Mary Annette Pember
Indian Country Today
Suspicious packages thrown from a vehicle toward Enbridge Line 3 workers forced police to evacuate about 40 residents from their homes for several hours on the Fond du Lac reservation in Minnesota.
According to Carlton County sheriff Kelly Lake, two packages were thrown Friday as water protectors opposing the pipeline project were dispersing from the Enbridge construction site.
A bomb squad was called to the area but no explosives were found, according to Lake. State and federal authorities are investigating the incident.
"The packages were making ticking sounds; out of caution we made the decision to evacuate the area," Lake said.
According to a statement issued by Enbridge, the packages were thrown into a pipe at the construction site.
“This incident disrupted not just a pipeline and the delivery of energy, but the lives of real people."
“This is unacceptable and we will seek to prosecute those involved to the full extent of the law,” Juli Kellner, director of communications for Enbridge wrote in an email.
Enbridge temporarily closed down construction sites in the area.
Several water protectors opposing the nearly 400-mile-long Enbridge Line 3 project have been arrested at various construction sites along the route since the company began construction in November 2020.
Members of the Fond du Lac tribe’s business committee, the tribe’s governing body, released a statement asking protestors from outside the reservation to respect their decision to enter into a right-of-way agreement with Enbridge to cross 13.2 miles of land within its borders.
"A tribal sovereign decision has been made. After numerous meetings as well as thoughtful and careful deliberation by our elders reflecting on our community's values and of those yet to come, we stand by our decision; it is offensive and inappropriate for non-Indians and outsiders to claim they are here to protect the Band and resources," Fond du Lac chairman Kevin Dupuis Sr. wrote in the statement.
"Although we as FDL (Fond du Lac) people have a long tradition of extending hospitality to respectful visitors, family and friends, last week's incident was a betrayal of our openness and has forced us to remind FDL Band members and non-members alike, that FDL leadership will not tolerate violence or threats of violence within our community."
According to a report from Fox21 Local News, the car involved was a silver Toyota Camry or Corolla with Virginia state license plates.
Water protectors from Camp Migizi, as the home base is known, released a statement denying involvement in the incident.
“The claim that water protectors would undertake such an activity is false and yet another attempt by Enbridge to divide the community over Line 3 resistance,” according to the statement. “We stand by water protectors who act peacefully to protect our land, water and stand up for Indigenous rights.”
According to water protectors at Camp Migizi, about 15 Fond du Lac Band citizens showed up at camp later Friday, asking them to abandon their opposition to Line 3 and return to their homes.
The Duluth News Tribune reported that counter-protestors blocked water protectors from reaching Camp Migizi.
“I’m very upset,” Danielle Martineau, sister of Taysha Martineau told the Tribune. “People are scared. It’s time to draw the line.”
Taysha Martineau of the Fond du Lac tribe helped organize the purchase of land next to the Enbridge construction project on the reservation. Both Taysha Martineau and Jason Goward, also a Fond du Lac tribal citizen and water protector, reported receiving threatening text messages regarding their work opposing Line 3.
Goward forwarded one of the text messages which identifies his sons by name, to Indian Country Today. It reads, “For (sons’ names) safety you need to stay far away from the people causing problems. The fake water protectors who caused an evacuation.”
Taysha Martineau received a similar message.
“You do know no one is going to leave until your camp comes down or we drag you through the streets,” the message stated. “Things have been peaceful but no one wants you here. Think of your kids. You are not safe or wanted here in Fond du Lac.”
Camp Migizi organizers erected a tipi in front of the Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee office last week according to information shared on their Facebook page.
They report that Fond du Lac tribal chairman Dupuis has agreed to meet with them.
Mary Annette Pember, a citizen of the Red Cliff Ojibwe tribe, is a national correspondent for Indian Country Today.