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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Native American statements on U.S. military's use of "Geronimo" code name

Statement by Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs, on Behalf of the Haudenosaunee:*

"We've lD'd Geronimo" -- 102 years after his death Geronimo is still being killed by U.S. Forces.

This is a sad commentary on the attitude of leaders of the U.S. military forces that continue to personify the original peoples of North America as enemies and savages. The use of the name Geronimo as a code name for Osama Bin Laden is reprehensible. Think of the outcry if they had used any other ethnic group's hero. Geronimo bravely and heroically defended his homeland and his people, eventually surrendering and living out the rest of his days peacefully, if in captivity, passing away at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1909. To compare him to Osama bin Laden is illogical and insulting. The name Geronimo is arguably the most recognized Native American name in the world, and this comparison only serves to perpetuate negative stereotypes about our peoples. The U.S. military leadership should have known better.

It all brings to mind the August 13, 2010, statement by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg advising then Governor Paterson to "get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun" to deal with Indian affairs. This kind of thinking indicates little progress in a mature social development of United States leadership.

The military record of American Indians is exemplary. We have more men and women per capita volunteering in U.S. military services than any other ethnic group. lt was American Indian code talkers that used their native languages to carry and transmit messages that Japanese and German intelligence could not decode, saving thousands of American lives in World War II. Ironically these brave men and women were using languages that American and Canadian boarding schools were doing their best to stamp out. When can we expect respect for our human dignity and human rights?

From Winona LaDuke, Native American activist:

The reality is that the military is full of native nomenclature. That’s what we would call it. You’ve got Black Hawk helicopters, Apache Longbow helicopters. You’ve got Tomahawk missiles. The term used when you leave a military base in a foreign country is to go "off the reservation, into Indian Country." So what is that messaging that is passed on? You know, it is basically the continuation of the wars against indigenous people. ... It is indeed an egregious slander for indigenous peoples everywhere -- and to all Americans, I believe -- to equate Osama bin Laden with Geronimo.

Editor's Notes:

*The Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois (Six Nations Confederacy), founded over 1,000 years ago, includes the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora Nations.

The Bell UH-1 Iroquois is a military helicopter.

** Winona LaDuke is the author of The Militarization of Indian Country. Click here for her recent comments on the military use of Geronimo on Democracy Now.

Thanks to Jessica Koski of New Warriors for the Earth for sharing the above information.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Mick McKellar: "Shadow Puddles"

Editor's Note: Mick McKellar, Copper Country poet, sent the following poem, with prose introduction, on his 73rd day at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he is recuperating from a stem-cell transplant for cancer. It is reprinted here with his permission.

I was just sitting on a stone pillar, atop Brockway Mountain (near Copper Harbor, MI) on a warm September day, with my camera set and ready to capture fall colors from the forest panorama -- much of it framed by the deep blue of Lake Superior. An artist's sky swung overhead -- brilliant blue with plenty of fluffy, puffy, white clouds moving rather rapidly before the wind. The sun was high, causing the clouds to cast shadows on the forest and on the surface of the big lake, shadows that chased each other through the valley and hills below.

I remember the incredible speed of the shadows, which seemed to change pace as they crossed the rugged terrain. Despite the chase, no two shadows connected. They just followed each other out of sight over the next ridge. Sometimes, it feels to me that I am chasing along behind one shadow and leading another, racing over rough terrain or blue water, and never quite connecting with any fellow shadows... leaving no trace of my passage...


Shadow Puddles

In open field, I sat upon a stone,
As scudding clouds drew shadow puddles, fast
Approaching where I chewed my thoughts alone,
I wondered if I'd feel them when they passed.
Touched cooler, yes, than full sun on my skin,
The shadow puddles played upon the field,
And rushed upon the wind, they raced their kin,
Though none could gain advantage, none would yield.
This playful trifle I might have ignored,
Yet, odd, there on my stone that I should find,
The passing puddles touched a deeper chord,
Played deep within the music in my mind --
A song whose message I could not rescind:
We're shadow puddles driven on the wind.

