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Indigenous earth summit set at NMU

March 22, 2011
By KYLE WHITNEY Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - The fourth annual Indigenous Earth Issues Summit will draw people from around the area to Northern Michigan University on Friday.

"The driving motivation behind the summit is to inform and inspire and empower people to go out and effect positive change for the Earth," said NMU adjunct instructor Aimee Cree Dunn, who has coordinated the summit since its inception four years ago.

Pulitzer Prize finalist Linda Hogan will deliver this year's keynote address, titled "Animals, Human Beings and the Earth."

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Each year, Cree Dunn said there is an organic process through which the event takes on a theme. Scheduled presenters often suggest other possible speakers or performers. Soon, a cohesive collection of presenters emerges.

In past incarnations of the summit, aboriginal Australians and people from the arctic circle have been highlighted.

This year, Native American culture is the main focus, with sessions on traditional Ojibwe firemaking and environmental philosophy, as well as presentations about ethnobotany and birchbark-biting.

Typically, 100 to 200 people come to the summit throughout the day, with a larger crowd turning out for the keynote address. Cree Dunn said many Native American philosophies are popular in this area and she expects a good turnout for this year's event.

"Most of the people who live here are very tuned into the land," she said. "Indigenous people have this intergenerational residency. They know very well how to live off the land and have a healthy lifestyle."

The summit will also include presentations about local and regional mining issues and workshops inspired by the late Walter Bressette, an Ojibwe author, politician and activist noted for his work on treaty rights and environmental issues in the Great Lakes region.

Participants will include Bobby Bullet, an Anishinaabe musician who has played with Loretta Lynn; Nick Hockings, a teacher of traditional Anishinaabe ecological knowledge; and Martin Reinhardt, a scholar and citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe.

Cree Dunn said the real standout in the group is Hogan, whose novel "Mean Spirit" was nominated for the Pulitzer in the early 1990s. Cree Dunn has spent much of her life studying Hogan's writing and said she believes the author's message will fit in nicely.

"(Hogan's writings are) a real rich, poetic look at how humans and animals and plants and the whole Earth itself are all beautifully connected to each other," Cree Dunn said. "Her work tries to inspire people to remember that connection."

The summit is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Whitman Hall Commons, with Hogan's keynote address slated for 1 p.m. A music and poetry open mic session is scheduled for 7 p.m. and Hogan should be on-hand for book signings.

There is no entrance fee for the summit, but Cree Dunn requests that, if possible, anyone interested in attending the summit fill out a registration form at

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His e-mail address is



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