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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Updated: Concerned citizens respond to Kennecott's construction action on public land near Eagle Rock

By Keweenaw Now Staff

MARQUETTE -- Concerns about protecting religious freedom intersected with the desire to safeguard public land access when approximately 100 concerned citizens held a Forum Tuesday evening, Apr. 27, in Marquette, in response to Rio Tinto-Kennecott's (RT-K) start of construction on a nickel and copper mine 25 miles west of Marquette.

"Everything that we do is non-violent, peaceful. We just want to bring awareness and education to the public and ourselves in this process," said Big Bay resident Cynthia Pryor, who was recently arrested for trespassing on public land leased by Kennecott.

Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve addresses a crowd of about 100 concerned citizens at the Apr. 27 Forum on sulfide mining held at the Women's Federated Club House in Marquette. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

Pryor, who is also the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve Sulfide Mining Campaign director, opened the forum with an account of her arrest on April 20, her time in jail and her release on personal recognizance on April 22.

The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve is an organization whose mission is to preserve and protect the Yellow Dog River and surrounding watersheds for the benefit of present and future generations through grassroots organizing.

"We monitor the Yellow Dog Plains," Pryor explained, "just to keep track of actions of Kennecott to ensure that everything is going according to the law."

Pryor describes arrest on public land

Pryor described how, when she went with her dog for a drive and walk on the Yellow Dog Plains on April 20, she was surprised to see a bulldozer on the public land. It was not running, but the operator was there.

"I had assumed that all of their work was being done on their property, which they owned right to the east of the (Eagle) Rock," Pryor said, "so I was quite surprised to see this bulldozer sitting there (on the public land)."

After a series of conversations with the "cordial" operator, a security guard and law enforcement officers, she was arrested, after refusing to leave, for trespassing on part of the 120-acre area of land the state has leased to RT-K.

Pryor and mine opponents claim the lease is invalid and that the company has also sidestepped a permitting process with the federal Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, "No Trespassing" signs were reportedly not posted in the area until after her arrest.

When an RT-K security guard and law enforcement officials accused her of trespassing, Pryor said, she told them she was not, that she was a citizen of Michigan on public land and had the right to be there.

As a result of her stand, Marquette County Sheriff and Michigan State Police officers arrested Pryor and she was taken to jail on April 20. Since she refused bail, Pryor was released on personal recognizance on April 22 and will face a pretrial conference on a misdemeanor trespass charge on May 6. Pryor added that talking with inmates during her night in jail gave her a sense of support and that she received a cheer of "Power to the people" from them upon release.*

While she described some aspects of her time in jail with humor, Pryor added, "It's not a fun thing. It's a serious matter to be in jail."

Pryor has retained a lawyer and said she plans to fight the charges before a jury. RT-K began site preparation work on April 19 after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued permits in early March before it combined with the Department of Natural Resources.

The multinational mining company plans to tunnel under the Salmon Trout River to exploit a rich ore body; opponents claim the Eagle Project mine would produce acid mine drainage when reactive sulfide-containing ore is exposed to air and water.

Opponents fear significant impacts on water and air quality, fish and wildlife habitat and human health. They also believe the mine has a significant chance of collapsing and causing major damage to a pristine trout stream within the Lake Superior watershed.

Protesters camp at Eagle Rock

Members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) and others opposed to the mine established an encampment at Eagle Rock (Migi zii wa sin) on April 24 in solidarity with Pryor and as a witness to the Rock's religious significance. RT-K proposes to work in the vicinity of this outcropping that Ojibwe people recognize as a sacred pilgrimage site for spiritual ceremonies. The campers have been tending a sacred fire at the rock and plan to stay indefinitely.

Protesters camping on Eagle Rock on Sunday, Apr. 25. The woodpile is for the sacred fire they are tending.

The Rev. Jon Magnuson, a Lutheran campus pastor at Northern Michigan University, spoke at the April 27 forum in support of Pryor's action of civil disobedience.

Magnuson said Pryor's decision has profound spiritual, ethical and moral dimensions -- that it has brought her into the tradition of civil disobedience that helped to found American society. Making reference to such leaders as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., Magnuson noted this tradition propelled the country to end injustices like slavery, denial of the right to vote for women and African Americans, and unjust wars such as the Vietnam conflict.

