Treaty People Gathering was about more than resistance and arrests, but a teaching moment

Treaties are a two-way street with rights and responsibilities for both parties. On Line 3, Minnesota is failing its duty.

Photo: Ron Turney, EIN

The Treaty People Gathering, June 5-8, garnered extensive media coverage, notably the June 7 actions taken to stop construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota.

The media covered the political pressure placed on President Joe Biden to live up to his campaign promises to address climate change and respect Tribal sovereignty. It covered water protectors chaining themselves to Enbridge equipment and the subsequent arrests of approximately 200 people. It covered speeches by important movement leaders and celebrities such as Winona LaDuke, Tara Houska and Jane Fonda.

Most stories made a passing reference to treaty rights, but failed to give the topice much ink. It’s not something that fits easily into a two-paragraph summary or a 30-second video clip.

The problem is that many non-Indigenous people erroneously view treaty rights as a gift from the United State government to Indigenous Nations. Treaty rights are a binding contract between two parties, each with their own rights and responsibilities.

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Line 3 resistance now focuses on Biden

One piece of broader effort to stop pipelines

Darrell G. Seki Sr., chair of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and Michael Fairbanks, Chair of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe wrote a strong letter to President Biden last winter asking him to shut down Enbridge Line 3 by executive order.

They asked Biden to respect Tribal sovereignty and treaties. “As elected leaders, we wish to state clearly that the Bands never gave consent for the construction of the pipeline through our treaty lands,” the Feb. 2 letter said. “In fact, the Bands’ governing bodies have each enacted multiple Resolutions throughout the course of the five-year regulatory process in opposition to the 338 miles of pipeline construction through the largest concentration of wild rice watersheds in the United States.”

With Walz being a wallflower in the Line 3 debate, Tribes, water protectors and their allies have ramped up presidential pressure.

Last month, more than 300 organizations “representing Indigenous groups and national and local organizations, sent a letter to the Biden Administration calling on him to immediately suspend or revoke Enbridge’s Line 3 permits,” WECAN reported.

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Why don’t I trust Enbridge? Let me count the ways

Big month ahead, including major Line 3 court ruling

File: Gichi-gami Gathering to Stop Line 3 in Duluth.

Tribal nations and environmental and Indigenous-led groups have worked for years to stop Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 tars sands pipeline through northern Minnesota. Line 3 is bad for the environment, bad for climate, violates treaty rights and simply isn’t needed.

Enbridge is a multi-national, bottom-line company seeking to minimize its costs and maximize its profits. It prioritizes its profits over the environment, climate, and treaty rights.

Minnesota regulators shouldn’t have put their trust in Enbridge, let alone approved Line 3 permits. There are plenty of examples to show how Enbridge has lacked transparency and not been a reliable partner, both here and in other states.

Work on Line 3 has slowed in the past few months due to springtime construction restrictions. It’s now picking back up.

Water protectors and their allies are hosting the Treaty People Gathering up north from Saturday-Tuesday, with large-scale, non-violent civil disobedience being organized.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals will rule no later than June 21 on the first of three major legal challenges to Line 3 in state and federal courts. This first suit seeks to overturn Line 3’s Certificate of Need, Route Permit, and Environmental Impact Statement.

With a busy and important month ahead, I’m take this opportunity to review the red flags I’ve seen surrounding Enbridge and its Line 3 proposal.

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AP buys Enbridge’s Line 3 jobs claim without needed skepticism

According to an AP story last week, Minnesota residents have gotten more than half of the Enbridge Line 3 construction jobs. Its source was Mike Fernandez, Enbridge’s chief communications officer. The AP accepted it as fact when it deserved a more critical eye.

Other media outlets picked up the AP story, including the Washington Post, the Pioneer Press, the Bismarck Tribune, and the Detroit News, spreading the questionable claim.

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Racial justice demands continue for Native American, African American communities

Sounds of Blackness sang as part of the one-year anniversary remembrance of George Floyd’s murder.

Tuesday, hundreds and hundreds of people gathered at 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis to commemorate the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of city police. Today, another 100 people gathered outside the Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul to continue demands to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, a project that creates the most harm for the Anishinaabe peoples of northern Minnesota.

The two events are linked by the legacy and ongoing reality of white supremacy culture.

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Grandmothers stand against Line 3, Bay Mills Indian Community banishes Enbridge Line 5, and other news and events

In this blog:

  • Grandmother to Grandmother, Stop Line 3, Wednesday (today) at noon
  • 13th Annual Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering, Friday at 8 a.m.
  • Walk with Migizi, Friday, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Bay Mills Indian Community banishes Enbridge Line 5
  • Private museums that accepted federal COVID relief money might have to repatriate Indigenous artifacts and remains in their collections
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Northern Metal Recycling remains nuisance property, Minneapolis neighbors say, time to shut it down

Work continues at Northern Metal’s Minneapolis plant

Northern Metal Recycling operated in North Minneapolis from 2009-2019 and was cited numerous times for air quality violations before finally being forced out of town to a new facility in Becker. The company no longer processes scrap metal in Minneapolis, but it continues to use the yard to collect scrap metal.

Neighbors say — again– they’ve had enough.

Some 50-60 people gathered outside the plant at 2800 Pacific Ave. N. on Tuesday to symbolically issue a restraining order and demand government leaders close the remaining operations permanently.

“Northern Metal has never been kind to us,” said Roxxanne O’Brien, a member of Community Members for Environmental Justice (CMEJ) and event organizer. “We must start holding people accountable.”

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A webinar, a rally, a play, and Canada’s double standard on treaty rights

In this blog:

  • Webinar: Indian Boarding School Cemeteries and Missing Children, May 26
  • Rally: Grandmothers to meet at Governor’s mansion to oppose Enbridge Line 3, May 26
  • Play: The Missouri River Water Walk, May 21-23 at Hidden Falls
  • Canada’s double standard on treaty rights
  • Carbon sequestration helps Yurok Tribe in California grow its land base
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George Floyd Memorial, May 25, Northern Metal Community Intervention May 18, and upcoming Stop Line 3 events

In this post:

  • Rise & Remember George Floyd Global Memorial Celebration, May 25
  • Northern Metal Community Intervention, May 18
  • Treaty People Gathering June, 5-8
  • Water, Resistance, and Healing In These Bodies – #StopLine3, May 16 in Backus and online
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Northern Metal Case Study: The MPCA’s claims to have held the company ‘accountable’ don’t hold up to scrutiny

Third part of a three-part series

Part I and Part II:  The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) permitted a giant metal shredder and recycling operation in North Minneapolis in a neighborhood where residents already faced high asthma rates. Northern Metal Recycling began operating in 2009 and initial smokestack tests showed it was violating air quality standards for particle pollution. The MPCA’s solution was to update Northern Metal’s permit in 2012 to allow more air pollution. Independent air testing in 2016 showed air pollution problems were worse than expected, including lead pollution. Community members demanded state action. Still, Northern Metal was able to forestall MPCA’s enforcement action.

Part III: Northern Metal’s is caught doctoring records and faces no serious consequences. It’s eventually forced out of North Minneapolis, nearly a decade after the first air quality violations were reported. The MPCA’s response to Northern Metal is not an outlier. There are other examples where the agency sided with corporate interests over residents’ interests.

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