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Michelle Griffith
Minnesota Reformer

A former office owned by Enbridge — operator of the Line 3 oil pipeline in northern Minnesota — was purchased by an Indigenous and environmental rights nonprofit that will turn the building into a treaty rights and culture museum.

Honor the Earth, a local women-led organization, has fought Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline for more than seven years. The nonprofit will turn the Park Rapids office space, which was a former Carnegie library prior to Enbridge’s ownership, into the Giiwedinong Treaty Rights and Culture Museum. Giiwedinong means “in, at, to the north,” in Ojibwe.

“We’re going to turn this former Enbridge building into a monument to Indigenous history, culture, treaty and civil rights to help change the narrative in the Deep North, which will likely include at some point a powerful exhibit about the Line 3 struggle,” said Winona LaDuke, executive director and co-founder of Honor the Earth, in a news release.

The former office building was purchased for $184,500, according to Pahlen Reality.

Protesters and activists held regular demonstrations outside of the Enbridge Park Rapids office during the pipeline’s construction.

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Line 3 opposition lives on, clean-up begins
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The Line 3 pipeline transfers tar sands from Alberta, Canada, to Midwest oil refineries and has a 337-mile segment across Minnesota. Enbridge completed the replacement pipeline in 2021, saying it was necessary to upgrade the deteriorating infrastructure. Hundreds of people were arrested throughout the pipeline’s construction.

Tribal nations have strongly opposed construction and operation of the pipeline, saying it violated treaty rights and risked spilling pollutants into waters where many Native Americans harvest wild rice.

Bineshii Hermes-Roach, citizen of the Bad River Ojibwe tribe, traveled to the Mississippi River Enbridge Line 3  crossing at Solway, Minnesota, on Monday,  June 7, 2021, to join water protectors. Bad River is now seeking $45 million from Enbridge for trespassing. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember, Indian Country Today)

In a statement to the Reformer, Enbridge said the goal with the Line 3 pipeline construction was to replace a 1960s-era pipeline with one that was safer and made of thicker steel “with advanced coatings.”

“The Park Rapids office was used by Enbridge teams during the planning, engineering and construction of the Line 3 Replacement Project,” the company said in the statement.

Honor the Earth also bought more than 700 acres of farmland throughout 2022 with donations from supporters. That includes 160 acres of farmland purchased from R.D. Offutt Company, which farms potatoes across Minnesota, some of which for McDonald’s french fries. Honor the Earth hosted a Día de los Muertos celebration on Nov. 1, to mark the organization’s ownership of the former Enbridge office.

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This article was first published in the Minnesota Reformer.