Kolby KickingWoman
Indian Country Today

Indian Country and its allies are looking to parlay the momentum from the Keystone XL pipeline shutdown into stopping more pipelines around the country.

During a press call Friday, the Stop Trump Pipelines campaign said the Biden administration created a new standard, the “Biden standard,” in his decision to pull the Keystone XL permit. The campaign is a joint project of the Bold Alliance and Indigenous Environmental Network, along with other frontline groups.

“In contrast to Trump, [Biden] listened to science, Indigenous voices, farmers and ranchers' concerns about their property rights; and of course, concerns around clean water and climate,” founder of Bold Alliance, Bold Nebraska, Jane Kleeb said.

These water protectors see the Keystone XL pipeline as being the first pipeline domino in a series of pipeline dominos to fall. They hope the “Biden standard” is applied to others like Enbridge Line 3, Byhalia, Mountain Valley Gas pipeline and more.

(Related: ‘Keystone XL is dead!’)

Joye Braun, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said she was on her way home to South Dakota from protesting Enbridge Line 3 when she heard the news that the Keystone XL pipeline had officially been terminated. She was certainly happy to hear that the “ugly tar sands” will be kept away from her homeland.

Braun drove home the point that treaties are the supreme law of the land and pipelines threaten land, traditional medicines and food, along with militarizing local law enforcement.

“So it's important to remember that these pipelines projects, they harm our tribal sovereignty,” Braun said. “When we say tribal sovereignty, we really mean treaties and treaties are not some documents, all the way as a historical fact. They are living, breathing documents and we are all treaty people. Whether you are Indigenous or whether you are non-Indigenous because those treaties were signed from one nation to another nation.”

Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, speaks about a protest march on June 7, 2021 to stop construction of Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline project in northern Minnesota. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember, Indian Country Today)

While all pipeline fights are important, perhaps the next big battle is coming from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan and the fight against Enbridge pipelines Line 3 and Line 5.

(Ongoing Enbridge series: A pipeline runs through it)

Winona LaDuke, White Earth Ojibwe, called in from “the middle of the woods” and said she expects more and more people to come to the various camps in the coming months.

There have already been a number of arrests and LaDuke’s organization Honor the Earth, along with others, has called on the governor to help stop the pipeline. She added that Minnesota doesn’t need this conflict.

“Minnesota's already had enough police problems and we are very upset at the level of private security and police forces that are all over the north right now for a Canadian corporation; but we’ll stand our ground Steve and more [people] will be coming, guaranteed,” LaDuke said.

Mike Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said these pipelines are the key test of Biden’s climate change commitments. So far, Brune said it has been inconsistent. He cited Biden taking steps on his first day in office to help defeat Keystone but says the administration has been silent on Line 3 and Line 5.

Also, Brune noted that Biden has supported protecting the Arctic from drilling but also approved a Trump era project in Alaska called the Willow Project.

“What we need is a president who is not working to defend American oil interests, who's not working to defend Canadian oil interests, but is working to defend our people, our Native communities, our water and our climate,” Brune said. “We need that commitment, applied to every fight, not just a few. We need that commitment applied every day on every project, not just a select few.”

What’s certain is that this will be another summer of resistance and Indian Country and its allies have shown over the years that it knows how to fight; on all levels.

“We know how to fight and this summer the fight over Line 3 will be both in the courts and in the streets. It'll be on the rivers, it'll be on Wall Street,” Brune said.

At another point during the call, he added, “These are fights that we have to win, and these are fights that we will win.”

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