Protect Our Manoomin PowerPoint presentation at Federation of United Tribes, March 1-2, Ho-Chunk Casino and Convention Center, Baraboo WI.
Chi-mii'gwech to Sarah LittleRedfeather Kalmanson for putting this together.
Indian County TV coverage of Federation of United Tribes Treaty Rights Summit held at Ho-Chunk Casino and Convention Center, Baraboo WI, March 1-2.
- Saturday Morning Session One
- Saturday Afternoon Session Two
Chi-mii'gwech to Paul DeMain and his crew for Livestreaming and archiving this great event. And to the Federation of United Tribes for sponsoring the summit, and inviting Protect Our Manoomin to participate.
The Protect Our Manoomin council reviewed solidarity commitments that we’ve made in support of other organizations involved with the struggle to maintain the health and well-being of our environment and the wildlife and plants that sustain balanced eco-systems. We support both Native and non-Native efforts and, in particular, we support Native-led grassroots groups with a focus on Anishinaabe principals.
We have decided to withdraw support of the Northwoods Wolf Alliance (NWA). NWA was founded by an Anishinaabe woman and a non-Native woman. The original intent of NWA was to integrate Anishinaabe values in the opposition to the wolf hunt. The NWA reads: The Northwoods Wolf Alliance is a grassroots coalition of Anishinaabeg people and their allies working to protect ma'iingan (wolf), particularly in Anishinaabe Akiing (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan).
Because of conflicting circumstances, the Anishinaabe co-founder left NWA. Her departure marks a critical gap in the Anishinaabe leadership role in the NWA. Therefore, Protect Our Manoomin feels that NWA no longer represents a focused Anishinaabe agenda or viewpoint.
While Protect Our Manoomin applauds the past and present work of NWA, we have decided to withdraw our affiliation with NWA.
Weweni wiiji’idig. Weweni ganawendan iniw gaa-izhi-gikinoo’amaagoziwiyan. Manaaji’idig. Bishigedan Ashkaakamigokwe.
The Protect Our Manoomin Council
The recent controversy over the Idle No More round dance at the Mall of America has brought up the question of treaty rights. According to one source, both the Ojibwe and the Dakota maintained usufructuary rights via the 1873 treaty on the land where MOA is located. The assumption is that because the land is ceded tribal land, the Ojibwe and Dakota have a right to gather at MOA.
Although, both the Ojibwe and the Dakota signed treaties in 1837, the treaties were separate. The Treaty with the Chippewa, 1837, was signed on June 15 at St. Peter, Minnesota. The Treaty with the Sioux, 1837 was signed on June 15 at Washington D.C.
The intent of the treaties was the same, i.e., the acquisition of tribal lands through land cessation. However, the provisions differed. In the Ojibwe treaty, Minnesota Anishinaabe bands retained their usufructuary rights. Article 5 states:
“The privilege of hunting, fishing, and gathering the wild rice, upon the lands, the rivers and the lakes included in the territory ceded, is guarantied to the Indians, during the pleasure of the President of the United States.”
Signatories for the treaty included all the Anishinaabe bands in Minnesota and Wisconsin. In 1999, Article 5 was the pivotal point for the Supreme Court decision affirming the usufructuary rights of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
On the other hand, the Treaty with the Sioux did not include a provision for Dakota usufructuary rights. The main emphasis for the Dakota treaty was to remove the Dakota to the west side of the Mississippi River. This was part of Andrew Jackson’s removal policy of clearing eastern lands for white settlement.
The lands west of the Mississippi remained in Dakota hands until the land cessions of the Mendota Treaty of 1851 and the Treaty with the Sioux – Sisseton and Wahpeton (Traverse des Sioux Treaty), 1851. These two treaties opened up western Dakota lands to white settlement and land development. These lands included the area where the Mall of America is now located. However, like the 1837 Dakota treaty, usufructuary rights were not retained in the 1851 Dakota treaties.
It's important to point out that usufructuary rights are not a given in any treaty. Not all tribes retained usufructuary rights. Even in treaties in which those rights were and are retained, tribes have nevertheless had to affirm those rights through federal courts. Examples include the Minnesota v. Mille Lacs (1999), Lac Courte Orielles v. Voigt (1983), and several precedent cases in Washington State.
