October 15, 2021
An illustration of the Great Lakes region, through which Enbridge Energy’s Lines 3 and 5 carrying tar sands oil flows / credit: Bill Krupinski
Toward Freedom Editor’s Note: Members of ‘s Board of Directors are involved in struggles while they serve on TF ‘ s working board. Board President Rebecca Kemble spent the summer in central Minnesota, where a struggle against pipelines carrying oil derived from Canadian tar sands has taken place. Enbridge Energy is a Canadian multinational corporation running tar sands pipelines through the United States for export because it has not been able to get permission to build them in Canada. However, all of the land on which Enbridge’s Pipeline 3, known as “Line 3,” passes either is 1854 or 1855 Treaty Territory. The Obijwe people ceded the territory to the U.S. government in exchange for the rights to hunt, fish and gather on those lands in perpetuity. Line 3 also plows through hundreds of wild-rice beds. Northern and central Minnesota, as well as northern Wisconsin, are the only places where wild rice grows. It is sacred to the Anishinaabe peoples (made up of the Ojibwe, Ottawa and Pottowotami nations) of the Great Lakes region. The U.S. government initiated the 1854 and 1855 treaties to avoid costly military campaigns for land conquest. Since they were written, these treaties have been broken multiple times. In the last several decades, the Ojibwe people have been successfully asserting their treaty rights in federal courts. The White Earth Band of Ojibwe recently sued Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources for permitting Line 3 and, in so doing, failing to protect the state’s fresh water. Manoomin (wild rice) is named as a plaintiff in that case. (In Ecuador and New Zealand, rivers have been named plaintiffs.) At least 6 active and autonomous “No Line 3” camps have occupied central Minnesota over the past summer. Some have been established as direct-action camps, while others are cultural and educational camps.
Monday, October 12, marked Indigenous People’s Day, which kicked off a series of daily protest actions in Washington, D.C. While U.S. President Joe Biden issued a proclamation Monday affirming Indigenous sovereignty, the federal government continues to allow violations of Indigenous sovereignty, such as in the form of pipeline projects.
For the first time since the 1970s, Indigenous people occupied the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs this week in Washington. A group called People vs. Fossil Fuels stated in a press release 130 people were arrested.
Abolition of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Restoration of 110 million acres (450,000 km2) of land taken away from Native Nations
Bring Home Our Children Buried At Your Residential Schools
Restoration of treaty-making (ended by Congress in 1871)
Establishment of a treaty commission to make new treaties (with sovereign Native Nations)
Honor the Treaties
No new leases for oil and gas or extractive industry on public lands
Free, Prior, and Informed Consent
Reclaim and affirm health, housing, employment, economic development, and education for all Indigenous people
Restoration of terminated rights
Repeal of state jurisdiction on Native Nations
Federal protection for offenses against Indians
Below is a series of photos Rebecca Kemble captured over the summer.
Sunset on the Shell River in 1855 Treaty Territory, now within the U.S. state of Minnesota. The treaty created the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs reservations in northern Minnesota, while ceding territory to the U.S. government. The river is home to many plant, mollusk, fish, insect, bird and animal species, including the endangered Higgins’ Eye Pearlymussel and many beds of wild rice. The historic drought of the summer of 2021 reduced the water flow to between 10 percent and 25 percent of its normal rate. As a consequence, it was possible to walk down many miles of the river bed. Enbridge Energy drilled under the river in five locations using Horizontal Directional Drilling methods.
Throughout the summer of 2021, Honor the Earth, an organization that has provided grants to more than 200 Indigenous communities, sponsored an Anishinaabe culture and education camp at the Shell City Campground on the shores of the Shell River. The Anishinaabe people are indigenous to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario. Over the course of the summer, thousands of people visited the camp, participating in river monitoring and cultural activities, and learning about Anishinaabe culture, history and the 1855 Treaty between the Upper Mississippi Ojibwe and the U.S. government.
