Benjamin Armstrong: Early Life Among the Indians

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First published in 1892, Early Life Among the Indians is the biography of Benjamin Armstrong, who in 1840 took up his residence in northern Wisconsin. Having learned the Ojibwe language, he became a well-known interpreter. He was known for respecting and documenting the traditional life and culture of the Anishinaabe and became the adopted son of Ke-Che-Waish-Ke, Chief Buffalo, the most respected leader of the Lake Superior bands. In 1852 Armstrong accompanied Great Buffalo and other Ojibwe leaders to Washington, D.C., to plead against the proposed forced relocation of the Ojibwe west of the Mississippi. A meeting between the chiefs and President Millard Fillmore was a success and brought a reversal of the removal order of 1849.

Armstrong did more to humanize Native Americans than nearly any white person of his day. In the end, he writes: “… the unbiased judgment of the future will be that the Indians were found good and were made bad by white people, and that the condition of things has not been one whit improved by white associates, but, on the contrary, has been degraded … [the Indians] saw that the example of the white people was far from the teachings of the missionaries, far from the truth and the pretensions of the traders, and far from justice and right.”

Through his respect and love for the tribes and his connections with Chief Buffalo’s family, Armstrong was granted access to leaders of all the Ojibwe bands. Early Life Among the Indians contains his recollections of battles with Sioux adversaries, memoirs of the Sandy Lake tragedy, accounts of the crucial treaty councils that defined modern Ojibwe life, the arrival of miners and loggers in the Ojibwe homelands, and much more about northern Wisconsin in the 19th century.

This edition also contains a special message from the 7th generation of Chief Buffalo, his great-granddaughter Sandy Gokee, Anishinaabe kwe, mother, a daughter, a student, a teacher, and water protector living on the shores of Lake Superior.

Made possible by a generous grant from the La Pointe Center.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to support the Madeline Island Jingle Dress Dancer Project.

Pre-order your copy today!
Books ship July 20, 2018
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Nothing Trumps Water: Why it must be Bernie or Bust

The race for the Democratic presidential nomination is proving to be rip-tear-claw between old-school Democrats who still talk as if the US is a democracy (Hillary Clinton supporters), those who understand that the United States of America is now a corporate oligarchy (Bernie Sander’s people), and the Democratic National Committee and Wall Street, who appear hell bent on getting Clinton elected at all costs.

Bad River Watershed

The Bad River Watershed in the Penokee Hills on the shores of Lake Superior.

Many old-school Dems still can’t say the words “corporate fascism,” even the ones who watched the corporations, led by the Koch Brothers, take over Wisconsin in 2011 and begin draining the State of all its wealth. The crowning gem was to be the Penokee Hills and Lake Superior, the lavish watershed in the north that represents 20% of the last of the world’s fresh water. US Steel had rejected the low-grade iron ore here in the 1960s. But a billionaire coal mining kingpin from West Virginia named Chris Cline had his sights set on the Penokees for his first-ever iron ore venture.

Unknown to us (but not for lack of trying), lawyers for the mining company, Gogebic Taconite (GTac), were allowed to write a new ferrous mining bill. Headed by a man who we later learned was fleeing prosecution in Spain for ruining the water of 300,000 Spaniards, GTac had their lawyers write a bill that threw out every protection for the people, water, air, economy, and democracy. Despite overwhelming opposition from every corner of the state, the corporate abusers got their wish and the bill passed. GTac moved forward with their plans for their 22-mile mountaintop removal open-pit iron ore mine on the shores of Lake Superior.

GTAC armed security forces in northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

GTAC armed security forces in northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

Long story short, the good guys prevailed—this time. GTac finally gave up in February 2014—iron ore prices were dropping all around the world, Native Americans were exercising their Treaty Rights, and opposition to the mine was at 92%. After three years of lying about how pure the ore was and how safe their process would be, they now declared that mining the Penokees was not “feasible.”

What might have been the real nail in GTac’s coffin, however, were documents released from a second John Doe investigation that revealed illegal campaign coordination going on between Gov. Scott Walker’s office and GTac around a $700,000 campaign donation. The first John Doe sent six of Walker’s associates to jail for embezzlement, money laundering, child enticement, and staffers mixing state business with campaigning to get Walker, then a Milwaukee county executive, elected to governor. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, dominated by cronies of Walker and the Kochs, declined to hear the second case. Why should they? Several of them were heavy Walker donors. But three of the five attorneys fighting the case appealed, and JD II is now headed for SCOTUS.