Had Dakota usufructuary rights been retained, they still wouldn’t apply to MOA land. Under federal Indian case law, usufructuary rights on ceded lands applies to public lands but not private lands. And, MOA is private land.
Although treaties aren’t applicable to MOA, the proposed round dance should be allowed without fear of arrest. MOA hosts a number of non-Native events throughout the year. And although the MOA mistakenly perceives the round dance as a form of protest, the round dance is a form of cultural celebration. As such, it should be allowed.
- PolyMet is a foreign, Canadian extractive resource entity backed by Swiss multinational Glencore. Glencore has been cited for human rights abuses in the Congo and Colombia. Glencore currently owns about a quarter of PolyMet stock. Most of the copper from PolyMet’s mine will be exported to China.
FAQs cited adapted from several sources including Protect Our Manoomin, WaterLegacy, Friends of the BWCA, and Lake Superior Mining News.
- Glencore's interim chairman is Tony Hayward, under whose watch BP's eco-Deepwater Horizon crisis occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
- EPA: “According to [PolyMet’s) DEIS [Draft Environmental Impact Study, 2008], all waste rock at the site is acid generating, and acidic water moving through waste rock and tailings will mobilize metals and sulfates, leaching them into groundwater and surface water…based on our review of the DEIS, EPA has rated the DEIS as environmentally Unsatisfactory – Inadequate. Environmentally Unsatisfactory (EU) indicates that our review has identified adverse environmental impacts that are of sufficient magnitude that EPA believes that the proposed action must not proceed as proposed.” (EPA Letter / February 2010).
- The proposed mine site is within the Superior National Forest, where open pit strip mining is not allowed under the Weeks Act.
- Under a new streamlining law passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2011, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) provided PolyMet with a $4 million loan to buy land that will, in turn, be exchanged for Superior National Forest land. PolyMet will take about 6,700 acres of public land from the Superior National Forest. The mine will directly destroy more than 850 acres of high-quality wetlands with more than 650 additional acres of wetlands indirectly impaired. The total wetlands impact will be more than 1,500 acres. The vast majority of the required wetlands mitigation will occur outside the St. Louis River watershed.
- The mine is expected to generate nearly 400 million tons of waste rock and account for an annual carbon footprint of 767,648 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Reactive waste rock piles will be permanently left on the land – ranging in size from 70 to 560 acres in size, and from 13 to 20 stories high.
- The project proposes to store mine tailings and toxic waste materials in an existing mine tailings basin that has current basin stability problems. The existing basin is located at Hoyt Lakes – 50 miles from Duluth.
- According PolyMet’s 2013 SDEIS, water treatment would need to continue for 500 years. PolyMet has proposed using Reverse Osmosis (RO) for its mining operation and for water treatment after mining operations cease. RO process will solidify waste and toxins. Stored waste presents a severe risk of toxins decomposing and leaching back into the ground and groundwater.
- The mine site is located within the 1854 Treaty Ceded Territory, where the Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, and Grand Portage Anishinaabeg Nations retain hunting, fishing and gathering reserved treaty rights as affirmed under the Voigt Decision (1983). As noted in PolyMet's SDEIS: "The federal lands are part of a territory ceded by the Chippewa of Lake Superior to the United States in 1854 (1854 Treaty Authority 2006). The Chippewa reserve rights to hunt, fish, and gather on public lands..." Under federal Indian case law, usufructuary rights are for the welfare and well-being of tribes. Federal Indian case law provides that ceded lands remain productive for the exercise of usufructuary rights.
- There is approximately 64,000 acreage of manoomin in Minnesota; 48,000 acres are located within tribal ceded lands. There are 1800 acres of manoomin in the Hoyt Lake area, where PolyMet will build their mine.
- Manoomin (natural wild rice) has enormous ecological value - protecting water quality, reducing algae blooms, and providing habitat for fish, mammals and wildfowl.
- Minnesota’s Wild Rice/Sulfate Water Quality Standard is 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L). This standard protects tribal resources, manoomin and the manoomin ecosystem.