"One of the fascinating parts of [Cynthia's] story is this was not a staged, strategic decision," Magnuson noted. "This was a heart-gut decision that she made when she was asked to leave and responded, 'No, I'm not trespassing; you are trespassing. You don't have the right permits here. I'm on state land.'"

Magnuson noted this peaceful civil disobedience is guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Magnuson said he is one of about 100 religious leaders from the UP who signed a statement in 2005 supporting KBIC's opposition to the mine. He mentioned treaties guaranteeing the Ojibwe hunting, fishing and gathering rights -- including religious purposes -- that Kennecott threatens to circumvent in order for the mine project to move forward despite its inevitable impacts on the environment.

At the Apr. 27 Forum, the Rev. Jon Magnuson, a Lutheran campus pastor at Northern Michigan University, displays a list of 100 religious leaders from the UP who signed a statement in 2005 supporting KBIC's opposition to the mine.

Eagle Rock is similar to St. Peter's Cathedral in Marquette, Magnuson noted, because of the Rock's spiritual significance to the Ojibwe. Magnuson said if something of great value were found under a cathedral like St. Peter's and an international company wanted to blow up the cathedral, there would be an uproar of protest.

"This community would not allow that to happen," he said.

Magnuson termed the Ojibwe's access to and protection of Eagle Rock "a basic human right to freedom of expression of religious practices." Earlier this year State of Michigan officials took the stance that a religious site must be a building to qualify for protection.

Rio Tinto's anti-union policy

Magnuson added that he and mine opponents support regional job creation, but do not consider short-term mining projects with potential major social and environmental impacts to offer a stable long-term economic future.

On the subject of jobs promised by Kennecott, Gail Griffith read her recent letter to the Marquette Mining Journal Editor, calling attention to RT-K's "aggressive anti-union policy." She cited their recent lock-out of Borax workers in California.**

Gail Griffith speaks about Rio Tinto's anti-union policy during the Apr. 27 Forum on sulfide mining.

Eagle Rock's spiritual significance

KBIC Historic Preservation Officer Summer Cohen confirmed Eagle Rock's spiritual significance and said she has been documenting this through interviewing tribal members. Cohen said mining would place Eagle Rock in danger and company assurances they would not harm the rock's surface miss the point.

"It actually goes deeper than just the surface [of Eagle Rock]," Cohen said. "It's like a person, a living thing -- it [mining in the vicinity] would destroy that spirit there."

Pryor shared her experience with the Rock saying its domination of the surrounding landscape provides a "refuge feeling." Pryor said state and corporate disrespect for tribal spiritual traditions and practices reinforce her concerns about how efforts to establish the mine are eroding the public's access to state lands.

Pryor also read a statement from KBIC member Jessica Koski, who attended the Rio Tinto Annual General Meeting in London, England, on April 15, 2010, to speak to the company's shareholders about how the sulfide mine threatens the environment and violates Native American rights.

Koski writes in her statement, "In response to my concerns raised at the AGM, Chairman Jan du Plessis and CEO Tom Albanese wanted to assure me that the United States and the State of Michigan have some of the toughest environmental laws in the world, and that the company would comply with them. They also claimed that a modification to the mine permit moved the mine portal away from Eagle Rock.

"I am disappointed that a country and state with supposedly the toughest environmental laws is allowing Rio Tinto to stomp on our rights and self-determination. A modification of the mine portal will still blast into and beneath Eagle Rock and destroy the integrity of this site," Koski writes.***

Three of the campers who initiated the Eagle Rock witness attended Tuesday's meeting. Charlotte Loonsfoot and Chalsea Smith, KBIC members, and Georgenia Earring of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, who now lives in Baraga and is married to KBIC member Chris Chosa, shared their motivations and perspectives with the audience.

Three Native American women who have been camping on Eagle Rock in opposition to the sulfide mine and in support of Cynthia Pryor, speak at the Apr. 27 Forum. From left, they are Chalsea Smith, Charlotte Loonsfoot and Georgenia Earring.

"I'm worried about our water," Loonsfoot said.

"We're here to help out," Smith said. "We built the sacred fire right on the spot where they're going to blow it up."

Smith said that currently there is a 500-foot buffer zone between the encampment and RT-K construction activity. She added that donations of firewood, food and other supplies would be helpful. Smith and Loonsfoot encouraged the presence of visitors and additional campers as long as they do not bring drugs, weapons, or alcohol.