Mick McKellar
May 2011

(Read more from Mick on his blog, Out of My Mind.)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Volunteers needed to help build Sculpture Park in Calumet, starting May 7

By Michele Bourdieu

Main Street Calumet and sculptor Tom Rudd hope -- with the help of volunteers -- to turn this small lot on Fifth Street in Calumet into a "Sculpture Park." The site was formerly a restaurant that burned down. In the background is the rear wall of the Calumet Theatre. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

CALUMET -- Sculptor and Calumet resident Tom Rudd is working with Main Street Calumet to turn a small, empty lot into a "Sculpture Park" on Calumet's historic Fifth Street. Assisted by David Sarazin, a student intern from Finlandia University's International School of Art and Design, Rudd hopes to turn the small empty space behind the Calumet Theatre and near Ace Hardware into a "pocket park" location for outdoor sculpture.

This is a model of what the "Sculpture Park" might look like when complete. (Photo courtesy Tom Rudd)

If volunteers show up with a few tools and some materials, work on the park will start this Saturday, May 7.

"Tom and David will be on-site at 9 a.m. Saturday as part of Main Street Calumet's annual downtown clean-up," said Tom Tikkanen, Main Street Calumet executive director. "Volunteers are encouraged to bring rakes, shovels, and work gloves and assemble at the Sculpture Park site on 5th Street (across 5th Street from Ace Hardware) or at the Agassiz Park Pavilion at 9 a.m. this Saturday, May 7th."

Main Street Calumet will have coffee available at the Agassiz Park pavilion and also hot dogs around noon for volunteers who help with the clean-up and with the "pocket park" site.

"Unfortunately, this (Sculpture Park) effort was not funded by the Keweenaw National Historical Park Heritage Grant program, but Main Street Calumet's Design Committee's efforts will not be deterred," Tikkanen noted.

Rudd is asking that local residents help with a materials inventory of items available to use for construction of the park, such as sandstone blocks for the back wall.

"I know there are piles of stones, bricks, and metal around the area that we could use for this project," Rudd said.

Tom Rudd explains what needs to be done to the walls of the potential park and why he hopes to have a wall in the back so as not to disturb Calumet Theatre activities. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Even if people don't have the items on hand, they might know where unused materials are. With that information Rudd or Main Street Calumet could approach the owner, Rudd added. Rudd is a member of the Main Street Calumet Design Committee.

One of the first steps will be to re-do the stone walkway.

"We have to take all these stones out, level the area, put sand as a base, and then replace a good number of the stones," Rudd explained.

Sculptor Tom Rudd, right, and Finlandia art student David Sarazin work on digging up the stones in the pocket park so that the walkway can be re-done. (Photo courtesy Tom Tikkanen of Main Street Calumet)

Rudd also hopes to have pedestals to anchor the sculpture so it can be alternated.

"What it comes down to is assisting in making Calumet an art destination," Rudd explained. "We already have four or five galleries, the theatre, the Calumet Players. There's a lot of cultural activity."

Rudd created such a sculpture park in Detroit's inner city and says it has been very successful.

"The people in the neighborhood are caring for the park and the sculpture," he said.

Rudd is especially known for his stone sculptures of fish. The park in Detroit is known as "Fish Park" because of a big stone fish that he carved. Located in the middle of the park, the large fish is one of a series that he calls "Monuments to Minnows."

"It's sort of a metaphor for the common man: You're not really a minnow. You're a big fish," Rudd says.

He also likes to design Japanese dry gardens.

Rudd has also done external sculpture for Western Oregon University, Grand Valley State University and several cities in southern Michigan. In December 2011, the city of Frankenmuth, Mich., will exhibit one of Tom’s fish.

Anyone wishing to help with the project can show up this Saturday at 9 a.m. or contact Tom Tikkanen at Main Street Calumet by emailing or by calling (906) 337-3246 (337-MAIN).

Click here for the Main Street Calumet volunteer page to read more about how you can help with their projects.

Editor's Note: Read more about Calumet residents Tom Rudd and his wife, artist Margo McCafferty, as well as their talented children, in Keweenaw Now’s June 2, 2010, article, "Artists McCafferty, Rudd create, teach, join Keweenaw community."

Calumet to host First Friday events May 6

CALUMET -- First Friday in Calumet, May 6, promises a variety of cultural activity and celebration with a book signing, two opening receptions for new art exhibits, a watercolor painting activity and ribbon cuttings for two downtown businesses.