****

Fast forward to the race for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, joined the Democratic Party and launched his people-powered campaign, taking most of his donations from individuals and firing up an otherwise lackluster Democrat party with a grassroots “revolution.” The lone Bernie “Super Pac,” National Nurses United, stated that they support Bernie because their mission aligns with his as they cover the front lines of US healthcare.

Sanders record on environmental protections is stellar, and earned him a 100% rating from the League of Conversation Voters in 2015, with a 95% rating for his lifetime career as an elected official.

While Clinton gets an 82% lifetime rating from the same group, her activities in the US and around the world in relation to corporate abusers is a staggering report that few in mainstream media are covering, and even fewer democratic supporters are willing to acknowledge.

According to Mother Jones, in 2009 Clinton traveled the world promoting fracking as Secretary of State. She appointed David Goldwyn as her special envoy for international energy affairs:

Goldwyn had a long history of promoting drilling overseas—both as a Department of Energy official under Bill Clinton and as a representative of the oil industry. From 2005 to 2009 he directed the US-Libya Business Association, an organization funded primarily by US oil companies—including Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Marathon—clamoring to tap Libya’s abundant supply. Goldwyn lobbied Congress for pro-Libyan policies and even battled legislation that would have allowed families of the Lockerbie bombing victims to sue the Libyan government for its alleged role in the attack.  

October 16, 2013, Children in Pungesti blocking the access of the heavy machinery that arrived at the fracking site. Photo: Frack Off Romania

October 16, 2013, Children in Pungesti blocking the access of the heavy machinery that arrived at the fracking site. Photo: Frack Off Romania

The details of her international crusade were disturbing enough, but for me personally it was a nauseating moment to realize what Hillary Clinton was doing to my friends in Romania. While I was fighting off GTac, I was in contact via social media with Maria Olteanu and a group of Romanians who were going through a similar corporate takeover of their resources in Pungesti, a small, poor section of northeast Romania that is rich in fracking shale gas. Much like the Chippewa in northern Wisconsin and our Harvest Camp, Romanians were camping out and putting their bodies between their water and the fracking pumps that were sent into the area. Police were eventually called in to remove the protesters.

Hillary Clinton was personally responsible for this. This was not some distant foreign policy decision; this was the Secretary of State traveling to Romania and bringing Chevron and their money with her to push fracking on my friends there. In return, Chevron rewarded Hillary Clinton with hundreds of thousands of dollar for the Clinton Foundation, as well as bundling donations for her 2016 presidential run:

The two Clinton bundlers also were part of a much-criticized campaign by Chevron to manipulate Congress into inserting language into the Andean Trade Preferences Act that would require Ecuador to dismiss a longstanding lawsuit against the company for polluting the Amazon jungle. — Politico, November 16, 2009

But perhaps even more horrifying are her ties to the mining company that is responsible for the Brazilian mining disaster in November 2014. A dam burst at a BHP Billiton-owned iron ore mine in the Rio Doce region and 50 million tons of highly toxic mining waste were unleashed. Brazil is calling it the worst environmental disaster in its history.

The search for bodies and survivors was slow. Mudslides knocked out roads and cellular towers, covered houses, upturned cars, smothered wild and farm animals in their paths, cut off drinking water for a quarter-of-a-million people, and raised health and environmental concerns in cities more than 186 miles downstream.  — The Guardian, November 25, 2015

The government of Brazil is suing BHP Billiton for billions.

An aerial view of the Rio Doce (Doce River), which was flooded with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst, at an area where the river joins the sea on the coast of Espirito Santo in Regencia Village, Brazil, November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

An aerial view of the Rio Doce (Doce River), which was flooded with toxic sludge after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst, at an area where the river joins the sea on the coast of Espirito Santo in Regencia Village, Brazil, November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

BHP Billiton was part of a group of 13 major corporations that donated to the Clinton Foundation as they were lobbying the State Department while Clinton was Secretary of State. BHP wanted the US government to protect its mining interests in Gabon, Africa, where it was meeting fierce resistance by concerned Gabon residents. The iron ore deposit was situated within Gabon’s Ivindo National Park, a rainforest home to forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, and chimpanzees.

Clinton’s hands are also deep in the uranium mining that is now being foisted upon the southwest. The Havasupai Tribe, along with several environmental groups, have been fighting a Canadian mining company on a long-contested uranium mine with plans go forward near the Grand Canyon. Energy Fuels Inc, a Canadian mining company, is now suing for their right to mine.

In 2013, a group of Canadian mining industry execs donated millions to the Clinton Foundation. They were in the process of building and eventually selling off a corporation known as Uranium One to Russian interests, which gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Uranium One’s chairman donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation while they were lobbying for the deal under Clinton’s Sate Department. And despite an agreement with the Obama administration that she would disclose all donors, Clinton did not. After Reuters found the error, Clinton was made to re-file five years of tax returns on how they were reporting all their donations.

Energy Fuels Inc. mine just south of the Grand Canyon. Photo: Bruce Gordon/Ecoflight, via Center for Biological Diversity

Energy Fuels Inc. mine just south of the Grand Canyon. Photo: Bruce Gordon/Ecoflight, via Center for Biological Diversity

Uranium One eventually became Rosatom, the corporation now taking legal action against the US government in order to mine the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai and other groups are in the fight for their lives to protect themselves and their water, thanks in part to Clinton’s willingness to go along with the original deal. While no direct evidence of campaign coordination has been uncovered, it is nonetheless a disturbing situation which reveals the deep international corporate pockets Clinton relies on. Even without evidence of “pay-to-play,” it is clear that these multinational corporations support Clinton because she naturally believes in their cause.

While the list goes on of Clinton’s support of corporate domination, her shepherding the Trans Pacific Partnership is perhaps one of the most frightening aspects of her power. Up until it was clear the TPP might threaten her chances to win the White House, she called it the “gold standard” of trade deals. The TPP would allow, among other horrors, lawsuits from foreign corporations doing business in the US against our environmental laws. Say a Chinese corporation bought land in Wisconsin and wanted to open a 100,000 hog Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) that stood to destroy the watershed of the community and people rose up to protect themselves. The TPP would allow the foreign corporation to sue the local unit of government for all of its potentially lost revenue and challenge any environmental laws that stood in the way of their profits.

Right now the United States is in a fight for its democratic soul and its clean water, both of which are being stolen by international corporations. Hillary Clinton is leading the charge, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and the Democrats who support her are aiding and abetting this corporate takeover of our government. The list of Democrats who support Clinton is staggering, and yet, few of any will acknowledge this dark and insidious aspect of her political ambition.

Here in Wisconsin, as long as the corporate abusers were aided by Republicans, the Democrats were outraged. But when one of their own displays such blatant disregard for the democratic process as the DNC has in this election, is financed by the same Wall Street CEOs who should be in jail for almost crashing the entire world economy in 2008, and is in bed with mining companies that are known destroyers of water around the world, they turn a blind eye. It literally boggles the mind.

For this reason, many Bernie supporters have taken the pledge, Bernie or Bust, as a way to fight off the plutocracy of a Clinton win:

Plutocrats’ purchase of our government is the root of all our political evils, and as the only major-party candidate who’s called for a political revolution against plutocrat money, Bernie Sanders is the only adult in the room, the only candidate utterly free from the influence of that money, and the only one with a viable platform for ridding us of it. Therefore, he’s the only major-party presidential candidate worth voting for. As solicitors of billions of plutocrat dollars, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush don’t even register on our radar as serious candidates. And we have a strong bias against other Democrats and Republicans, because their party leadership makes it virtually obligatory for them to accept oligarch dollars. As a lifelong independent scarcely funded at all by corporate dollars, strategically forced to run as a Democrat, Bernie alone has our trust. If he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination—and if he fails to, it will be due simply to party propaganda we aim vigorously to counteract—we plan to write him in in the general election. In states where write-in votes aren’t counted, we plan to simply vote Green.

The “lessor of two evils argument” falls to pieces as we look starkly at Clinton’s allegiance to corporate abusers, and her all-out war against the water for the sake of profits. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate, indeed, one of the few elected officials who understands and will fight against corporate abuse. Without this, it won’t matter which “evil” wins: one path will be the slow death by a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the other a faster, more transparent descent into complete domination by the 1%.

For these reasons and so many more, no one but Bernie will do.

