In recent weeks, a number of articles about the Barrel Recovery Project have been posted by on-line news sources. Most of these articles are fairly presented, but a few contain information that is misleading or incorrect. Most concerning to the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa are insinuations that the tribe is ignoring potential barrel dumpsites under pressure of federal agencies. This insinuation is not only false, but contrary to our culture and values. For countless generations, the Chippewa people have depended on Lake Superior for resources. The Lake is central to our beliefs and the Red Cliff Band believes that the protection of this sacred body of water is our responsibility, not just for the sake of the Tribe, but for all people who have the privilege of living near Lake Superior and for future generations.
Under the Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program (NALEMP), the Red Cliff Band is attempting to evaluate the barrels and their contents to determine if they pose a risk to human health or the environment through defendable scientific methodology. The Department of Defense and the Unites States Army Corps of Engineers are valuable partners in this effort. These agencies are providing assistance to Red Cliff as needed, but do not have any influence over our scientific evaluation or decision-making processes.
During the 1990s, several small investigations of the barrel dumpsites took place. Although these investigations were valuable, they left an incomplete picture of the extent of dumpsites. In 2008, extensive side-scan sonar and sector scan surveys were conducted by the Red Cliff Band to identify the barrel dumpsites and to distinguish barrel dumpsites from non-barrel related debris. These surveys resulted in the regrouping and renaming of several barrel dumpsites. Also, some sites that were previously thought to be barrels sites were determined to be non-barrel related debris. The purpose of this phase of the project was to identify each and every barrel to the greatest extent possible. No identified barrel dumpsites were excluded from the study as that would be counter-productive to what the project team is trying to accomplish.
The primary goal of the Lake Superior Barrels Project is to protect the health of Lake Superior. Red Cliff Band members deeply value Lake Superior, and are happy to know that many others do as well. We appreciate the public’s ongoing interest in this project and we encourage you to continue to visit this blog and to share it with others. We will continue to post updates as the project progresses, and look forward the successful completion of the recovery effort!