Earring said they decided to go to Eagle Rock as soon as they heard about Pryor's arrest.

"I was inspired by Cynthia," she said. "We were at the Family Dollar in L'Anse [on Wednesday, April 21] and we decided to grab some supplies and we went out there."

Gabriel Caplett, a citizen journalist active in publicizing the sulfide mining issue, reiterated the dual nature of the conflict with RT-K and the state of Michigan. Caplett said the future of public land rights in the UP and the treatment of sacred sites will be on-going themes in citizen efforts to prevent mining on the Yellow Dog Plains and elsewhere.

Gabriel Caplett, who has recently published his articles on the sulfide mining issue on the Web site Headwaters News, speaks about the protest on Eagle Rock.

"I think the main point right now is that we need people out there to camp there," Caplett said. "If you can't camp out there, then stop by, bring them something, say hello to them."

Campers need supplies, safety

Caplett emphasized the need for a peaceful approach and safety. He expressed concern about hostile and violent comments directed at mine opponents over the Internet after Pryor's arrest. Caplett said there even have been calls for bulldozer operators to drive over people resisting the mine, although those were suddenly pulled from the Internet this week. Caplett encouraged people to have video cameras, cell phones and other recording devices available hopefully to deter but, if necessary, to capture any violence.

Caplett said he believed Kennecott was on the defensive since their authority to put no trespassing signs or to arrest people is questionable.

"Kennecott still needs the legal authority from the federal government to even bulldoze out there," Caplett noted. "They've bulldozed on our public property out there."

Caplett said people visiting Eagle Rock are not sure of Kennecott's "arbitrary boundary" on land that is actually public.****

Amy Conover, a concerned Marquette citizen and board member of UPEC (Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition) said during the meeting that she felt safe on Eagle Rock. She's been supporting the protesters camping there by bringing supplies and making sure they're safe.

"My understanding is that they will maintain a presence there for as long as it is viable, and my intention is to maintain support so they can maintain viability for as long as it is necessary," Conover said.

Pryor asked people in the audience to let her know if they plan to go out to Eagle Rock and how long they intend to be there and to report to her after their visit. Her email is

Teresa Bertossi of Headwaters News had spent several days on Eagle Rock and expressed concern about safety issues.

"We need more people out there for safety reasons," Bertossi said.

Lillian Heldreth, retired Northern Michigan University professor of English and Native American Studies, said she was familiar with the safety issue because of her experience with coal mining companies in West Virginia.

"I come originally from West Virginia, where we know not to trust any mining company. Massey Coal just killed 29 people," Heldreth said. "All Michigan is providing in their so-called strict laws will be the same kind of slap on the wrist that West Virginia has given the coal companies. The reason that accident happened is they could ignore about 300 safety citations."

Citizens' lawsuit feasible

Michelle Halley, an attorney and Lake Superior Project manager with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), discussed options for a citizens' lawsuit (citizen-funded, citizen-driven) under the Michigan Environmental Protection Act (MEPA), since MEPA has a broad standard for environmental protection and a fairly liberal standing requirement.

Michelle Halley, National Wildlife Federation attorney and Lake Superior Project manager, who has been working on a contested case against the proposed sulfide mine, spoke at the Forum about the possibility of a citizens' lawsuit against the company.

"Standing means that the parties who are bringing the suit are the best and proper parties to bring the suit," Halley said.

Citizens with standing could join in a suit and would have to show impacts they would experience from the mine. Adjacent landowners might address air pollution, residents downstream could focus on water quality issues, tribal members could address loss of religious rights, and people who have recreated in the mine's vicinity could cite the loss of access. All parties to the suit would have to establish standing, and the group would have to raise funds to engage legal counsel. Halley said she would be willing to meet with interested citizens to discuss details and possible attorneys.

"Some people say, 'Well, couldn't we just do it ourselves?'" Halley added. "You can. You have the right to represent yourself in court. It's a hard way to go, and MEPA is not a simple statute."

Halley said she could direct people to resources to help them with the statute. In addition, because the NWF and other groups have already engaged in much discovery of facts and elicited statements from expert witnesses, Halley said this could be shared with a citizens' lawsuit and save some expense.

Kristi Mills of Save the Wild UP said SWUP is working with other groups and trying to keep their Web site up-to-date on the sulfide mining issue. She mentioned other Web sites to consult as well, including and Stand for the Land.