Book signing at Conglomerate Café

A book signing and reception to celebrate Stars in the Water, a new book published by Mudminnow Press, will take place at the Conglomerate Café from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 6, as a part of Main Street Calumet’s First Friday festivities. The book signing and reception are free and open to the public.

Stars in the Water book cover. (Image courtesy Main Street Calumet)

Stars in the Water is a collaboration of four Copper Country artists: Lesley DuTemple (author), Jack Oyler (illustrator), Laura Smyth (designer), and Joe Kirkish (photographer). DuTemple, a resident of Eagle River, is an award-winning author of more than two dozen children’s books. Her most recent book, Stars in the Water, features three magical tales of nature and the North Woods and is certain to please readers of all ages.

The stories have been richly illustrated by Jack Oyler of Calumet -- using his signature three-dimensional woodcuts. While this is Oyler’s first book, art enthusiasts will be familiar with his work, which has been displayed in area galleries.

Oyler’s illustrations were skillfully photographed by Houghton resident Joe Kirkish, who is well-known locally as a photographer, retired Michigan Tech professor, and founder of the Calumet Theater’s popular movie series, Club Indigo.

The book’s design was creatively conceived and executed by Copper City’s graphic designer Laura Smyth, who has a long line of books to her credit, as well as Further North, a magazine about life and art on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Stars in the Water has united the creative talents of these four artists in an engaging children’s book that will be loved by readers of all ages.

The author, illustrator, photographer, and book designer will all be on hand to answer questions and sign books at this First Friday event. Several of Jack Oyler’s original art pieces commissioned for this book will be on display as well. Books will be available for sale at the time of the signing. Copies are also available now in several Copper Country locations, including Copper Harbor, Calumet, Hancock, Houghton, Chassell, and Marquette.

Wood artists to exhibit at Ed Gray Gallery

"Wood: Form and Function" -- a gallery show featuring area wood artists Norm Hefke, Pat Reagan, Steve Schlumpf, Steve Uren, and Wayne Walma -- will open at the Ed Gray Gallery in Calumet at 6:30 p.m. on First Friday, May 6. All five artists will be present to premiere this show and their new work. An exciting offering of pieces ranges across the spectrum from turned pieces to furniture. Come to meet the artists and discuss their work!

The Ed Gray Gallery is at 109 Fifth Street in Calumet.

Vertin Gallery: "Kind of Blue," inspired by water

The Vertin Gallery will hold an opening reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 6 for their May show, "Kind of Blue" by Amy Arntson.

Summer Dance by Amy E. Arntson. Watercolor. (Photo courtesy Vertin Gallery)

Arntson is a Great Lakes artist who draws her inspiration directly from the water. Using the waterscape to convey emotion her work encapsulates the experience of water and uses it to convey deeper and more powerful emotions, often evoking an overwhelming sense of peace and meditation.

"My paintings are about spirit, as much as they are about a body of water," Arntson writes in her artist statement. "Growing up in the Great Lakes region, water has always been a powerful symbol for me. It is intimately connected with the passage of time, with stability and change: both fragile and seemingly eternal. Most of my current paintings do not reference the surrounding land; instead, they focus on abstract design qualities of light, texture, shape and movement of water. Without a horizon line, viewers are encouraged to meditate on the water, projecting themselves into the painting. While the artist begins the painting, each viewer completes it, with memories and personal associations."

"Kind of Blue" will be on display at the Vertin Gallery from May 6 through June 1.

For more information on the gallery and upcoming events, please visit or call (906) 337-2200.

Water Color Wonderland at Copper Country Gallery

If you ever wanted to visit wonderland, its all here at the Copper Country Gallery on Fifth Street in Calumet for a First Friday event from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on May 6. Save on gas! Water Color Painters Clyde Mikkola, Robert Sturos and Bob Dawson will still be wondering exactly what will be happening as you read this. Rest assured this will be a free, educational, fun-filled event!

All supplies will be provided by Copper Country Associated Artists. Coffee and bakery will also be provided. Donations are appreciated.

Ribbon cutting for new, old businesses

At 5:30 p.m. on First Friday, May 6, Main Street Calumet will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to honor one new downtown Calumet business and one business that has been operating in the community for 65 years.

