LCO Tribe Finds ‘Brand New Way’ To Protest: With A Harvest Camp

 

This article is being republished here. I am a graduate of LCO tribal college (LCOOCC). I have a great love for my Ojiwe friends and their struggle to keep traditional ways alive. The Harvest Camp is the best of this world where elders and youth can share and learn how to live traditionally.
I pray that Bad River and LCO can stave off the Iron Ore Mine which threatens fresh water feeding directly into 43 pure waterways that wander through Bad River Reservation, through other communityies out to Lake Sperior and are meant for all species. You can learn more about the Penokee Hill Iron Ore Mine in the news and on Facebook.
In 2012, I arranged for Frank Koehn to come to Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College and present a program on the Iron Ore Mines proposed for Penokee Hills. He has reached far and wide and is interviewed in the following article at http://www.uwsp.edu/pointeronline/Pages/articles/Penokee-Hills-Mine-Could-Devastate.aspx

 

Harvest Camp

Credit Jennifer Simonson
Twelve-year-old Conner Beaulieu picks wild onions at the Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest Camp in Iron County.

 

The Lac Courte Oreilles tribe is trying a unique way to help stop the proposed iron ore mine in the Penokees: gathering wild onions and mushrooms.

The new LCO Harvest Camp is set in the backwoods of Iron County, right in the middle of the proposed mine.

Connor Beaulieu of LCO says he’s almost 13 years old and proud to show off this new camp.

“Right here, we’re just building a little wigwam right there and right here is where one of our campers are staying. A little farther back is where we’re building more campsites. Pretty nice here. Peaceful. I don’t know where this leads, but let’s explore!”

The five-acre camp is tucked away in an Iron County forest. There’s no cell phone service here, but there are campsites, trails, wigwams, a community kitchen and lots of young people. Twelve-year-old Mikey DeMain of LCO likes working at the camp.

 

Harvest Camp

Credit Jennifer Simonson
One of several wigwams being built at the LCO Harvest Camp. The camp is a unique form of protesting the proposed iron ore mine in the Penokee range.

​“Yeah. I helped ‘em make some wigwams, helped collect firewood and stack it. Think I’m going to hang out there a lot this summer.”

Mikey’s grandfather Paul DeMain says this is also an educational camp.

“You can learn about mushroom gathering, plant medicines, wigwam building. There’s ironwood up there. There’s basket weaving with birch bark. There’s people fishing. There are people doing all kinds of beautiful things and it is so healing. That’s ultimately what it was: The idea of, ‘How can we help mend our communities and come together?’”

This camp is on top of the largest iron ore body in North America with the potential to create hundreds of jobs. But Wisconsin tribes say it would destroy this pristine land.

“Some of us have given our whole lives to fight for the cause and stop mining.”

So this spring, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe Governing Council voted to designate this spot as a harvest camp. They have that right under the Treaty of 1842 — to hunt, fish and gather. The treaty ceded the land to the U.S. Government in exchange for that right.

LCO Elder Melvin Gasper says Native American harvest camps date back centuries, when tribes lived off the land.

“You start out with a spring camp or maple sugar camp. You will travel next to your fishing camp. Then you travel next to your harvest camp, for harvesting wild game and stuff for your winter. And then you have your winter camp. All of these were different harvest camps.“

And Gasper says there’s another reason. It’s to stop the mine.

DeMain says the mine would poison the Lake Superior and Bad River reservation watershed, so it’s time other tribes join the fight.

“If there are people from some indigenous nation who has relationships to the land up here who want to go camping up at Mount Whittlesey at Eagle’s Peak or on the crest and occupy the range, that’s up to them. What we’ve tried to do is establish a legal framework in which we can exist here and coincide with what’s there now and monitor the situation.”

DeMain says LCO is deliberately getting in the way of Gogebic Taconite, which is currently drilling exploratory bore holes.

“Bad River seems to be taking the brunt of the battle on this mining legislation and organizing it. Frankly, people get tired and they feel beaten up, so there are other tribes who are saying ‘How can they contribute to this way?’“

So, they’ve built this harvest camp. Elder Gasper says even as they pull wild onions from the ground, they are effectively occupying this area.

