Note: This map was originally produced by the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Tribal information headings were added by Protect Our Manoomin.
"The penetration of Indian lands by multinational mining corporations seeking to extract valuable mineral and energy resources has resulted in...the transformation of Indian tribes 'from captive nations into internal colonies'"
Al Gedicks, "The New Resource Wars."
The following map presents a look at extractive resource exploration in northern and central Minnesota. Much of this exploration was done in the mid-1980's to the 1990's. Presently, attention has been largely focused on northeastern Minnesota, in particular, on proposed non-ferrous mining planned by PolyMet and Twin Metals. However, as this map shows, the intentions of extractive resource entities is the establishment of a vast mining district that will stretch from the shores of Anishinaabe-gichigami (Lake Superior) into the interior of Minnesota.
Reserved treaty rights provide a measure of protection on tribal ceded lands. The right to hunt, fish, and gather were not granted rights, rather they were rights retained by our ogimaag (leaders) during the period of treaty negotiations. Embedded within those rights are environmental protections to sustain our sustenance resources that include not only wildlife and plants, but also waters and ecosystems.
Mining presents a grave threat to our environment. - an environment that is shared by Anishinaabeg and non-Native alike. It is imperative that we protect the environment not only for ourselves, but also for the generations that will follow. We know that this is what our leaders had in mind when they negotiated treaties in the 1880's. As Anishinaabeg, we have a responsibility and obligation to carry forth the means and protections that our leaders provided us with.
Overview map of resource colonialism in northern and central Minnesota
Click on maps to enlarge image
In a study that was obtained in 1991 from the BIA, mining exploration uncovered deposits of copper, nickel, gold, silver, and titanium. "The lead time between the discovery of a mineable deposit and and actual mine construction can be anywhere between five and ten years" (Gedicks). Therefore, it is only a matter of time before they proceed with their plans and, in the aftermath, leave behind a wake of environmental destruction that will affect humans and wildlife.
The report obtained in 1991 included exploratory maps. One map showed a borehole off the Lake shore within the sovereign borders of Red Lake. In the BIA map, the borehole was located just to the east of Ogaakaaning - the town of RedLake. The report included technical documents on the process used for drilling. A geology professor at the University of Minnesota explained that the process included using toxic chemicals that were poured into the borehole to prevent the drill from overheating and breaking. He said that the toxins would eventually be absorbed and released into the Lake.
According to the report, exploration had found a rich vein of deposits that extended from Lake Vermillion and branched into the ceded lands of Red Lake and Leech Lake/White Earth.
For the past 10 years, Rio Tinto has been exploring the area north of Lake Mille Lacs. They are expected to apply for permits to begin mining in Aitkin County. However, as this map shows, there is a cluster of boreholes in Crow Wing County. A mining district extending from Aitkin to Crow Wing Counties will release toxins that will not only affect Lake Mille Lacs but the Mississippi River as well.