EarthWise, at 216 Fifth Street, is a new store offering many unique items in the areas of gifts, beauty and health such as marzipan chocolate, flower essences, essential oils, books related to health and well being, Baggallini purses as well as hand-dipped beeswax candles, hand-made soaps and a variety of vitamins and supplements.

The old business to be honored is The Office Shop next door at 218 Fifth Street. In 1946 The Office Shop, Inc., opened its doors; and through the years its inventory of office supplies and services has increased to include faxing and copying documents for its customers.

Celebrate these two downtown businesses at the ribbon cutting on your way to the art events and book signing this Friday.

Reminder: Tree Sale pick-up May 6, 7 in Hancock

HOUGHTON -- Pick-up times for the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) Annual Tree Sale are from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, May 6, and from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 7, at the Houghton County Arena, 1500 Birch St., Hancock.

A $15 late fee will be charged for orders not picked up by noon, Saturday, May 7, when remaining items will go on sale for the public.

If you wish to volunteer with preparations for the tree sale, call Sue at (906) 369-3400.

The Annual Tree Sale is HKCD's MAJOR fundraiser of the year. All proceeds go to conservation efforts and education in Houghton and Keweenaw Counties.

New Warriors for Earth launch new Web site

By Michele Bourdieu

BARAGA -- New Warriors for the Earth (Oshikinawe-Ogichidaag Akiing) recently launched their new Web site. New Warriors for the Earth, is an Anishinaabe-based non-profit organization dedicated to educating and empowering communities to take positive action to protect Aki, Mother Earth. Co-founders of the group are Jessica Koski and Cory Fountaine. Both are Anishinaabe and members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC).

During the 2010 Protect the Earth Gathering last July, at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College in Baraga, Jessica Koski and Cory Fountaine, co-founders of New Warriors for the Earth, present keynote speaker Winona LaDuke -- Native American activist, environmentalist and writer -- with the gift of a blue shawl. The Women's Movement for the Water is encouraging Native women to make and wear blue shawls to symbolize protecting the world's water for future generations. Fountaine, an art student, also designed the logo for the Protect the Earth banner. (Keweenaw Now 2010 file photo)

Fountaine, an artist and the proud father of two sons, is currently attending Ojibwa Community College in Baraga and Northern Michigan University in Marquette. This month Koski completed a master’s degree in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She also holds an associate's degree from Ojibwa Community College and a bachelor's degree from Michigan Technological University. Koski recently accepted a full-time position as the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s Mining Technical Assistant.

"We are grounded and guided by our Anishinaabe heritage and culture," Koski says. "Our mission is to raise awareness about mining and environmental injustices facing the Western Great Lakes region and Aki. Our initial purpose is to protect our abundant freshwater resources and traditional homelands located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from intrusive multinational mining corporations and hazardous sulfide and uranium mining."

The new Web site offers a Community Education page that gives facts about sulfide mining and its impacts on the environment. It also offers a list of links to important documents of interest to anyone concerned with Native American treaties and environmental justice. The Culture page includes songs in the Ojibwa language and a video documentary on restoring the language.

In addition to news and events updates, New Warriors for the Earth has an attractive photo page of local interest. The video page offers inspiring video clips -- from Drew Nelson's illustrated song "Eagle Rock" to Winona LaDuke speaking on climate change and food sovereignty.

The About page gives profiles of Fountaine, Koski and other leaders of the group:
  • Charlotte Loonsfoot, KBIC member, who started the camp at Eagle Rock in April and May 2010 -- a mother of five children -- is committed to protecting the water for future generations. She has an associate's degree from Ojibwa Community College and plans to attend Michigan Tech for further study.
  • Kalvin Hartwig, a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, a Michigan Tech graduate who has been studying at Yale University, was a fire-keeper and camper at Eagle Rock. This summer he will be interning at the United Nations Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
  • Casey Snyder, who grew up in rural central Michigan alongside many Anishinaabe people and has Metis ancestry, also participated in the 2010 occupation of Eagle Rock and played an important role in the start-up of New Warriors for the Earth.
Click here or go to for the New Warriors for the Earth home page.

