Keweenaw Bay Indian Community president testifies at subcommittee meeting

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Gary Peters hosted President of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Chris Swartz at a hearing of the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee this week.

Peters and the rest of the committee met to discuss how to protect Native American lands for future generations. Swartz testified to the fact that tribal lands have been impacted by mining and manufacturing in the Upper Peninsula, causing long-term pollution issues, including stamp sands. The stamp sands remain on the shore of Lake Superior and have eroded shorelines, devastated lake trout and whitefish populations and negatively altered the landscape the KBIC residents rely on.

In a statement, Senator Peters said “In the Great Lakes, communities like the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community have been fishing Lake Trout and Whitefish for millennia. We need multi-pronged solutions to solve the stamp sands problems, and all Michiganders—tribal and non-tribal, young and old—have a stake in the outcome.”

“I am here today to represent my tribe, but my tribe is not the only one concerned about our subsistence rights and threats to those rights, and interested in demonstrating how international treaties can provide models for intergovernmental co-management, respect, coordination and problem solving,” said Swartz, also in the statement.“Lake Superior is an invaluable resource. The restoration and protection of Buffalo Reef will have long-term benefits for tribes and the continuation of their lifeways, as well as provide broad benefits to the region and all the communities that value the greatest of the Great Lakes, gitchi-gumee.”