POPs threaten the Circle of Life seminar Feb. 18, 2000, Oneida, WI
Link to: Flintsteel Restoration Association, Inc. A Non-profit Organization Providing Natural Resource Restoration, Conservation & Preservation

December 5, 1998 - Bemidji, MN

Native Activists Organize Around Environmental Threats in Great Lakes

Groundwork began at a Green Bay gathering to create a network for native activists working on environmental concerns in the Great Lakes.

An interim steering committee calling themselves the Great Lakes Indigenous Environmental Network agreed at the early November gathering to work on the development of a network organization.

Like its parent group, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), the Great Lakes regional IEN will be designed to respond to environmental threats to native grassroots people and communities.

There are over 150 native villages in the Great Lakes and other watersheds in the Midwest. Great Lakes IEN will provide ways for support and communications between these geographically diverse villages.

The Great Lakes IEN steering committee expects to complete work on organizational documents by spring and anticipates hosting an annual gathering each summer or fall. In the meantime, they will use the existing umbrella of the national IEN office to respond to ongoing issues.

The National Office has already been involved in the region including work on a toxic dump at Bad River, a mining threat in Mole Lake, a chemical threat at Walpole Island, work with the First Nations Environmental Network, and the Eagle Project of the Assembly of First Nations. They have also provided support and testimony at recent meetings of the International Joint Commission.

Laura Manthe (Oneida) is the current delegate to the national IEN council and was reaffirmed as the lead Great Lakes IEN contact. She's agreed to help facilitate the organizational development. National IEN Coordinator Tom Goldtooth offered organizational support from the national office in Bemidji, Minnesota. He will assign national IEN staff person Charlotte Caldwell to work with the Great Lakes steering committee.

In the first action of the Great Lakes Regional IEN, the delegates adopted the Albuquerque Declaration - an indigenous response to concerns over climate change and global warming (see IEN web site: http://www.ienearth.org for details )

CONTACTS: (United States)
National IEN office: 218-751-4967
Great Lakes IEN (Laura Manthe lmanthe@oneidanation.org, Oneida): 920-490-6874
First Nations Environmental Network (Canada) : 519-445-0853
SmallMediaLarge: 905-542-7477

Contact: Charlotte Caldwell (218) 751-4967
Or Laura Manthe (920) 490-6874


The Indigenous Environmental Network and the Great Lakes Regional Indigenous Environmental Network will sponsor an educational seminar on Friday, February 18, 2000, at the Parish Hall in Oneida, Wisconsin, beginning at 9:00 a.m.. The video �Drumbeat for Mother Earth: How Persistent Organic Pollutants threaten the Natural Environment and the Future of Indigenous Peoples� will begin the morning agenda.

Dr. Sam Dorevitch of the American Public Health Association will present on the sources of dioxin and PCBs, their toxicity, and the impacts on the environment. Tom Nelson, environmental specialist for the Oneida Tribe Environmental Department, will provide an update on the Fox River contamination and clean-up.

There will be a public hearing from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. to take testimony of concerns with dioxin and PCB emissions and contaminants in the Great Lakes basin area. The purpose of the hearing is to bring public and media attention to this issue, take testimony of citizens, encourage elected officials to develop policies that prevent dioxin and PCB exposure, and push the EPA to release their dioxin assessment report. A summary report will submitted to US Environmental Protection Agency, Canadian Minister of the Environment, the United States State Department, and the International Joint Commission.

Scientific findings released in a report by the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice on November 4, 1999, revealed that nearly all Americans are exposed to unhealthy levels of the toxic industrial by-product dioxin through normal daily consumption of food. According to the report, America�s Choice: Children�s Health or Corporate Profit, children exposed to dioxins in utero during critical periods of development appear to be the most sensitive and vulnerable to its toxic effects.

Diosin exposure has been associated with IQ defects, increased prevalence of withdrawn/depressed behavior, adverse effects on attentional processes, an increase in hyperactive behavior in children, disrupted sexual development, birth defects, damage to the immune system, and cancer.

Polychlorinted Biphenyls (PCBs) are a family of man-made chemicals containing 209 compounds with varying levels of toxicity. PCBs are known endocrine disruptors. They are no longer manufactured in any country except Russia, but continue to persist in the environmental and have been known to cause health hazards for humans, including cancer. There is severe PCB contamination in the fish of the Fox River. This does not allow the Oneidas to perpetuate their traditional fishing practices for their future generations.

Our efforts are part of a nation-wide effort by several hundred grassroots groups known as the Stop Dioxin Exposure Campaign, coordinated by the Virginia-based Center for Health, Environment, and Justice. For the past three months and until March, these groups will be sponsoring similar town meetings and public hearings in 18 states across the country to provide a forum to demand protective public policies on dioxin.

For more than ten years, the US Environmental Protection Agency has failed to enact policies to end public health threats posed by dioxin and PCBs. The public can no longer wait silently. We must educate ourselves and our communities on this issue. We must seek to eliminate dioxin and other persistent organic pollutants from our Mother Earth.

If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact Charlotte Caldwell at (218) 751-4967 or Laura Manthe at 920-490-6874.

MTN Content Page