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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pine Mountain Music Festival announces new look

HANCOCK -- Pine Mountain Music Festival has unveiled a new, updated logo. The new mark incorporates several elements -- including a music note, a mountain, a suggestion of an "M" (for Mountain and Music) and a wave to suggest ongoing movement as well as the lakes that surround the Festival. This mark replaces the pine tree that has served as the symbol of the Festival since its inception in 1991.

At the same time, the lettering for "Pine Mountain Music Festival" is rendered in a new typeface that is stronger and more easily readable in multiple formats.

As part of a strengthened marketing program, the Festival is adopting a more colorful approach to its printed material and website (, with more extensive use of photos to improve outreach. The aim is to emphasize that the Festival is for everyone and that opera and other classical music have a universal appeal.

The Festival’s 2009 season will run from June 10 to July 12 and will include a wider range of musical fare than in some previous years. The Ellen Rowe Trio will present an evening of jazz; and "Stas and Misha" will present an eclectic evening encompassing classical, folk and ethnic music on the bayan and mandolin, among other instruments.

The season includes a variety of chamber music events by not only the familiar Bergonzi String Quartet but also the Clarke String Quartet and the Sonrisa Woodwind Quintet, as part of the Festival’s Resident Chamber Musicians program.

This year’s opera is The Secret Marriage, a hilarious farce by Cimarosa, a contemporary of Mozart. This opera can be enjoyed by all ages. At its premiere in 1792, Emperor Leopold II was so pleased with it that he fed the cast dinner and then had them perform the whole opera over again -- the longest encore in musical history!

The Pine Mountain Music Festival presents a season of opera, symphony and chamber music each June-July in central and western Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin. Headquartered in Hancock, Michigan, it is supported by donations, ticket sales and grants. For more information, call 906-482-1542 or visit the PMMF Web site.

MTU to host Northern Lights Film Festival Mar. 27-28

HOUGHTON -- The Northern Lights Film Festival returns to Michigan Tech on Friday and Saturday, Mar. 27 and 28, in the McArdle Theatre on the MTU campus. This year the festival has two featured guests: Michigan Tech alumna Suzanne Jurva ('82) and film producer Bob Brown.

Jurva has just completed a new documentary about guitarist Billy McLaughlin and will present her film at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Changing Keys: Billy McLaughlin and the Mysteries of Dystonia tells the story of McLaughlin's debilitation by the neuro-muscular disorder Focal Dystonia and his amazing comeback after accomplishing the almost inconceivable feat of re-training himself to play left-handed. Jurva, who worked for DreamWorks and founded the mobile marketing company Starcast, will be on hand to answer questions after the film.

At 7 p.m. on Friday, Bob Brown will give a talk on developments in the Michigan film industry and the impact they will have on employment and careers in the state. Bob is serving his fourth term as a member of the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council and has been very involved in developing the new tax incentives which will affect all areas of industry in the state.

The festival offers many fine films this year, including Sundance 2008 Best Documentary and Academy Award nominee, Trouble the Water (4 p.m, Saturday). All screenings and events will be held in the McArdle Theatre and are free and open to the public.

To learn more about the festival and the films, visit:

The festival is sponsored by the departments of Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts. For more information, contact Erin Smith at or 487-3263.

One Funny, Funny Lady at the Rozsa Mar. 27, 28

HOUGHTON -- The Rozsa Center welcomes the hysterical comedian Tissa Hami to our stage for two performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Mar. 27, and Saturday, Mar. 28. Tissa is one of the world's few female Muslim stand-up comics. Her unique act and fresh perspective on life as an Iranian-American woman leave audiences in shock and awe.

From Islamic fundamentalists to white liberals to good old-fashioned racists, no one is safe from Tissa's sharp wit. She hopes her comedy will help break down stereotypes about Muslim women and foster understanding between Iranians and Americans.

The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine raves, "Sassy, sexual, sarcastic... she spins laughter out of anger, turning Islamic stereotypes inside out." And Newsweek International says, "She fearlessly tackles the hot-button issues."

Tissa grew up in a traditional Iranian family in a predominantly white suburb of Boston. She holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in international affairs from Ivy League universities. Her parents are thrilled that she is using her expensive education to pursue a career in comedy. But her mother insists that it’s not too late for her to go to medical school.

