Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Wolf River Water Walk to Protect Our Resources

By Tina L. Van Zile, SCC Environmental Director
Last Sunday, Tribal and grassroots activists gathered in Mole Lake for a water walk because our precious resources are being threatened once again. Badger Minerals LLC., applied for an exploration drilling permit with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on January 27, 2020.
The proposed drilling would take place in the Town of Schoepke, which is just a short six miles northwest of the Sokaogon Chippewa Reservation – not to mention it will be near the banks of the Wolf River and Stockley Creek.
We decided to have this walk for two main reasons: to bring awareness to all of the surrounding communities that this current exploration drilling will take place this spring and, more importantly, we wanted to conduct a certain ceremony that allows us to speak on behalf of the water.
We had over 200 people in attendance at our event. We walked from 4040 Kramer Lane (County Road B on the northwest end of our reservation) to Cole Road. We had to shuttle from the end of Cole Road to Browns Road because we didn’t have a permit to have that many people walk on Highway 8.
We then continued walking to Browns Road, where proposed drilling will take place. At the end of Browns Road, we hiked into the woods and we all left our prayers there with our tobacco offering.
It was good to see people of different ethnicities. People who were fisherman, Tribal gatherers and harvesters, recreational enthusiasts, land owners who live on the banks of the Wolf River, Tribal officials, youth groups, Ogichidaaqwe and many more all had a common goal to do what we needed to do to protect our water and all the affected living beings in our environment.
We want people to know that we are NOT willing to sacrifice our natural resources for proposed short-term gain! We are sending a message that we will start this fight once again and we will NOT stop because our way of life is intertwined with the environment!
Many people in attendance said “WE WILL SAVE THE WOLF RIVER AGAIN” because they remember the long 28-year battle of the proposed Crandon Mine.
I want to take this opportunity to say Miigwech to the following people who volunteered and helped in some way to make the Wolf River Water Walk successful: Guy Reiter, Kristin Welch, Dawn Wilbur, Oralann Caldwell and all their members of Menikanaehikem, Nathan Podany, Denise LaBine, Vickie Ackley, Arlyn Ackley, Jr., Bryan Tate, Randy Fisher, Yvette McGeshick, Tashena Van Zile, Cassandra Graikowski, Virginia Poler, Rick Van Zile, Ken Van Zile, Robert Van Zile, Jr., Wayne LaBine and Brian Buettner. I apologize if I have forgotten anyone.
I would also like to thank all of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community Members who came out to walk the 8.5-mile journey!