Rays of the sun seem to pull the canoe forward as a camper returns from an evening paddle. <img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-13888 size-full" src="https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/IMG_4545-scaled.jpg" alt="
The break in the trees is the Enbridge easement in Wadena County, Minnesota, where Line 3 will cross under the Shell River. The light green vegetation on the water’s edge is a wild-rice bed.” width=”2560″ height=”1706″ srcset=”https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/IMG_4545-scaled.jpg 2560w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/IMG_4545-300×200.jpg 300w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/IMG_4545-1024×683.jpg 1024w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/IMG_4545-768×512.jpg 768w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/IMG_4545-1536×1024.jpg 1536w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/IMG_4545-2048×1365.jpg 2048w” sizes=”(max-width: 2560px) 100vw, 2560px”> The break in the trees is the Enbridge easement in Wadena County, Minnesota, where Line 3 will cross under the Shell River. The light green vegetation on the water’s edge is a wild-rice bed.
The endangered Higgins’ Eye Pearlymussel was found in the Shell River near the Enbridge escarpment. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources refused to send staff to the river to confirm their existence.
Higgins’ Eye Pearlymussel found in the Shell River on the Enbridge easement.
University of Minnesota students testing water temperatures in the river above the location where Enbridge installed Line 3.
Law enforcement arrived on the Enbridge easement as scientists conducted water monitoring experiments. An easement is the point at which a jurisdiction grants an entity permission to cross.
Enbridge pipes ready to be welded and trenched into the ground in Wadena County, Minnesota.
Honor the Earth delegation joins a Fourth of July parade in Park Rapids, Minnesota, as police and sheriff cars follow.
Mavis Mantila stands by a giant sturgeon puppet during the Park Rapids Fourth of July parade.
Honor the Earth Executive Director and White Earth tribal member Winona LaDuke at the end of the Park Rapids Fourth of July parade.
After the parade, water protectors marched to local Enbridge offices in Park Rapids.
Park Rapids police guarding Enbridge property. Water protectors were ordered off the property.
A sign left behind on the Enbridge entrance’s sign reads, “Who Profit$ Who Dies?” <img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-13924 size-full" src="https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/B24A65DF-A3B2-428C-AC20-197BCBF966EA-scaled.jpg" alt="
Chelsea Fairbank, completing her Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Maine, installs an Honoring Water art project at the Shell City Campground in July, 2021. The project is based on her doctoral research that focuses on large-scale fossil-fuel extraction sites, and the peoples impacted in these zones.” width=”2560″ height=”1920″ srcset=”https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/B24A65DF-A3B2-428C-AC20-197BCBF966EA-scaled.jpg 2560w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/B24A65DF-A3B2-428C-AC20-197BCBF966EA-300×225.jpg 300w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/B24A65DF-A3B2-428C-AC20-197BCBF966EA-1024×768.jpg 1024w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/B24A65DF-A3B2-428C-AC20-197BCBF966EA-768×576.jpg 768w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/B24A65DF-A3B2-428C-AC20-197BCBF966EA-1536×1152.jpg 1536w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/B24A65DF-A3B2-428C-AC20-197BCBF966EA-2048×1536.jpg 2048w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/B24A65DF-A3B2-428C-AC20-197BCBF966EA-678×509.jpg 678w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/B24A65DF-A3B2-428C-AC20-197BCBF966EA-326×245.jpg 326w, https://towardfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/B24A65DF-A3B2-428C-AC20-197BCBF966EA-80×60.jpg 80w” sizes=”(max-width: 2560px) 100vw, 2560px”> Chelsea Fairbank, completing her Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Maine, installs an Honoring Water art project at the Shell City Campground in July, 2021. The project is based on her doctoral research that focuses on large-scale fossil-fuel extraction sites, and the peoples impacted in these zones.
Part of the Honoring Water project includes the press release from the 1855 Treaty Authority that announced the White Earth Band of Ojibwe’s formal declaration of the Rights of Manoomin (wild rice) in their territory.
Page 2 of the Rights of Manoomin press release.
Kiley Knowles (right) of the Obijwe nation and Nova Dakota of Dakota/Tla-o-qui-aht ancestry on a horse named Bud at Shell City Horse Camp.
Dakota singer Hoka Wicasa spent the summer teaching songs and ceremonies to Ojibwe youth at the Shell City Horse Camp.