People who disapprove of her act will be taken hostage.

Check out Tissa’s website at

Sponsored by the James and Margaret Black Endowment.

Ticket prices for the general public are $25 and $20; MTU student prices are $20 and $15 (MTU student ID required).

To purchase tickets contact the Rozsa Box Office at 487-3200, The Central Ticket Office (SDC) at 487-2073, Tech Express (MUB) at 487-3308 or go online at No refunds, exchanges, or late seating, please.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Water Week" events help HCH students examine role of water

HANCOCK -- This week students at Hancock Central High School (HCH) are participating in "Water Week" a thematic unit focusing on freshwater. In conjunction with World Water Day, which was Sunday, Mar. 22, "Water Week" events are intended to give the students of HCH a close look at the role water plays in all of our lives.*

State Rep. Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) kicked off "Water Week" on Monday, Mar. 23, with a presentation explaining to students the water-related issues he sees as a state legislator. Keweenaw Now photographer Gustavo Bourdieu captured some highlights of Rep. Lahti's talk in these videoclips.

State Rep. Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) addresses Hancock Central High School (HCH) students and visitors at the opening event for "Water Week" on Monday, Mar. 23, in the HCH gym. (Videoclips © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

State Rep. Mike Lahti speaks to Hancock students about the current issue of sulfide and copper mining in the Western U.P.

On Tuesday, Mar. 24, Congressman Bart Stupak joined HCH students via tele-conference from Washington, D.C., to discuss his role as the "Guardian of the Great Lakes."

Throughout the week, the faculty of HCH, in cooperation with instructors from Finlandia University and other community partners, are conducting water-related activities and lessons to address the significance of this greatly under appreciated natural resource.

Activities include stream monitoring on Swedetown Creek, demonstrations by the U.S. Coast Guard, rowing for exercise by Terry Smythe and writing using water as a metaphor by Finlandia professor Lauri Anderson.

Lectures by community partners Ron Gratz, John Gagnon, Alex Mayer, Dave Pihlaja, and John Pekkala, as well as presentations by Finlandia faculty Denise Vandeville and Judy Budd, are also scheduled. An assembly with meteorologist John Dee will address the effects water has on weather.

To cap off the water activities, students will have the opportunity to dunk their teachers in the dunk tank.

* Editor's Note: International World Water Day is held annually on March 22 as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. For more information visit the World Water Day Web site.

Monday, March 23, 2009

KBIC rep: Mining not economically sustainable for future generations

By Michele Bourdieu

HOUGHTON -- Representing the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), Michigan Tech graduate Doreen Blaker offered an inspiring speech on contemporary Native American environmental issues and cultural traditions during Michigan Tech's Earth Week Speakers' Forum on March 19. The event was sponsored by Students for Environmental Sustainability (SfES) and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), MTU Chapter.

Doreen Blaker of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community speaks at MTU's Earth Week Speakers' Forum March 19. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Blaker, who works at KBIC Tribal Court as a defense advocate, is planning to attend law school next year. Meanwhile she has become involved in KBIC's efforts to protect areas of the Upper Peninsula from pollution by potential mining such as Rio Tinto/Kennecott's proposed Eagle Project for a nickel / copper sulfide mine near Marquette. The project would impact areas the Ojibwe people consider sacred and essential for their quality of life.*

Kalvin Hartwig of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians and president of SfES, and Jessica Koski of KBIC, a member of AISES, representing the two student organizations sponsoring MTU's Earth Week activities, introduce Doreen Blaker of KBIC at the beginning of the Speakers' Forum. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Blaker began her talk with a reference to her Ojibwe ancestors, who signed a treaty in 1842, ceding much of their land but retaining rights to hunt, fish and gather on those ceded territories.

"The only thing they were concerned about was being able to take care of their future generations. I'm one of the future generations," Blaker said. "Over 150 years later our treaty is still standing."

Holding a symbolic eagle feather as she spoke, Blaker noted her ancestors handed down to her and future generations the "simple philosophy" that the right to hunt, fish and gather was necessary for survival. Included in this philosophy is the belief in leaving the earth the same as it is -- if not better than it is -- when you come to it.

