One Tribe's 'Long Walk' Upstream For Environmental And Cultural Justice

"MARINETTE, Wisc.—Pre-dawn purple and gold and orange swirl deep overhead as the waterfront stirs to life. It's 6 a.m. at Menekaunee Harbor, where the Menominee River empties into Lake Michigan: Workers file into buildings, heavy machinery fires up and 18-wheelers roar and belch and hit the road.

Last week, amid the industry, an uncommon but just as motley assortment gathered in that fading darkness—retirees in flannel, millennials with long hair and oversized backpacks, some sipping coffee, some waiting in running cars as the sun burned off the morning chill. One guy sported a “Tribal Seeds” sweatshirt of the national reggae band, burning dried sage.

They were waiting for the Menominee tribe, en route from their reservation 60 miles south and running late for the sunrise water walk.

The walk had two objectives: Draw attention to the Back Forty mine, an 83-acre open-pit mine on track for approval upstream of here. Canada-based Aquila Resources, Inc., will pull gold, zinc, copper and silver from land adjacent to both the river and ancient burial sites—things sacred to the tribe but miles from their reservation border, and hence their control."

Brian Bienkowski reports for Environmental Health News September 29, 2016, as part of the "Sacred Waters" series.

Source: EHN, 09/29/2016