Pages: Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2001.
2000: Jan.-May, June-July, Aug.- Oct., Nov.-Dec.. 1999
Wisconsin's Rural Rebellion
Model Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2001. 2000: Jan.-Mar., Apr.-July, Aug.- Dec.. 1999


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power lines
Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers


For the last twenty-two years, 30,000,000 acres - 50,000 square miles - of one of North America's largest drainage areas have been altered irreversibly by a government-owned utility in Manitoba.


  Pull the Plug on Manitoba Hydro   Lac Courte Oreilles backs Cross Lake Cree






Pull the Plug on Manitoba Hydro
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The Lake Winnipeg Regulation and Churchill River Diversion Project

In the 1960's, Manitoba Hydro, and the governments of Manitoba and Canada promised Manitobans a future of prosperity that would be fueled by inexpensive hydropower. Some of the electricity generated by the project would also be marketed to American utilities via transmission lines to Grand Forks, Minneapolis and Duluth. Construction and a cursory environmental review (no baseline assessment was ever undertaken) occurred simultaneously, thus hastening the transformation of one of North America1s sub-Arctic environments.

Eighty-five percent of the Churchill River1s water is now diverted into the Nelson River, and vast Lake Winnipeg is regulated mechanically to increase its depth seasonally, also increasing the Nelson1s flow. Water is held back in the spring, summer and fall (the most environmentally productive seasons) and released in winter when Manitoban and Midwestern demands for electricity are highest. The manipulated flowage in the Nelson and the unnatural seasonal inversion provide power to five huge generating stations and the reservoirs behind them. Forty percent of the kilowatt-hours produced go south to the United States; Manitoba Hydro reaps millions of dollars of profits annually.

Cree territorial destruction

Three million of the acres re-engineered by Manitoba Hydro are Pimicikamak Cree Indian traditional lands -- equal to three Boundary Waters wilderness areas. In Cree, Pimicikamak means 3a river that crosses a lake." Gideon McKay, an elder who lives in the community of Cross Lake along the Nelson River, describes graphically what happened to the land where his family1s trapline used to support generations of McKays. "They poured filth over the clean dish that I once had while my kids were eating from there. They took our plate."

An ecological and moral catastrophe

Unlike the dams and reservoirs in the American Southwest, Manitoba1s water impoundments, contained by miles of rock dikes, multi-story control structures and generating stations, have flooded or made inaccessible thousands of square miles of northern forests, rivers, lakes and muskegs. Over the years, drowned trees and other vegetation have accumulated on impoundment shorelines and prevent wildlife from reaching water1s edge. The Crees experienced a drop in local moose population, and noticed permanent changes in the population and well-being of other animal and bird species that formerly flourished in the biotic richness of river corridors, lakeshores and undisturbed boreal forests. Each year, the dramatic and frequent fluctuations in water levels continually erode banks and shorelines, decimating native fish, flora, aquatic mammals and invertebrates.

An unanticipated, serious consequence of such large impoundments is methylmercury, a toxin that bio-accumulates in fish and aquatic mammals. Women of child-bearing age, children and elders regularly receive warnings to severely limit their fish intake, formerly a dietary and spiritual staple of the Crees.

Because the flooding also obliterated burial grounds and other references of cultural and spiritual significance, the people of Cross Lake remain devastated by high rates of family violence, suicide and substance abuse. It is ironic that this is occurring within Canada, with its sterling reputation for human rights and for its assistance to other nations in times of need.

Astopwesewin: "Saving for others for the future"

In 1998, people from Cross Lake held a rally at Northern States Power1s Minneapolis headquarters because NSP is Manitoba Hydro1s biggest US customer. NSP1s executives came downstairs and met the Crees. In the summer of 1999, NSP announced a need for an additional 1,200 MW of electricity, and Minnesota Power in Duluth and its Wisconsin partner began notifying property owners about building more transmission capacity in Wisconsin.

Will Manitoba Hydro fill those needs? According to its 1999 annual report, the utility1s American export market now comprises thirty-five customers. 3With its proven track record as North America1s lowest-cost electricity producer, Manitoba Hydro continues to be well-positioned to make further inroads into that market."

"We know that electric power is very important," says Sandy Beardy, Traditional Chief of Pimicikamak Cree Nation, and a veteran of the Battle of Normandy and the liberation of Germany. "But here where the dams are, they are still destroying the environment and our hunting, fishing and trapping way of life. We can1t make you understand our loss which you haven1t experienced. But we pray that the people of Minnesota and the other states will use their wisdom and knowledge to ask their leaders to stop making contracts with a company that drowns the hopes of our children."

