The Bad River Ojibwe tribe will be setting up a camp in the Penokee Hills near the current Penokee Harvest Camp established by the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe (LCO) earlier this year.
According to Mike Wiggins, Bad River tribal chairman and Bad River elder Joe Rose the camp will serve as a staging area for traditional ceremonies that Bad River tribal members have conducted in the Hills for generations near Caroline Lake, the headwaters of the Bad River.
The Nature Conservancy of Wisconsin owns land in the Penokee Hills and has agreed to allow the tribe to use the land.
Rose and Wiggins were poring over maps Saturday July 27 to pinpoint the exact location of the proposed camp. Tribal members will be setting up camp this weekend.
“We have done our ceremonies there for many generations,” notes Rose.
Bad River Elders met recently and determined that this is a good time to undertake ceremonies that underscore the Bad River peoples connection to the Hills according to Wiggins.
This camp is not only intended to be supportive of current efforts drawing attention to the proposed iron ore mine by Gogebic Taconite, notes Rose.
“We are reestablishing our spiritual and cultural connection to the Penokee Hills.” Rose said.
The timing of the Bad River effort coincides with a push by Iron County officials to oust the LCO camp. The Iron County Forestry Committee recently recommended that the board bring criminal charges against the LCO Harvest Camp organizers, claiming the encampment has exceeded the county’s 14-day camping limits. The Iron County District Attorney Marty Lipske has indicated, however, that he doesn’t believe that the campers are guilty of any criminal offense and is unsure how such charges could be brought.
The Iron County Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday evening in Hurley, Wisconsin to vote on how to proceed regarding the camp.