Saturday, November 08, 2008

Duluth American Indian Commission listens to concerns about barrels of waste in Lake Superior

Caption: Jean Buffalo addresses the Duluth American Indian Commission about the need for more research and risk assessment of barrels of waste dumped into Lake Superior. To the left is her granddaughter, Mayeyna Bressler. To the right is DAIC member Anthony LaDeaux.

By Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff
With concern for the safety of all who live, work and play along Lake Superior, Jean Buffalo, a member of the Red Cliff Natural Resources Damage Assessment Committee, addressed the Duluth American Indian Commission to discuss investigating the toxicity levels of barrels of waste that were dumped in Lake Superior. Between 1959 and 1962 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dumped 1,457 barrels of waste generated at the Twin Cities Army Ammunication Plant near Duluth.

Buffalo had her granddaughter at her side to emphasize that she learned at her elders’ knees the importance of communication, and that future generations need to be protected from environmental harm.

The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa received a $600,000 grant from the Department of Defense and has contracted with EMR, Inc., a national environmental consulting firm, to find the location and study the toxicity of the barrels of waste. Suzanne Anderson, a geologist with EMR’s Duluth office, gave a presentation on this summer’s research to determine the location of the barrels.

Buffalo stressed that open communication with all stakeholders (those living around Lake Superior) is paramount. She said that when her tribe ceded their land in the treaty they also took on responsibilities, which they take seriously. One of those treaty responsibilities is to be a watchdog for the health of the land and water along Lake Superior.

Duluth city council member, Jay Fosle was a guest during this presentation. Fosle expressed concern and is interested in the next step of determining if the barrels are toxic and what to do about it for the safety of all. On Sept. 29 Buffalo met with Duluth Mayor Don Ness.
Joy Dorcher, co-chairman of the DAIC, said she appreciated the respectful way the Red Cliff tribe is consulting with other groups such as cities, states, and tribes both in the United States and Canada. She added that if tests prove the waste is toxic there should be no problem getting funds from the federal government to further research and mediate this problem.

Buffalo provided this statement to The Hillsider:
This is in remembrance of an “ancestor”, Kitchie Bezhke (Chief Buffalo), Anton Buffalo, Antwine Buffalo:
And all that came before
You opened
A door
Because of you
Change will come...
Gii go wa ba miin (until then)