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Wisconsin tribe threatens Walker jobs project

Tuesday - 2/12/2013, 10:56pm  ET

In this Jan. 28, 2013 photo Cyrus Hester, an environmental specialist with the Bad River Tribe of Lake Superior Chippewa, hold chunks of iron oxide and iron sulfide in the tribal offices in Odanah, Wis. The tribe is battling to stop a Republican bill that would help a Florida company open a huge iron mine near its reservation. Hester contends run-off from waste rock from the mine could pollute the reservation's water. (AP Photo/Todd Richmond)

TODD RICHMOND
Associated Press

ODANAH, Wis. (AP) -- For generations the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has quietly carved out a hardscrabble existence in the evergreen forests and sloughs along what people here call the Big Water, living off wild rice, fish and game.

Little has changed over the decades. They grapple with poverty every day. Their casino is tiny, their homes aging and weather-beaten. But they have their land and their water and that's always been enough.

Now, though, tribal members find themselves in the path of a major effort to create new jobs in Wisconsin. Their lifestyle may turn out to be the most formidable obstacle yet for a Republican governor determined to show that he can ramp up the state's economy.

Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature are pushing to bring a huge iron mine to the Bad River's doorstep and revive an industry that has been dormant for nearly 50 years. Conservationists fear the mine would pollute the area, but supporters disagree and are fast-tracking a bill to clear the way.
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