Please, Help Us Save the Wild U.P., Now!

June 2, 2010 | |

Concerned residents walked from the Yellow Dog River to Eagle Rock to draw attention to Kennecott Minerals Company Corporation’s plan to dig sulfide, which turns to acid when exposed to water, from beneath a nearby trout stream. Photo: Teresa Bertossi

I want to tell you about a place called the Yellow Dog Plains, way up north in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Its waters are pure and true and they run into the Great Lake, mother Superior.

The Great Lakes hold one fifth of the world’s fresh water and the Plains hold “Eagle Rock”, a sacred site of the Anishinaabe native tribe.

When I first went to this place, I felt hope because it felt wild and pure. I stood on Eagle Rock and thanked the sky for the fact that there was still land left, that our greed and ignorance had not taken every last corner of the earth. That I could still go and breathe the air, feel the cold clean water on my face, hear the birds in the trees, and walk and explore and be with nature. This was many years ago now.

Many of you know already that Kennecott Minerals Company has applied for a metallic sulfide-mining permit. They are the first to apply for a sulfide mining permit in Michigan and they have chosen the Yellow Dog Plains as their site.

We have worked long and hard to try to protect this land. So many people have given years of their life to stand up for this precious land. But Kennecott is moving in. They have already started their process of destruction.

Sulfide mining has a horrific history of permanently destroying the land and the water all of the world. It is incredible to look at photographs and to hear the stories of loss and deception. It is very serious and terrifying.

By approving this mine we are also approving future sulfide mining in Michigan. Kennecott has already pinpointed more sites across the U.P., all in precious places close to our precious Great Lakes.

Why would anyone approve a permit like this? What could possibly be worth sacrificing our greatest resource and our home? In our fragile economic state it is easy to trade our morals and our dreams for a job and some money to feed our families. It is easy for a giant corporation to bribe us and to distract us from the truth and our rights. If we can’t begin to consider our home and the sustainability of our eco-system when we look at our economic situation we will crash and burn.

We need to move towards a future where of our health and the earth’s well-being is valued.

Right now, we are being called. We are being called as citizens of this state and stewards of this land, to stand up and fight for it.

We have offered our rights and put our home in the hands of a giant corporation that does not consider our children, that does not consider our well being, but only looks for the bottom line at the end of each day.

We need to take this back. We need to show up and make history here. The people’s voice is inside of us, we simply need to speak and sing and scream it out. We need to own it. This is the time.

This Thursday, June 3, at 11 a.m., we are gathering at our state Capitol in Lansing to stand for our land. I am asking you to be there. There will not be another chance. Please. This is it.

I will look for you there.

Please go to or for more information.

May Erlewine is an extraordinary northern Michigan singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and conservation activist.


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