Menominee Tribal Members on the Rights of the Menominee River

February 18, 2020 · In January 2020, the legislature of the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin adopted Resolution 19-52, Recognition of the Rights of the Menominee River.

As the resolution explains, the Menominee people’s “place of origin was at the mouth of the Menominee River where the five clans of the Menominee were created.”

With the river facing grave threats from water pollution, global warming, and the proposed open-pit gold-zinc mine known as the “Back Forty Project,” the Tribe determined that to the protect river it “must secure the highest protections for the river through the recognition of the river’s inherent and legal rights.”

The resolution recognizes rights of the Menominee River including:

  • The right to naturally exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve;

  • The right to restoration, recovery, and preservation;

  • The right to abundant, pure, clean, unpolluted water;

  • The right to natural groundwater recharge and surface water recharge;

  • The right to a healthy natural environment and natural biodiversity;

  • The right to natural water flow; and

  • The right to carry out its natural ecosystem functions.

The Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights congratulates the Menominee Tribe on its historic decision.  We are proud to have worked with the Menominee tribal non-profit organization, Menikanaehkem, to draft the resolution, and we continue to work together to protect ecosystems and species within the Tribe’s historic lands.

The Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights is committed to advancing the rights of nature.  This represents a fundamental and necessary shift in human governance toward the natural world — providing nature with the highest level of legal protection within human law, through the recognition of legal rights — and moving away from laws and legal systems which regulate the exploitation of nature to those which ensure human activity does not interfere with nature’s health and well-being.

We partner with indigenous people and organizations, communities, grassroots groups and civil society, and governments around the world to develop, advance, implement, and enforce rights of nature laws and policies.

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