Police, this morning, cleared out six protesters on the site of Kennecott's planned nickel and copper mine in Marquette County.
Two Native people subjected themselves to arrest on trespass charges. Eagle Rock is considered a sacred place by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Tribal members and area residents have been camping in protest at the rocky outcropping for weeks.
Kennecott plans to dig into the base of the rock for its mine.
Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, which has been fighting the mine, faces trial on her own charge of trespassing at the site. She says Eagle Rock has always been sacred to the Tribe, but authorities have turned a deaf ear.
"The state of Michigan and Kennecott have ignored that premise," she says. "It was their right to be there to protect Eagle Rock. And it's unfortunate that Kennecott did not use, I think, negotiating terms with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in determining good access to the site without people having to be arrested."
A fence has now been erected around the mine site and police say anyone who breaches it will be arrested.
Kennecott says the campers were removed for their own safety and that of construction workers. Last Sunday a protestor climbed onto a piece of machinery while it was being used. Spokeswoman Deb Muchmore says the company has offered to let them set up a camp outside the fence across from Eagle Rock.
"The right to protest and to civil disobedience is a well respected right in the U.S. And we fully understand the point of view they are coming from," she says.
Kennecott and officials from the Keweenaw Bay tribe are supposed to meet again to talk about conditions under which Indian people still could have access to Eagle Rock during construction.