During her presentation at the MTU Earth Week Speakers' Forum on March 19, Doreen Blaker of KBIC speaks about the Native American philosophy of respect for the air, land and water. (Video clip © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Blaker pointed out that, despite the treaty, her ancestors could be arrested for insisting on their rights to hunt, fish and gather. When testifying before the mining representatives as to the present-day cultural uses of their land, the Native Americans were accused of lacking documentation to prove these rights, which, for them, include the right to gather traditional medicines.

"We didn't even have religious freedom until 1978," Blaker noted. "One thing people don't understand is that we do things in quiet ways."

She explained that knowledge of traditional medicines requires a lifetime of learning on the part of a few people in her culture. The locations of the medicines or the places of prayer are not to be publicized, thus not documented.

"We intermingle with the non-native community," Blaker added, "and they too love the land and they love the water."

Blaker noted many local communities in the area rely on tourism, which can be destroyed if a mining company leaves a mess. Rather than a mining company showing a 10-year or even a 20-year study on how "safe" the mining is, they should produce a study to prove it is safe for 150 years, which is the Ojibwe people's idea of sustainability, she explained.

She gave an example of the copper mining in this area with its boom at the turn of the century and the waste that is still a problem.

"We had to apply for grants for (copper) mining waste (from the 1800s) -- stuff in the water -- and we were told to just leave it alone and plant grass on it," Blaker explained. "I don't want our future generations to be told to just leave it alone and maybe it'll go away."

Blaker said she believed many non-natives, like the farmers and sportsmen who have recently opposed mining in Wisconsin, share the love of the land and the view that mining lacks long-term feasibility.

She also mentioned the late Walter Bressette, an Ojibwe environmentalist who taught at Michigan Tech and who opened her mind to the fact that sportsmen also care about the land.

"I don't think color's going to matter in the future. I think we're becoming a global culture. I think large corporations are more of an issue," Blaker said. "It's about the love of the land. It's not what group you belong to. We all love the land and the water."

During a question and answer session, Patrick Martin, chair of MTU's Social Sciences Department and professor of archaeology, asked Blaker what she sees as the Tribal Council's view on the likelihood of the sulfide mining going forward.

"We're not going to give up," Blaker replied. "A great respect for the land and water is universal in our community."

After her Earth Week presentation, MTU graduate Doreen Blaker of KBIC chats with Susan and Patrick Martin, MTU professors of archaeology, under whom she studied while a student in Social Sciences. In the background is Paul White, who is doing post-doctoral work in the Department of Social Sciences. (Photo © 2009 Michele Bourdieu)

She mentioned KBIC has hired specialists to do careful scientific documentation -- a paper trail to assure future generations of KBIC's fight to protect the land and the water. The Tribal Council represents the views of the people, she added.

"The KBIC members do not see the mine as economically feasible. They see it as environmentally damaging," Blaker said.

To a question from Paul Campbell of Calumet on Native American prophecies that rivers would be poisoned in the future, Blaker said she views such prophecies as a warning -- how to avoid the environmental damage.

Blaker mentioned the recent KBIC mining ordinance that protects the land of the reservation.** She also noted Chuck Brumleve, geologist, has been doing great work to assist KBIC with the scientific documentation.

Traditional medicine

Shalini Suryanarayana, MTU Educational Opportunity executive director, asked Blaker to explain how traditional knowledge is passed on in the Native American community.

Blaker mentioned certain families who have such knowledge tend to pass it down to future generations. She noted again that healers -- both men and women who practice traditional medicine -- are answering a calling that requires lifelong learning.

"It's a very hard life," she said.

Blaker added that healers are quiet, humble people and that the community has a responsibility to take care of them. She noted, too, that traditional medicine includes both physical and spiritual healing.

Healers will tell patients to use Western medicine when necessary. Blaker gave an example of a healer who determined the cause of her own son's seizures was a b-b that had entered his head and gone into his brain. After giving her son a strawberry-leaf tea to stop the seizures, the healer recommended she take him to a doctor to remove the b-b. At the Mayo clinic, when a neurosurgeon removed the b-b, he found the healer's diagnosis of the cause of the seizures was correct.

