Crude oil pipeline “Line 3” has a number of issues. It would damage not only our climate, water, and land; but is a violation of the Indigenous treaty rights of the Anishinaabe people. The Solutions Project is asking anyone and everyone to help stop the Line 3 crude oil pipeline. I am standing with them.
— The Solutions Project (@100isNow) June 7, 2021
Since 2014, thousands have been supporting the opposition to Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline. Its route crosses the 1854 and 1855 treaty territory where the Anishinaabe people retain the right to hunt, fish, gather their medicines, and harvest their crops. Construction of the pipeline, or an oil spill, would permanently damage their ability to use their land.
The proposed route for the pipeline crosses over 200 waterways, including the Mississippi River, which is where I, way down here in South Louisiana, get my drinking water from. If an oil spill from a pipeline was to occur in the Mississippi River, it would impact the other rivers that feed into Lake Superior as well as those of us along the Mississippi whose cities use it for water.
Photo credit: Ron Turney pic.twitter.com/VWsA4fRoq8
— Indigenous Environmental Network (@IENearth) June 7, 2021
Indigenous Women Risk Arrest By Protesting Line 3
Women such as Simone Senogles of the Red Lake Nation in Minnesota are risking arrest to fight an industry that seeks to capitalize on her native lands. In an interview with Environmental Health News, she described being charged with unlawful assembly and trespassing as insulting.
“It’s Anishinaabe land,” she told EHN. Enbridge is the trespasser, they are the criminal, and they were aided by law enforcement who are supposed to be protecting us, but instead they were protecting a corporation.”
Enbridge contractors in Minnesota are building Line 3 after a six-year-long permitting process. If completed, this will carry 760,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to Wisconsin. The article noted that police from the Northern Lights Task Force, Minnesota police officers, are funded by Enbridge as a condition of state permits. They have arrested 72 Indigenous people and allies for protesting the pipeline since December 1.
Think about it, this is their land and here we have a corporation paying a police force to arrest Indigenous people on their own land who are protesting the invasion by said corporation. This isn’t right. This isn’t just. But given the history of America, this is not surprising.
Line 3 Is Not A Replacement Project Like Enbridge Claimed It Is
The original Line 3 pipeline, which was built in the 1960s, was corroded, cracked, and leaking. This pipeline was built before the courts ordered the state to honor the treaties. In 2008, there were dangerous incidents that included oil spills into wetlands and even an explosion that killed two Enbridge employees so it reduced the capacity of oil by half–390,000 barrels per day.
In 2015, Enbridge made an announcement. Since Line 3 required too much maintenance, it would replace the pipeline in order to restore it to the original capacity of 760,000 barrels per day. The company called this a replacement project, but the new Line 3 pipeline has a different path — a detour through the Anishinaabe lands. The new route will cross the Shell River four times — one of many waterways that are home to the wild rice that the Indigenous people depend on for food.
In order to build the new Line 3, Enbridge will dredge and fill the wetlands where the wild rice grows. It will introduce fill material which will change the habit. The Ojibwe people, who also use those rice fields, have already begun to see the climate impacts on their wild rice.
Dawn Goodwin from the White Earth Reservation told EHN that the wild rice needs consistent water levels in the spring. Minnesota has seen an increase in storms and torrential rain. “Two years ago, we got so much water that it didn’t ripen well,” she told EHN. “That puts our lifeways in danger because it’s all connected.”
Violence Against Women By Police & Line 3 Workers
Senogles shared her story with EHN and pointed out that one reason Indigenous women are leading the movement against oil pipelines is that the Anishinaabe people believe that women have a sacred connection to water. While having a ceremony that honored missing and murdered Indigenous women at the banks of the Mississippi, the police began to terrorize them with threats of arrest as they approached the river.
Imagine going to the river to honor your people, unfortunate victims, and corporate-paid cops did this to you. On your own lands. This is sickening. “When Indigenous women stand up, we get targeted,” Senogles said. “Violence on the land is violence on the body.”
Another form of targeting is what a former Line 3 worker overheard. Jason Goward, who told ENH that his supervisors and coworkers would often make sexual and degrading jokes about the Indigenous women whose lands they were invading. He was worried that they could be violent toward the women. “My coworkers, I got to know them, and I got to see that there must be some truth to their jokes,” he said.
Shelia Lamb, an Ojibwe-Cherokee city councilor in Cloquet Minnesota, told ENH that she’d heard stories of Line 3 workers perpetuating violence. “We’re hearing from various organizations that do direct services of a definite increase in sexual assault and sexual harassment that is being perpetuated by those working on Line 3,” she told EHN.
There’s more in this part of the original article, so I encourage you to read the full article by EHN here.
How You Can Help
You can help by sending a letter to President Biden. The website, Stopline3.org has a form with a prewritten letter that you can easily send to the president. It only takes a couple of minutes of your time to show your support for the Indigenous people of our nation while also standing up for the basic water rights of millions of Americans — including my own. If this pipeline gets approved, the lands of the Anishinaabe and the drinking water of millions of Americans will be exposed to risk from an oil spill — with 760,000 barrels of tar sands oils flowing through Line 3 every day.
I believe that our voices matter. I also believe that we, especially those who are descended from white Europeans and who benefit from white privilege, owe it to the Indigenous people to help them fight for their lands. This was their land before our ancestors took it from them. Not all of our ancestors, mind you, but in general. BIPOC’s ancestors were either victimized by or enslaved by European settlers from who I descend. So, yes, we owe them this much. I added my voice and I hope it and this article helps.
Those women who are protecting their lands are heroes. And those police officers who are jonesing to arrest them for holding a ceremony to honor their fallen sisters are criminals — in my personal opinion. They are no better than terrorists.
Featured image via StopLine3.org