One of the bill's staunchest opponents is the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The tribe's reservation lies just north of the mine site, and members fear the mine would pollute the reservation's water and destroy their wild rice beds.

As debate began in the Senate, tribal members joined with the usual daily group of about 100 protesters two floors down in the Capitol to sing songs, play drums, dance and hold anti-mine signs.

"Scary is not the word for it," said Annie Maday, a 60-year-old Bad River tribal council member. "It's devastating. They're going to destroy my home."

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