Dave and Amy Freeman, 2014 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year, spoke to an audience of around 40 people at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute on September 9th. Among their many adventures, the Freemans are currently traveling from Ely, MN by canoe and sailboat to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the issues related to sulfide mining in the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior region.
The canoe carrying the Freemans to their destination is covered with signatures of people from Minnesota and surrounding states who are opposed to sulfide mining within the watersheds of the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior. Their concerns include potential damage to delicate ecosystems as a result of acid mine drainage, and resulting threats to the more than 18,000 tourism-based jobs in these wilderness areas sustained by the quality of the water and outdoor experience.
Dave and Amy will continue to collect signatures along their journey, and will present the canoe to President Obama when they reach Washington, D.C. The petition canoe was on display at the presentation, and will be leaving Ashland with a few more signatures.
Dave and Amy's journey commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which was responsible for the establishment of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This canoe trip mirrors Chief Buffalo's journey to Washington, D.C. in 1852, which successfully stopped attempts to remove the Lake Superior Chippewa from the region and led to a treaty in 1854. Professor Joe Rose, Bad River Elder, shared the story of Chief Buffalo's amazing journey at the presentation.
The presentation also included stories from Dave and Amy’s North American Odyssey, a three-year expedition they embarked upon as newlyweds. They traveled 11,700 miles by dogsled, canoe, and kayak from the Pacific Northwest to Key West, FL via the Arctic. They shared their experience remotely through their educational nonprofit organization, The Wilderness Classroom. The Freemans’ progress during their Paddle to D.C. can also be followed through The Wilderness Classroom. They chose to make the trip while school is in session so that students and teachers could share in the adventure. For more information, visit www.wildernessclassroom.com and www.paddletodc.org. Click HERE to sign the petition online.
The Freemans’ presentation was hosted by the Bad River Watershed Association and Northland College.