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Friday, May 29, 2015

KBIC to host Environmental Forum, "Weaving a Sustainable Future," June 2 in Baraga

Poster for Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Environmental Forum June 2, 2015, at Niiwin Akea Center/Ojibwa Community College. (Poster courtesy Jessica Koski)

BARAGA -- The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) Natural Resources Department is hosting an Environmental Forum, "Weaving a Sustainable Future," from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. next Tuesday, June 2, at the Niiwin Akea Center/Ojibwa Community College located at 111 Beartown Road in Baraga. The event is free and open to the public.

Families, fishermen, elected tribal leaders, tribal members, elders, non-native community members and the general public are welcome to attend this event.

At 6 p.m. there will be a Breakout Session on Fisheries and Treaty Rights. KBIC commercial and subsistence fishermen are strongly encouraged to attend this session in order to exchange information and ideas regarding the status of Lake Superior fishery management as well as regional fishery resources.

Also at 6 p.m. a concurrent breakout session on Healthy Homes will be held. Green cleaning products and ideas will be provided, as well as information about illnesses that could be related to indoor air quality. Learn how to improve your home’s air quality for you and your family.

What will be happening at the Forum?

Starting at 2 p.m. Information Booths will provide educational materials from KBIC’s Natural Resources Department and from environmental partners including the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), Superior Watershed Partnership, Save the Wild UP, and Friends of the Land of Keweenaw. There will also be a booth featuring Eco-Friendly Diapers.

From 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Breakout Sessions will offer the opportunity to hear from KBIC environmental staff on what the tribe is doing to increase its authority to regulate and protect the reservation environment. Topics will also include climate change, wildlife and species of concern, waste management and recycling, treaty rights, mining, fisheries, healthy homes, and more.

At 4:30 p.m. enjoy a free dinner with pizza, sandwiches, fruit and veggies.

At 5 p.m. the highlight of the Environmental Forum will take place in the Gym with a Plenary Session on "Strategizing for Tribal Renewable Energy." The special guest speaker will be Kathleen Brosemer, Environmental Program manager for the Sault Tribe, who have recently received White House recognition for a Tribal Energy Strategy. In addition, KBIC’s Committee for Alternative and Renewable Energy will report on steps taken thus far to pursue a renewable energy future.

Kids' Activities

Kids' activities will start at 5 p.m. for ages 1-4 and at 6 p.m. for ages 5 and up. Kids' activities include Ojibwe Storytelling, Recycled Crafts, and Creating a Butterfly Garden where youth will learn the importance of pollinators and participate in a live release of monarch butterflies. This is a family friendly event where all ages of our community can learn about the importance of protecting our environment. Please register kids by calling 524-5757 ext. 25.

Why is this an important event?

This Environmental Forum is a unique opportunity to learn about the many great programs and projects being led by KBIC’s Natural Resources Department. Come meet and get to know KBIC’s environmental staff, increase your awareness of your local environment and environmental issues, and discover ways you can play a more active role in creating a sustainable future for the community.

This event is made possible with support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Indigenous Environmental Network, KBIC Family Spirit Program, KBIC Pre-Primary Education Program, KBIC Cultural Committee, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College and more.

Click here for an agenda. Jessica Koski of KBIC's Natural Resources Department speaks about the forum in an interview on Eagle Radio's Weekly Native American Radio Program (Eagle Country 105.7). Click here to listen to the interview.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Carnegie Museum to host French Canadian folk song workshop, concert and Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival traveling exhibit May 30

Maple Sugar Folk with Dave Bezotte (foreground) on accordion perform French Canadian songs during the July 2014 Omega House benefit concert. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

HOUGHTON -- The Carnegie Museum in Houghton will host a traditional folk music WORKSHOP and CONCERT with Dave Bezotte and the Maple Sugar Folk beginning at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 30. On the same day the Carnegie welcomes visitors to the opening of the TRAVELING EXHIBIT: "Music in the Pines: A History of the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival," on loan from the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at Northern University from May 30 to June 27, 2015.

French Canadian Song Workshop and Concert

A free fifty-minute workshop with Dave Bezotte and the Maple Sugar Folk will begin at 1:30 p.m. Come learn several response songs in French; receive some background information on each song; and learn where to find more information, collections and recordings of French Canadian music. The songs you’ll learn in the workshop will be sung in the concert, so you can sing along with enthusiasm! The concert begins at 2:30 p.m.

