Here’s a scary story…if native people don’t rise up and stop that mining bill if it passes it gives mining companies the right to mine anywhere in Wisconsin including ALL the reservations not just Ojibway reservations. I am enrolled in the Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohicans tribe and I was a witness and I signed up to testify at the state hearing in Madison Capitol Jan. 23, 2013
On Wednesday Jan 23, 2013 I went to testify at the one and only hearing on the mining bill at the capitol in Madison, WI. I was overjoyed to meet a Mohican-8 member for the first time. This was the first time I was ever inside the state capitol as well as part of a state hearing. It was a momentous occasion marked by the fact I learned what my Indian name in Munsee is Wapaan Alaangwee. Anushiik Roxanne and Jeremy Mohawk of the Language and Culture board. I am officially on record that I am against the mine bill. I printed out the Four Crow prophecy of the Pennsylvannia Lenape and I was going to testify the Four Crow prophecy of the Lenape, that we are the rightful caretakers of Mother Earth, and we need the treaties to be honored for the caretakers in Bad River because the treaties are the supreme law of the land. I have never testified in a hearing on this kind of matter before.
I witnessed the testimonies including the testimonies of the Ojibway people. What broke my heart was that delegation of Ojibwe tribal nations showed up and the group was told the group had only 2 minutes to testify for the whole group which I found shocking! Where was the nation to nation partnership laid out in the treaties? This bill violates international law! One legislator stated he sent one tribal nation a single letter. Another legislator stated he paid one visit to one tribe. However, an Ojibwe member testified that the Wisconsin state government treated the Ojibwe as second class citizens. I totally could see that at this hearing. There should have been a formal meeting with the tribal nations in a nation to nation conference or summit to properly discuss this mining bill which the Ojibwe I heard were against it stating tribal sovereignty and protection of the environment. I heard and saw a real disconnect between the tribal nations and Wisconsin government. I strongly believe that a talking circle is needed so that everybody is on equal playing field to promote real cooperation and partnership among the nations. I believe anything involving tribal lands should involve the direct input of the tribal nations every step of the way.
There were over 150 people signed up to speak and I was there for 8 hours since 10 am and most from Waukesha or Milwaukee were not called because they decided to have all those from up north speak first since they traveled for 6 hours to be at this one and only hearing. It was appalling and an oversight that they did not have a hearing for the people in the north and that the hearing they did have in Madison was so last minute many testified they barely had the chance to act because of such little notice. There were repeated testimonies calling for a meeting up north to properly address this issue.
Another thing that was disheartening was where were the rest of the Wisconsin tribal councils? Where was the Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohicans tribal council at this hearing? It was stated at the hearing that this bill will affect the entire state so why didn’t Stockbrige-Munsee band of Mohicans tribal council stand in solidarity with the Ojibwe at the hearing? Where was my people? This isn’t just an Ojibwe problem. This is everybody’s problem. With this bill that they could mine in any part of the state of Wisconsin including our Mohican reservation. However, I clearly see this is only the beginning of the healing journey. When you think of the Idle No More movement I hope you don’t see this is just some problem for the Canadians, but we are going through our own tribal sovereignty issues here such as the mining bill. It hits home here. I hope Mohican-8 can be a part of the discussion on the topic as we help each other to learn and act. Cause as the Four Crow Prophecy says we are the Caretakers and together we can learn what that means.
Wenona Morning Star Gardner