Like many tribal lands across North America, the Sokaogon Chippewa reservation in Northern Wisconsin faces environmental perils that threaten not only the land, but also the livelihood and culture of the people who live on it. The Sokaogon spent close to three decades battling one of those perils: the proposed reopening of a nearby zinc and copper mine. In 2003, thanks in large part to the efforts of environmental director and tribal council member Tina Van Zile, the tribe joined forces with the neighboring Forest County Potawatomi to end the battle — by buying the mine.

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Rich with casino profits, the Potawatomi paid cash for their half of the $16.5 million purchase. The Sokaogon, one of the smallest and poorest tribes in the U.S., have tried a wide variety of fundraising efforts — from selling commemorative mine borings to auctioning off rifles — to raise their share of the bill, which comes due this April. In this virtual walking tour, Van Zile introduces us to her tribe and to the land they are trying to protect.

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