Aquila Resources was awarded the fourth and final permit needed for their Back Forty mine project, but the Menominee Tribe tells Local Five that the battle over the project is ongoing.
“We’ve got a big movement of people wanting to get attention on this and rightfully so,” Douglas Cox, Tribal Chairman of the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin said. “It’s going to have long lasting impacts, it’s scheduled to be a seven-year operation, and when that open pit gets closed, there aren’t any sulfide mines that exist that have been closed after that many years of operation that haven’t polluted the environment, and this one’s on the banks of the Menominee River.”
Although the mine is set to be constructed in Michigan, and the tribe is based in Wisconsin, Cox says that historically, that land is important to the Menominee people.
“For tribes, it’s about our historic ranges and our territories and our treaty areas,” he said. “Certainly, Menominee, that’s really in the middle of our historic territory, which was nine million acres throughout Wisconsin, Upper Michigan.”
For a Wisconsin tribe, challenging a decision made by Michigan’s state government has been an uphill battle.
“Our biggest issue that we have with this project and with the permitting process, is the lack of attention that they’re giving number one to the tribe and our sovereignty,” Cox said. “We have to travel to Michigan for meetings, we have to go up there for public hearings. We have to assure that our government, our sovereignty is recognized in Michigan, which is a challenge, has been since we’ve gotten in this.”
The tribe is currently in the process of challenging one of the four permits granted to Aquila Resources, and has 60 days to challenge the latest wetland permit.
“As long as anyone is challenging any of the steps in the process, they cannot move forward until those challenges are finalized,” Cox said.