People are still gathering in lots of ways and LEAD has chosen to keep you involved by hosting a Virtual Conference the last 2 weeks of October with the Western Mining Action Network entitled: Addressing Mining and Systemic Racism: Staying Connected During a Pandemic.
Numerous guest speakers will be joining us from all over US and Canada by Zoom. You will be able to register on our website www.leadagency.org. On the first day of the conference October 19, just as all other Tar Creek Conferences, we will begin with a Toxic Tour of the site and a discussion of the local environmental impacts and the steps being taken to remedy some of them by the Quapaw Nation, DEQ and the EPA.
Because we are joining with the WMAN our topics will delve into technical methods of controlling waste from current mining sites and the impacts on the communities where extraction occurs. Many of WMAN's Indigenous Caucus members were able to attend our Tar Creek Conference last year and knew they wanted the larger organization they are a part of to know more about our site, but they also want all of us to learn and explore more deeply the relationship between the descendants of the colonized and the colonizer. This language and that of understanding more about the doctrine of discovery and its connection with extractive capitalism. Yes, we will be hosting a workshop that will dive right into Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression, Systemic Racism, and Colonization.
In Ottawa County why would these be of interest? We might look at our history, the establishment of the reservations for the 8 tribes who received lands for compensation for traditional homelands they were forced to leave before their for removals, then with government allotment, statehood and the loss of reservation and tribal recognition. The discovery of rich ore on the Miami, Peoria and primarily on the Quapaw lands, extraction and degradation of their lands then run off spilling down the creeks and rivers impacting most of the downstream tribes. Was there any systemic racism conducted in Ottawa County? Let's look closely at our past and the experiences of other tribes who will be sharing at this conference.
Systemic racism is a phrase in the news right now, and you will have a chance to consider the deep consequences as we learn together.
Communities are being overwhelmed by COVID effecting schools and work so organizing for social actions of all types may be taking a back seat, so virtually we will with the topic: Mining & Pandemic Recovery Suppression of Resistance during the pandemic caused by COVID19.
19. So it is only fitting we will begin our virtual conference on October 19!
What would we have celebrated this year? The cleanup of the asbestos at BF Goodrich. It was not a miracle that it was discovered and money was found to remove this deadly material. It was creating a movement inside this community that made that happen. And to get the change we need for the cleanup of the Tar Creek Superfund site, that as we know has impacts to all of our county residents, rising up and demanding it is harder in a pandemic, as demanding equity and protecting democracy may be as well. But we can and you can too. Our health and our homes ride on stopping the floods if the lake level rises as proposed. We would have been shining a great big light on that at our annual conference, wouldn't we? With those next floods, there can be a widening of the spread of our heavy metals if Tar Creek lays across lawns and gardens and deposits them in future flood events. That old slogan, "Don't Spread the Lead" needs to be amplified for our neighbors who may not even be aware this is looming.
As the days pass and yet another friend has been laid to rest, another funeral gathering I have failed to attend, when missing has only adds to the wider grief I feel for those losing their lives to this virus, the loss to families multiplied by the frightening numbers growing daily.
Our annual Tar Creek Conference has been offered to our community as a service, a way we as a community bring regulators, both state and federal to task on the work they are doing "for" us and demand accountability and updates. LEAD Agency is still taking them on and in every way we can devise we will keep you tuned in with these efforts!
Let us continue in all these new ways to put our minds together as one and seek solutions and demand action.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim