The Tar Creekkeeper recognition with the Waterkeeper Alliance has a membership requirement for a water body to have a boat. Resisting because I don’t think anybody should be in Tar Creek yet, or if they are in it, certainly not look like it is for fun. I thought about getting a remote control motor boat a with a message on it that said NOT YET or something like it and simply operate it from the shore.
But that didn’t meet the Quality Standards of the Waterkeeper Alliance the largest water advocacy group in the world, with Bay Keepers, Ocean Keepers, and certainly River keepers, like LEAD Agency’s own Grand Riverkeeper, Earl Hatley, who has a boat Tony Booth donated which dons the Cherokee name Ga-Du-Gi which means “Working Together.” We later learned from Cherokee Richard Allen that the same word can also mean “Get out of the Water.” Which made it a perfect name for the boat I ended up getting, a turquoise and green kayak with a swath of orange across it.
The kayak recommendation came from Ed Fite, the man who is known by all as the protector of the Illinois. He is the Vice-President for Scenic River and Water Quality for the Grand River Dam Authority and has offered to come on the maiden voyage of Tar Creek with the Ga-Du-Gi.
My son went with me to pick up the Tupelo kayak at the Edmondson clearing, only to find 100 kayakers leaving for a 9 mile trip on the Illinois River. It was a hot day and water, as we know can certainly ease the heat and no better way to get to know the Ga-Du-Gi and how she floats than to do it on the Illinois, one of Oklahoma's scenic rivers.
Doing so drove home all the more, the need to get Tar Creek up and running clean. What an untapped treasure to have a naturally flowing creek so accessible by the people living close by it.
Untapped treasure was a term I read this week about the iron, copper and rare earth minerals that are said to abound in a country the US has been involved in since 2001, Afghanistan. Those metals pose to tempt the US to stay. As a place that became a "Klondike" in Oklahoma, we know some of what could go wrong, terribly wrong with their future environmental degradation in that country if companies like the ones who extracted the ore in the Picher Field or throughout the Tri-State Mining District are lured by the proposed riches.
"What could go wrong?" Just think back to Commerce, Oklahoma and former President Truman, who in his early years had experiences with the Eureka Mine, he believed he owned only to find out when he went to sell it that the new buyer already owned it!
Ed Keheley took me to see the collapsed ruins of that mine where Truman failed, but earnestly tried to protect the site, to the point of getting a cot and sleeping there when the night watchman requested a unacceptable raise.
I took only one photo, to show my son. While a student at NEO he got on track to later receive a Truman Scholarship for graduate school. That one photo does not do justice to the waste land surrounding that mine, chat crunches beneath your feet and the biggest blackberries grow firmly in it.
Our mine sites gained fame and made riches off the massive amount of lead and zinc that were extracted here. But they made a great deal from the cadmium, too. Lying alongside these metals were what are known as rare earth metals like geranium and others needed for the tech industry products used by computers and cell phones. We still have a treasure in the chat that remains and is primarily now being sold for road construction and asphalt.
It is interesting to note when considering the Truman connections of the first strategy meeting held during World War II of the three ally leaders, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin called the Tehran Conference had the codename, "Eureka" was held in Iran. These world leaders sought to win the war against Hitler but were also very aware that, "To the victor belong the spoils" a phrase our current president has stated when considering next steps for the US in Afghanistan.
If mining occurs there, their country may have the next Tar Creek because the mining methods remain the same, Eureka! They find it and then They leave.
Respectfully Submitted - Rebecca Jim
Rebecca Jim is executive director of the LEAD Agency