The Maple Sugar Folk is a musical group formed in 2005 to celebrate and share the Upper Peninsula’s French Canadian heritage through music, song and dance. They’ve performed at several Upper Peninsula Folklife Festivals in Marquette and at museums, heritage centers, libraries, schools, community fund raisers and festivals throughout the Copper Country, including the area’s observance of Michigan’s first French Canadian Heritage Week last fall. Shortly after the Workshop, the Maple Sugar Folk will perform some of our favorite French-Canadian folk songs and instrumental dance tunes. Many of the songs are chansons à répondre, or response songs, designed for singing along.  You are encouraged to sing, dance, clap your hands or tap your feet and experience genuine French Canadian Joie de Vivre!

Music in the Pines: A History of the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival

Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival. (Photo courtesy Carnegie Museum)

People come to the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival not only to enjoy the music by main stage performers, but to experience nature by camping out and catching up with people they’ve come to love over the bond of similar appreciation and passion for music and family.

Hiawatha has its roots in Deerton, Michigan, at what is known as the "Big House," where a group of young adult musicians lived together, fulfilling their happiness with potlucks, saunas, parties, and weekly jam sessions. The "Big House" and the small cabins surrounding it came to be a sort of commune with an appealing way to live closely to one another, but far enough away to avoid argumentation over house cleanliness and other issues. Members of the "Big House" group came up with the idea of a music festival after a few visited the Wheatland Music Festival in Remus, Michigan, in 1978. Members felt that because their passion was music, creating a music festival like Wheatland was in their realm of possibility.

Hiawatha was held in Champion for five years before the attendance numbers overwhelmed the amenities of the Horse Pulling Grounds. Tourist Park in Marquette, Michigan, was chosen as the new location for Hiawatha and the date was also switched to the second-to-last full weekend in July in 1984. Tourist Park proved to be an ideal location for the festival, with well-defined campsites, permanent restroom, showers, and electricity, and lots of shaded areas provided by the forest and came complete with a lake, lifeguard, and playground. The most appreciated aspect of the new venue was that it was isolated from the residential areas of the town, yet close enough to attract more festival attendees and volunteers.

The Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival and the Hiawatha Music Co-op gained recognition at Michigan’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1987, the Concerned Citizens for the Arts in Michigan in 1992, and also received the Governor’s Outstanding Arts Organization Award. The success of the festival is directly linked to the amount of workers and volunteers that contribute their time to Hiawatha and of course the dedicated attendees that come year after year.

The Carnegie Museum is on the corner of Huron and Montezuma streets in Houghton. For more information email or call (906) 482-7140. Regular hours are Tuesday and Thursday Noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday Noon to 4 p.m.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2015 Report says Michigan's Sobriety Court program, with ignition interlock devices, helps reduce drunk driving

97th District Court Judge Mark Wisti, pictured here in his office in the Houghton County Courthouse, says he is supportive of Michigan's Sobriety Court program and the ignition interlock devices that help control drunk-driving recidivism. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- A report released recently by the Michigan Supreme Court says that ignition interlocks are successful in preventing convicted drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and driving drunk. The study by researchers at Grand Valley State University found ignition interlock devices are an effective means of controlling drunk-driving recidivism among chronic offenders when incorporated into a DWI/Sobriety Court program, such as the 97th District Court in Houghton County.

"We know all too well that drunk driving kills," said 97th District Court Judge Mark Wisti. "This report provides solid data indicating that ignition interlocks used in conjunction with DWI/Sobriety Court supervision save lives by preventing drunk drivers from getting back on the road."

As part of an intensive program of supervision and sanctions for convicted drivers, ignition interlocks prevent a vehicle from being driven if the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the operator exceeds a certain level (measured by blowing into the device).* Specifically, the recent report found the following:
  • Recidivism cut in half: A DWI recidivism rate of 2.8 percent among interlock participants who are off probation as compared to participants in the Standard Probation Group who have a DWI recidivism rate of 5.5 percent.
  • Nearly universal compliance: More than 97 percent of people ordered by the DWI/Sobriety Court judges to put the devices on their vehicles actually put them on.
  • Failure rate two-thirds lower: 12 percent of interlock participants failed the DWI/Sobriety Court program, while nonparticipants had a failure rate of 34 percent.
Last year, there were 236 alcohol-related fatalities on Michigan roadways and 9,396 crashes involving alcohol (Michigan State Police, 2014). There are 41 DWI/Sobriety courts statewide designed to assist participants in their recovery, prevent drinking and driving incidents, while improving their quality of life and strengthening local communities. The program keeps participants out of jail, avoiding the cost of incarceration and helping participants stay on the job.

