Saturday morning, approximately three hundred water protectors and Anishinaabe jingle dress dancers gathered at the Mississippi River, where Enbridge’s Line 3 is preparing to drill.
After praying and sharing a healing jingle dance, water protectors went to Haypoint, Minnesota, where Enbridge is actively boring under Highway 169 on its way to the Willow and Mississippi Rivers.
Construction stopped as water protectors held space and documented irregularities in the pipe being put into the ground. Nearly thirty police squad cars from multiple counties and the Department of Natural Resources were onsite.
Eight were arrested; one arresting officer in a Cass County uniform without a badge refused to put on a face mask and grinned at the crowd as he held a zip-tied water protector. Enbridge’s worksites and man camps have quickly become hotspots for COVID-19 in Aitkin County.
An emergency injunction filed December 24th by White Earth Nation, Red Lake Nation, and Honor the Earth has yet to be decided. The injunction would stop Enbridge’s construction while various pending legal matters, including obvious violations of tribal culture resources and treaties, are considered. The Walz administration declined to issue a stay of construction via the Attorney General’s Office.
“We saw Minnesota’s police officers protecting a Canadian tar sands pipeline being built by mostly out-of-state workers, for sale on foreign market. We need good paying jobs up north that don’t require us to destroy our environment. Where is the investment in the north land? Where is the upholding of treaty rights? Where is the Walz administration on this pandemic pipeline?” said Tara Houska, founder of Giniw Collective.
“We witnessed pipes being put into the ground which have been sitting out for years. It's wrong. Those pipes will leak. Enbridge is a climate criminal. Water protectors are the home team. Don't arrest us.” said Winona LaDuke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth.
“We have been told by Governor Walz to follow the process, we have! However, that process also includes the Court of APPEALS. I went to uplift the voices of all our relatives, who include the four legged, flyers, swimmers, crawlers, and the plant nation. We stood in solidarity with our non-native allies who understand that they too, have a treaty obligation. The treaties have been ignored so long that people think it's okay to continue ignoring them, but it's not okay. Together, we will RISE and GROW to ensure treaties are upheld; so we are able to protect the waters and all that is sacred for the next seven generations. We call upon President Joe Biden to stop this horrific Line 3 relocation plan that puts our water rich inherent homelands at risk to carcinogenic bitumen, which is also known as tar sands oil that sinks in water.” said Dawn Goodwin, Representative for Indigenous Environmental Network.
Sam Grant, Executive Director at MN350, added, “The best possible future for all Minnesotans requires prioritizing climate integrity, honoring treaty rights and organizing a just transition that braids Treaty Rights, climate justice, racial justice, gender justice, economic justice and land justice. The use of law enforcement to erode the space and rights of peaceful protest in defense of the land, Treaty rights and climate integrity is a demonstration of an unequal commitment to protect and serve. Added to this, the community spread risk exacerbated by Enbridge workers with a new COVID strain mingling with the old strain - means it is high time to put health above extractivism and stay construction until the Court rules on the orders brought forward by Red Lake and White Earth.”