Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Marquette, the Iron Ore, and a Place of Long Habitation

I'd never been in the Kaufman auditorium before until presenting there for Marquette Alternative High School last week. Quite the impressive place!

And the students were too! The ongoing discussion we had, the great questions...I very much enjoyed it all.

Marquette is an interesting place for me. As a city that sits on the boundary line between the 1836 and 1842 treaties, I'm never quite able to forget what Marquette boomed out of, especially with the old iron ore dock down in the harbor, a dock that, to me, is a symbol of all that is being done to the Earth. Everytime I drive by it I think of this and of the treaties of 1836 and 1842 - that in order for that iron mining to happen (and the subsequent poisoning of the land), entire nations of Anishinaabe people were pushed off their land. And it was Kawbawgam, as I understand it, who showed the iron ore to those seeking it - yet he was never paid any part of the profits that rolled in from such mining. Just another story of exploitation.

Marquette, though, has history much deeper than the iron mining. Just outside to the east on gich-gami (Lake Superior) is the site of one of the oldest known human village sites - near the Carp River where today we have the prison, the sewage plant, and the bike path - it is some 6000 years old. You wouldn't know it, as there is no sign marking the site, yet archaeologists such as NMU's Dr. John Anderton have been talking about the site to those who're interested.

This area is also home to some of the oldest exposed rock on the planet - nearly as old as the planet herself. Amazing. In Ojibwe culture, stone is thought of as "asin," as grandfathers from a long way back. I think we can all feel the presence inherent in stones, rocks, when we're near them. Ancient. They've "seen" much.

Miigwech/thanks to Nora Taylor and the other teachers at MAHS for setting this up at MAHS! It was a pleasure to be there.

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