Jim Northrup III, a Fond du Lac Ojibwe member, teaching youth how to erect a tipi at the Shell City Horse Camp. Sawyer, 12, tries his hand as a rope runner. Rope running requires walking the rope around tipi poles to secure them together at the top, where the poles meet. This helps create the structure for a tipi, a traditional shelter for Indigenous peoples mainly of the plains and prairies of North America.
Sasha Richards leads riders as she carries water through downtown Park Rapids on one leg of the Line 3 Nibi (Water) Walk that began at Lake Superior in Wisconsin and went 359 miles to the Red River in North Dakota. Kiley Knowles carries the staff behind her.
Teenagers Kiley, Iris and Sasha ride the Nibi Walk route in Hubbard County, Minnesota.
Riders crossing a Line 3 site in Hubbard County, Minnesota.
Signs at the camp read, from left to right, “From the Bronx to Shell River: Defend the Sacred,” “Welcome the Lummi Nation” and “Love Water: HonorEarth.org” Banners at Shell City Campground welcoming the House of Tears Carvers from Lummi Nation on their Red Road to DC journey.
Honor the Earth Executive Director Winona LaDuke and Board President Oneida tribal member Paul DeMain join House of Tears carver Sit ki kadem and painter Siam’el wit of Lummi Nation on a stop at Shell City Camp. This was part of the Red Road to DC 20th anniversary Totem Pole journey to protect sacred sites.
House of Tears Carvers painter Siam’el wit gives Jim Northrup III a blanket at the end of the honoring ceremony at Shell City Camp.
Water protectors and Red Road to DC tour denizens at Shell City Camp.
White Earth Tribal member and RISE Coalition co-founder Dawn Goodwin (second from right) serves an Enbridge representative with a cease-and-desist order for work on Line 3 under the Mississippi River. The order was from the White Earth Tribal Council. However, Enbridge did not acknowledge it as it wasn’t signed by a U.S. judge. Clearwater County Sheriff Darin Halverson (second from left) flanks the representative while White Earth Tribal Council member Raymond Auginaush, Sr. (center) accompanies Dawn. Dawn and others established Camp Firelight near the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Coffee Pot Landing in Clearwater County, where Enbridge had set up pumping and drilling stations to bore under the river. Pipeline 3 is set to travel under the river, a cause for concern as it violates the sovereignty of Ojibwe people in the 1855 Treaty Territory and could pollute water for 20 million people who live downstream when the pipeline leaks. Pipeline leaks are common in the United States.
A confrontation with an Enbridge representative and a county sheriff.
Dakota singer Hoka Wicasa sings as youth runners from Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Nations in North and South Dakota approach an Enbridge work site near Camp Firelight. The youth ran the pipeline route across Minnesota from North Dakota to Wisconsin, stopping at all of the water protector camps across the region.
Youth runners count coup on Enbridge at Coffee Pot Landing in Clearwater County, Minnesota. Among the Plains Indians of North America, counting coup is the warrior tradition of winning prestige against an enemy in battle. It involves shaming the enemy, and, it is hoped, persuading the enemy to admit defeat, without having to kill them. These victories may then be remembered, recorded and recounted as part of the community’s oral, written or pictorial histories.
Runners placed a red prayer tie on the barbed wire that surrounds the Enbridge work site. Enbridge workers can be seen in the background.
Women of Camp Firelight on the bridge across the Mississippi River awaiting the departure of the youth runners from camp.
Pumping station on the shores of the Mississippi River at Coffee Pot Landing in Clearwater County, Minnesota, taking water for Horizontal Directional Drilling activities. The Minnesota DNR permitted Enbridge to withdraw nearly 6 billion gallons of water for pipeline construction and testing activities at the height of a historic drought. They were initially permitted to take 500 million gallons, but later the permit was amended for an additional 5 billion gallons. This was done without consultation with the Tribes.
Enbridge easement on the wetland crossing the Mississippi River. Earlier in the summer, thousands of people gathered here and some occupied and held this site for 8 days during the Treaty People Gathering. In the course of the summer, drilling activities produced at least 6 “frac-outs,” which meant drilling fluid spilled into the river and wetlands. Wetlands are a crucial feature of the environment and are home to many species.
