Negotiations have begun between Iron County officials and the Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest Camp. Tribal members and supporters set up camp in May near the site of a proposed iron mine in the Penokee Hills.
After signs that county officials planned to evict the group, the tribe asked to negotiate for a long term arrangement. Tribal member and camp overseer Mel Gasper says he believes the conversations will be fruitful.
“I have total trust in my tribal governing board and my legal counsel. We went from 5 acres to we’re asking for 50 acres now. So we’re moving ahead with everything.”
As for the future of the camp, residents have big plans. Gasper says he hopes to develop small industries to show that there are long term economic alternatives to mining in the region.
“We’re planning on a maple sugar camp there of 30 acres, and we’re gonna show the people just how much maple sugar we can get out of there and how much it’s worth. And how much it could be worth if they had 3200 acres.”
Gasper says campers intend to stay until there is no possibility of a mine in the Penokee Hills. Negotiations are set to continue next month.