Kristi Mills of Save the Wild UP announces coming events related to the sulfide mining issue and Web sites to consult.

"We need a lot of people on the street, and we need a lot of people out at the Rock," Mills said.

At the end of the Forum, Pryor handed out letters to Governor Jennifer Granholm and environmental justice petitions to gather signatures. These are now available on the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve blog.

A petition to support Cynthia Pryor (not the same as the petition mentioned above) is available on Donations can also be made on line to a legal defense fund through

* Click here to see a You Tube video interview with Cynthia Pryor describing her arrest.
** See the video clip of Dave Irish, representing workers at Rio Tinto's Borax Mine in California, speaking at Rio Tinto's Annual General Meeting concerning the company's lock-out of more than 500 workers with the aid of a union-busting firm.
*** See the video clip of Jessica Koski speaking at Rio Tinto's Annual General Meeting Apr. 15.
**** According to an April 28 article in the Mining Journal, Kennecott spokeswoman Deb Muchmore said Kennecott planned to put "safety and environmental fencing" around Eagle Rock.

Editor's Notes: For correspondence and other documents related to Kennecott's application for a federal Underground Injection Control permit, see the EPA Web site with links.

Update: For a sample letter to use as a model for writing to the EPA, click here or go to the Get Involved page on Stand for the Land.

For letters from KBIC to the EPA and other documents concerning Eagle Rock as a sacred site in need of protection from the proposed sulfide mining, click here.

Click here for information about the next rally -- to precede Cynthia Pryor's hearing on May 6.

Concert, Rally to support Eagle Rock anti-sulfide mine protest

MARQUETTE -- Two upcoming events will support the anti-sulfide mine protest now being held on Eagle Rock on the Yellow Dog Plains.*

Third Annual Michigan Music Show

If you missed Daisy May (May Erlwine) and fellow musicians at the Calumet Art Center last night, she will be performing with Josh Davis, Dominic and Rachel Davis and Michael Shimmin at 8 p.m. TONIGHT, Saturday, May 1, in the Third Annual Michigan Music Show at the Kaufman Auditorium in Marquette.

Doors open at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for children. Children under 5 are free. Tickets at the door are $12. Advance tickets are available at Mary's Closet, the Marquette Food Co-op, and Dead River Coffee in Marquette.

The Kaufman Auditorium is at 611 N. Front Street, Marquette.

Citizen Rally Thursday, May 6

A Citizen Rally to support Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve at her pre-trial hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 6, on the Marquette County Courthouse lawn. Bring signs, family, friends, coffee and a peaceful rally attitude. Show support for Cynthia and the current protest on Eagle Rock with the message, "Free our Public Lands!" and "Stand for the Land!" *

Participants will walk down to the Post Office to join another protest at noon.

Call if you have any questions or can help volunteer: 906.942.7325 or 906.361.0413.

Cynthia Pryor was arrested and jailed on Apr. 20 while sitting on a stump on public land. She was released on personal recognizance on Apr. 22, Earth Day, but will stand trial for "trespassing" on public land leased by Rio-Tinto -- Kennecott for their Eagle Project sulfide mine, which still does not have all required permits.**

* Visit the new Web site Stand for the Land to see photos and testimonials about the Native Americans and supporters camping on Eagle Rock.

** Watch for our story on the Apr. 27 Forum on the sulfide mining, coming soon.

To learn about Environmental Justice Action on this issue, visit the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve blog:

Friday, April 30, 2010

Finlandia Art and Design graduates to present fashion show, art exhibit May 1

HANCOCK -- This Saturday evening, May 1, the Finlandia University International School of Art and Design (ISAD) will host two events in Hancock. First, ISAD will showcase the work of its graduating bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.) students with a fashion show at the Jutila Center (old hospital). An opening reception for the 2010 Diploma Works exhibit will follow in the Finlandia University Gallery at the Finnish American Heritage Center.

From 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., in the community room at Finlandia’s Jutila Center campus, students will present a fashion show featuring garments designed by B.F.A. graduates. Denise Vandeville, ISAD dean, will give an address at the fashion show.

Following the show, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., an opening reception for the 2010 Diploma Works exhibit will be hosted at the Finlandia University Gallery.

Both events are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The artworks featured in the Diploma Works exhibit include paintings, illustrations, sculpture, fashion design, graphic design, interdisciplinary design and ceramics.

