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The people who created places like this are claiming they can protect your water. Who do you Trust?
On the shores of Lake Superior, native and non-native activists are fighting to protect the waters of the Great Lakes and the lifestyles of the region’s people from the catastrophic effects of an expanding mining industry. But will corporate influence on state legislatures usurp the environmental laws and treaty rights protecting them?
Trust is a feature-length documentary film that explores three big topics – water, treaty rights, and politics – we're looking at all three because they're interconnected, like our waterways. Trust reveals the insights of the people of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin as they fight to protect the waters of the Great Lakes from the potentially catastrophic effects of hard rock mining.
We all need clean water. (Even our bottled water has to come from somewhere!) While many films have explored the problems associated with mining in individual communities, Trust will examine the issue with a regional perspective focused on the Great Lakes, which hold 21% of the Earth’s fresh surface water. Mining projects are permitted individually, with no consideration given to the cumulative effect that multiple mining projects have on the land and our precious water.
Why Treaty Rights?
There are more than 40 active mines and exploration sites in the upper Great Lakes region of the U.S. and that number is growing. Most are on lands that should be protected by treaties between the federal government and the region's indigenous nations. Many native people embrace a subsistence lifestyle – hunting, fishing and harvesting from their homelands. They’ve developed a keen understanding of the local environment – and of how to protect its natural resources – over generations. This lifestyle also puts them at greater risk from pollutants. Yet their voices are going unheard in the interest of politically popular, but potentially poisonous mining initiatives. The tribes have environmental regulatory tools available to them that non-native citizens simply do not. Supporting the rights of these tribes will help protect the environment for everyone. Trust will explore treaty law as a method of environmental protection.
Mining companies have worked alongside state legislators in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin to write mining law. Who are your senators and representatives working for – the region's local communities, businesses and farms, or the goals of mining companies supplying minerals to international markets and returning little to the local economy? This is national politics playing out at the local level. Trust is connecting the dots – and the resulting picture isn't pretty.
Since our first IndieGoGo campaign, the Wisconsin legislature has passed a bill that exempts iron mining from many existing environmental protections. In Michigan, drilling has reached the ore body at Eagle Rock, where the geology of the ore could produce a contaminant called acid mine drainage. The Copperwood project, situated less than 2 miles from Lake Superior’s shore, is rapidly moving forward as well. In Minnesota, an open-pit copper mine called the Polymet Project is threatening the Boundary Waters. Trust is committed to documenting the ongoing threats to fresh water throughout the upper Great Lakes region. And you can help.
Trust is a call to action. We want to inspire people to act while there's still time to protect our water. We want this to be a story about something that's happening right now, not something that happened ten years ago. We aren't making a film that preaches to the choir; we want to make the choir bigger.
We’ve developed a website as an up-to-date information resource for anyone wanting to take action in their community. The website is home to our series of webisodes – short videos created to spread the latest word as we shoot the feature-length film.
We’ve updated our trailer and have started our series of webisodes. Our next goal is to shoot enough footage for a 20-minute sequence to submit with grant applications, and to create more webisodes to keep information flowing as events unfold. You can help us stay on the road this summer. Your contribution will be used for:
- Food, Lodging, & Gas for this summer's shoots
- Equipment Rentals
- Our Cinematographer's Salary
- Production Insurance
We count on your support to help us get the word out before it's too late. We know times are tight, but any amount can help. We will tell this story one dollar at a time. The people we have met on this journey have been incredibly generous with their knowledge and time. Our goal is to make a film worthy of their generosity and insights.
Other Ways You Can Help
Help us spread the word about this crucial threat to the Great Lakes region. Please post our campaign to your wall, tweet it, email it! We would love you to 'Like' our Facebook Fanpage. Share this campaign and give your friends the opportunity to support the project and get involved.
Every dollar, 'Like' and Share is greatly appreciated.
Shana McKay Burns