 

 

 

 

 

GTac sends message to investors: Penokee Hills unmineable.

March 28, 2015

GTacOn March 27, 2015, Gogebic Taconite (GTac) sent a letter to the Wisconsin DNR withdrawing their pre-application for a mining permit. Earlier, they had announced that the Penokee Hills of northern Wisconsin were “unmineable” due to wetlands, and said they would be closing their Hurley, WI offices and abandoning the idea of investing in an open-pit mountaintop removal mine here.

This victory for northern Wisconsin and concerned citizens everywhere was due to a combination of circumstances that ultimately proved once and for all that the boom and bust of the mining industry is too great a risk to the economy, environment and democracy of the region. Some of the factors for GTac’s failure to mine include:

The manner in which GTac conducted business

GTAC armed security forces in northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

GTAC armed security forces in northern Wisconsin. Photo: Rob Ganson

Besides the $700,000 pay off to Scott Walker, the use of an unlicensed private paramilitary company to guard the mine site, the smear campaigns against scientists conducted by extreme pro-mining propaganda organizations, the death threats against concerned citizens, and being allowed to author the new mining legislation created great risk for the region.

Many never believed GTac was a real mining company. Organized as an LLC in only 2010 and having no previous iron ore experience, GTac did not behave like a mining company. Authentic taconite mining companies don’t:

· Hire an official wanted for crimes against the environment in Spain;
· Claim to know the deposit with only a few hundred core holes, when thousands are necessary;
· Hire a public relations person who only makes people angry and appears totally ignorant of mining issues and technology;
· Bulk sample using loose rock in an old hole with no knowledge of its origin;
· Put forth a mine plan which shows a pit diagram which misses much of the deposit;
· Tell blatant lies in public legislative sessions—lies which contradict their own previous statements;
· Deny the existence of minerals in the deposit that have been documented to be there for over 100 years;
· Have only a handful of employees on a project which would require hundreds;
· Use an economic study based on laws and conditions in a different state and that shows only half the picture;
· Put forth a mine plan which does not show any water storage pond/facility, when tens of millions of gallons are needed every day;
· Say they plan to dry stack their tailings, when this method has never been used in a wet climate, and propose a pile hundreds of feet high when 35 feet is pretty much a limit;
· Say they will dry stack, which is the most expensive method of tailings disposal, and at the same time say that they will be cost efficient.
· Not publish their test results (Aguila, Copperwood, Highland Copper, Eagle Mines—all published their core test results either online or in the local papers);
· Not know the extent of wetlands before performing expensive core drilling and bulk sampling;
· Contradict their own consultants while in meetings with the ACOE, DNR and EPA, resulting in those regulators telling them to come back when they get serious;
· Drill only a handful of water monitoring holes, when hundreds would be required, and never bother to install instrumentation in those that they did drill;
· Propose to convey and handle wet materials (tailings) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in a climate in which the temperature goes below -35F;
· Say they are pulling out of Ashland County, leaving almost 1/3 of the ore in the ground, because the local county board chair is “mean”;
· Get caught bribing the governor to the tune of $700,000;
· Suggest that they are going to file a permit soon, when years of investigation are still required;
· Promise 700 jobs but not be able to produce a single job description …*

This list could go on and on, but this is more than enough to know now that they were never serious about mining iron ore.

SOS

Residents of the Lake Superior basin gather in Winter 2014 to spell out “SOS Protect Our Water” with their bodies on the ice. Photo: David Doering

The power of the people
Lake Superior has always been special to those who live near her. The Lake Superior Chippewa Bands have for generations cared for the resources, particularly water and air. Natives and non-native alike living in the basin joined together to stand united in defense of the water. The new mining law, ignoring the voice of the people and putting all resources at risk, could not usurp the power of so many individuals working together on so many levels to protect the water.

All across the state, people became educated about the Penokee Hills and GTac. Frank Koehn from Save the Waters Edge and the Penokee Hills Education Project (PHEP) traveled the state with others giving presentations to local communities. Bad River potlucks became meeting grounds for action planning. The Harvest Education Learning Project (HELP) opened in the hills near the mine site and hosted thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Downstate, Madison Action for Mining Alternatives (MAMA) was formed to unite the north and the south in efforts to protect the water, not just from iron ore but sand frac mining overtaking central and southern Wisconsin. Educational events were held in Milwaukee, Madison, Wausau, Eau Claire and all across the state to raise awareness and unite concerned citizens.