Editor's Note: See Jessica Koski's recent letter to the editor, "Gov. Snyder, halt Eagle Mine, consider long-term impacts," published in Keweenaw Now Apr. 14, 2011.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

New Works by Derik Spoon on exhibit in Kerredge Gallery May 5 - June 4

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center announces its new exhibit in the Kerredge Gallery: New Works by Derik Spoon. The exhibit of kiln-formed glass wall sculpture and hand-built ceramic functional ware will open on May 5 and be on display through June 4, 2011.

An opening reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to see Derik Spoon’s new work. Refreshments will be served.

Derik Spoon earned his BFA in ceramics from the University of Iowa. He teaches ceramics at Finlandia University’s International School of Art and Design and is a full-time studio artist. His experience includes working as a ceramic glaze technician at the Clay Art Center in Tacoma, Washington, and as a slip casting technician at Sauer Pottery in Port Orchard, Washington. Before attending college he worked as a bicycle mechanic -- work that is based on diagnosing a problem by systematically evaluating all possible causes and eliminating the variables that are not the cause of the problem. This, along with his work as a clay studio technician has shaped his approach to art making.

Spoon says, "I find that I look at all things that I create from the same mindset of being a bicycle mechanic. Everything I make is taken from the aspect of breaking down the piece as a whole and then assembling it from parts."

This exhibit is made possible with a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

For more information call (906) 482-2333 or visit the website:

Swing Dance to be held at Marquette's Dance Zone May 6

MARQUETTE -- The Dance Zone in Marquette will be the scene of a Swing Dance from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, May 6.

"We'll be playing music for West Coast Swing dancing, East Coast Swing dancing, Jitterbug and Lindy Hop," say hosts Brian and Janell Larson. "Please come out and join us for a fun evening."

Bring clean shoes to protect the dance floor.

The Dance Zone is at 1113 Lincoln St., Marquette -- right across from Citgo near Marquette Senior High.

For more information call (906) 226-0138 or email:

Calumet Art Center to host "Jazz Experience in Concert" May 4

CALUMET -- The Calumet Art Center will host the Calumet High School "Jazz Experience in Concert" at 7:30 p.m. TONIGHT, Wednesday, May 4. Donation: $4 for adults and $2 for children.

The Calumet Art Center is at 57055 Fifth Street.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Updated: Residents concerned about water quality question Rio Tinto-Kennecott at community forum

Matt Johnson, Kennecott manager of external affairs, begins his presentation on the Rio Tinto-Kennecott Eagle Mine during Kennecott's April 26, 2011, community forum at the Ramada Inn in Marquette. (Photos courtesy Allan Baker.)

By Michele Bourdieu

MARQUETTE -- More than 150 people filled a large room at the Ramada Inn in Marquette on April 26, 2011, for the fourth in a recent series of community forums hosted by Rio Tinto's Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company (KEMC) for open discussion of the Rio Tinto-Kennecott Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains near Big Bay, Mich.

KEMC began construction of infrastructure for the mine about a year ago. It is also a year since a group of Native and non-Native opponents of the mine camped out at Eagle Rock, an Ojibwa (Anishinaabe) sacred site, chosen by KEMC to be the portal for this nickel and copper mine estimated to earn the company $4.7 billion in profits.

Matt Johnson, KEMC manager of external affairs, assisted by Chantae Lessard, KEMC senior advisor for government and community relations, gave a 20-minute Power Point presentation on the project and then opened the forum to questions and discussion. The majority of those in the audience who asked questions or presented their views appeared to be concerned citizens opposed to the Eagle Mine, but some declared themselves to be neutral on the issue or in favor of the mine and KEMC.

Frank Jeff Verito, a 19-year Marquette resident, formerly from Wisconsin, said he came to the forum to hear what Kennecott had to say and to have the opportunity to make a public comment.

During the April 26 community forum, Frank Jeff Verito of Marquette expresses his views on the impacts of Kennecott's Eagle Mine.

"I moved here because it was one of the least spoiled places, and now it’s being spoiled," Verito said.

During the forum, Verito read a statement with his opinions, saying, "We’ve seen Kennecott demonstrate the epitome of the step-by-step, hurdle-by-hurdle approach that corporations use to cram their filth down the throats of residents who want no part of them. First they influenced the DEQ to grant their application, which some of us knew was a done deal from day one. Then suddenly an untold number of trees were destroyed for power lines, followed by the urgent need for a haul road, which would consume more acreage than the mine site itself, not to mention the wetlands, the moose habitat, and access for major future developments over some of the UP’s wildest remaining areas."