The photographer’s canine companion, Makwa, and husband, Adam Chern, 55, of Madison, Wisconsin, walk on the Mississippi River Bridge near Camp Firelight and Coffee Pot Landing in Clearwater County, Minnesota.
The Camp Firelight kitchen. Many resources were needed to sustain the camp throughout the summer. Much of it was funded by tribal members and camp visitors, as well as from donations.
Caption needed. Signs at the camp read, “Honor Treaties” and “Caution: Treaty Rights in Progress.” The art, the focus on treaties and the traditional structure
Enbridge drilling and pumping worksite near Coffee Pot Landing on the Upper Mississippi River.
RISE Coalition founder Dawn Goodwin sits on the bridge across the Mississippi River awaiting news of the 7 Camp Firelight water protectors who had been arrested while praying on the easement the day before.
Seven Camp Firelight arrestees were released from Becker County jail on August 4. RISE Coalition and Camp Firelight co-founder Nancy Beaulieu is second from right. The night before, Clearwater County Sheriff deputies arrested the seven in Clearwater County. They they were transported by a Polk County vehicle, booked into jail in Pennington County system and physically taken to the Becker County jail. More than 900 arrests of water protectors along Line 3 took place in the past year.
One of several water meters installed on Park Rapids fire hydrants to serve Enbridge’s water needs. The city of Park Rapids sold 6 million gallons of water to Enbridge for their camp and construction operations. This was done without the knowledge or consent of the Park Rapids City Council or residents. Because of drought conditions, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources ordered them to halt the sales.
One of the many frac-out sites outlined with wooden stakes along Line 3.
No Line 3 banner on the Enbridge easement by the Welcome Water Protector Camp on the Mississippi River on Aitkin County, Minnesota.
Honor the Earth is focused on building a just transition away from fossil fuels through tribal business development. Winona LaDuke’s Hemp & Heritage Farm grows hemp and other food, and distributes “pipeline-free” wild rice harvested by Ojibwe people from the region.
Akiing 8th Fire Solar is another business started by Honor the Earth as part of its just transition activities.
“Black Snake Killer” hand drum resting against a tree at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the end of the Treaty People Walk for Water. Dozens of walkers departed from Camp Firelight on August 7 and walked 259 miles to St. Paul, arriving on August 25. Walkers were joined by others at the recreation center for the final mile-and-a-half walk to the State Capitol. They marched in silence in honor of the thousands of children’s remains found in residential boarding schools over the summer, and for all missing and murdered Indigenous relatives.
Crane puppets flowing silently through the streets of St. Paul.
Crane puppets flowing silently through the streets of St. Paul.
Hoka Wicasa holds feathers, sage and a hand drum depicting a jaguar eating the heart of a priest in front of a hearse and the Cathedral of Saint Paul at the end of the Treaty People Walk for the Water on August 25.
Kaylee Moody and Joe Morales (Yaqui), organizers of the Treaty People Walk for Water, on the final stretch of the 259-mile walk.
Ojibwe women Winona LaDuke and Tania Aubid on the Treaty People Walk for Water. Last winter, Winona and Tania established a prayer lodge and the Welcome Water Protector Camp on the shores of the Mississippi River in Aitken County, Minnesota. They have been arrested numerous times protecting the water from Enbridge’s construction activities over the past year. In their defense, they argue their treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather in their territories supercede a foreign oil company’s right to destroy the land and water upon which those rights depend.
Dozens of tipis were erected on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds during the week of August 23.
In anticipation of Indigenous people arriving on his doorstep, Governor Tim Walz shut down the Minnesota State Capitol for a week and installed concrete barricades and fencing. Hundreds of law enforcement officers patrolled the grounds for that week.
Walkers were honored with songs at the Minnesota State Capitol at the conclusion of the Treaty People Walk for Water.
Water walkers and other Indigenous elders were honored with blankets at the Minnesota State Capitol at the end of the Treaty People Walk for Water on August 25.
Treaty People Walk for Water organizer Joe Morales (Yaqui) embraces fellow water protectors at the conclusion of the 259-mile walk.
Medicine Wheel banner depicting Ojibwe sacred foods—wild rice, strawberries and blueberries—at the Minnesota State Capitol after the Treaty People Walk for Water on August 25.
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