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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Concerned citizens plan 3 days of protest against Graymont proposal, more, March 27, 28, 29

This photo shows part of the Graymont limestone mining proposal area, which includes public lands supporting wildlife and land managed for timber -- contiguous forest lands considered some of the most productive forest land in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. These lands are also within the 1836 Treaty of Washington Ceded Territory, which guarantees Anishinaabe people the right to hunt, fish, gather and hold ceremonies. (Photo courtesy Save the Wild U.P.)

MARQUETTE -- Beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 27, everyone who cares about the future ecological health of the Upper Peninsula is invited to join a protest against the proposed Graymont mine near Rexton, Mich., and to express other concerns -- like the Enbridge pipeline that is in disrepair under the Mackinac Bridge and the proposed Eagle Mine road (County Road 595) that would cut through a fragile ecosystem near Marquette.

Concerned citizens will meet at the rest stop on the UP side of the Mackinac Bridge at 9 a.m. each day for three consecutive days -- Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 27, 28 and 29 -- to symbolize their deep concern about these issues.

Dr. Martin Reinhardt, a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and an assistant professor of Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University, initiated this demonstration to cast a light on how the State of Michigan is violating the treaty rights of Michigan tribes and disenfranchising both tribal and non-tribal citizens from their right to clean air, water, and land.

"Governor Snyder and his band of misfit legislators and administrators are selling Michigan to the highest bidder," Reinhardt asserts. "It is high time that we the people remind them about our rights. We will be idle no more!"

Reinhardt says it is time for citizens to stand up and speak loudly about these serious issues that are impacting our communities now and in the future.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and other tribes in Michigan have called on the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to reject Canadian mining company Graymont Inc.'s request to mine limestone on 10,000 acres of "state-owned" land in the Upper Peninsula near Rexton. This proposed activity would interfere with tribal rights to hunt, fish, gather, hold spiritual ceremonies, educate, and recreate in this area.* These rights are guaranteed by multiple treaties signed between the Anishinaabe Three Fires Confederacy of Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi and the United States of America. If it were not for these treaties, there would be no State of Michigan in the first place.

Reinhardt says he wants to be very clear that this is not a Native versus non-Native issue.

"Non-tribal citizens of the State are also exercising their treaty rights when they stand up to protect these lands," he notes. "Their leadership signed these treaties on their behalf and made solemn promises that they would protect these lands for the benefit of future generations."

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians points out that "this proposed Graymont mine would set a precedent where those who have enough money to influence elected officials can purchase vast tracts of land to further their corporate interests. The rights of Michigan citizens who use and enjoy this area shouldn't be traded for vague promises of economic prosperity."**

Reinhardt adds, "You simply cannot have a sustainable economy without a sustainable ecology."

Concerned citizens are encouraged to email the Michigan Department of Natural Resources with comments about the proposed Graymont mine and other related issues at:

"We hope that many people will join us as we pray, march, discuss issues, and sing in support of our Mother the Earth," Reinhardt says.

Dr. Martin Reinhardt can be reached at:

Inset photo: Dr. Martin Reinhardt. (File photo courtesy Dr. Martin Reinhardt)

* See our March 18, 2015, article, "Native American groups seek injunction against MDNR on Graymont land transfer proposal."

** See also our Feb. 22, 2015, article, "DNR Chief approves mineral rights exchange with Graymont but delays decision on 10,000-acre land transaction; residents, groups express opposition to Graymont project."

UPDATE: See the March 25 Press Release from Save the Wild U.P.: "U.P. Environmental Groups Criticize DNR’s Decision."