"We are treating this more as a public health problem to avoid putting (drunk drivers) in jail," Judge Wisti said. "It's a team approach, and the court will work with law enforcement and substance abuse counselors to treat addiction."

The quality of life is improved for both participants and for the community at large. Crime is reduced and communities are safer because participants are much less likely commit another drunken driving offense.

The study, which uses data from 2011 to 2014, was commissioned by the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals in cooperation with the State Court Administrative Office. The research in the report is based on data drawn from the following:

8th District Court (Kalamazoo)
51st District Court (Waterford)
61st District Court (Grand Rapids)
86th District Court (Traverse City)
96th District Court (Marquette)

The report reflects the Michigan Supreme Court’s commitment to measure performance and to assist local trial courts in implementing best practices and improve outcomes.*

May is Drug Court month and courts across the nation are highlighting their successful efforts to address the underlying causes of crime (i.e. drugs, alcohol, and mental illness) in order to solve problems and save lives.

* Click here to read the full "MICHIGAN DWI/SOBRIETY COURT IGNITION INTERLOCK EVALUATION 2015 REPORT." See p. 10 of the report for a description of ignition interlocks and an explanation of how they work.

Discover "lost Hancock" in May 28 history presentation at Scott Building

HANCOCK -- Hancock, Michigan, is home to many beautiful historic buildings, particularly in its downtown. However, there used to be many more. Some of these buildings were destroyed in catastrophic fires, while others were vacated voluntarily and eventually demolished. All of them have stories to tell about Hancock’s past and present.

Join local author John Haeussler as he shares some of the stories of "lost Hancock" in a talk illustrated with pre-1940 photographs of missing buildings and historic streetscapes at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 28, in the Community Room at the historic Scott Building, 103 E. Quincy Street in Hancock.

Please use the back entrance from the parking lot on Reservation Street (between the Scott Building and the former church) to access the Community Room, which is located on the second floor. The event is free and open to the public.

This event is part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park's Fourth Thursday in History series of public presentations on important aspects of Copper Country and regional history, including techniques for historic preservation.

Presentations are scheduled in venues throughout the Keweenaw Peninsula, particularly at historic sites associated with specific topics. Additional support for this event is being provided by Mike and Sharon Lahti of Hancock.

For further information, including specific directions to this event, contact Keweenaw National Historical Park at (906) 337-3168 or check the web at

Monday, May 25, 2015

Conservation District to sponsor Torch Lake Watershed Project meeting May 26

During the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) Apr. 22 annual meeting, Gina Nicholas, HKCD chair, speaks about the District's work with watershed projects. Here she describes the Cliff Mine area stamp sand remediation and historic preservation, part of HKCD's Eagle River Watershed Project. She also announced the upcoming May 26 meeting of the new Torch Lake Watershed Project. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- The Torch Lake Watershed Project will hold a meeting from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26, at the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Tech.* The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) is sponsoring the meeting, which is free and open to the public.

"We want everybody who's interested in Torch Lake to come," said Gina Nicholas, HKCD chair, who announced the May 26 meeting during HKCD's annual meeting on Earth Day, Apr. 22, 2015:

During the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) annual meeting on Apr. 22, 2015, HKCD Chair Gina Nicholas announces the May 26, 2015, meeting of the Torch Lake Watershed Project group, which will be sponsored by HKCD. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

This meeting will feature guest speakers Bill Rose and Carol MacLennan who will review the geology of Torch Lake and the history of the industries around Torch Lake. The goal is to establish a base platform of knowledge for all who are interested in being involved with the greater project of developing a Watershed Management Plan for Torch Lake. The group is also working toward developing a Watershed Council to help guide the process of writing a management plan. Light refreshments will be provided.

RSVP is appreciated but not required. To RSVP or to receive more information contact Marcy Erickson at or call (906) 482-0214.

HKCD has worked for several years on the Eagle River Watershed Project and Management Plan. As part of that project, they recently worked on stamp sand remediation along with historic preservation at the Cliff Mine site in Keweenaw County. Gina Nicholas spoke about the Cliff project during HKCD's Apr. 22 annual meeting:

Gina Nicholas, Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District chair, speaks about HKCD's work of stamp sand remediation and historic preservation at the Cliff Mine site in Keweenaw County.

* Click here to access a map with directions to Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center.