Verito said he had spoken with residents of Ladysmith, Wis., site of Kennecott’s Flambeau Mine, (now the subject of a lawsuit over water pollution from that mine). He said he believed there is no safe way to do sulfide mining near a fragile aquifer.

Potential water pollution was a major concern in many of the comments made at this forum.

Johnson, apparently aware of this concern, emphasized the importance of the water treatment facility now being built at the Eagle Mine. During the presentation, Johnson projected a slide with an aerial photo, taken last fall, of the 100-acre site, noting the site has been designed to have water management as a priority. He explains this in the following video clip:

Using an aerial view of the Eagle Mine site on dual screens, Matt Johnson, Kennecott manager of external affairs, with the assistance of Chantae Lessard, Kennecott senior advisor for government and community relations, points out locations where water will be treated and stored during mining operations. (Video clips courtesy Allan Baker)

Johnson noted 75 employees worked this winter on construction of the reverse osmosis water treatment facility, which the company hopes to complete later this year.

A slide in the Rio Tinto presentation states, "Our water treatment facility is at the heart of our commitment to protect water."

Lessard points one of six water tanks inside the reverse osmosis water treatment plant, still under construction. Each holds about 22,000 gallons of water.

Jennifer Silverston, a concerned Marquette resident, asked three technical questions related to Johnson’s presentation on the mining operation. First, she wanted to know how the rock (containing sulfides) removed from the mine and stored on site on a pad or liner would be prevented from reacting with air and water (which can cause Acid Rock Drainage or ARD, aka Acid Mine Drainage) before it goes back into the mine.* Second, she asked where the minerals from the reverse osmosis treatment plant would be deposited when separated from the water. Third, she asked if the company was planning for "a hundred-year storm or a thousand-year storm" with their design.

Kristen Mariuzza of KEMC, answered Silverston’s first question by explaining the rock would be stored on several liners and a leak-detection sump and would be covered as much as possible. As for the question on the minerals filtered out by the reverse osmosis system, Mariuzza said they would be "squeezed" out of the water and tested to determine whether they should go into a hazardous waste site or a regular landfill. She also explained that the company had evaluated both a 100-year rainfall event and a 50-year combined snow melt and rainfall event and decided on the latter for the design, since the combined snow melt and rainfall produced more water.

Silverston appeared dubious about the 50-year design because of climate change:

KEMC's Kristen Mariuzza replies to questions from Marquette resident Jennifer Silverston concerning the reverse osmosis system of the water treatment plant and the long-term planning for water protection at the Eagle Mine site.

Richard Sloat of Iron County said Kennecott's water treatment plant will operate at the Eagle Mine without having been tested. He asked Johnson if Kennecott would sign a letter of agreement to test the reverse osmosis plant with polluted water from the Buck Mine, an abandoned iron mine in Iron County that was located in a highly concentrated sulfide body.

Sloat questioned an explanation he received when he spoke with Rick Thomas, Rio Tinto managing director, Project Delivery Hub (Americas) Technology and Innovation.

He said Thomas told him if the treatment plant doesn't work, "we'll just tweak it later."

Richard Sloat, Iron County resident, brings up the fact that Rio Tinto - Kennecott's reverse osmosis plant, being built on the Eagle Mine site, will not have been tested before mining operations begin. He asks that Rio Tinto test it, in advance of mining operations, with polluted water from an abandoned mine in Iron County.

"I don't think that's unreasonable -- to protect our water," Sloat said. "You basically said, in a video I watched, 'We're all concerned about the water.'"

Mariuzza replied to Sloat that the water treatment plant would have to be tested with comparable water and she wasn't sure the water from the Buck Mine would be comparable. While she could not commit to such testing right away, Mariuzza admitted Sloat had good points and she did not dismiss his request.

"I won't leave this unanswered," she said.

Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve expressed concern about Johnson’s description of where the tunnel would go from its entrance at Eagle Rock. He described it on the aerial photo, saying, "We actually have two plans -- one that curves around to the north, one that curves around to the south …"

Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve asks for clarification on the proposed direction of the Eagle Mine tunnel.

