Meeting of the WWEP of the Midwest Treaty Network , held at the Wild Wolf Inn in White Lake, Langlade County, on Sept. 21, 2003. The meeting included people from Langlade, Shawano, Forest, Rusk, Eau Claire, Dane, and other counties, representing environmental groups, sportfishing groups, and the Mole Lake Chippewa Community.
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November 16, 2002 meeting of the WWEP in the Sokaogon Chippewa Community Environmental Center on teh Mole Lake Reservation.
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| "The increasingly sophisticated political maneuvering by environmental
special interest groups have made permitting a mine in Wisconsin an
| THE PROJECT CAN USE YOUR HELP
The Wolf Watershed Educational Project has accomplished a lot in the past three years, on a shoestring budget--helping to organize a grassroots network of concerned citizens on the frontlines. Yet it costs quite a bit even just to send out postcards. Please make a donation, either as a group or an individual, to help cover these costs.
In July, 1995, the Midwest Treaty Network initiated a Wolf Watershed Educational Project (WWEP), focusing on the Wolf River-Lake Winnebago-Fox River waterway in northeastern Wisconsin. The goal of the project was to educate local communities on the issue of metallic sulfide mining (particularly Exxon's proposed Crandon zinc-copper mine in Forest County), build local community organizing skills, and establish communication links between Indian and non-Indian communities on environmental protection. The WWEP broadened its focus to the Wisconsin River when Exxon announced plans to pipe its mine wastes there.
The Midwest Treaty Network is an alliance of Indian and non-Indian groups that support the sovereign rights of Native American nations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. The MTN has developed and distributed factual materials on the treaties and threats to the common natural environment in Northern Wisconsin, and has been heavily involved in education and community empowerment around the issue of metallic sulfide mining. We have coordinated meetings and gatherings attended by 500-1000 individuals (such as the 1993 and 1994 Protect the Earth Gatherings at Lac du Flambeau and Mole Lake), developed educational materials on mining , and served as a bridge between environmental and Native groups.
Concerns about sulfide mining have brought together many of the Native Americans and white fishermen who have previously been at odds over Chippewa and Menominee treaty rights. To put it simply, many Northern Wisconsinites have come to see little use in arguing over a fish resource that itself is endangered by environmental degradation. We first saw this alliance in the effort to oppose the Ladysmith mine next to the Flambeau River in Rusk County, and to stall the proposed Noranda mine next to a walleye spawning ground in the Willow River, near Lynne in Oneida County.
We especially see this unity in the common concern of Native Americans and fishermen in protecting the Wolf River from the Crandon mine, and the Wisconsin River from the proposed pipeline. The American Rivers group has designated the Wolf River as North America's fifth most endangered river. The alliance has developed such that the state Conservation Congress has passed resolutions critical of mining, and anti-Exxon resolutions have been passed by many trout, walleye, and muskie clubs.
The WWEP is a systematic educational project concentrating on the Wolf and Wisconsin river watersheds, especially reservations, sporting groups, small business owners, and schools. It held a two-week Upriver Speaking Tour in April- May 1996, which drew 1,100 people in 22 towns along the Wolf and Wisconsin rivers. On May 4, 1996, it drew 1,000 people to a gathering in Rhinelander, at the proposed discharge site of the Wisconsin River pipeline, and the headquarters of the Crandon Mining Company (owned by Exxon and Rio Algom). In September, 1996, the WWEP held a weekend training workshop in Keshena to build skill levels of new community organizers, drawing 70 participants. In late Summer 1997, the WWEP conducted a Circle Tour for a Sulfide Mining Moratorium around the edge of Wisconsin, to 20 towns not yet reached on mining issue, making it even more of a statewide concern.
The Wolf Watershed Educational Project has already made major progress, drawing in new organizers, distributing tens of thousands of pieces of literature to local communities, resulting in spin-offs of many newspaper articles, TV and radio news segments, local government resolutions, and new grassroots local organizations along the two rivers. The Crandon mine has become easily the number one environmental issue in Wisconsin. Statewide polls show a majority choosing environmental quality over mining. An ultimate goal is to build stronger bonds between communities to protect the common environment, and to show that local people - not just the state or federal governments - have the power to stop harmful development.
The company's response proves the effectiveness of this campaign; it sponsored full-page newspaper ads, radio spots, and local mailings in the towns along the speaking tour, admitted that opposition has "increased tenfold" this year, and called the WWEP the "best organized" anti-mining campaign it has seen. The entire company team has been replaced with new officials, and in January they began an unprecedented blitz of pro-mine TV ads around the state. Yet in March, the State Senate has passed a Sulfide Mining Moratorium Bill, and in April voters in Nashville Township ousted their Town Board after it made a Local Agreement with Exxon on mine construction.
However, Exxon has an enormous amount of resources at its disposal in its effort; in 1993, the company made $111 billion in revenues, more than the Gross National Products of 86 percent of the world's independent nations. In response to the estimated $2 million Exxon TV ad campaign, the WWEP was able to run 66 radio spots.
A Speakers Bureau has been developed so speakers can be available to schools, chambers of commerce, town boards, and other community institutions. There are two videos on the Exxon mine that can also be widely distributed. The WWEP has begun a new effort to start an Illinois group of tourists interested in a clean northern Wisconsin, to put pressure on the Department of Tourism to question the economic impacts of sulfide mining. We are also building ties to Milwaukee-area unionists who are concerned about the impacts of sulfide mining, and have passed local resolutions against the Crandon mine.
Our project does not expect the public to come to our events. Instead,
the project stresses group members going to
people in their own communities, their own clubs, and at their own
events. In Summer-Fall 1997, we held a Circle Tour around the
edge of Wisconsin to towns not yet reached on mining issue, making
it even more of a statewide concern. The project is part of a historical
alliance that has never before been seen in northern Wisconsin - diverse
communities coming together to protect our precious environment.
04/23/98. Link to: http://www.shepherd-express.com/shepherd/19/17/headlines/cover_story.html
Wolf Watershed Educational Project meeting in the rebuilt Nii Win House next to the Mole Lake Chippewa Reservation and the Crandon mine site, on March 10, 2001. Photo: Sonny Wreczycki.