The 2010 Diploma Works Exhibition is featured at the Finlandia University Gallery through June 2.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy St., Hancock.

The Finlandia University Jutila Center campus is at 200 Michigan St., Hancock. Please call 487-7500 for more information.

Calumet Art Center to host Arbor Day Earthwork Concert Apr. 30

CALUMET -- An Arbor Day Earthwork Music Concert will be held at 7 p.m. tonight, Friday, Apr. 30, at the Calumet Art Center. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Omega House hospice.

The concert features area favorites Seth Bernard and (Daisy) May Erlewine, Rachel Davis, Steppin' In It's Josh Davis and Dominic Davis and newcomer Mike Shimmin.

General admission is $12; Seniors and students, $10. Doors open at 6 p.m., and tickets are sold at the door.

The Calumet Art Center is located at 57055 Fifth St. The CAC is the former church pictured above and located at the beginning of Fifth Street in Calumet (and near the Calumet Colosseum/Armory).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kennecott plans to fence-off Eagle Rock

Tending the sacred fire at Eagle Rock. (Photo © Teresa Bertossi. Courtesy Headwaters News.)

EAGLE ROCK -- Stand for the Land -- a Web site dedicated to news about the Native Americans now occupying Eagle Rock, a sacred site of the Ojibwa people, in protest against Rio Tinto-Kennecott's proposed sulfide mine on the Yellow Dog Plains -- commented today on Kennecott's plans to put a fence around Eagle Rock and public land and to require people to ask permission from Kennecott to enter and only enter when escorted by Kennecott security.

The article also quotes extensively from Deb Muchmore, Kennecott spokeswoman, who told the Marquette Mining Journal that Kennecott "plans to be in the area for a long time and wants a positive relationship with the community."

Stand for the Land calls Kennecott's bulldozing and plans to put up this fence illegal, since these actions are in preparation for construction lacking proper permits.

Read more ...

Spring Cleanup available for Hancock residents Apr. 30, May 1

HANCOCK -- The City of Hancock will conduct its Spring Cleanup for Hancock residents only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Apr. 30, and Saturday, May 1, 2010, at the Department of Public Works (DPW) Garage, 1601 Tomasi Drive.

Debris, such as old furniture, lumber, small metal items, etc. can be brought to the DPW Garage during these times.

General Debris Terms and Conditions: The DPW storage site will have restricted access and the site will be closed for debris drop-off except for the above published times. Any debris left at the gate area will be treated as a littering offense by the City. The City is limiting the amount of material to 4 cubic yards per household or facility. Only two box springs or mattresses will be accepted per household or facility.

WHITE GOODS WILL BE ACCEPTED BY THE CITY including refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers and microwaves.

Scrap Metal -- Steel, iron, copper, brass and aluminum will be accepted including bicycles, lawn mowers, and snow blowers.


Residency Requirement: The spring cleanup is only for City of Hancock Residents and is limited to debris generated in the City. Proof of residency, such as a drivers license, will be required at the DPW Facility (1601 Tomasi Dr). Senior Citizens with no access to transportation can call City Hall prior to May 4th for assistance to arrange pickup of items.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Citizen input needed on recreation, walking, biking surveys by Apr. 30

HANCOCK -- This Friday, April 30, 2010, is the deadline for completing three important surveys on the City of Hancock Web site.

They're off! Junior Chain Drive race participants head for the novice trail at Portage Health in Hancock last June 2009. Biking trails in Hancock offer recreation for the whole family. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

If you or your family members use Hancock's parks, beach, campground, ski or bike trails, or just want to see Hancock more walkable, consider taking a few minutes to complete the following online surveys:

Click here to access the five-year Recreation Plan Survey, Walking Survey and Bicycling Survey on the City of Hancock Web site.

The City of Hancock is looking for citizen input from anyone who enjoys recreation in Hancock. You do not have to be a resident of Hancock to offer your input.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stupak: Funding for water improvements, 83 jobs in Baraga

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak announced the village of Baraga will receive $5.4 million to make improvements to the water system. The funding, which will create or retain 83 direct and indirect jobs in the area, includes a loan for $2,754,000 through the stimulus, or American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and a $2,670,000 grant. The loan and grant were provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program.

