On June 7th, 2021, hundreds of Water Protectors gathered at the headwaters of the Mississippi River and marched to a bridge near where Enbridge Energy planned to drill under the river to route their one-million-barrel-a-day Line 3 tar-sands pipeline. I covered the Treaty People Gathering, an assembly of Water Protectors meant to kick off a summer of actions against the Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline, and cowrote articles for Esperanza Project and the Western Organization of Resource Councils‘ blog.
Once completed, this new Line 3 will replace Enbridge’s previous Line 3, but with a new route that would endanger the Mississippi River, the United States’ largest watershed, in two crossings as well as other 200 other bodies of water and 75 miles of sensitive wetlands. We can expect spills from the new Line 3, if Enbridge’s past performance is an indicator. One of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history was a 1.7 million gallon oil spill from Enbridge’s original Line 3 near Grand Rapids, Minn.
Line 3’s route threatens hundreds of miles of streams, lakes and wetlands that the Anishinaabe people have lived on and harvested food from for centuries. This fight isn’t just about water quality, it revolves around tribal sovereignty and treaty rights being further eroded by federal and state governments. The 1855 Treaty between the Chippewa of the Mississippi and the United States government protects the resources used by Anishinaabe peoples, including medicines, fish, animals, and the manoomin (wild rice) a crop that’s an integral part of daily Anishinaabe life. According to the treaty, these resources must be held in trust both inside and outside of Anishinaabe reservation borders. Because tar-sands oil sinks when released into water, it’s impossible to clean up in wetlands. Even a small spill from the pipeline could destroy those resources and their treaty-protected way of life.
Read the Esperanza Project article here.
Water Protectors came from around the country to make a statement about supporting treaty rights, Indigenous sovereignty, and protecting clean water. Here, they’re chalking a sign on the bridge crossing the Mississippi River just a few hundred feet from where Enbridge plans to drill under the river.
The demonstration was peaceful and filled with prayer and song from dozens of different tribes and nations as well as non-native participants showing solidarity.
The finished work of art generated by the Water Protectors urging the Biden administration to honor the treaties and his commitment to end fossil fuel dependance and end Line 3 construction.