Posted by Nicole Walton
May 7th, 2012
BARAGA, MI– The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is claiming sulfide mining infringes on its indigenous rights and lands.
The KBIC has submitted a document to the United Nations outlining how mines like the one in Marquette County are being approved without the tribe’s consent.
Jessica Koski is co-author of the document. She says, “The tribes need to have a seat at the table. This is our traditional territory. This is where we hunt, we fish, we gather, and those are rights that are maintained in treaties.”
Supporters of Kennecott’s mine say the area badly needs the jobs. But Koski says the mine—unlike iron ore mines—is slated to last only five years, and the U.P. needs economic opportunities that are long-term.
“And that could be tourism, recreation, agriculture,” she says. “Local sustainable economies where we can thrive into the future and not have this ‘boom and bust,’ which is a very well-known phenomenon with the mining industry, which is why the U.P. is so desperate for another gasp of another mining boom.”
Kennecott has said jobs at the mine will last about eight years. Company officials note they secured all permits through the necessary channels.
The U.S. approved the multi-nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People two years ago. But a U.N. human rights official who visited the U.S. last week says more needs to be done to heal historic wounds—including a return of Native American lands to tribes.
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