Saving Eagle Rock as a Sacred Site

by Free Speech on June 7, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

I spent most of the month of May at Eagle Rock in the Yellow Dog Plains of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Yes, I am one of the people who was camped there in an effort to save Eagle Rock, a sacred site to the Native American community, from the grip of Kennecott Minerals Company. The site is about 25 miles from Marquette and 45 miles from the reservation of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), but what happens there has serious consequences for anyone living in the Lake Superior region.

My job at camp was to help prepare and serve up the meals. Just like in most homes, our kitchen was a place where people liked to congregate and talk. As a result, I heard all kinds of things about what was going on … and I have a number of questions that need to be answered, especially since our camp was shut down by the police on May 27th. Tell me:

1. What exactly do the 1842 and 1854 treaties say about the land where Eagle Rock is located? Is it ceded territory or unceded territory? Someone needs to look at the original documentation and press the federal government to enforce the treaties as written. This is a federal, not state issue.

2. Where does the KBIC Tribal Council stand on the desecration of Eagle Rock? Council members won’t give a straight answer to this question or stand up for the KBIC tribal members who were arrested at Eagle Rock on May 27th and charged with trespassing. To me this suggests the Council has sold out its people and become a silent partner with the mining company.

3. Is the KBIC Tribal Council running the show? Shouldn’t other tribes whose ancestors traveled through the Yellow Dog Plains have a say as to what happens to this sacred site?

4. Was there an exchange of money or some sort of agreement struck between the KBIC Tribal Council and Kennecott? The Council won’t say, but if there was, a community referendum vote should have been held. This never happened.

5. Did the KBIC Tribal Council apply several years ago, as reported, to list Eagle Rock as a historic site? If so, where is the paperwork?

6. Who initiated the removal and arrest of the KBIC tribal members who were camped at Eagle Rock? Was it the KBIC Tribal Council? The FBI? The Michigan Attorney General’s office? Kennecott?

7. Why was Homeland Security invoked for the arrest of the KBIC tribal members? When a white woman was arrested several weeks ago and charged with trespassing at Eagle Rock, I am told only one squad car was called to the scene. Contrast that with the 20 squad cars, ambulance and fire truck that were called upon for the arrest of two tribal members! Surely this smacks of racial profiling. And what kind of tab will the taxpayers be hit up with for this nonsense?

I respectfully ask all members of the Lake Superior community, whether you live in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin or Ontario, to please consider the above questions and seek out the answers. We simply cannot leave the fate of a shared treasure, Eagle Rock, in the hands of a single tribal council that appears to be in partnership with the mining industry.

Laura Furtman
Duluth, MN

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