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Wisconsin tribes refuse to sit on state mining impact board
Wisconsin’s 11 tribes have voted to boycott a board that oversees investment money from the proposed GTAC's open pit iron ore mine. They say the state won’t listen to them. Mike Simonson reports.
The seven member Mining Investment and Local Impact Fund Board has representatives from the mining area, including Iron, Forest and Bayfield counties. It does not have an Ashland County resident, although one member works in Ashland County.
What this board won’t have is a tribal representative. It’s up to the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council to appoint someone. This week, Inter-Tribal Council Director Mike Allen says they decided it wouldn’t do any good.
“There’d be no need for it. They felt like they’d be like a token Indian with this thing.”
Allen says it was a consensus vote. They want the EPA and federal government involved.
“And have them question this and have them put a stop to this and see what kind of damage this mine can do for not only the tribal people but the state of Wisconsin. We’re going to lose this forever.”
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe stands to take the brunt of impact from what would be the largest iron ore mine in North America. Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins says since they are downstream from it, tribal leaders must protect the air and water and the ability to hunt, fish and gather.
“Number one, they’re non-negotiable and number two, they’re trust assets that even the U.S. government understands that we need in place in order to survive into the future.”
Wiggins says this committee will not have manna from heaven, only bread crumbs.
“These communities are sitting there being lead down a slaughterhouse canal and the state’s just watching, sitting idly by.”
He says the best option for jobs is farming and food cooperatives in that region.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from Governor Walker’s office says the seat will remain vacant and they’ll continue to work with the tribes.
The Department of Revenue, which oversees the committee, declined comment on our story.Previous KUWS Articles:
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