Tribe concerned mill would violate treaty rights | News |

2022-05-21 21:31:04 By : Mr. Jason Liu

A group of more than 20 people met at the MacRostie Art Center the evening before Earth Day to discuss the proposed Huber Frontier Project and a number of remaining concerns surrounding the building of the $440 million oriented strand board (OSB) mill in Cohasset.

Huber Engineered Woods LLC, a subsidiary of J. M. Huber Corporation plans to build the OSB manufacturing plant on more than 400 acres of property at Minnesota Power’s Boswell Energy Center’s “North Site,” in Cohasset.

The event on Thursday was hosted by the group, Honor the Earth, with Anishinaabe artist Annie Humphrey as one of the speakers. Humphrey grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation, is a graduate of Cass Lake High School, attended Itasca Community College, went into the Marine Corps, and now lives on the Leech Lake Reservation.

Honor the Earth has hosted other similar events recently throughout northern Minnesota including the cities of Walker, Cass Lake and Bemidji.

Among the many concerns raised at the event were a lack of information regarding potential pollution levels, harm to endangered animals, overuse of Minnesota timber; health effects on future workers and local residents; violation of treaty rights and lack of tribal consultation; use of taxpayer money; and more.

The Cohasset City Council accepted an updated environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) for Huber Engineered Woods in March 2022. A copy of this EAW can be found on the City of Cohasset’s website.

Honor the Earth is asking for a more in-depth review through a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Leech Lake Tribe has also passed a resolution which asks the City of Cohasset and the State of Minnesota to do a full environment review which includes preparing an EIS.

“We’re not powerless and we have to stop thinking like that,” Humphrey commented at the event.

Honor the Earth and organizers of the event encouraged attendees to contact Governor Tim Walz with their concerns. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is accepting public comments through April 24 in regards to Huber’s permit request to drain and fill 28.5 acres of wetlands for the project. Those interested in leaving a comment can do so at

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe filed an appeal this week challenging the City of Cohasset’s approval of the EAW for the Frontier Project proposed by Huber Engineered Woods, LLC.

The appeal “challenges the decision by the City of Cohasset that an Environmental Impact Statement is not necessary because the Project does not have the potential to cause significant environmental effects. The appeal claims that the decision violates the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe treaty rights by failing to consider impacts to natural resources necessary to exercising treaty protected hunting, fishing, and gathering and ignores substantial evidence that the Project will cause significant environmental impacts.”

According to tribe the location for the project is a heavy use location for Tribal and non-Tribal wild rice harvesting every year. One of the reasons it is so popular is the dams on the Mississippi keep the water level relatively stable and during years, like 2021, when drought makes other rice beds hard to access, this bed has water and harvestable crops.

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