Wis. tribal leaders draft second letter to federal goverment

By KBJR News 1

September 28, 2013 Updated Sep 28, 2013 at 6:22 PM CDT

Mellen, WI (NNCNOW.com) -- Tribal leaders across the state of Wisconsin are doing everything in their power to stop a proposed mine in Northwestern part of the state.

The battle over Gogebic Taconite's proposal to mine iron ore in the Penokee Hills is being fought in the state legislature in Madison and has now expanded to include capitol hill in Washington D.C.

"When you talk about treaties between government, sometimes you have to remind people of their obligations and trust," said Paul Demain, LCO harvest camp leader.

Which is exactly what tribal leaders across Wisconsin are doing in the form of a letter to President Barrack Obama.

"That letter was essentially a request federal intervention, to remember those treaty and trust obligations that are there," said Mike Wiggins, Jr. Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Tribal leaders from six Wisconsin tribes sent a letter to the federal government in August looking to stop the proposed iron ore mine in Northwest Wisconsin; now they are working on another letter.

"Our second letter is going to have specific talking points and information designed to assist the federal government on where it needs to focus its attention," said Wiggins.

Tribal leaders say the federal government needs to acknowledge the treaties that retain their right to hunt and fish in ceded territory.
And understand the potential impact mining could have on those natural resources.

"The lands in the northern part of Wisconsin and into Minnesota and Michigan are occupied, and they are occupied because of mutual agreements we entered into," said Wiggins.

Senator Bob Jauch supports the tribe's efforts and says it is important for them to communicate with the federal government.

"The federal agencies, the EPA, the Corps of Engineers, Department of Interior are going to have a very vital role in determining whether or not permits are ever issued to this mining company," said Sen. Jauch.

Tribal members have not yet received a response from the federal government on the matter.

They hope to have a draft of the second letter completed by next week.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.
kanderson@kbjr.com