Tag Archives: Indigenous Rights

Indigenous Groups in Wisconsin Respond to Washington’s Team Trademark Cancelation

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This poster was put together and shared courtesy of Joe Brusky Photography.

This poster was put together and shared courtesy of Joe Brusky Photography.

“When the status of a Native American is demoted to that of a caricature, we are objectified and diminished as a people. We become entertainment, not fellow citizens. How are you supposed to take me seriously if all you see is the stereotypical image of the Hollywood or sports mascot Indian?”

- Simon Moya-Smith

Wauwatosa, WI - In response to yesterday’s positive Trademark Ruling, canceling Washington’s trademark to the NFL team name R*dskins, representatives from different tribes around the state of Wisconsin showed up at Hart Park in the city of Wauwatosa. They met to celebrate the decision as well as to message brightly that their culture matters.

Their message: “We are #ProudToBe Menominee, Ojibwe, Ho-Chunk, Anishinaabe, Stockbridge-Munsee-Mohican, Oneida, Potawatomi, Bad River, mother, father, sister, brother, veterans, and Wisconsinites, but one thing we are not, is your mascot.”



Iron Mine Resistors March On Site in Penokee Hills

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Penokee Hills, Northern WI - On Sunday, two separate marches crossed the pristine, snow-laden landscape of northern Wisconsin, and converged at the proposed site of the Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) iron mine. Participants walked miles down wintry roads before uniting in opposition to the proposed mine, to the ecological damage it threatens, and to the company’s unsavory collusion with state lawmakers to rewrite Wisconsin’s mining laws in their favor.

The site of the proposed mine stands at the headwaters of the Bad River, where toxic runoff would threaten both the people of the Bad River Tribe and the waters of Lake Superior. The company has recently begun core sampling (video), increasing the urgency of the fight against the project.

The company has claimed an off-limits perimeter around the mine site, and has succeeded in formalizing it via state legislation. However, the gates demarcating this “forbidden zone” were not enough to stop the marchers on Sunday.

The marchers announced their arrival at the gates through music, as young and old alike raised their voices in defense of the Penokee Hills. A group of musicians and Solidarity Sing Along participants led those assembled in several songs, pairing popular melodies with lyrics about the mine. As the songs unfolded, the banners that had led each march were tied to the gates.

Several marchers asserted their right to the land by continuing past the company’s “no trespassing” signs and down the path to the mine’s site. They made clear that they will continue their resistance and will not go away quietly.

Marching to Stop the Penokee Hills from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.

The evening before the marchers gathered at the GTAC site, members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe held their annual Mid-Winter Social and Pow-wow in nearby Hayward. A major focus of the gathering was how to organize against the mine and its life altering, treaty breaking presence in the Penokees. Near the end of the event tribal youth took the stage, holding four different illuminated messages in their native Ojibwe language while the words below were spoken aloud.

Poster courtesy of the Overpass Light Brigade.

Poster courtesy of the Overpass Light Brigade.

Gego moonakeg!
Don’t go digging!

Gego googiibike!

Don’t dive into the metal!


“don’t” when others “do”


How is your path?

Groups in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin Collectively Shining Against Wolf Hunting and Trapping

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Idle No More – Wisconsin and the Overpass Light Brigade hold lighted letters spelling messages against the Wisconsin wolf hunt for oncoming traffic to see (photo credit: Light Brigading on Flickr).

The Upper Midwest - One thing we learn from history, is that we never learn from history. The treatment of indigenous groups by Americans over the course of our country’s history has been an abomination to all mankind. Sadly, the trampling of indigenous rights continues today. In Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan indigenous groups are rising up and shining Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) illuminated messages against recent senseless wolf hunting and trapping seasons started in those states. The MA’IINGAN (the wolf) are part of the Anishinaabe (original man) People creation story and considered sacred:

We see the wolf as a predictor of our future. And what happens to wolf happens to Anishinaabe…whether other people see it or not, the same will happen to them…”

-Joe Rose, Bad River Ojibwe Elder


To help fight back, the Anishinaabeg Akkiing people near Duluth, Minnesota established the “Northwoods Revolution Ogichidaag (Warrior) Light Brigade” shining messages on several cold nights against the wolf hunting and trapping seasons started in their state.





This stunning wolf LED lighted icon was designed by Anishinaabe artist, Ken Andrews and certainly catches the attention of any passersby.

Ken Andrews wolf icon is turned into an LED light (photo credit: Susan Oswood).

Ken Andrews wolf icon is turned into an LED light (photo credit: Susan Oswood).

Northwoods Revolution: Minnesota Ogichidaag Light Brigade shine their message over oncoming traffic in Minnesota.

Northwoods Revolution: Minnesota Ogichidaag Light Brigade shine their message over oncoming traffic in Minnesota.

Idle No More Michigan also reproduced the wolf LED icon out of different colored LED lights to take out to places of high visibility as well.




The original Overpass Light Brigade in Milwaukee, Wisconsin took to their local pedestrian overpass bridge to message against the Wisconsin wolf hunt and trapping season that recently opened in the state, collaborating with Idle No More Wisconsin on an action facing Interstate-43 traffic leaving downtown Milwaukee.


Members of the OLB and Idle No More – Wisconsin collaborate on this message for busy I-43 rush hour traffic leaving downtown Milwaukee (photo credit: Light Brigading on Flickr).

As long as tribes are not being consulted on issues affecting wolf management, as clearly stipulated in existing treaties with Wisconsin State Government, all Americans will be complicit in continuing a long tradition of quashing indigenous peoples’ rights in this country. It’s time we break the chain and end the reign of sportsmen special interest groups that have invested and lobbied to make certain they can continue to have their cruel “trapping” and trophy slaughter of the wolf for fun. Thanks to the Light Brigade Network for shining and organizing to bring more attention to these blatant attacks against indigenous rights in this country by powerful and entrenched interests.

