Native American leaders ask Milwaukee to oppose mineNative American leaders from northern Wisconsin met at a Milwaukee church Tuesday night, promoting opposition to a possible iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties.
By: By Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Native American leaders from northern Wisconsin met at a Milwaukee church Tuesday night, promoting opposition to a possible iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties.
A delegation from the Bad River Chippewa reservation near Lake Superior spent the day sharing its concerns about mining with Milwaukee media and community leaders. The proposed iron ore mine would be near the reservation, and tribal leaders say the huge open pit operation could threaten local surface water, groundwater and wildlife.
Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins, Jr., told a meeting at Congregation of the Great Spirit Church that the clean water of the Bad River Watershed is chemotherapy for Lake Superior.
"It takes all that water in the area, and puts it through a swampy, beautiful, water filtration system, and returns it, for all of us, for all of you, into Lake Superior," he says. "We can guarantee that for a thousand years if mining left us alone."
Wiggins is leery of a soon-to-be-debated bill at the state Capitol that he says would weaken mining regulations and possibly pave the way for the taconite mine. Robert Van Zile of the Mole Lake Band of Chippwea helped stop a proposed mine near Crandon about a decade ago. Van Zile says the taconite mine can be halted, too.
"One thing that we have going for us," he says. "We can tell the truth. We don't have to lie."
Standing with the Native Americans are many state faith and environmetnal groups, and environmental attorneys, signaling that a legal fight over the Ashland and Iron County mine could be in store.