette/Menominee. 2 hard miles left! The winds were heavily blowing at us off of Lake Michigan."

Tina Lesperance, assisting from shore on Day 4, took this shot of the rough water on that windy day. (Photo © and courtesy Tina Lesperance)

The group arrived safely, welcomed by Mary Hansen and other water protectors in Menominee/Marinette.

Mary Hansen's welcome sign at the final destination near the Menominee Bear. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Water protectors pose for a group photo near the Menominee Bear, symbol of the Menominee cultural origins. Wayne Swett, leader and co-organizer of the canoe trips, is at far right next to Dawn Wilber. (Photo © and courtesy Mark Doremus)

Annie Wilber summed up the importance of the canoe trip in this video by Mark Doremus:

"This is our homeland." Annie Wilber explains the significance of the Menominee River to her people -- and why it's vital to protect it. (Video © and courtesy Mark Doremus)

Wayne Swett
, leader and co-organizer of the Menominee canoe trips, concluded his narrative of the 2022 trip, which made this article possible: "We arrived! Finished! My phone battery died! After pics we loaded up and went to Applejacks pub for a well deserved meal! I'd like to say waewaenon to everybody that was involved and participated in the trip. Can't wait till next year. Planning for next year's trip has already begun. We are becoming recognized by people on the Menominee River as many greeted us as we came down." (Inset photo: Wayne Swett. Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Editor's Notes:

* Mark Doremus is a videographer / photographer who spent Day 1 and Day 4 recording aspects of the 2022 Menominee on the Menominee Canoe Trip. Keweenaw Now is grateful for his contribution of videos, photos and commentary. See more of his videos on the Facebook page Back 40 Film. Wayne Swett and Dawn Wilber are members of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and co-organizers of all 4 Menominee Canoe Trips on the Menominee River to call attention to the threats from the proposed Back 40 mining project. 

** The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River is a legal non-profit organizing people who oppose the construction of the proposed Back Forty Mine on the Menominee River. The Coalition exists to pool resources and coordinate efforts in order to be more effective and works with the Menominee Tribe. The Coalition states the following in their philosophy of teamwork: "We believe we are saving lives. The mine would contaminate our air, waters, and soils. Contamination kills. We believe an organized approach is the best way to save our waters, wildlife, property values, sacred lands, tourism industry, and our people." The Coalition will be holding a Water Celebration from Noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, on Stephenson Island, 499 Bridge Street, Marinette, WI 54143

Click on poster for larger version or click here for details. (Poster courtesy Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River.)