Read the full article by Sierra Clark and Sheri McWhirter (Record Eagle)

“The day’s last rays of sunshine illuminated the form of Kathy Smith, comfortably seated in her blue camp chair, fishing pole in hand.

Smith, a Wiikwedong Dazhi-Ojibwe woman, fished on a small inland lake between Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Bay and its namesake peninsula. She cast her line again and again, and the perch in the water kept nibbling away her bait, but she joked it off with a smile.

Smith grew up in a prominent fishing family. She’s a Keweenaw Bay Indian Community citizen, and her community for time immemorial fished the cold waters of Gichi-gami, or Lake Superior.

A cool breeze shifted and blew in from the bay as Smith cast her fishing line once more, and recalled stories from when she would stay awake all night to clean and gut the seasonal smelt that her uncles caught in the springtime run. Those uncles would wade into the icy waters of creeks within reservation boundaries with nothing but a dip net.

‘They used to fill those big, silver trash bins with them,’ Smith said. ‘Now, not so much.’

The smelt run amounted to almost nothing this year, she said, and in recent years fishers have been fortunate to catch more than a handful.

Just before the rainbow smelt season this year state health officials warned the public to limit how much of that fish they eat, anyway.

The reason? Emerging PFAS contamination.

In March, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a precautionary consumption guideline for rainbow smelt from Lake Superior; the advisory came after natural resources officials in Wisconsin found and reported elevated levels of legacy chemical PFOS — perfluorooctane sulfonate — in samples of that species caught near the Apostle Islands and off of Port Wing, a shoreline city about 50 miles east of Duluth, Minnesota.”…