Over the last few months, Indigenous organizers, tribal governments, and climate justice organizers have increased protests against Enbridge Line 3, a proposed pipeline in Canada and the Midwest. If the pipeline is constructed, “it will cut through three different Indigenous reservations in Minnesota, including land that the Treaty of 1855 gave the Ojibwe people the right to use for hunting, fishing, and gathering wild rice,” according to Slate.
Ojibwe leader and Indigenous rights organizer Winona LaDuke spoke to Slate about the dangers of Line 3, which she described as being “worse than Keystone when it comes to climate.” LaDuke—along with other elder women from the community—was arrested this past week while protesting the pipeline in Wadena County. According to Slate, Minnesota state police and Enbridge have been very aggressive with protestors. In fact, Enbridge paid roughly $750,000 to Minnesota officers as of April in order for them to focus their attention on policing Line 3 protesters.
The climate and Indigenous justice groups cite Indigenous sovereignty, land and water rights, treaty rights, climate change, the financial risk of investing in a dying industry, and the harmful impacts of construction and spills on both Indigenous communities and the environment all as reasons to put a halt to the pipeline’s construction.
LaDuke stressed to Slate that the Biden administration has been less than helpful when it comes to fighting against the construction of this pipeline. “The federal government should be all over this! They’re doing nothing,” she said. “Biden’s acting like he canceled one pipeline so he gets a gold star. But you don’t get a gold star from Mother Earth to let Line 3 go ahead. You don’t get a gold star from the planet.”
She also told Slate that the federal government has dropped the ball when it comes to Indigenous rights, treaty rights, and land and water rights. “Across the board there’s Bears Ears, there’s Chaco Canyon. … Those are sacred sites that are facing desecration from oil and gas mining companies and big agricultural water projects,” LaDuke said. “Protect the sacred. … Support the rights of Indigenous people in our world. We don’t live without our sacred world.”
Ultimately, LaDuke wants the Biden administration and world to know and to care about what’s happening with Line 3. “I’m watching a very destructive pipeline tearing through the heart of my territory,” she said. “This isn’t abstract. It’s a brutal rape of the north, and I’m standing on the edge of the easement watching it with a bunch of women.”