"This funding will allow Baraga to strengthen and update its water system while helping to create and retain jobs in the community," Stupak said. "In addition to creating and retaining jobs, the stimulus dollars and this grant will help keep water rates at a reasonable level for consumers. As we work to turn our economy around, investments like this one are crucial to providing infrastructure projects that lay the groundwork for continued economic growth in the future."

The current water plant intake in the village of Baraga was constructed around 1970 and lies in only 13 feet of water 650 feet off the shoreline of Keweenaw Bay. The funding will be used to install a new water intake system with a buried pipeline that is further from shore and in deeper water. It will also be used to replace 13,000 feet of deteriorated and leaking supply main and to make repairs to the water plant including the replacement of pumps and controls.

Sixty-nine projects in 36 states received a total of $268.5 million, including $110.7 million in stimulus funding, in Thursday’s announcement by USDA. The projects will help to protect the environment and improve the health of rural families by providing critical water and wastewater infrastructure improvements.

More information about USDA’s ARRA efforts is available at

City of Houghton seeks ideas for Carnegie Museum

HOUGHTON -- In December, the City of Houghton purchased the Carnegie Museum building (the former Portage Lake District Library) and is planning the Museum’s future. As part of the planning process the City is seeking input from the public to determine the direction of the Museum, as well as topics for exhibitions and other programs. The survey results will be compiled and will help shape a plan for the Museum.

The public is invited to share ideas by responding to a short survey, found at the City’s website,, through this Friday, April 30. Paper copies of the survey are available at the Museum, Portage Lake District Library and the City Center office at 616 Shelden Ave. You do not have to be a resident of Houghton to take part in the survey.

Paddling social to be Wednesday, Apr. 28

HOUGHTON -- The second paddle social of the season will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. this Wednesday, Apr. 28. The event is open to anyone who enjoys paddling.

Kayaking on the Portage. (Photo © and courtesy Greg Maino at

"The plan is to meet at the boat launch at the south entry to the portage canal," said Keweenaw Paddling Club's Greg Maino. "From there we will paddle out into Lake Superior and around past the two lighthouses to the old Jacobsville quarry."

To get to the boat launch, head south out of Houghton on U.S. 41; then turn left on either North Entry Road or Portage Entry Road. North Entry Road will appear first, and if you turn here just stay right until you get to the boat launch. Portage Entry Road appears a little later, and if you turn here you will need to turn left at T-intersection.

The plan is to meet at 7 p.m. and be back to the boat launch by 9 p.m.

On the Keweenaw Paddling Club's website -- -- there is an event list located under the "photos" on the main page. This is where the club's weekly meetings will be posted in the future. At this time events will continue on the current every-other-week schedule. As the water/air warms up the group will move to weekly events.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Updates on Eagle Rock at Stand for the Land Web site

Despite this No Trespassing sign, Native Americans from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) and supporters have been camping on Eagle Rock in protest against Kennecott / Rio Tinto's plan to put a sulfide mine beneath the rock and the Salmon Trout River. As of Sunday, Apr. 25, the third day of the peaceful protest, Kennecott officials said they were open to talks with the KBIC. (Photo © and courtesy Stand for the Land)

MARQUETTE -- Stand for the Land is a new Web site from Marquette with the latest articles, photos and videos on the protests at Eagle Rock, a sacred site for the Ojibwa people and an entrance for the proposed nickel and copper mine Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, plans to develop on the Yellow Dog Plains.

Protesters on Eagle Rock Sunday, Apr. 25, 2010. (Photo © and courtesy Stand for the Land)

Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve was in jail for three days last week after being arrested for her presence on public land near Eagle Rock -- land that Rio Tinto/Kennecott has allegedly leased. However, the lease does not permit construction.

"In my mind, that lease is not real," Pryor said in an interview with TV6, WLUC-TV in Marquette. Click here to see a video clip of the interview.

Pryor and others involved in the protest against Kennecott / Rio Tinto will speak at a Public Forum to be held at 6 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Apr. 27, at the Women’s Federated Club House, NW Corner Front and Ridge Streets, Marquette, across from Peter White Public Library, where parking is available.

