Picture an expanse of quiet forest dusted by the first season’s snow. The sky is the purest shade of blue, there is a slight breeze warmed by the afternoon sun, and through this scene cuts the Menominee River. Its clear waters flow peacefully against the opposing shores of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. This past weekend, a few Flood members were able to experience this beautiful landscape while attending a solidarity march against the construction of the Back Forty Mine.
This project, proposed by Aquila resources, will include the construction of an open metallic sulfide mine a mere 50 yards away from the Menominee River. Although Aquila suggests that they have developed technologies to prevent the pollution of waterways, locals contest that there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that the mine will not pollute. Although on Friday the 8th Aquila completed the final permit application needed to start the project, but construction cannot begin until the permit is reviewed and granted. According to the site http://www.noback40.org/, the Menominee Nation remains “steadfast in its opposition to the proposed mine and its commitment to preserving the Menominee River”.
This attitude of defiance against the imposing project was evident in this past weekend’s solidarity march. The march titled, The Wetlands Prayer Bridgewalk, aimed at extending awareness of the Back Forty Mine’s negative impacts to the public eye. The route was a loop that led us across the interstate bridge from Marinette, Wisconsin to Menominee, Michigan and back. Participants included members of the Menominee Nation, locals, members of the UW Stevens Point 350 club, and a variety of individuals from across the state.
After the march, we were led on a tour of sacred Menominee sites, including burial mounds and dance rings. A primary concern with the Back Forty Mine is that these sacred sites are at risk of being negatively affected by environmental degradation or completely obliterated due to their location.Visiting these sites instilled in us an appreciation for Menominee history, and a better understanding of how Menominee culture will be impacted by the project. Ultimately, the experience was both educating and inspiring. We were able to connect with the the lands and people directly affected by the project, and socialize with members of statewide initiatives in similar opposition to the Back Forty Mine.