It was supposed to be eviction day for the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Harvest and Education Village, but it hasn’t happened. In a move to end the standoff, LCO is moving parts of the project and rotating its people in and out of the camp.
On March 14, the Iron County Board voted unanimously to eject the LCO Harvest Educational Learning Project, saying it is only a ruse to fight the proposed Gogebic Taconite open pit iron ore mine. They gave them six business days to leave.
Now, LCO Village spokesman Paul DeMain says they’re moving much of their maple sugar equipment to private property, and that their people won’t stay more than the 14 day limit Iron County demanded.
“There are some things that are not worth battling to a confrontation over with,” said DeMain. “So at this particular time what we are doing is moving all the materials, all the equipment, and we are moving one of the wigwams from the HELP Village across the street onto private land.”
DeMain says some parts of the village will remain. Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk says he’s working with LCO and believes that for now, they’re making a reasonable effort. Deep snow and ice will slow the move.
DeMain says their plan is to keep a presence there so they can show the Penokee Hills to visitors and eventually get a scientific research permit from the Department of Natural Resources: “To show them the beauty of the pristine area as it is now, before its destruction by a proposed mining project,” said DeMain. “Our overall goal is not to cause a confrontation but to be there and to harvest and to exercise treaty rights.”
Meanwhile, DeMain says they’re tapping trees for maple syrup, a long Ojibwe tradition. Furyk says the tapping is allowed in some places on Iron County forest land.