Lakota People's Law Project
Against the backdrop of the horrific discoveries of more than 1,000 Indigenous childrens’ bodies at Indian boarding schools in Canada and the U.S. over the past weeks, the slow genocide of Native peoples continues unabated at the front lines of the Line 3 pipeline.
Resistance camps have been set up by leaders of various Anishinaabe tribes in an attempt to stop or slow the drilling by Line 3 parent company Enbridge across unceded treaty lands. Military tactics against water protectors have been employed by police, and felony charges have been issued with higher than normal bail amounts. In the past month, arrests have included three organizational directors and a journalist.
“This is no accident,” said Chase Iron Eyes, co-director and lead counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project. “The drilling that Enbridge is being allowed to do here is a continuation of the same pattern of subjugation and genocide faced by Indigenous populations throughout history. Our treaties have been ignored, our children have been killed, and now our rivers are being poisoned. And when we stand up to the forces of extractive greed, we pay a heavy price. We are asking President Biden to stop Line 3, and we need everyone who can to come to the frontlines in support. We need those who can’t come here in person to amplify this message through every available channel. We are running out of time to do the right thing for future generations.”
As drilling continues at a rapid pace through a host of ecologically sensitive rivers and other wetlands, no fewer than 13 different frac-outs — the spilling of toxic drilling chemicals into waterways — have been observed by movement leaders over the past weeks, according to Giniw Collective director Tara Houska, who was arrested several days ago.
Houska was shot with rubber bullets by police officers before being hospitalized and jailed over the weekend. “Eight hundred wetlands, that’s what’s at stake here,” she said. “Beautiful, untouched ecosystems, endangered by a corporation with no knowledge of or respect for this land. They have no idea what they’re doing here. President Biden has the power to stop this, but he’s not listening closely enough.”
Also arrested over the past month were Lakota People’s Law Project Co-Director Dan Nelson and Houska’s fellow Anishinaabe leader, Winona LaDuke of Honor the Earth. A journalist who goes by the camp name “River” was also arrested, charged and wounded during his interaction with police in recent days.
“This Northern Lights Task Force,” River explains in a video produced in conjunction with the Lakota People’s Law Project, “is an alliance of counties. They are really conspiring with Enbridge against the public, against the water protectors and our freedoms of speech and of the press.” River was sent to Minnesota to document the resistance against Line 3 for Wisconsin-based Indian Country Communications.
“Unlike with the protests in my homelands against the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016 and 2017, the frontlines at Line 3 are spread out,” Iron Eyes said. “This is a function of the many rivers and diverse water systems undergoing drilling. It’s a good thing that the movement is directed by a diverse coalition of tribal members — mainly women representing a number of different bands.”
Each of the five primary camps has put out a call for more people to join the frontlines now, before construction is complete. “This is happening, and it’s very real,” said Houska, who has been fighting to keep Enbridge’s carbon-intensive Canadian tar sands oil out of her homelands for years. “We need our brothers and sisters to stand with us.”
Houska and other leaders say that, despite the urgency of the moment, they haven’t yet generated a massive enough presence to sway leaders in state or federal government. They say it’s now or never, and that their sacrifices are necessary to protect unspoiled lands and waters for the next generations.
Nancy Beaulieu, a Minnesota Chippewa Tribe member, was arrested with six others on Aug 3. “Today we are here to assert our treaty rights, our inherent rights to protect the water and all that is sacred,” she said. “Line 3 violates the 1855, 1854, and 1863 treaties, and all treaties downstream where people rely on the Mississippi. We are calling on the Biden administration to end the continued genocide, honor the treaties, and Stop Line 3.”
Anyone interested in getting involved in the battle to stop Line 3 is encouraged by movement organizers to follow the Lakota People’s Law Project and Giniw Collective on social media, contact the Lakota People’s Law Project about helping at the frontlines, and/or sign the petition to President Biden at https://action.lakotalaw.org/stop-line-3.
The Lakota People's Law Project operates under the 501(c)(3) Romero Institute, a nonprofit law and policy center.