Substituting conservation for the ten percent of NSP power that is imported from Manitoba Hydro is one way Americans can help.

Make the connection

More megaprojects (only about half of northern Manitoba1s hydroelectric potential has been tapped) and continuing exports are the most serious threats to the survival of the Pimicikamak Cree culture and society. The Crees' own consumption of power simply does not figure in the equation of preventing further destruction of their boreal home. Neither does consumption in the Province of Manitoba, because all of its electricity needs are met from only a portion of existing capacity, and local Manitoba power consumption has been flat for years (virtually no growth).

Minnesota electric consumers need to be aware of the extent to which Manitoba Hydro and Minnesota's utilities continue to make them complicit in exporting the real costs of Canadian hydro onto the backs of distant Indians and their environment. But this isn1t just a moral crisis. The electric utility industry hopes that Manitoba electricity will qualify as "clean and green" energy for purposes of renewable portfolio standards in the coming era of utility restructuring. Under this scheme, however, Manitoba1s hydro-megaprojects threaten almost all utility-scale renewable energy developments and conservation initiatives in the American Midwest.

Depending on one long line

  1. provides disincentives by local venture capitalists, utilities and governments to invest real dollars in conservation and renewable energy development, except for "boutique" projects;

  2. undermines efforts by non-governmental organizations to protect the region's migratory birds and other threatened and endangered species which need access to the genetic diversity provided by the unflooded boreal ecosystem;

  3. perpetuates Americans1 negative historical treatment of indigenous peoples;

  4. sends dollars out of region that could be spent on siting smaller, newer, more reliable generation facilities close to customers that employ local labor;

  5. threatens the survival and subsistence way of life of a northern indigenous people;

  6. reinforces ignorance of the consequences and true costs of power production.

Empower yourself

  • Learn where your electricity comes from, how it1s produced and how to use it wisely.
  • Ask your utility what it1s doing to respond to your concerns.
  • Write to your governor and your elected officials.
  • Ask your faith community, environmental group, business or academic institution to speak out for the northern environment and human rights.


This material is distributed by Ann Stewart (USDOJ FARA #5313) on behalf of Pimicikamak Cree Nation. To learn more, contact Ann Stewart, US Information Officer, Pimicikamak Cree Nation, 121 West Grant Street/Suite 116, Minneapolis MN 55403-2340 USA. email: stewartship@visi.com, ph: 612-871-8404 or fax: 612-871-7922.
Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington DC.


"First Nations and Hydroelectric Development in Northern Manitoba: The Northern Flood agreement, Issues and Implications" will help fill the information vacuum for Americans and Canadians alike.

Its respected contributors include Cross Lake community members, anthropologists, human rights lawyers and Manitoba government representatives. Its appendices include the complete text of the 1977 Northern Flood Agreement.

ISBN 0-921206-35-1, 226pp, paperback

To order by email: rupert.land@uwinnipeg.ca By fax: 204-774-4134
By mail: The Center for Rupert's Land Studies, The University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg MB Canada R3B 2E9

Include your name and mailing address (city, state, zip) and make your check payable to The University of Winnipeg.

Price per copy is US $20.00, plus a postage and handling charge of US$3.00 on the first book ordered, and US $2.00 for each additional copy.




Lac Courte Oreilles backs Cross Lake Cree
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Lac Courte Oreilles backs Cross Lake Cree


The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians has become the first US tribe to pass a resolution against the 250-mile long, 345 kV transmission line being proposed by Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation. Their "hydro history," opposition to the line, support for Cross Lake and the recognition that there are alternatives make this a model resolution for other organizations.

If you are so inclined, letters of support can be sent to the Tribal Governing Board, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (fax 715-634-4797; they do not have email).



