"The tribes are compelled through a unified value system ... to see beyond ringing endorsements and ultimately well beyond industrialization. Especially industrialization with unquantified and undetermined environmental risks," Wiggins said.
According to an article on MSNBC, Gogebic Taconite wants to spend more than $1 billion to develop an open-pit iron ore mine. It has purchased an option to lease the mineral rights on 22,000 acres in Ashland and Iron counties. A NorthStar Economics study commissioned by Gogebic Taconite claims the mine would create thousands of jobs, including many long-term jobs.
The Mashkiigong-ziibi Ishkonigan is located on more than 125,000 acres of land in Iron and Ashland Counties, just north of the proposed mine. Wiggins' remarks were a warning shot to Wisconsin legislators to take heed to tribal concerns and to respect the roles of Native Americans as keepers of the land, as well the work and efforts of renown American environmentalists.
"The tribes are hopeful that we can find a balance between bringing an end to this recession while still exemplifying the environmental stewardship that is intertwined in our history — from Chief Buffalo and our ancestors who signed our treaties to John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Gaylord Nelson and Sigurd Olsen," Wiggins said.
As the focus of Wiggins' speech makes clear, the people of Anishinaabe Aki will not risk of the destruction of their land by allowing mining interests to open mines and thereby endanger the ground water and the environment in general.
Although Wiggins did not specifically make the connection of mining and its affects on manoomin, he indirectly made the connection regarding the impact of mining on ground waters. Pollution of the ground water will obviously affect the manoomin stands, as well as the ecosystem in general.
Protecting the ecosystem of northern Wisconsin protects the manoomin.
Hopefully, tribal leaders in Minnesota will take note and, like Chairman Wiggins, take a unified stand against Minnesota legislators and mining interests like Polymet.