Here is the agenda for the meeting:

Welcome: Cynthia Pryor
Arrest on Public Land:
- What actually happened -- Cynthia Pryor
- Community Reaction -- Jon Magnuson, Gail Griffith, LOOSM, others
- Legal Implications and court proceedings -- Cynthia/Michelle Halley

KBIC Stand at Eagle Rock: Significance of Eagle Rock to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
- Chris Swartz -- KBIC Chairman / Summer Cohen - Cultural
- Discussion about what we are doing to do to support KBIC and their members -- Teresa Bertossi, Gabriel Caplett, Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP)
- Next Actions

Smudging on Eagle Rock, considered a sacred site by the Ojibwa people. (Photo © and courtesy Stand for the Land)

Blogs and other ways to communicate -- Gabriel Caplett

What Citizens can do:
- Legal Action Support, Community Action Support -- Kristi Mills/Adrian Bakker
- Monitoring the Site and Safety Issues -- Chauncey Moran
- Citizen Lawsuits -- Michelle Halley
- Faith Based Communities -- Jon Magnuson
- Environmental Justice Issues and Community Petitions -- Emily Whittaker

Q/A Citizen Action - GROUP DISCUSSION -- Teresa Bertossi/Catherine Parker

Native American Activists Protest at Eagle Rock
By Gabriel Caplett
Published: April 25, 2010

A member of the youngest generation at Eagle Rock. (Photo © and courtesy Stand for the Land)

Native American activists were setting up a tent camp at Eagle Rock Saturday, expecting to stay indefinitely peacefully protesting the Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company nickel and copper mine on the Yellow Dog Plains.

"I’m here because this is a sacred spot to our people," said Charlotte Loonsfoot, 37, a Keweenaw Bay Indian Community member from Baraga who organized the stand at the rock. "They’re going to drill underneath that rock. I’ve seen the spot, it’s like feet from the rock and it’s huge -- the hole is huge."

Eight year old Wakinyan and five year old Tokalasha were some of the earliest risers. When asked why he was there, Wakinyan said, "They’re going to blow holes in Eagle Rock and drill through the ground." (Photo © and courtesy Stand for the Land)

Read the rest of this article and more updates and photos on Stand for the Land.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Message from Charlotte Loonsfoot: Treat Mother Earth with honor, respect

Editor's Note: MARQUETTE -- On Friday, April 23, Charlotte Loonsfoot, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) sent an email to friends announcing her intention to "take a stand" on Eagle Rock and to invite others to join her. We requested and received her permission to publish her email on Keweenaw Now. Here is her message:

Top of Eagle Rock. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

By Charlotte Loonsfoot
Only when the last tree has died
and the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught
will we realize
we cannot eat money.

Our Mother Earth is the source of all life, whether it be plants, the two-legged, four-legged, winged ones or human beings. The Mother Earth is the greatest teacher, if we listen, observe and respect her. When we live in harmony with the Mother Earth, she will recycle the things we consume and make them available to our children. As a Native American, I must teach my children how to care for the Earth so it is there for the future generations.

So from now on,
I realize the Earth is our Mother. I will treat her with honor and respect.
I will honor the interconnectedness of all things and all forms of life.
I will realize the Earth does not belong to us, but that we belong to the Earth.
The natural law is the ultimate authority upon the lands and water. I will learn the knowledge and wisdom of the natural laws. I will pass this knowledge on to my children.

The Mother Earth is a living entity that maintains life. I will speak out in a good way whenever I see someone abusing the Earth. Just as I would protect my own mother, so I will protect the Earth. I will ensure that the land, water, and air will be intact for my children and for my children's children -- the unborn.

There is a site marked just feet from Eagle Rock. This is where the mining entrance is going in and will run underneath Eagle Rock. We will not be able to go to this beautiful place because it will be fenced off to us. The time is now -- we have to go protect what is right and true to our people and our future !!! This will be a peaceful protest.

Please pass on to everyone, Miigwich.*

*Ojibwa "Thank you."

Headwaters News: "Taking a Stand": Sacred Site Celebrated Despite Citizen Arrest

By Gabriel Caplett

MARQUETTE -- On Tuesday, a Big Bay resident was arrested for allegedly "trespassing" on a 120 acre tract of public land Rio Tinto wants to mine. Since then, public support for keeping that land public has increased and has inspired some to travel to the proposed mine site, despite "no trespassing" signs posted by the company and the threat of arrest.

Charlotte Loonsfoot and Chelsea Smith, members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, arrived at Eagle Rock late Friday night on April 23 to "take a stand" for their sacred site and their treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather on lands ...

Click here to read the rest of Gabriel Caplett's Apr. 24 article in Headwaters News.