- Sulfates are released from waste rock, enter into the water, and settle into the sediment where it converts to hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide enters into the manoomin root system and results in smaller seeds and yellowed leaves. High concentrations of hydrogen sulfides suffocate and kill the plant.
- Additionally, high sulfate concentrations create high risk situations for mercury methylation. Methyl mercury is the active form of mercury that accumulates in fish and is toxic to humans and wildlife.
- Manoomin is a vital cultural, spiritual, economic, and food resource for the Anishinaabe people.
Mii'gwech to Aaron Klemz for this useful and insightful style guide.
Style Guide to Maximize PolyMet Public Involvement
Here’s a brief style guide to use when communicating with the public about the PolyMet proposal. The goal is to be simple, active, and positive. This project and the environmental review process are complex, and our desire to be honest sometimes compels us to try to educate people about the complexity of both of them. Resist the temptation!
Keep in mind that these are recommendations for communicating with the public, not with legal or regulatory audiences. Think of yourself as a translator of legalese to plain language.
Keep it simple
Don’t talk about how complicated the EIS is. Talk about the simple choices for Minnesotans.
Use the language of values
Talk about the shared values we hold as Minnesotans, like clean air and water, fairness, commitment to our state. Avoid getting bogged down in debating details.
Avoid jargon and specialized language
For example, use “the PolyMet mine plan” not the “PolyMet supplemental draft environmental impact statement”
Avoid acronyms whenever possible
“EIS” means something to an advocate, it means very little to a member of the general public. There are exceptions to this rule - for example, “DNR” is widely recognized.
Use active words to generate action
Encourage people to “tell the DNR what you think,” “have your say,” “speak,” “call on,” and “vote.” Don’t tell them to “comment.” Commenting sounds detached, passive, and something that an expert would do.
Use concrete language
This is especially true when talking about big numbers. Use analogies whenever possible. For example, instead of saying that “21 gallons of polluted water will seep from PolyMet’s tailings basin per minute,” say that “every year, enough polluted water will escape from PolyMet to fill sixteen olympic-sized swimming pools.”
Avoid verb tenses and words that connote inevitability
Don’t say “the project will create 360 jobs” say “the project could/would/might create 360 jobs.”
Avoid talking about process and focus on substance
Focus on the impacts of the proposal if it were approved, avoid criticizing the mine plan’s deficiencies and omissions.
Avoid public disagreements about message with other PolyMet opponents
If you have a disagreement about message with another person or group working on PolyMet comments, talk to them directly about it. Don’t air differences through the media.
Focus on PolyMet, not the regulators
The DNR is relatively popular, the company is not. It’s their mine, not the regulators.
Stay as visual as possible in your public communication
This is especially true in social media, where images are far more likely to be shared and consumed than links or text.
Maintain a narrative about momentum throughout the comment period
Set internal goals for number of comments filed and celebrate meeting them, highlight positive media coverage, and create milestone events.
Remember, nobody will read the full document except for the most deeply involved
Stick to the headline issues and the big picture.
The Honorable Rick Nolan
U.S. House of Representatives
July 12, 2013
Dear Mr. Nolan:
My name is Robert DesJarlait. I am the Director of Protect Our Manoomin (POM). POM was organized in 2010 and is an Minnesota Anishinaabe organization that provides education and outreach in issues concerning wild rice (manoomin). Members in our organization include individuals from the Mississippi, Red Lake, Sandy Lake, Rice Lake, Fond du Lac, Pembina, Bois Forte, and White Earth Ojibwe Bands. Currently, there are 1,125 members in POM.
I think when people speak about wild rice, they often do so without factoring in the tribal aspect. We talk about scientific approaches, evaluation, and protocols. We Anishinaabe already know the ecological importance of wild rice. We’ve known this long before Minnesota became a state. We know its value. And we know about its beneficial uses. We’ve known this for many, many generations.
When our leaders signed treaties in the 1880’s, they knew of the importance of wild rice, and they retained the right to harvest the rice and to protect the environment that produced rice. It was not a right granted to us, it was a right we retained.
