Contact: Frank Koehn (715) 774-3333
Sandy Lyon (715) 766-2725
The Protect The Earth Journey arrived at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison on Saturday, June 27, after 320 miles and nearly a month walking from Lake Superior. Children led the last leg of the walk up State Street, following the Protect The Earth eagle staff, along with more than 250 walkers and supporters.
The walk had left the Red Cliff Ojibwe (Chippewa) Reservation on Wisconsin's 150th anniversary, May 29. The purpose of the walk was to bring public attention to protecting Wisconsin's environment in this Sesquicentennial year. 150 years is the equivalent of seven generations, a time frame used by indigenous peoples for consideration in decision-making. The walk was made to garner support for a Seventh Generation Amendment to the State Constitution (and ultimately the U.S. Constitution) which would protect air, water, and other forms of "common property" from environmental threats such as metallic sulfide mining.
The Seventh Generation Amendment reads: "The right of the people to use and enjoy air, water sunlight, and other renewable resources determined by the legislature to be common property, shall not be impaired, nor shall such use impair their availability for future generations". For background on the walk, and photos of it, log on to http://treaty.indigneousnative.org/pearth98.html (Graphics and photos on the page may be used freely.)
The Protect The Earth Gathering has been held annually in northern Wisconsin since 1986--alternating between Ladysmith and the Mole Lake, Lac Courte Oreilles, and Lac du Flambeau Chippewa Reservations--but this year organizers "took it to the road." The Protect The Earth Journey focused on the issues of metallic sulfide mining, the scuttling of the state Public Intervenor Office, the "politicizing" of the state Department of Natural Resources by Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, and other environmental concerns. While the walk celebrated the passage of the Churchill Mining Moratorium Bill, it is part of an effort to rid Wisconsin of Rio Algom's still-planned Crandon zinc-copper mine at Mole Lake, reclaim the closed Ladysmith copper mine near Lac Courte Oreilles, and prevent other metallic sulfide mines in Chippewa ceded territory.
Walkers brought messages from people around Wisconsin, on how the next 150 years should be done differently, for the sake of our land and future generations. In addition to the mining issue, walkers heard support from from community members for the restoration of prairie and buffalo at Badger Munitions, Outstanding National Resource Water (ONRW) designation for Lake Superior, halting the expansion of Highway 12, and curbing paper industry discharges.
Walkers were also told about economic issues that create problems for struggling families, and thus in turn put increased pressure on the environment. For example, many community people voiced support for equitable fair support for milk prices, funding for preschool education, and a redefinition of the W-2 welfare program as it relates to Hmong and other immigrants, and to single parents. The Protect The Earth Journey has not been simply a single-issue environmental project, but an effort to show on many different levels that what befalls the earth befalls the people of the earth, and what befalls people also affects the earth.
At the Capitol gathering, there were talks by Red Cliff Chippewa environmental leader Walter Bresette, Lake Superior Greens leader Frank Koehn, Anishinaabe Niijii leader Sandy Lyon, and other Protect The Earth Journey walkers, drumming by Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa singers, and songs by Bobby Bullet. There was also a ribbon-tying ceremony on an old oak on the Capitol grounds, a women's ceremony that gathered and poured water from around the state, and a community welcome potluck in a nearby park.
For more information on Protect The Earth and the Seventh Generation Amendmentyou can also contact the Lake Superior Greens at firstname.lastname@example.org (715-774-3333), Anishinaabe Niijii at email@example.com (715-766-2725), or the Midwest Treaty Network at firstname.lastname@example.org (608-246-2256).