Overpass Light Brigade Lights up Lakefront Before Indian Summer Festival Fireworks

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Holders of the Light

The Overpass Light Brigade Holders of the Light brought a different kind of fireworks to the Indian Summer Festival Fireworks.

Milwaukee, WI - The pre-fireworks show at this year’s Indian Summer Festival may have upstaged the incredible Saturday night show at the Indigenous Festival on Milwaukee’s Lakefront Summerfest grounds. That’s because the Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) brought their collectively held illuminated Idle No More inspired messages out to the Island, in front of the Indian Summer shoreline, where thousands were gathered for fireworks. For a half-hour before the fireworks, the brigade held a series of messages with Lake Michigan water reflecting in the foreground and although the optics were stunning the messages were poignant, and challenged those in attendance to think about the importance of protecting Lake Michigan and other remaining sources of fresh water on the planet from forces who seek to control them.

Just after 9:30 in the evening, several white vans pulled out onto the island, where the OLB Holders of the Light exited from the vehicles and unloaded and brought a message overlooking the rippling waters of Lake Michigan.The Overpass Light Brigade Arrives Water is Life Message 4

After a few minutes, the brigade switched out their message for a new message.

Here Comes a New Message

Indian Summer Festival organizers asked OLB to bring their light boards to this year’s festival. They worked with OLB to develop the series of water-related messages in response mostly to this past year’s direct attack on the watershed of the Bad River Tribe in the pristine Penokee Hills, the site of a future massive mountain-top removal iron-ore mine recently passed by the GOP controlled Wisconsin Legislature.Pray for Water 4

The group’s final message for the evening was only held for a few moments, as the ten-o’clock firework time slot approached quickly, but festival-goers seem to very much enjoy the extra light show before the fireworks began. Making a New Message

Water We Love You 1

As the light brigade zoomed off the island with their lights, canoes came paddling in with torches blazing, past the tipi and assembled crowd, and as the fireworks began, spectators were again reminded of the importance of preserving the beautiful freshwater lake that provides Milwaukee and Wisconsin with so much. Light Brigades Leave and Canoes with Torches Enter Watching Indian Summer Fireworks 2

View more photos from the OLB and Indian Summer Festival collaboration here.

View OLB action with indigenous members from around the state of Wisconsin in support of the Bad River tribe here.

Poster created by the Overpass Light Brigade.

Poster created by the Overpass Light Brigade (created with photos from Michael Pecosky).

Indigenous Groups Unify to Message Milwaukee in Support of Bad River Tribe

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Milwaukee, WI - The Harley Davidson 110th Anniversary Celebration brought people to Milwaukee from all around the world. Included in that group were indigenous bikers from around the State of Wisconsin. Bikers representing the Menominee, Potawatomi, Oneida, Ojibwe, and Bad River rolled into the McKinley Marina and Lagoon parking lot, located on the scenic Milwaukee Lakefront to participate in an Overpass Light Brigade action in support of the Bad River Tribe.

Harleys in Support of Bad River

Sarah Kalmanson (Ojibwe), Kenneth Fish (Menominee), and David Joe Bates (Bad River) were in Milwaukee to help message in support of the Bad River Tribe.

The Bad River Tribe has been besieged by the prospect of being forced to accept the placement of a massive iron ore mine in the heart of the tribe’s watershed and the pristine Penokee Hills of Northern Wisconsin. Scott Walker and his GOP controlled legislature have rammed through mining deregulation along with the legislative green light for the mine, despite overwhelming criticism from indigenous groups, surrounding communities, and concerned Wisconsinites from around the state. This attack on the tribe’s sovereignty and resources has united groups from around the state in support of the Bad River Tribe.

The first message the tribal members and their supporters held with the Milwaukee cityscape in the background was “UNITED WITH BAD RIVER”. Each tribe represented held an individual letter in this message of solidarity.

United With Bad River 3

The first message held by Wisconsin tribal members and their supporters along the downtown Milwaukee Lake Michigan shoreline.

Milwaukee Message on the Shores of Lake Michigan

Another photo from the first message holding.

After about twenty minutes of holding the lighted message, the group reconfigured a new message before moving on to another location for a few photos with Lake Michigan behind them. Idle No More is a growing international movement that “Calls on all people to join in a peaceful revolution, to honour Indigenous sovereignty, and to protect the land and water” that originally grew out of the recent Canadian attack on indigenous groups in Canada.

Message Switchout

The Holders of the Light change out their original message to form a new message.

Harbor Message Close-up

This “IDLE NO MORE” message was first held on this walking bridge with the Milwaukee McKinley Marina behind.

The final location the group moved to with their new message was the Brady Street Walking Bridge that crossed over the busy Lake Drive, including thousands of Harley Davison bikers racing underneath.

Light Brigading the Brady Street Bridge

The OLB marches their message out onto the Brady Street Walking Bridge and over a constant flow of Harley Davidson traffic.

No Longer Idle

The “IDLE NO MORE” lighted message is propped up for all passing motorists and passersby to see.

Just before the long holiday weeked began Scott Walker and his GOP allies put forth a new piece of mining deregulation that they admitted was written by the same Gogebic Taconite Mining Company lawyers that stand to directly benefit from it. This legislation will kick the public off of all public lands that are being even remotely considered for mining. Clearly, the GOP corporate puppets want to keep all eyes off of the extractors, but this kicks indigenous groups, sportsmen, hunters, hikers, campers, ALL of us off of public land – our land!

Poster created by the Overpass Light Brigade.

Poster created by the Overpass Light Brigade (Made with OLB and Michael Pecosky photos).

More photos from the action can be found here.