Bay Mills Indian Community
Citizens of Bay Mills Indian Community (BMIC) today called on President Biden to take immediate action to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline.
In an event held as part of the Red Road to DC, a cross-country tour highlighting Indigenous sacred sites at risk, elected leaders of the Bay Mills Indian Community said the pipeline is a violation of the Treaty of 1836 and a threat to their sacred waters. Organizers of the Red Road tour stopped in Michigan to display a totem pole by Lummi Nation carvers to highlight sacred sites at risk due to development and infrastructure projects.
The pipeline, initially given an easement in 1953, has been the center of controversy in the Upper Peninsula for several years. Enbridge has planned to build a tunnel around the pipeline, saying it will protect the Straits from the danger of spills. But that construction would allow the destruction of sensitive wetlands and the placement of structures on the bottomlands within the Straits of Mackinac. And these plans and permits have moved forward without tribal consultation.
“Time and time again, we must fight for what was promised to our ancestors in the treaties,” said Bay Mills Indian Community Tribal Chairperson Whitney Gravelle. “This should never happen, and it is something the Biden administration can and should address. No infrastructure project should move ahead without the consent of the tribes affected.”
As part of the Treaty of 1836, Bay Mills Indian Community reserved for all time the right to fish, hunt, and gather in the ceded land and waters of the state of Michigan — including the ceded waters of Lake Superior, Huron, and Michigan, which includes the Straits of Mackinac.
“Side-stepping the concerns of Tribal Nations and rubber-stamping this project before the necessary studies are completed signals a deeply concerning indifference to tribal sovereignty,” added Gravelle.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revoked the easement allowing the company to operate on May 12, yet Enbridge continues to operate illegally. To get Enbridge to comply, Whitmer has threatened to go after Enbridge’s profits, but no action has been taken.
“We aren’t the only ones at risk from the devastating effects of a pipeline spill — fishermen, the tourism industry, our Michigan economy — are all endangered if Line 5 continues to operate in our waters. President Biden must address this crisis immediately,” said Gravelle.