“Most definitely it is. They were asking us basically ‘How do you protest?’ This is a brand new way. It’s a peaceful manner in which we are using as a harvest area and showing what can be taken out of this and saved. Some of us have given our whole lives to fight for the cause and stop mining.”

Gasper says his ancestors sacrificed for him, now he’s doing the same for Mikey and Connor and future generations.

 

Looking for a home

Home

705 B Street, Minong, WI 54859

Look no further. I found this home 12 years ago in Minong, WI. Minong (means it’s a good place in Ojibwe) is also called Pleasant Valley by locals. The house was built in 1956, when materials were real. The house is redwood. The garage is cedar. I absolutely loved it.  Home to prairie, red and white pine, aspen, maple and birch. Native trees, shrubs and vines grow here. Native wildflowers grow here too. Wildlife is everywhere. From the house I have seen fox, deer, bear, coyote and wolf stroll through the back yard and field next to house. The birds are too numerous to count. Folks here like to feed them too.

If you are looking for a great get away in retirement, this could be it. Check out the listing at http://www.coldwellbanker.com/property?propertyId=270610286&mode=detail&brandType=CB

The bathroom has been remodeled to incorporate a handicap shower and gentle rain door, new hi rise toilet and sink. This room boasts a window that no one can see in. A warm color was chosen to accent the bathroom and hallway.

New bathroom

New bathroom

All the woodwork inside was done by Bob Kuehn. He is a master woodworker, artist, craftsman, and handy man. Rodney Wilcox, prepared the wood into board feet at his sawmill in Minong. It was a pleasure to work with both of them. One bedroom has been redone with all wood floors and walls. Minong experienced a blow down with winds over 100 mpg in 2011. The very trees that fell are now inside the house. I was in the house when the flash storm hit. I can tell you, this older home stood up well in the storm. I felt completely safe within.

Knotty pine bedroom with red pine walls and floor

Knotty pine bedroom with red pine walls and floor

Built in cabinets and new knotty pine accent wall and red pine plank floors.

Built in cabinets and new knotty pine accent wall and red pine plank floors.

Check out the porch on the front of the house. Someone could enjoy sitting on the front porch with its knotty pine ceiling. The view overlooks the whole south side to the hills in the distance that surround the valley.

The kitchen is a good size with lots of cabinets. Both the kitchen and pantry have new floors. The pantry is a bedroom if new owner chooses.

Bedroom used as pantry

Bedroom used as pantry

Kitchen with new floor

Kitchen with new floor

Front porch. Knotty pine ceiling. Ramp on one side and steps on the other.

Front porch. Knotty pine ceiling. Ramp on one side and steps on the other.

There are lots of gardens here with native shrubs, fruit trees and grape arbor.

Rest awhile in the wood gazebo, hand-built in 2012. I had planned to grow wild grapes up the sides.  There are vegetable gardens front and south side of house. Two outdoor water outlets on house. I used rain barrels to water the gardens.

Grape arbor gazebo

Grape arbor gazebo

The Minong Senior Center is next door. Tai chi class on Monday. Sheila is the cook and she is a great cook. No need to cook main meal if you don’t want to.

ATV and snowmobile trail within two blocks. Folks live casually out here. They love to garden, gather wild edibles and mushrooms, hunt and fish.  You can ride an ATV or snowmobile from house to trail. Minong Trails Club within a few blocks.

If you like dogs, you can let your dog off the leash 1/2 block from the house. This used to be the old industrial park nearby. It is pretty quiet there these days. There is a dirt road that your animal can go venturing on. No need to worry, there is a fence to keep your buddy close enough.

From the front of house you can see the predawn rise up over the hills.

Nowhere as beautiful in photo as in life

Nowhere as beautiful in photo as in life

Sunsets are too beautiful to describe in words. There is a magnificent rose light that touches the back yard trees and this unique light hits the pine trees across the street when the sun sets. It is absolutely the most radiant light I have ever seen. After it rains, often when the sun comes out there is a rainbow to the south-east of front of house. Who ever said there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow must have meant this home and property. It was my husband’s and my retirement home. I was left alone after my husband’s death in 2010. It really is time for me to move back to East Coast, closer to family and life long friends.

If you know of someone who is looking for that great escape, please tell them about this dreamscape. The house and 1/2 acre property deserves someone special. After all, she is filled with love and more.

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