Environmental and cultural concerns continue as Enbridge pushes forward with the construction of its new Line 3 oil pipeline.
Line 3, which is currently being built in northern Minnesota, has drawn the attention of environmental activists and Indigenous communities, who have expressed a number of environmental concerns about the project.
The project has also raised concerns over tribal rights as the pipeline crosses over indigenous reservations, such as the Fond du Lac reservation.
Enbridge argues that replacing their existing Line 3 oil pipeline is essential for continuing operations in the United States. They say that the aging pipeline is unsafe to continue operating long-term.
To bring awareness to these issues, Madison Common Council President Syed Abbas, water protectors and Indigenous demonstrators announced their support of the pipeline resistance earlier today at Brittingham Park.
Abbas, alongside council Vice President Arvina Martin, is introducing a resolution supporting clean waters and treaty rights. That measure will be before the common council at its meeting tomorrow evening.
Today’s event began with a welcoming song performed by student and demonstrator Michael Gilpin.
Demonstrator Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores spoke to the crowd gathered by the Brittingham Park shelter after the song ended. Kilfoy-Flores stressed the importance of stopping the construction of Line 3.
“I wish that this was a fight that we didn’t have to fight for. We shouldn’t have to fight for clean water. We shouldn’t have to fight for treaties to be respected. Treaties are the original law of the land. They predate our constitution. So, by line 3 being built, it’s being built illegally. For those of you who don’t know, Enbridge is a Canadian company, and the tar sands, the oil that will be extracted, is cited for China. So, we in no way benefit as American citizens, as civilians of the United States. We only stand to lose our land, our culture, and I hope that the other council members stand behind this resolution that’s being proposed here in Madison for a number of reasons. Certainly to protect the environment but also to protect treaty rights and to acknowledge that our first nation brothers and sisters, they have a right to their life. They have a right to their land, and we should help to protect that,” says Kilfoy-Flores.
Nibiiwakamigkwe, a demonstrator and artist at Giige Collective — a Madison-based artist collective and tattoo shop –, also stressed the importance of protecting the land from Line 3. Nibiiwakamigkwe is familiar with the waters through which Line 3 passes and says that they’re incredibly fearful of losing their access to this area.
“Our treaties that [Shadayra] talked about, they guarantee us access to a modest living from the land, and I think the U.S. government really hoped that that would be farming in the monoculture, impersonal way that they wanted us to. But in reality, for us, that’s living with the land and working with the land, and we know that our lakes and rivers, they produce some of the absolute best food in the whole world, and to no longer have access to that–it’s a death in some ways. In many ways, and so we’re incredibly fearful of losing that, and as [Shadayra] said, this breaks our treaty agreements,” says Nibiiwakamigkwe.
“This is the supreme law of the land, and so it’s incredibly concerning, and, you know, we have not given consent to these pipelines going through Anishinaabe territory. We are not able to see a future where these pipelines are in any way beneficial. We have seven generations’ teachings, so for any major decision we make, we think about: what are the consequences for the next seven generations.”
Nipinet Landsem, a demonstrator, artist and organizer at Giige Collective expressed how citizens could support the water protectors and stop the construction of the pipeline. They say that the more people that are present at water protector resistance camps, the easier it is for water protectors to do their job.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into maintaining a camp, and the more people go, the more people show up, and the more people who like lend their hands and their labor and their space and time to the water protectors up there, the easier it is for these camps to exist and continue, and the easier it is for the water protectors to do their jobs…it might not be glamorous, you might not be doing anything that’s super, that feels super revolutionary. You might just be washing a lot of dishes, but the conversations that you have and the people that you meet, and the amount of time that you donate makes a huge impact,” says Landsem.
“So often we are overlooked in fighting to be heard, and so the more people lend their voices to supporting ours, the easier it will be for us to continue fighting the pipelines and continue protecting our culture and continue existing.
Common Council President Syed Abbas called for people to stand together to oppose Line 3.
“We are fortunate. We are blessed, and we have to say thanks to indigenous communities for that–for keeping that water clean, standing for it. We need to stand with them. We might tomorrow get into a similar situation where we don’t have clean water because of contamination,” says Abbas.
Tim Cordon is the organizer of the Building Unity project. He was present at the resistance gathering at Brittingham Park today and has kept up with the movement against the reconstruction of Line 3.
Cordon says that some members of the Building Unity project have worked with city alders and county board supervisors to try to pass resolutions in support of treaty and water protection. He says that if we can’t stop these pipelines, there’s not much hope for stopping the climate crisis.
“This is just the most idiotic way to get energy at this time. It’s the most dirty and energy-intensive way to try to get energy, and we should not be investing in more of this kind of fossil fuel infrastructure at this time. We should be, you know, putting all our resources into solar, into wind, into geothermal, into biogas, whatever is gonna get us to a sustainable world,” says Cordon.
“I think what’s needed now is a massive awareness and a commitment by people to stand up against racist colonialism. I think it’s time for us to say, you know, we’ve got five centuries of domination on this continent, and this is an opportunity for us to do something different, and this is also an opportunity for us to start moving in the direction that will possibly give the next generations a shot at a livable world. So, the resolution is all part of raising awareness and inspiring people to do something, even if all they can do is send a postcard or letter.”
After the gathering, a caravan left from Brittingham Park to one of the water protector resistance camps in northern Minnesota.
Reporting for WORT News, I’m Hailey Griffin.
Image Courtesy: Hailey Griffin / WORT News