Lori Muhlig, AISES counselor, also told a story about using both traditional and Western medicine -- a healer who treated her mother's eye trouble and a specialist at the Green Bay eye clinic. Muhlig said the specialist was very interested in what the healer had done to help.

During MTU's Earth Week Speakers' Forum, Lori Muhlig, center, counselor for the Native American students' organization (AISES), speaks about her own family's use of both traditional and Western medicine. In the foreground, right, is Shalini Suryanarayana, MTU Educational Opportunity executive director. (Photo © 2009 Michele Bourdieu)

Muhlig also mentioned the spirit of solidarity in the Native American community in which families help one another.

Blaker noted there are no homeless in their community. People take them in.

"We don't have homeless; we have couch-surfers," she said.

To a question on documentation of cultural traditions, Blaker said some work is being done to record cultural activities and beliefs, although respect for spiritual ceremonies prohibits recording certain private rituals, such as sweat lodges. Much is being done to encourage people to do their family histories and to preserve the Ojibwe language.

Although the two other KBIC speakers had to cancel their presentations because of illness and a death in the family, Suryanarayana was happy with the turnout at the Speakers' Forum.

"One thing that was especially heartening about this event was to see the diversity in the audience," Suryanarayana said. "It was a powerful venue to share information about culture and the environment."

Doreen Blaker receives a gift of ceremonial tobacco and a hug from Kalvin Hartwig and Jessica Koski who represent, respectively, SfES and AISES, the two MTU student organizations sponsoring Earth Week. (Photo © 2009 Michele Bourdieu)

Tianlu Shen, from China, an MTU student in environmental engineering who recently joined SfES, said it was good to learn about some Native American traditions.

"I'm kind of an ambassador," Shen said. "It will be very nice to tell these cultural things to my family."

* See the article by Gabriel Caplett, "Citizens' group opposes DNR lease to Rio Tinto/Kennecott for mining on public land.

** See the article on KBIC's mining ordinance on p. 1 of the March issue of Save the Wild UP's Splash publication.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Footloose" musical to rock Rozsa Mar. 24

Footloose poster courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

HOUGHTON -- In the 1980s, Kevin Bacon stepped onto the big screen in a pair of worn-out jeans and a t-shirt and danced his way into the hearts of women and teenage girls in a movie called Footloose. The dance movie genre was big with Flashdance, Grease and Dirty Dancing -- and these movies became classics. Now, Footloose the musical is back in a 10th Anniversary Tour, better than ever -- and LIVE on stage at the Rozsa Center at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 24.

Footloose has audiences across the country on their feet and dancing in the aisles as they leave. The music is contagious; and audiences will remember almost every word of the Solid Gold hits: "Let’s Hear It For The Boy," "Almost Paradise," "Holding Out For A Hero," "I’m Free (Heaven Help the Man)" and the title song, "Footloose." This exuberant, briskly-paced musical is blessed with the same kind of infectious energy, camp and humor that makes Grease a perennial favorite.

When Ren and his mother move from the slick and fast-paced Chicago to a small farming town, Ren is prepared for the inevitable adjustment period at his new high school. What he isn’t prepared for are the rigorous local laws -- including a ban on dancing. The ban is the brain-child of the local preacher, who is determined to exercise the strict control over the town’s youth that he cannot command in his own home.

Then the Reverend’s rebellious daughter, Ariel, sets her sights on Ren. But her roughneck boyfriend tries to sabotage Ren’s reputation, which has many of the locals eager to believe the worst about the new kid as well. The "no dancing" edict is strongly enforced by the uptight townspeople, led by the minister himself. But it’s just as vigorously challenged by Ren; the preacher’s daughter, Ariel; Ren’s buddy, Willard; and a host of other high school kids who just want to have a prom, dance and have fun.

Footloose celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people while guiding them with a warm heart and an open mind. Bring the whole family to enjoy this exhilarating performance of heart-stopping music and dance! Footloose is appropriate entertainment for ages 10+.

Sponsored by the James and Margaret Black Endowment.

Ticket prices for the general public are $25 and $20; MTU student prices are $20 and $15 (MTU student ID required). To purchase tickets contact the Rozsa Box Office at 487-3200, the Central Ticket Office (SDC) at 487-2073, Tech Express (MUB) at 487-3308 or go online at No refunds, exchanges, or late seating, please.