The Co-Director of Protect Our Manoomin wrote about the meaning of wild rice. It not only speaks of the mindset of those of us who protect wild rice, but it also speaks quite eloquently of beneficial uses of wild rice. She wrote as follows:
"Manoomin and my people's ways are important to me. Both of those things are also endangered. That's why we (family, friends and relations) had to organize a group that would somehow try to protect this gift. Our food source and our culture are under attack by the state of Minnesota and other corporate interests. They only understand value in a monetary sense. That's why they have no qualms about poisoning our waters and our communities with the byproducts of manufacture, to the fullest extent possible. In the pursuit of financial gain, they have lost all sense of reason, judgment and perspective. We ask only that our manoomin beds be protected. So that the nourishment received from this plant to our people and our culture can continue to feed the spirit and body for generations to come.
And I could type for days trying to describe the sheer beauty of the season and all the sensory treasures it holds in store and I could go on even longer about how precious of a gift we consider our sacred food. This is one of the few times a year that our communities have an easier time simply existing. The work is hard but to have some free food, and to engage in the traditions of our ancestors and to really be connected to this good earth....well it makes up for all that sweat and strain, surely. This is the time of year when families get together, stories and jokes are told, the memory is flexed and (sometimes stretched) and the people are generally in good spirits. There is less of a financial strain and stress because of the rice that is sold. Many people are able to supplement their children's clothes, pay bills and maybe even buy a car to be able make it to school, job, next seasonal work, hospital and grocery store. For one time of the whiteman's billing year - it's not so hard making ends meet. These examples, and so many more, are why I love Manoominike giizis (the Wild Rice Moon) and our ricing culture."
Wild rice is an environmental resource. Healthy stands of wild rice are the barometer of a healthy ecosystem. But sulfates, which are released through the sulfide mining process, enter into rivers and lakes. The sulfates drift into the sediment where they convert into hydrogen sulfide that enters the root system of wild rice. Concentrations of sulfates that are over 10 parts per million of sulfate impairs the growth of wild rice resulting in withered leaves and smaller seeds; high concentrations of sulfates suffocate and kill wild rice. Macroinvertebrates, vegetation, flora, fish, waterfowl, and wildlife are impacted. Additionally, sulfate-reducing bacteria transforms into methyl mercury that leads to mercury fish contamination. Minnesota state law limits sulfate to 10 parts per million to protect wild rice. We are concerned that the nonferrous mining proposed for northern and central Minnesota will exceed the limits of the law and adversely affect the growth of wild rice.
There is approximately 48,200 acreage of wild rice within the ceded lands of the 1854 and 1855 treaties. Thousands of acreage will be impacted by sulfide mining. The combined total of wild rice in 1854 and 1855 ceded lands account for over three-quarters of the estimated total 64,000 wild rice acreage in Minnesota. Under the treaties, the Anishinaabeg maintain usufructuary rights to hunt, fish, and gather wild rice. These usufructuary rights were affirmed by the Supreme Court decision – Minnesota v. Mille Lacs Band - in 1999. However, the issue of ceded lands has been marginalized by the nonferrous mining corporations that seek to build mining districts within ceded lands.
Protect Our Manoomin supports environmentally safe and responsible mining if the following criterion is met:
1. Responsible mining does not threaten to the St. Louis River Watershed and the Upper Mississippi Watershed.
2. Responsible mining does not threaten the economy of manoomin harvesters.
3. Responsible mining does not threaten/negatively impact the cultural heritage or survival of any local Native residents.
4. Responsible mining does not have the potential to harm Lake Superior in any way.
5. Responsible mining does not do irreparable damage to the ceded lands of the 1854 and 1855 treaties.
Protect Our Manoomin asks that you ensure that wild rice, Minnesota’s official state grain, is protected in regard to legislation that advances the development of nonferrous mining in Minnesota.
Robert DesJarlait, Director, Protect Our Manoomin.
Video from the Idle No More Environmental & Treaty Rights Symposium held on March 22, 2013 at the Minneapolis American Indian Center.
