Michigan Public Radio recently conducted an interview regarding the Back 40 Mine permitting process. Listen to the interview here.
As a side note, the Indian Law Clinic got to work on parts of this issue a few years back, and this article nicely encapsulates how complicated it is, and how dangerous the mine is.
The Michigan-based permitting process for the Back Forty mine has left the Wisconsin side of the river mostly on the sidelines, Cox said.
“When the EPA, the Army Corps, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service all take actions that are federal, they are obligated to consult with the tribe under laws such as the National Historic Preservation Act, the National American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act,” he said.
“(Michigan) gets to contend, ‘Nope, we’re the authority now, so we’re not obligated to do anything with you Indian nations — you independent, sovereign nations. We’ll send you a letter, let you know what we’re doing. But we won’t communicate with you directly.’ “
Cox questioned Michigan’s “strange-sounding process” of leaving so many things unresolved in the approved permit.
“You would think that, rather than try to conditionalize a permit to include all that’s required, you would just say, ‘We’re not going to issue this permit until all of these big things are addressed, like groundwater modeling,'” he said. “I guess in Michigan they don’t see it that way.”
Across the river, in Michigan’s Menominee County, the board of commissioners passed a resolution opposing the Back Forty mine back in 2017.
“It’s right on the river, 150 feet from the Menominee River,” board vice chairman William Cech said. “There’s never really been a successful sulfide mine without leaving a large stain on the landscape that they are digging in
Worth a look, most especially for Dylan Minor’s excellent artistic rendering of the treaty cessions by Michigan Indian nations (skip ahead to page 15); available on SSRN here.
It was cherry blossom time, too!
And on the way over, we happened by the Japanese Internment Memorial, noting that the federal government placed many of the concentration camps on Indian reservations: Continue reading
Here are the materials in Menominee Indian Tribe v. EPA (E.D. Wis.):
The 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue under the Clean Water Act outlines violations of federal agency duties under the Act that will affect water quality of the Menominee River and adjacent wetlands, and downstream to Green Bay, as a result of the Back Forty Mine Project.
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin’s press release on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s decision to grant a mine permit for the Back 40 Mine, an open-pit gold, zinc, and copper mine next to the Menominee River, which threatens cultural properties and sacred sites. Tribal resolution in opposition to the mine.
Information on the Water Walk on September 21st in Stephenson, Michigan is here. Facebook page for the Remembering Our Ancestors event on September 22 is here. Letter from Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in support is also at that page.
Public hearing on the permit is October 6 at Stephenson High School. Written comments can be submitted to MDEQ until November 3.
Article on the NHPA issues with the mine from the ABA Native American Resources Committee Newsletter is here.
Op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here.