As we reached out to our friends and neighbors about the vital issues of Lake Superior and Bad River water, we also increased awareness about the growing global water shortage.

Falling world iron ore prices and divestment of fossil fuel
International iron ore prices continue to fall. When the Wisconsin legislature first introduced GTac’s mining bill, prices were considerably higher. In 2014, they dropped by 49%.

According to scientists familiar with the iron ore in the Penokees, it is a low-quality formation and would have taken much more effort and expense to extract the ore from the ore body. Add to that the cost of mitigating the abundant wetlands, and it does not make a profitable investment.

The Work Continues
We must continue to stand strong together united in defense of the water. Mining won’t go away, and there are new threats to the water by way of tar sands pipelines, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), sand frac mining. According to NASA, California has about one year of fresh water left. This global crisis will reach everyone at some point. So be inspired to do something to help your local community to protect the water. Attend county board meetings, educate your neighbors, become involved with a local citizen group and continue to stay apprised of what is needed to stand united in defense of the water.

* written by Richard Theide, Iron County.

ACTION ALERT: Sean Duffy Attacking Wisconsin’s Water

October 27, 2014

Rep. Sean Duffy and his Tea Party extremists are trying to take away our protection.

Rep. Sean Duffy and his Tea Party extremists are trying to take away our protection.

Rep. Sean Duffy (WI-R-7) is in a hotly contested race with Kelly Westlund of Ashland for the Congressional seat representing District 7, which includes the Penokee Hill and Bad River watershed. Duffy recently co-sponsored two bills that passed in the House that take aim at the Treaty Rights of the Lake Superior Chippewa, as well as all of the waters of Wisconsin.

The bills—HR 5078 and HR 4854—are co-sponsored by Tea Party Republicans and Southern Democrats in mining states and are based on a corporate manifesto written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization funded in part by David and Charles Koch. They are designed to severely limit the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the Clean Power Plan.

The bills passed the House in September and are part of ALEC’s “model legislation” based on the Tea Party ideology found in “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assault on State Sovereignty.” Portraying the power of the EPA as dangerous federal overreach, the manifesto aims to protect mining interests across the country from being held accountable for their impact on the environment.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

We need people power before the election to help educate the state on the truth. We need people writing Letters to the Editor to your local papers, sharing this information with your family and friends, and forwarding the link to people who might be undecided about who to vote for.

The truth is if Walker, Duffy and Ryan get re-elected, they will continue to bring the Koch Brothers and the influence of all their corporate money has here in Wisconsin. If Walker, Duffy, Jamey Francis, Dane Deustch and their Tea Party friends prevail, they will dismantle any protections we have from mining.

Remember how we were told over and over, “If the mine would pollute, the EPA won’t allow it.” This is the same lie they told us in January 2011 about not wanting to change the Wisconsin State mining laws. GTac knew when they told us that that the new bill was already in progress.

Find your local newspaper here. Write a letter. Support Kelly Westlund. And then get out the vote and let’s elect people not paid for by the Koch Brothers: Kelly for Congress, Beth Meyers for Assembly, Susan Happ for Attorney General and Mary Burke for governor on November 4, 2014. If you live outside of District 7, find out who in your district supports We the People and clean water.

Help others learn the truth and get out the vote on November 4th.

Your very life may depend on it.

tylerforks

One of many undocumented streams and waterfalls of the Bad River watershed. Photo: Maureen Matusewic

Northern Wisconsin and Russia Stand United in Defense of the Water

RussiamapLake Superior to Baikal: Bayfield High School Students Trek to the World’s Other Largest Lake!
Presentation on October 22 at 6:30 PM
Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College, Ashland.
Free and open to the public.

This summer, a group of Bayfield High School students traveled to Siberia, Russia, to learn about the people and cultures of Lake Baikal. Their mission—to explore a similar yet highly different culture—was guided by the water. Because they grew up on the shores of Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area, it made sense to target Russia and Lake Baikal—the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume. They stayed with host families and had an opportunity to learn how the water influences their mutual cultures.

Their journey exceeded their expectations and they are anxious to share their experiences with the community.

peacetotemsVisit their website to read about how the children of Superior and the children of Siberia came together united in defense of the water.

baikal