Note: In 2005, I wrote two commentaries on the tragedy that happened on March 21, 2005. It's a day I remember well. I remember exactly where I was when I received news about what had happened on that day. Today is March 21. In remembering that day, I've decided to republish my commentaries - Robert DesJarlait
Published in The Circle
In the days following the shootings at Red Lake High School, a disturbing media portrait has emerged of the youth of Red Lake. Numerous articles and opinion pieces have cited suicide, depression, deprivation, poverty, despair, and hopelessness as the reality of everyday life for our youth. In one writer’s perspective, Jeffery Weise epitomizes the “self-hatred that exists among so many American Indian youth.”
Those of us from Red Lake will not deny problems exist. Gangs, violence, alcohol and drug abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse are a part of life on the Red Lake reservation. The lives of many Redlakers have been affected by these problems. Indeed, many of these problems are generational with roots in the boarding school era. The generational trauma of one generation has been passed to the next.
However, the problems facing our youth are not exclusive to Red Lake; we know these problems exist beyond the borders of our land. These are problems that thread through all communities regardless of race, culture, or ethnicity.
Yet, in a time of great grief and sadness, some in the media have chosen to single out and essentially condemn the youth of Red Lake. In doing so, they are condemning a way of life.
A pertinent point that many in the media miss is Redlakers, including our youth, choose to live in Red Lake because it is our ancestral home and the conditions of life, though difficult they may be at times, are accepted. In the Ojibwe way of life, one lives within nature not outside it. Unlike the Westernized sense of nature, nature is not conquered for the sole purpose of habitation and dominion.
To outsiders, Red Lake may seem like a bleak and harsh environment. But they don’t feel the richness of life that exists within the boundaries of Red Lake. They do not hear the songs of our trees. They do not draw spiritual strength from our lake. And they do not understand the relationship with the animals and birds that roam freely, a relationship that borders on the biological. Sadly, in their quest for dominion, they have lost the understanding of what it means to live within the Four Orders of Life.
The value system of mainstream America is based on materialism. According to Western linear thinking, to live in poverty is to be deprived of those values. In turn, deprivation leads to depression, despair, hopelessness and, assumingly, suicide. It is a typical knee-jerk equation to help understand the tragic event in Red Lake.
But this equation is too simplistic. It can be applied to youth on other reservations, to the inner city, and, indeed, the rural areas.
The real problem for our youth is learning to incorporate and balance our traditional values within their everyday life. This does not mean they have to reject the modern world. Rather, it means the core of their identity remains rooted in the morals, norms, and values of Anishinaabe culture in the mainstream world they co-exist in.
It is, admittedly, a difficult task to live in two worlds. Our youth live in a world infused with real and imagined violence fed by the media, video games, T.V., and movies. In this world, respect has become an antiquated value. Some, like Jeffery Wiese, become so desensitized and dehumanized that they are consumed with a self-hatred that all too often leads to horrific acts.
However, self-hate is not the norm of Red Lake youth. And to generalize self-hate, or, for that matter, despair and hopelessness, as the roots causes for this tragedy places a burden of blame and guilt on our youth.
Unlike the media portrait, our children do not walk around with clouds of despair and hopelessness hanging over their heads. Their beautiful faces are not marred with scowls of self-hate.
Certainly, they need our guidance in these tragic times. We as elders know that what occurred at Red Lake happened for a reason. It is our wake-up call. We need to counter the condemnation of our youth by striving to work together to bring our youth home – home to the spirit from whence they came. The time of their healing, renewal, and awakening is now.
Published in The Circle and Red Lake Net News
Red Lake and the Stereotyping of Our Youth
In an interview I did with the Minneapolis Star Tribune (3/22), I was quoted as saying “on one hand there is a Columbine pattern in this…Gothic, a loner, this Nazi stuff.” Unfortunately, what I said “on the other hand” didn’t make it to print. In my addendum, I said it would be wrong to assume that the Gothic lifestyle, in general, fit the Columbine pattern. In other words, Gothic does not, in and of itself, imply a lifestyle founded on violence nor does it lead to violence. To do so would assume a stereotype.
