(en)OCCUPATION at Mole Lake vs. Mining Corp.s

sage (jesse@tao.ca)
Fri, 9 May 1997 18:41:38 -0400 (EDT)

A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

Date: Fri, 9 May 1997 12:59:11 -0500 From: Ben <brmanski@students.wisc.edu> Subject: OCCUPATION at Mole Lake vs. Mining Corp.s

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Released by: Indigenous Environmental Network - Great Lakes Regional May 8, 1997

Mole Lake, Wisconsin - "We need help from our allies, it's no joke, it's one big conspiracy by Exxon, Rio Algom and BHP international mining corporations" said Robert Van Zile, one of the occupying tribal members and Pipe Keeper of the Mole Lake Band of Sokaogon Chippewa. Approximately 40 tribal community members have been occupying their tribal headquarters since last Thursday.

The Mole Lake community members reaffirmed their concerns set forth in the May 1, 1997 press release statement. The statement asked for the removal of Arlyn Ackley, Sr., Mole Lake tribal chairman; an audit of tribal and casino funds; removal of tribal staff; recognition of the civil rights of tribal members; clarification on repeated parole violations of Ackley and investigation of the role and collusion between Exxon, Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, his attorneys, and the law firm representing the Mole Lake tribal council.

During recent years, Exxon, Rio Algom and BHP have been teaming up with a corporate campaign war against all citizen oppositions to their proposed plans to develop various mineral deposits around Mole Lake, including the proposed Crandon Mine, which is being planned by Exxon Minerals and Rio Algom through the creation of Crandon Mining Company. The international corporate giants have waged a million dollar public relations, scientific, and lobbying campaign to get Wisconsin state and federal approval to build the Crandon Mine.

The Crandon Mine is a hard rock sulfide mine proposed next to the Mole Lake Chippewa reservation in northeastern Wisconsin near to the Wolf River. The mine would leave mine tailings, de-water the area destroying wetlands, wild rice beds, and fishing areas. "The Crandon Mine mineral deposit extends to underneath our sacred Rice Lake, our spiritual center and heart of the Anishinabe people, and the source of life-giving Manomin, our wild rice" said Van Zile. "It's a 'highway 8' trend' which means that all this area is a mineral track that is rich in copper, zinc, and silver deposits" he said.

Another concerned tribal member in the occupation is Bill Koenen, who says, "Exxon, Rio Algom, BHP and the politics of Wisconsin state government have infiltrated our tribal government and pushing Mole Lake to accept the Crandon Mine proposal. The community members are saying enough is enough. It's not a simple internal tribal affairs matter. We wouldn't have contacted outside support groups if it was just an internal matter."

Koenen, Van Zile and other tribal community members are worried about historical and recent events that demonstrate their concern that some shady deals are going on with chairman Ackely, the tribal environmental engineer John Griffin, and perhaps others. The concerned community members have clippings of local newspaper articles from 1986 that exposed Ackley's plans for Mole Lake to develop it's own copper and silver mine. In 1982, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs announced the discovery of copper, zinc, and silver deposits on the Mole Lake reservation found to be worth more than $1 billion dollars. Even though Ackley in recent years has made public statements of his opposition to the Crandon Mine, community members say they have lost confidence with the inconsistency and credibility of their chairman.

The community members mention recent events whereby their tribal environmental engineer allowed federal and state agencies to collect sensitive environmental data. "This action was against tribal council decision", says Koenen. "When we asked who gave permission for these agencies to take data, we were told that Ackley gave permission. This was against council policy. Up to this time, Exxon had continually been requesting and had been denied access to our tribal lands. Now Exxon is having the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Wisconsin state Department of Natural Resources collect the data for them," Koenen stated.

Collusion between the law firm retained by the Mole Lake tribal council and the firms relationship as personal counsel to Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, adds to the concerns of tribal members. The law firm that is representing Mole Lake tribal affairs including their struggle to get their tribal water quality standards approved is a Madison firm by the name of Brennan, Steil, Basting and MacDougall. Koenen reports that this law firm personally represents Governor Thompson. "Governor Thompson is presently in legal battle with us and the EPA concerning our tribal water quality standards. Our standards are more stringent than the state of Wisconsin and the federal standards. If approved, our standards would impact the Crandon Mine proposal as well as other mining proposals. Exxon, Rio Algom and BHP don't want these standards approved, and we're sure they have been lobbying Governor Thompson on this issue. The mining industry is a powerful force in Wisconsin politics, " Koenen expressed.

"Law firm partner George Steil was appointed by Governor Thompson to the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents and we have found that Michael Grebe, an attorney with the Milwaukee law firm, Foley and Lardner, is also on the Board of Regents. The firm Foley and Lardner is the primary law firm retained by Exxon. It's a pretty cozy relationship and we know these people are talking with each other, but of course, they will deny it. It's just too close and has us worried, " Koenen said.

Latest updates from tribal members reveal concerns with "scratch my back and I'll scratch your back" deals by Governor Thompson and Wisconsin politicians concerning Mole Lake and the Lac du Flambeau Tribe in their negotiations with the state on their tribal gaming compacts. One main component of this compact negotiation involve the Hudson, Wisconsin dog racing complex that Mole Lake and other Wisconsin tribes want to obtain to operate a casino.

"There is a serious danger with these tribal gaming compact negotiations that allow Governor Thompson to combine treaty-based hunting, fishing, and harvest rights with gaming compact negotiations. Thompson has refused to negotiate any further on the tribal gaming compacts unless the treaty-based hunting, fishing, and harvest rights are put on the negotiating table. This will open up negotiations on natural resources such as mining and water. This is something that the mining industry wants. Wisconsin is pushing our tribal governments to negotiate tribal gaming rights on the same level as environmental protection and natural resource management," said Bill Koenen. He further added that Kevin Potter, an attorney with Brennan, Steil, Basting and MacDougall also sits on the Mole Lake tribal Gaming Board.

The concerned tribal members have been trying to obtain U.S. federal intervention and protection, to no avail. Last Friday, the Chicago regional U.S. Office of Justice was contacted by the concerned community members to assist in mediation. It was reported that the Mole Lake tribal council refused to participate in mediation.

The community members report strong support from other Mole Lake members and elders. This past weekend, grassroots groups from the Red Cliff Band of Chippewa Indians, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa Tribe, and members of the Michigan Keweenaw Bay Chippewa community traveled to Mole Lake to share prayers and support to the concerned tribal community members barricaded in the building..

"We, ..... want accountability from our tribal government and from the state and federal officials who have violated their trust responsibilities. ......this action is an attempt to address and resolve broad issues that impact all Sokaogon tribal members, all those opposed to mining in Wisconsin, and all those interested in a clean representative government," read a statement issued by the concerned Mole Lake tribal members.

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For more information: Contact person - Bill Koenen, Mole Lake Concerned Tribal Member and Anishinaabe (715) 367-2902 or Indigenous Environmental Network, Ph: (218) 751-4967 Fax: (218) 751-0561

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------- This communication written in consultation with the Mole Lake concerned tribal members that are currently in occupation of their tribal headquarters. The gas, electricity and water has been shut-off at the headquarters. The contact telephone number listed above for the Mole Lake concerned tribal members is a cellular phone and the battery pack is always running low on power. Communications is a problem. The group is requesting support. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------- Released by:

Indigenous Environmental Network P.O. Box 485 Bemidji, MN 56619 Ph: (218) 751-4967 Fax: (218) 751-0561 e-mail: ien@igc.apc.org web page: http://www.alphacdc.com/ien

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