Pryor challenged the idea of the tunnel going south because of the location of the Salmon Trout River to the south and her understanding that the permit and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are based on a plan to have the tunnel going north.

Johnson confirmed the permit does say the tunnel is going to go north, but the south route was being considered:

Matt Johnson tries to answer Cynthia Pryor's concerns about potential harm to the Salmon Trout River if the Eagle Mine tunnel should be directed to the south.

Johnson then mentioned "many permit amendment approvals" by the DEQ, but Pryor noted the importance of the impact to the watershed if the tunnel were to go south.

A member of the audience asked a question about seepage into the aquifer from the broken rock in the mine.

"The water on the surface that’s supplying the Salmon Trout River -- that’s separate from the water in the underground mine," Mariuzza said.

In addition, the company will be monitoring the water level throughout the life of the mine, she added.

Barbara Bradley of Skandia spoke about the water pollution at Kennecott’s Flambeau Mine in Ladysmith, Wis.; water violations by a Kennecott mine in Alaska and both water and air pollution at their Bingham Canyon mine in Utah.

Barbara Bradley of Skandia reminds Rio Tinto-Kennecott of their past practices that violate both the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.

Johnson claimed Kennecott had worked with the EPA to clean up waste from previous mining at the Utah site in order to prevent it from being a Superfund site. As for the polluted drinking water, he noted Kennecott was providing drinking water to residents there.

Some members of WAVE (Water Action Vital Earth), a new grassroots citizens' group in Marquette, also spoke about water concerns.

WAVE member Laura Nagle of Marquette expressed concern about water from the mine that may go into neighboring wells. She also explained WAVE's purpose.

"(WAVE's) focus is to protect our clean water and create sustainable jobs within our community," Nagle said. "If we find an alternative route, then we and our grandchildren and our children will be able to live without toxins."

Another WAVE member, Margaret Comfort, spoke of toxins she was exposed to when living in the Saginaw area.

"We need to tread softly and carefully and not try to bypass things," Comfort said, "because once the water's messed up it's messed up forever."

Jeffery Loman, deputy director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement and a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, who now lives in Alaska, asked several questions dealing with trust and ethics.

He first pointed out that at both the Humboldt community forum, held by Kennecott on April 19, and at this one, Rio Tinto-Kennecott's presentations stated the legal challenges to the Eagle Mine were over. Loman asked Johnson if that is their position -- that there are no more legal challenges to their permits or projected activities for the Eagle Mine.

"There was a contested case on the Part 632 mine permits that were granted, and the judge ruled in favor of the state and the mining company’s position," Johnson replied, "and the National Wildlife Federation and others have filed an appeal on that and that’s coming up."**

Loman said he plans to ask the Administrator of EPA, Lisa Jackson -- as a matter of policy -- to designate the Yellow Dog Watershed an Area of Aquatic Resource of National Interest.

After noting Rio Tinto’s arrogance and lack of ethics in hiring state employees formerly involved with regulating their project to work on the project for them, Loman suggested a way the company could redeem itself:***

Alaska resident and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community member Jeffery Loman, deputy director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, suggests that Rio-Tinto-Kennecott do a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) for the Eagle Mine.

To Loman’s request that Rio Tinto-Kennecott do a Health Impact Assessment (HIA), Johnson replied, "Yes, we would consider that."

Johnson noted United Nations core values the company holds are listed on their Web site.

These are listed under the principles of human rights, labor standards, environment, and anti-corruption.****

After the forum, Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve summed up the reason many mine opponents attended the forum.

"Why we all came here was to bring all these issues to the public’s attention so they get a well-balanced view -- not just the company’s opinions," Pryor said.

Editor’s Notes: This is the first in a series of articles on Kennecott’s three-hour community forum held in Marquette April 26. Watch for the next article with more public comments and concerns expressed at the meeting.

*KEMC’s Web site, under "Water Protection," calls this "development rock." It says, "Development rock -- non-ore bearing rock drawn from underground as the mine is built -- contains sulphide bearing minerals. Development rock needs to be stored on the surface during the project’s construction and development, before being used as backfill. As the development period may last several years, there is a risk that ARD may occur." Click here for Kennecott’s explanation of their planned protection against ARD (Acid Rock Drainage).