We, as Indian people, know about stereotypes. Our varied indigenous cultures and identities have been seeped in stereotypes ever since the first Europeans stepped ashore on Turtle Island. We react strongly to any form of stereotyping that continues to imprint us today; Indian school mascots and Indian team names are but two examples. Ironically, we, who are stereotyped, have stereotyped our own youth.
In the aftermath of the Red Lake High shooting, we now know that Jeff Weise was not the Gothic loner as he was first portrayed in the media. There are other Red Lake youth who, in varying degrees, have adopted a Gothic lifestyle. And, by implication of that lifestyle, some Red Lake members, and the FBI, have assumed there was a larger conspiracy afloat.
Two such Red Lake youth, Cartera Hart and Alyssa Roy, were quoted as saying they were getting strange looks from people and that more and more people would be tormenting them and thinking they were involved in a conspiracy.
For these youth, one’s manner of clothing has assumed the burden of a stereotype, one that differs little from the 1880s imagery of Indian people as an ungodly, pagan people lacking family skills and social values and to whom violence was a way of life.
But the stereotyping of our youth doesn’t end there. Should a youth dress in hip-hop clothing and listen to rap music, he/she is invariably pegged as a gang member. In doing so, we, as a tribal community, assume a stereotype. In doing so, we are committing something that we so strongly condemn – a form of racial profiling.
And, the stereotyping goes much further. The color complex is deeply ingrained in our communities. An Indian youth of an interracial marriage may lack the physiognomy usually associated with Indian features. The disturbing stereotype that emerges of such youth is that because they don’t look the part, they can never be useful or accepted members of the tribal community.
We often talk about how lost our youth is but how lost are we to reach a point in which we stereotype our youth? Who are we, of all people, to do so? Are we giving vent to yet one more form of internalized oppression?
It is clear that the stereotyping of our youth threatens to tear our community asunder. The arrest of Louis Jourdain as an alleged co-conspirator had led some Red Lake members to assume guilt before innocence. Some have shamelessly used the arrest for political leverage in that Floyd Jourdain should be held accountable for his son’s assumed role and therefore resign as tribal chairman. They seem to overlook the fact that we, as parents, are not accountable for our children’s actions once they leave our homes. We can only hope they make wise decisions. Indeed, were we to be held accountable for the all the actions of our children, we would have lost our parental rights long ago and our children would be living in non-Indian adoption homes.
Rather than creating animosities, we need to stay focused on healing our community and helping our youth. To condemn our youth for the way they dress, for the music they listen to, or for the way they talk only increases their alienation. And, in doing so, we invariably place the blame on our children.
Where does this end? Sadly, we know where it can end. We witnessed one such ending on March 21. We now know where the stereotyping, and the resultant alienation, of our youth can lead. It is time for us to come together to show our youth the way. Not through animosity, but by reasserting an Anishinaabe value handed down to us by our elders - respect for our children.
These maps provide the viewer with visual images, via maps, of the Red Lake ceded land site where Enbridge has illegally placed their pipelines. There are four pipelines buried three-feet in the ground and, in some places, the pipeline is exposed. The 8 1/2 acre ceded land area is an isthmus that runs between West Four Legged Lake. Maps 1, 3, and 4 are screen shots from the video - "Red Lake Direct Action to Stop Illegal Enbridge Pipeline."
One of the four pipes was built in 1949 by the Lakehead Pipe Line Company. Lakehead was later incorporated under Enbridge Energy Partners. The pipeline covered 990 miles, beginning at Redwater, Alberta and running through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota, Minnesota, and ending at Superior, Wisconsin. Originally, four oil tankers were built to ship the oil from Superior to Sarnia, Ontario. Because winter prevented tanker traffic, the pipeline was extended from Superior to Sarnia in 1953. It became the world's longest pipeline covering 1,760 miles.
The Red Lake Tribal Council has demanded for the removal of the pipeline. As indicated by the maps, re-routing will be an extensive and expensive task for Enbridge. However, Enbridge does not have an easement agreement with the tribe. Under Red Lake sovereign jurisdiction, is trespassing on tribal domain.
The Alberta Clipper - From Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. Clearbrook, MN is a hub for Enbridge operations. The Red Lake/Leonard, MN pipelines are located southeast of Clearbook.