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      Traveling exhibit features Copper Country history

      The copper strike of 1913 was an event that lasted over a year and made a national impact.

      Gary Kaunonen, a historian that worked on the Tumult and Tragedy copper strike exhibit, said the tensions during the strike came out of the progressive era when organized labor unions were gaining strength across the U.S.

      "The strike was an opportunity for organized labor to come into the region and try and help workers assert rights, especially the normal things: wages, working hours, and conditions," said Kaunonen.

      The strike caused turmoil across the Keweenaw Peninsula, accounting for hundreds of deaths.

      These same union issues are being dealt with across Michigan today, with the recent passing of the right-to-work legislation in December.

      "The basic idea that somehow workers have a say in their conditions of their labor--what you do at work, how many hours--and you see that," Kaunonen said. "The idea was, once we got 40 hours a week, the idea was that perhaps it would go down. Today you see people working longer hours."

      The exhibit, currently located at the CLK library in Calumet, walks through the events as they happened. Project manager Erik Nordberg says the exhibit was created for the 100th anniversary of the strike. He said even after 100 years, the tragedies still have an impact on the community.

      "If you look back to the 1913 strike, if you look back to the tragedy of Italian Hall, the people do still carry a lot of opinions, a lot of feelings, a lot of emotions about those things," said Nordberg. "I think in some ways it's natural that the place that you live in, you value."

      The events that took place during the copper strike of 1913 still affect us 100 years later, and they have shaped this community into what it is now.