** Loman noted correctly that the appeal was not mentioned in Kennecott’s presentation on the mine. The hearing on this appeal is scheduled for June 9, 2011.

*** Matt Johnson formerly worked for former US Rep. Bart Stupak and for former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, although not in a regulating capacity. Kristen Mariuzza is a former DEQ employee. A note under the Jan. 28, 2011, YouTube TV-6 video interview with Mariuzza at Kennecott’s water treatment plant, under construction, states, "Mariuzza reviewed and signed off on Rio Tinto's wastewater treatment plans while with the DEQ and shortly after went to work for the company."
Click here for the YouTube video clip, "TV6 Interviews DEQ Employee-Turned Rio Tinto Employee."

**** Click here to read about Rio Tinto’s participation in the United Nations Global Compact.

UPDATE:  Click here for Part 2 of this series: "Kennecott Forum, Part 2: Comments on Eagle Rock, mining permit."

Monday, May 02, 2011

Obama administration affirms comprehensive commitment to clean water

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- Recognizing the importance of clean water and healthy watersheds to our economy, environment and communities, the Obama administration released, on April 27, a national clean water framework that showcases its comprehensive commitment to protecting the health of America’s waters. The framework emphasizes the importance of partnerships and coordination with states, local communities, stakeholders and the public to protect public health and water quality, and promote the nation’s energy and economic security.

For nearly 40 years, the Clean Water Act, along with other important federal measures, has been a cornerstone of our effort to ensure that Americans have clean and healthy waters. The administration’s framework outlines a series of actions underway and planned across federal agencies to ensure the integrity of the waters Americans rely on every day for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and that support farming, recreation, tourism and economic growth. It includes draft federal guidance to clarify which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act nationwide; innovative partnerships and programs to improve water quality and water efficiency; and initiatives to revitalize communities and economies by restoring rivers and critical watersheds.... Click here to read the rest of this recent press release from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sen. Levin: Statement on U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden

WASHINGTON, D.C. --U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today made the following statement concerning the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden:

"The people of the world can feel relief and satisfaction that a monster has been brought to justice. Justice has a long memory and a long arm," Levin said.

"I stand in awe and appreciation of the men and women of our military and our intelligence community, who have once again demonstrated their amazing courage and competence. Their heroism is a stark contrast to bin Laden, who while sending his underlings to die or huddle in mountain caves has been living in the comfort of a villa in Pakistan. Surely this will help puncture the myth of Osama bin Laden.

"This is a great victory in the fight against terrorism. But it is not the final victory.

"These events also bring back to us the pain of the terrible loss we suffered on Sept. 11, 2001, and of the sacrifices of the brave men and women who have been lost or wounded in the years since. It is their heroism, and not bin Laden’s hatred, that endures."

Editor's Note: Click here for a video-clip of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement to the press on bin Laden's death.

Updated: Make your own kantele: Class to be May 10,12

HANCOCK -- Back by popular demand, Jim Lohmann will be offering another opportunity for people to make their own quality five-string kantele, an iconic musical instrument of Finland. The class will be offered from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10, and Thursday, May 12, at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock. Those interested must attend both sessions.

The fee is $125, which includes all materials. No specific skills are needed; even those with no carpentry experience can attend and enjoy. At the end of the two-day class, you can take home your own five-string kantele like the one in the above photo.

To register, call (906) 487-7505.
(Photo courtesy Finnish American Heritage Center)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Portage Library to host landscaping program May 2

The Portage Lake District Library will host Advanced Master Gardener Lynn Watson at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 2, for her presentation on "Landscaping Expansions: Getting the Most Out of Your Resident Plant Material."

This presentation will teach participants how to split shrubs and perennials and how to do twig tip propagation, rosebush multiplication, winter sowing, and evergreen recovery.

These methods will show gardeners how to increase the number of plants they have without spending money for new ones. Gardeners will learn how to extend landscaping, increase the size of their garden, and multiply plant material all from plants they already have.

Watson is the head gardener at Michigan Technological University. She is also the owner of Interiorscapes, a company devoted to professionally helping homes and offices welcome healthy green plants into their living and work environments.

Library programs are free and everyone is welcome. For more information, Please call the library at 482-4570 or visit