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July 17, 2018

7/6/2018 7:29:00 AM
Let's hear what Gedicks has to say

To the Editor:

As someone who was denounced in the pages of The Lakeland Times in the early 1990s by the notorious anthropologist James Clifton over our different positions on Ojibwe treaty rights, I want to comment on the relevance of Richard Moore's rehearsal of the circumstances around the conviction of the so-called anti-mining activist Al Gedicks almost 50 years ago.

Moore's clear purpose here is to damage the credibility and reputation of Professor Emeritus of sociology at UW-Eau Claire Al Gedick's political and social analysis of the prospect of citing an extractive industry in a county wherein visitors spent over $220 million in 2016 according to the Star Journal May 5, 2017 issue. Those visitors, of course, were tourists who came north for the relatively pristine air, water and landscape of northern Wisconsin.

Gedicks is inviting us to ponder some questions. Do we really think that mining would be good for the tourist economy up here? Do we think that the inevitable reports of water, air and sound pollution will enhance the reputation of Oneida County as destination for families seeking respite from the water, air and sound pollution where they live and work in the southern part of the state and the megalopolis of Chicago?

How about we evaluate what Gedicks had to say at the recent public hearing in terms of his credentials as a scholar and extend him the charity of considering that he has paid his albeit contested debt to society with the 90 days he spent in jail and three years he spent on probation?

Gedicks is the author of two books about native and environmental challenges to oil and mining companies. The first focused on the successful struggle of the Mole Lake Chippewa in Forest County to stop the Crandon mine. The second updated the first and discussed cases in Africa, Latin and South America. Both books were quite favorably reviewed in academic journals.

Of course Gedicks is the author of other academic articles and all of these works have been subjected to peer review wherein experts evaluate the argument and evidence that Gedicks employs. He had a very successful career at UW-Eau Claire because of the quality of his research and teaching.

As someone who is also, at times, interested in the details of court cases from half a century ago, as well as the complicated biographies of people who present themselves so stridently in the public sphere, I would recommend that we give more thought to the message that Gedicks bears than to the details of an event that took place in his college years.

Larry Nesper


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