Summary Judgment Briefs in Turunen v. Michigan DNR — Treaty Right to Farm Pigs

Here are the materials in Turunen v. Michigan Department of Natural Resources (W.D. Mich.):

39 MDNR Motion for Summary J

42 Turunen Response

47 MDNR Reply

The claim survived an earlier motion to dismiss here.

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Wolf Management Plan


From 2013.

An excerpt:

The purpose of this plan is to provide a course of action that will ensure the long-term survival of a self-sustaining, wild gray wolf (Canis lupus) population in the 1842 ceded territory in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is written to encourage cooperation among agencies, communities, private and corporate landowners, special interest groups, and all Michigan residents. The Plan conforms to the provisions of the Federal Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan, which includes Michigan (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1992), Michigan Gray Wolf Recovery and Management Plan (Michigan Department of Natural Resources 1997), and the Michigan Wolf Management Plan (Michigan Department of Natural Resources 2008).

1842 Ojibwe Treaty Meeting at Lac Vieux Desert

Participants: Lac Vieux Desert, Lac du Flambeau, Mole Lake, St. Croix, Red Cliff, Fond du Lac, Keweenaw Bay, Bad River, Lac Courte Oreilles


1842 Ojibwe Treaty Meeting 2 1842 Ojibwe Treaty Meeting 3 1842 Ojibwe Treaty Meeting 4 1842 Ojibwe Treaty Meeting 5 1842 Ojibwe Treaty Meeting

Michigan Court of Appeals Affirms Mining and Groundwater Discharge Permits at Eagle Mine

Mining Permit decision here.

This case reflects the attempt to balance the potentially conflicting imperatives of exploiting a great economic opportunity and protecting the environment, natural resources, and public health. At issue is appellee Kennecott Eagle’s proposal to develop an underground mine to extract nickel and copper from the sulfide ores beneath the headwaters of the Salmon Trout River in the Yellow Dog Plains in Marquette County.

Groundwater Discharge permit decision here.

The court found the balance on the side of the underground mine. The state decision makers have managed to find at least three alternative grounds for not considering Eagle Rock a place of worship.

News article here.

Keweenaw Bay Judicial Crisis

Here is the new report, “Judges suspended by Tribal Council following KBIC civil lawsuit hearing.”

Note that the tribal judicial code treats the judiciary as a branch of government on par with the legislative and executive branches.

Press Release: “Keweenaw Bay Indian Community stands 500 strong at Eagle Mine Court of Appeals Hearing”

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community stands 500 strong at Eagle Mine Court of Appeals Hearing (PDF)

For Release: June 5, 2014

Contact: Donald Shalifoe, Sr., Tribal President

Phone: 906-353-6623

Baraga, MI — About 500 members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) KBIC Drummingstood united around the importance of keeping their waters clean from contamination associated with sulfide mining on June 3, 2014 at the Michigan Court of Appeals.  Oral arguments were heard involving the Eagle Mine, Michigan’s first permitted sulfide mine in the Upper Peninsula.

“This is the first time in our generation that the community as a whole came together to fight for true sovereignty and engage in spontaneous government participation.  The goal of the new moving-forward Tribal Council is to bring transparency and involvement to the Anishinaabeg (the people),” said Donald Shalifoe, Sr., KBIC’s Ogimaa (Chief).

Many tribal members carpooled and traveled about eight hours to line up for the 10:00 a.m. Lansing hearing.  KBIC’s remarkable presence overwhelmed the Michigan Hall of Justice whose staff reported it was their largest turn out ever for a court hearing.

Tribal leaders and elders observed the hearing from within the court room, while hundreds watched and listened to the proceedings in an overflow video conferencing room.  Traditional drumming and singing resounded outside the building following the hearing.

KBIC’s Vice President Carole LaPointe remarked “it was a very educational experience for our membership and youth.”

The Anishinaabeg band has opposed the Eagle Mine development, located on Treaty of 1842 ceded homeland, since it was first permitted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in 2006.

Unsettled concerns involve the mining regulatory process, improper permitting and inadequate assessment of impacts to the area environment, cultural resources and water quality, including groundwater contamination and the potential for perpetual acid mine drainage upstream from Lake Superior.

Tribal member Jeffery Loman said “the hearing today is another testimony to the fact that inadequate regulation and collusion between industry and government results in endless litigation.”

One aspect of the evolving case questions what qualifies as a “place of worship” under Michigan’s sulfide mining statute.  An initial ruling by Michigan Administrative Law Judge Richard Patterson recommended mitigation of impacts to an Anishinaabeg sacred place, Migi zii wa sin (Eagle Rock), but the MDEQ made a final permit decision asserting only built structures are places of worship.

Discriminatory enforcement of Michigan law has led to substantial degradation to KBIC’s sacred site.  This includes obtrusive mine facilities and a decline access ramp into the base of Eagle Rock, non-stop noise and activity, and hindered traditional access and use.  Spiritually significant high places like Eagle Rock are used in solitude by the Anishinaabeg for multi-day fasting, vision quest and ceremony.

Despite the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, Native people still struggle to protect their remaining sacred places in the face of extractive development agendas.  “It is a shame that the United States of America, proudly founded upon values of religious freedom, has trouble guaranteeing this right to all of its nation’s first people,” said tribal member Jessica Koski.

KBIC anticipates a decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals within six months.  The Eagle Mine’s timeframe for production start-up is the end of 2014.  “While the court deliberates, it is important to remember that regardless of the outcome, we are in the right for standing up for the Yellow Dog Plains.  We hope the court understands their decision will have long lasting implications for this place, as well as other areas that are slated for mining,” said Emily Whittaker of Big Bay, Michigan who gathered alongside KBIC and other locally affected residents.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruling will be an important precedent for additional sulfide mining proposals threatening Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and waters of the Great Lakes.