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Water protectors continue to disrupt Line 3 construction



Singing, drumming, and praying at the gates of a hazardous pipeline pump station, Indigenous grassroots resisters held off project work for over an hour until police showed up to disburse them. COURTESY / Josh Pacheco Photography

FLOODWOOD, Minn. — Two dozen Indigenous water protectors and allies sang, drummed, and prayed outside the gates of the Gowan Pump Station on the Line 3 tar-sands crude hazardous pipeline route here May 22. In doing so, they delayed construction work for over an hour.

The direct action prevented trucks from entering the site, constituting one of many project disruptions in a sustained opposition campaign.

When police arrived at the scene to disburse the crowd, the assembled water protectors held their ground. Taysha Martineau, the Anishinaabe founder of Camp Migizi, invited all present to touch the earth in a moment of prayer. The police officers participated.

“I want you to think about where your people come from,” Martineau said. “I want you to remember that before your ancestors came here, you were tribal people once too. You have connections to this land, the same as me. We have connections to one another,“ she said. “This earth, this isn’t a natural resource, she is the only source we have.” After praying, officers said they would arrest all protesters on site if they did not disperse.

Another Indigenous water protector said, “This pipeline is ripping up our sacred mother. She’s had enough abuse. We need to stand up and protect her. If this pipeline goes through, its going to kill all the wild rice beds; it’s going to kill the largest sources of water, polluted to where it can be fit for human drinking, for any of the animals, for the four legged, the two legged, the winged, for those who walk, slither, and crawl.”

The new Line 3 pipeline has faced significant opposition in Minnesota since it was proposed in 2014. The resistance movement cites many reasons for opposing the fossil fuel infrastructure project, namely threats to water, Indigenous cultural survival, and tribal sovereignty, as well as the future of the climate.

Martineau, a longtime campaigner for an end to  the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous relatives, said, “Construction of these pipelines is directly correlated with an increase in sex trafficking.”

This correlation has been demonstrated by the state of Minnesota’s Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. In February, two workers associated with the Line 3 project were arrested and charged for their involvement in sex trafficking.

Like, Camp Migizi, multiple water protector camps on the frontlines are currently holding open invitations for supporters to join them in resistance to Line 3’s construction. Red Lake and White Earth tribal governments are suing over breach of treaty rights in permitting the line.

Meanwhile, Lakota tribal governments opposing Dakota Access Pipeline’s operation in unceded treaty territory in North Dakota fielded a blow from the court system. On May 20, a U.S. District Court ruled against Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request to stop the oil flow in the line at least until completion of an environmental impact statement.

The decision came one week after the U.S. Circuit Court in the District of Columbia denied Dakota Access Pipeline’s request for approval to keep its permit while the oil company appeals to the Supreme Court the ruling that forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete the environmental impact statement for the pipeline’s Oahe crossing of the Missouri River, as requested by tribes.

That denial reaffirmed the pipeline is operating illegally, according to the tribe’s attorneys at Earthjustice. However, the Corps has made no move to stop the oil flow.

In the most recent ruling, District Judge James E. Boasberg said, “The Corps has not yet issued any determination on the matter at all — more than 10 months since the invalidation of the underlying easement.”

He said his move puts the onus on the Corps for disregarding the law. The agency’s permit approval was arbitrary and capricious in legal terms, and it makes the pipeline an illegal encroachment on federal jurisdiction, he noted.

“That, of course, is a political decision outside this court’s area of inquiry. Whether the Corps formally acknowledges such decision or not, this is the outcome it now owns,” he concluded.

Nicole Ducheneaux, lead counsel on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s case to stop the DAPL oil flow, called it “an expected, but still maddening decision.”

(Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.net)

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