Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
The Michigan Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously to support the nomination of a Menominee Tribe cultural site to the National Registry of Historic Landmarks last month. The Wisconsin Review Board voted to support the nomination in November 2021, meaning the Menominee Tribe’s request will now go to the National Park Service for another vote.
“We are absolutely thrilled,” said Chairman Ron Corn Sr. of the Menominee Tribe. “Today’s vote recognizes a rare and sacred Menominee heritage site that has lasted through centuries of violent dispossession and where Menominee members continue to visit and hold ceremonies today. It’s especially meaningful on Michigan Indian Day, which honors the many contributions that people of Native American descent have made in Michigan.”
The cultural site, called Anaem Omot, is 50 miles upstream from the mouth of the Menominee River. Anaem Omot translates to “The Dog’s Belly,” and includes the Sixty Islands site where the Tribe lived before they were forcibly relocated under the 1854 treaty. Anaem Omot contains ancient dance rings, Menominee burial mounds, ancient raised garden beds, and a variety of metal artifacts dating back to 4,000 BCE.
The decision may create a new hurdle for the Gold Resource Corporation, which wants to mine in that area for gold, zinc, and other precious metals. Gold Resource Corp. took charge of the project when it purchased a Canadian mining company, Aquila Resources, last year. The gold mine has been the subject of significant controversy because of the potential contamination of water resources, damage to cultural sites, and lack of transparency in the permitting process. In 2018 the Detroit Free Press reported on court documents revealing that environmental protection staff opposed the Aquila gold mine. In 2019, the Detroit Free Press reported that Aquila Resources had worked with Michigan state officials to keep documents out of the public record. If the National Park Service approves Anaem Omot as a historic site, the Gold Resource Corporation will need to contend with new protections before it can begin digging its open-pit mine.