Mary Annette Pember’s new article for Indian Country Today reports on the controversy over proposed construction of a 4½-mile open pit iron mine in the Penokee Hills, just south of the Bad River Reservation in Wisconsin. Pember’s story focuses on the clash of two land practices: Native American stewardship versus commercial development. The differences seem irreconcilable. What policy could align the cultural significance of manoomin (native wild rice) and the global market for metal, the power of ancestry versus the demand for jobs?
* There seem to be a limited number of reasons that some rural places are booming while most others are struggling. Forbes magazine reports its “Fastest Growing Small Towns” and gives us inklings. The top five fastest-growers are The Villages, Florida (a retirement community), Pecos, TX (where there’s a gas boom), Ft. Leonard Wood, MO (a center for military training), Boone, NC (home of rapidly expanding Appalachian State University), and Heber, Utah (within commuting distance of Salt Lake City and close to several ski resorts).
* Transportation is becoming the major problem in rural education, and not just in the U.S. In a recent interview, Nigeria’s chief minister of education says that in many rural areas there are no teachers at all, “The reason being that most of the teachers are married women who are settled with their families in urban areas” who are unwilling to cover the long distances on bad road to work in rural schools.
In California Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to eliminate transportation funding for public schools has rural districts scrambling. Here are a report from the North County Times and an editorial by state assemblywoman Kristen Olsen for the Modesto Bee.
* Some landowners in Canada are fighting a proposed pipeline that would carry bitumen across the province of Alberta, west to tankers in British Columbia. The Edmonton Journal reports that Alberta’s First Nations Group will make its presentation at hearings as will the non-tribal Canadian Association of Energy And Pipeline Landowners Associations.
“The association isn’t necessarily for or against the pipeline project, [association representative Dave] Core. Instead, they want to see promises families won’t get stuck cleaning up after abandoned pipelines. Core suggested farmers, ranchers and others along the Alberta side of the route risk being rolled over by a large corporation and a process that doesn’t properly address ‘rural culture.’”
* The USDA is asking for applications for several programs designed to help ag producers and rural small businesses with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. See the details here.
* AgriPulse writer Sara Wyant is predicting that President Obama’s State of the Union address will include a platform on U.S. agriculture though Obama’s preview of the speech made no mention of ag. See for yourself tonight. The State of the Union will be broadcast live at 9 pm (Eastern).