"After poking around a bit a secretary told me that McNamara was down in a meeting in the basement in room 5. I go down there and sure enough, the meeting is taking place. I caught the last hour of it.
"At one point, A Representative spoke out of script with a quite angry tone. 'You mean to say that we are appropriating state land here to just give it away to the Federal Government?'
"The temperature rose a bit for a while. McNamara said that he has all the minutes available. I talked to the page after the meeting and asked him to tell me a bit about the interaction that surrounded the question about the appropriation of state land which will just be given away to the Federal Gov.
"In essence, he said he can't talk about this specific interaction because it is too political. In chatting with him a little, he said that the accepted sulfide levels have been lowered from 50 to 15, where they were once 250.
"He told me that Representative John Persell was largely responsible for getting the levels lowered that far.
"He also said that Amy Rudolph, the committee administrator could schedule testimonies.
"I went to Rep. John Persell's office. Miraculously, he was there having his lunch. He invited me in. He had a large weaving hanging on his west wall which read Leech Lake Veterans, Pow Wow, 2008.
"I talked with him about many of the concerns, [including] the thought of mining in the BWCA.
"He said that the mining will not take place in the BWCA. That the designated areas are on the southern border of the BWCA, but that the line has been drawn between and that I should check with the DNR about the maps of where the mining will take place and where the current borders of the BWCA are.
"This raised the question - have the borders just been moved north?
"He said that he has many concerns about the protection of Minnesota's wild rice. He said that he harvests it himself, as he pulled out a large container containing his own luscious curly wild rice dish with cranberries and honey. He invited me to share some as he talked about how there are some new ordinances in place which [allowed] those local to the situation to vote on these northern Minnesota issues. He said this puts us back into a time of royalty and serfdom.
"However, Persell does not think it is possible to stop the mining escapade.
So here I was, eating the famous, 'John Persell Wild Rice,' talking with John Persell himself with no chance to make any real progress.
"He said he would be right there with us if he thought it is possible, but he does not. He has bought the big narrative that has been fed to us all repeatedly. We must promote industry here if our nation is going to survive.
"I argued with him that we could invest just as much into recycling and redeem all the precious metals that we need. That for the past three decades our biggest export, in bulk, is scrap metal. I pointed out how there are machinations and wide sweeping financial manipulations to bring us all to peasant levels, and what an awful time for mining to be a threat in a number of states when unions are being brought down. I argued that if mining begins on the edge of the BWCA, it is the foot in the door for the eventual, total destruction of this land and our water.
"His answer was, 'You know, it's the unions that you should work on saving.'
"Persell said that he is unaware that the sulfide levels have been raised to 15. Persell, the Rep., who was supposedly responsible for getting them lowered. We think that the page is misleading people so that they will feel relieved and back off. Well this doesn't work because the levels need to be lower than 7 if we want to maintain life in our waters, including our own."
And, might I add, to protect the manoomin.