Occupants of the Penokee Harvest Camp are winning hearts and minds of mining supporters by appealing to their stomachs.
One July 8, Felina LaPoint of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe tribe took a big slow roasted chicken up to the guards at the Gogebic Taconite drill site in the Penokee Hills.
“I felt bad for them out there in the woods just standing around. I thought they could really use a hot cooked meal, said LaPoint who has been occupying the Harvest Camp along with other mining opponents since March in an effort to help draw public attention to GTAC plans to dig a huge open pit iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills. Mining opponents say that the mine would irreparably damage the water, land, wildlife and quality of life in the area.
After roasting the chicken over an open pit in front of her wigwam, she placed it in Tupperware container and presented it to the three-armed guards at the drilling site.
“I tasted it first in front of them to reassure them that the food was ok,” she said. As a self-described Army brat, it is instinct for her to care for men in uniform, she explained. “Plus, it’s the way we (Ojibwe) do things. I invited them to join us in our camp at anytime to feast with us,” she said.
According to LaPointe, there is a construction trailer that the men appear to be occupying at the camp. “They looked so hot and uncomfortable in all that gear. I also invited them for a swim,” she said.
After a short time, LaPointe was surprised to see two of the guards walking towards her wigwam. Both carried their automatic weapons but one carried her Tupperware container. After returning her container they thanked her for the food. “They told me it was delicious,” she reports.
“I’m bringing them frybread and deer meat today,” she said. “It’s the neighborly thing to do,” she explained.
These sorts of non-violent peaceful gestures at coalition building may be working. Among those people who responded to a poll in the Milwaukee Sentinel, more than 50 percent opposed GTAC’s use of armed guards at their drill site.
LaPointe serves as a guide for visitors to the Harvest Camp. She shows people the beauty of the area. “The more people see and understand the beauty of this place the more they will see that a strip mine doesn’t belong here.”
UPDATE: According to WisconsinWatch.org, produced by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, GTAC President Bill Williams announced that the GTAC is suspending use of the Bulletproof guards until the Arizona security company can obtain a necessary license to operate in Wisconsin. This action by GTAC may be tied to inquiries by dozens of mining opponents who contacted the Wisconsin Department of Safety, Professional Services over the past few days inquiring about the states licensing procedures for such companies.