Posts tagged ‘commonality between miners and wilderness advocates’

January 18, 2018

Commonality between miners and wilderness advocates?

A nuanced and thought-provoking article by Reid Forgrave in the New York Times, In Northern Minnesota. “Two Economies Square Off: Mining Vs Wilderness” helped to make clear, in my view, what lies at the heart of this debate and our true commonality.

On the one hand we have miners that have grown up in families that depended on mining and whose ancestors relied on mining during its over 100 year history in the Arrowhead.  Though this is a fairly short term in comparison to the indigenous peoples who have lived off these same wilderness resources sustainably for thousands of years, it is no less palpable for the miners when food needs to be put on the table and they have grown accustomed to the job of a miner.  As it is with most of us, the familiar holds sway over the unknown when choices must be made.

On the other hand, we have the advocates for wilderness who, for generations, have lived off the land supporting wilderness tourism, or providing businesses that offered services to a diverse group of people on both sides of the debate.  In many cases these are people who have lived side by side for generations with miners, whose children grew up together and shared a love of this wilderness alongside each other. In these experiences, and not a job description, lies true meaning.

We all need meaning in our lives and not just a way to make a living.  At one time, there was honor on the range, in providing for one’s family and supplying the world with metals that were needed and that guaranteed schools and a thriving community.  These same families felt that the wilderness would always be there, that mining was essential to their survival and that these apparently existed in balance. We know better now.

Times have changed and, with awareness, mining jobs have taken on a different meaning in the Arrowhead.  More is understood now about the complexity of the substrata in NE MN and the water-dependent nature of its ecosystem.  At the source of the Mississippi River Watershed, the St Lawrence Seaway, through the Great Lakes, and the Hudson Bay drainage system, through the Rainy River Watershed … combined freshwater resources that are the greatest in the world, sourced in the Arrowhead and now under threat from one of the dirtiest mining operations known, that of copper sulfide mining.

We have commonality in our need for water, our love of wilderness, our caring for one another in a search for meaning in our lives; and this is particularly true of those who have spent their lives in the North Country of Minnesota where this debate between mining and wilderness rages; and for what?  The mining families of NE MN and wilderness advocates want the same things essentially.  It is the corporations that seek to profit off of resources in the Arrowhead of Minnesota that would have us believe otherwise.

One of the primary indications of a land rich in water is wilderness; and NE Minnesota has this in abundance.  The citizens of Minnesota share this commonality. If a copper sulfide mine is permitted in the North Country, we will all share in the result.