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Political Matters
Political Matters: Go PolyMet?
Wednesday, December 04 2013
 
Written by Mordecai Spektor,
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Go PolyMet?

In early December, PolyMet Mining will release its supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its NorthMet copper-nickel project near Hoyt Lakes, Minn. In October 2009, the first draft EIS was released; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that report inadequate and sent the Toronto, Canada-based firm back to the drawing board.

Four years later, with the new EIS set to arrive, the controversy over the environmental risks from sulfide mining – a new industry in Minnesota – will ramp up. The mining firm is behind a public relations effort dubbed “Go PolyMet,” which is aimed at winning public support for the NorthMet project. This is a “slick, high-production values ad campaign,” according to Nancy Schuldt, the water protection coordinator for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.


Political Matters: The "R" Word
Monday, November 04 2013
 
Written by Mordecai Spektor,
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In the July 1993 edition of The Circle, I wrote a story about “pro sports franchises appropriating Native American people and their culture — sacraments, rituals and symbols — as a prop for their multi-million dollar entertainment sports extravaganzas.”


The article — which followed local American Indian Movement (AIM)-led protests at the 1991 World Series (Minnesota vs. Atlanta) and the 1992 Super Bowl (Buffalo vs. Washington) — involved a visit to the Metrodome, where the Twins were hosting Cleveland. The article was titled “Cleveland Indians: Chief Wahoo’s Tribe?”

Political Matters: Defends/Stands Up for People
Monday, October 07 2013
 
Written by Mordecai Spektor,
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Defends/Stands Up for People

In my June column for The Circle, I wrote about Ken Tilsen, the dean of civil rights lawyers in Minnesota and a committed advocate for American Indians, who was in very poor health. Ken rallied during the summer, but then went to the Spirit World on Sept. 1.

At his funeral, Sept. 4, at Temple of Aaron Cemetery in Roseville, a large group of family members and friends gathered for songs, prayers and eulogies.

The ceremony was a mix of Jewish and Lakota rituals. Ken was from a Jewish family and, as things worked out, he had grandchildren from the rez.


POLITICAL MATTERS: Native Issues In The Halls of Government
Thursday, September 05 2013
 
Written by Mordecai Spektor,
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Gogebic Taconite’s scheme

Over the past three years, I’ve been sounding the alarm about the mining juggernaut rolling through the forests of northeastern Minnesota. A number of multinational corporations  – most notably, Polymet Mining and Duluth Metals – are in the exploratory stage of extracting copper-nickel and precious metals, a new type of mining in Minnesota. These projects have the potential to seriously foul surface water and groundwater with sulfate pollution from the mining process, as has happened across the western United States.

Since some of the tracts being explored fall within the 1854 Treaty Ceded Territory, the Ojibwe bands in northern Minnesota have an interest in how this industrial development proceeds. The Fond du Lac band, for example, has been involved in the environmental review process, and band environmental officials have expressed concern that effluents from sulfide mining could damage wild rice beds. In the context of the 1854 Treaty, the Ojibwe bands ceded their ancestral territory to the U.S. government, but reserved their rights to hunt, fish and gather for subsistence purposes. These reserved rights could be endangered by the detrimental environmental effects of sulfide mining.

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