On Wendesday, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved two permits for the Back Forty mine project set to take place in Menominee County, Michigan.
The department approved Aquila Resources’ application for a mining permit after a comprehensive review, despite heavy opposition from area tribes, even locally with the Menominee Indian tribe.
Community organizer Guy Reiter says many of the Menominee Nation will join others in protest on Thursday.
“It’s something in collaboration with all those groups and our group here at home, so we’re planning on being there,” said Reiter. “We’re going to be standing over the bridge that resides over the river that bears our name, the Menominee River. We’re going to stand in solidarity with other groups that are opposed to this project and also stand with our natural world, our river, and our land there.”
The Menominee Tribe will be joining arms with other groups in Menominee, Michigan, like the Front Forty group, Menominee River Group and others from Marinette. Reiter says they’re not necessarily opposing the mining operations itself, but it’s where the mining is taking place that they’re against.
“We’re standing up for our ancestors that are in the ground there,” explained Reiter. “It’s definitely about our culture and our antiquities that’s under attack, and our voice is not being heard. If I were to flip the script and say I was going to put a mine on top of [their] relatives graveyards, where [they’ve] been for thousands of years, and have [them] submit comments and prove this stuff, [they] would be upset as well, as would anybody else. There’s no difference.”
The Menominee Indian people have put in a lot of effort to oppose the mine, attending various events, holding a peace walk to the mine, and going on a speaking tour, but Reiter says with the approval of the permits, they will explore other avenues.
“Unfortunately in this day in age, it’s hard to change people’s minds who getting paid not too,” he said. “Sometimes profits mean more. We’ve learned a lot from what happened out there at Standing Rock, the injustices that were done there, here they are right in our backyard. Now is the time, as we go into the uncertainty of January 2017 and all that it might bring, we have a chance to stand together and stand up for our earth, and our natural resources.”
Opponents of the mine arrived at noon for a peaceful protest of the mine, beginning at Stephenson Island in Marinette.