‘A Northern Light’ Patagonia’s new short film featuring the Boundary Waters

“This is where life makes sense to me.”

Outdoor gear and apparel company Patagonia released a 12-minute film titled “A Northern Light” this week. It features beautiful footage of canoe country, thoughts about its intrinsic value, and arguments against allowing copper-nickel mines upstream of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Written and narrated by Nathaniel Riverhorse Nakadate, “A Northern Light” features his unique voice and perspective. A Texas-based fly-fishing ambassador for Patagonia, he is also an adventurer, environmentalist, musician, and writer.

“For me, it always been about water,” he says. “Intertwined and ever immersed into it at the hips, this is where life makes sense to me.”

Nakadate launched on the South Kawishiwi River, in the area where the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine would be located. He paddled and portaged through the Gabbro Lakes, looped east, and then came back west to exit the wilderness at Farm Lake.

Filmed by Tony Czech, the video features stunning cinematography, including many shots of paddling in the dim light of dusk and dawn, as well as through fog that shrouds the wilderness. There is also a sequence of Nakadate paddling his canoe on Lake Superior past the Northshore Mining taconite plant in Silver Bay. While taconite and copper-nickel operations are different, the filmmakers wished to witness such a place.

Video capture: Viewing the Northshore Mining taconite plant in Silver Bay from Lake Superior.

The production concludes with a call-to-action in partnership with Sportsmen for the BWCA, encouraging people to contact their members of Congress in support of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act, introduced in January by Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota.

Patagonia has grown in recent decades to not only be a major outdoor brand, but also a vocal advocate for environmental protection. This video is part of their ongoing support of efforts to protect the Boundary Waters from mining pollution. More information about the project and photo gallery are on Patagonia’s website.

Nakadate makes his views about proposed mining in the wilderness watershed clear. “They have all failed. Every mine of this type in history,” he says. “Let’s shoot straight as an arrow here: This is not the place for it.”

Editor’s notes: Nakadate’s descriptions of the Boundary Waters and his personal relationship with it includes language that may be uncomfortable for some viewers. The use of drones is prohibited in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

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