Resolution No. 99-91

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians is a federally recognized American Indian Tribe, organized pursuant to the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, 25 U.S.C. Section 462, et. seq; and

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board is the governing body of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians pursant to the Lac Courte Oreilles Constitution: Article III; and

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians has inhabited the lands and waters of Northern Wisconsin on the Lac Couerte Oreilles Indian Reservation since time immemorial and;

WHEREAS, the Lac Courtes Oreille Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has experienced social and environmental devastation from the flooding of its lands and waters as a result of a hydroelectric project built sixty years ago; and

WHEREAS, the hydroelectric project has never been subjected to comprehensive social and environmental assessments; and

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians lost a large part of its traditional economic subsistence of hunting, fishing and trapping base; and

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians has learned that a 250-mile, 345 kV transmission line is being proposed by Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation to carry bulk power from Manitoba Hydro through Sawyer County and other jurisdictions in Wisconsin; and

WHEREAS, high power transmission lines have been shown to increase cases of childhood leukemia and have shown to increase cancer rates in general; and

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has a higher than usual rate of cancer, which may increase due to proposed transmission lines; and

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians is aware that our brothers and sisters of Pimicikamak Cree Nation in Manitoba, Canada, have suffered the loss of their traditional ways of life and the destruction of vast areas of the lands and waters of northern Manitoba which they have inhabited since time immemorial; and

WHEREAS, Pimicikamak Cree Nation is living daily amid the environmental devastation caused by flooding or rendering inaccessible more than 3,000,000 acres of its traditional territory; and

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians recognizes that flooding one of North America1s largest boreal forests has resulted in methyl mercury contamination of the Cree people and the fish, aquatic mammals and animals such as moose, that depend upon northern waters for their existence; and also the release of immeasurable quantities of the powerful greenhouse gas, methane, into the atmosphere; and

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians is aware that Pimicikamak Cree Nation continues to suffer very high rates of crime, violence, substance abuse, suicide, and mass poverty and unemployment (reported to be among the highest in Canada); and that its youth are in despair because they have no future; and

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians is aware that the Premier of Manitoba (its Governor) has recently asked Manitoba Hydro (a state corporation) to double its exports to the United States, which will result in the building of more generating stations, transmission lines, reservoirs, northern roads, and more flooding and environmental destruction; and

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians recognizes that there are alternative methods for the generation of electricity that cause less harm to the environment, and in particular, to the indigenous peoples who depend upon the lands, waters and animals for economic, cultural and spiritual subsistence; and

WHEREAS, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, while recognizing the importance of electricity to the economic well-being of the state of Wisconsin, also believes that the full social and environmental costs of electricity generation must be included in its purchase price; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians strongly opposes the construction of transmission lines anywhere on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation that will result in more harm to the peoples Lac Courte Oreilles as well as to the lands, waters and peoples of Wisconsin; and

The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians calls for greatly increased investments by tribal, local, state and national governments, as well as by individuals and corporate and institutional entities in energy conservation and genuinely renewable energy sources in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest, to displace the "need" to purchase additional environmentally and socially destructive electricity from Manitoba Hydro; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians strongly opposes the building of transmission lines in the territory ceded in the treaties of 1836, 1837 and 1842 where Lac Courte Oreilles people hunt, fish and gather for their subsistence.



CERTIFICATION

I, the undersigned, as Secretary Treasurer of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board, hereby certify that the Tribal Governing Board is composed of seven (7) members, of whom being present, constituted a quorum at a meeting thereof, duly called, convened, and held on the 20th day of Sept. 1999; that the foregoing resolution was duly adopted at said meeting by an affirmative vote of 3 members, 0 agains, 0 abstaining, ad that said resolution has not been rescinded or amended in any way.

        Don Carley / Secretary Treasurer
        Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board

Now Therefore Be It Resolved:

That Lac Courte Oreille Nation strongly opposes the construction of transmission lines anywhere in Wisconsin that will result in more harm to Pimickamak Cree Nation, as well as to the lands, waters and peoples of Wisconsin;

That Lac Courte Oreille Nation calls for greatly increased investments by tribal, local, state and national governments, as well as by individuals and corporate and institutional entities, in energy conservation and genuinely renewable energy sources in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest, to displace the "need" to purchase additional environmentally and socially destructive electricity from Manitoba Hydro;

That such investments will result in local job creation, training and permanent employment, and greater reliability and self-sufficiency for tribal members and for the citizens of Wisconsin, rather than the "export" of these jobs to Manitoba, as well as having the people and tribes of Wisconsin dependent upon hundreds of miles of transmission lines for their electricity;

That Lac Courte Oreille Nation will communicate this resolution to the following: ...



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Hydro Hurts - Consumers for Responsible Energy http://www.hydrohurts.mb.ca/

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Pages: Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2001.
2000: Jan.-May, June-July, Aug.- Oct., Nov.-Dec.. 1999
Wisconsin's Rural Rebellion
Model Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2001. 2000: Jan.-Mar., Apr.-July, Aug.- Dec.. 1999
Midwest Treaty Network Contents