Rose and a number of other Native youth just finished a 250-mile canoe trip down the Mississippi to try to bring attention to the threat posed by Enbridge Line 3 — a proposed expansion of a tar sands crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. The “Paddle to Protect” trip was organized by Honor the Earth.
Some 80 people showed up at Big Sandy Lake Recreation Area Saturday, where the canoe trip ended. People stood in a large circle to show their support for the youth, to congratulate them on their journey, and to listen to their beautiful words.
“Everyone needs clean water to survive,” Rose told the crowd. “We don’t need pipelines to survive. Our ancestors didn’t need pipelines to survive.”
Rose said the canoe trip was an amazing experience for her. As someone who grew up in the city, she never experience nights that were so quiet and where she could listen to the animals.
You don’t have to paddle 250 miles to support the youth and the work they are doing. Several of the paddlers are part of a group called the “Youth Climate Intervenors.” The group has started a “Stop the Line 3” petition that already has more than 30,000 signatures. Please add yours and share with your networks.
The Youth Climate Intervenors are one of the select groups who will have standing to testify before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in the pipeline’s contest case hearing. They were recognized specifically because they are young, and will have to deal with the pipeline’s long-term consequences.
Nina, one of the paddlers and a youth climate intervenor, said: “I want to tell my grandchildren that I fought for this water.”
Remembering The Big Sandy Lake “Tragedy”
Choosing Big Sandy Lake to end the canoe trip was significant. It is the site of a major betrayal of the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) people by the U.S. government.
This betrayal is commonly referred to as the Big Sandy Lake Tragedy, which is a misnomer. “Tragedy” is the politically correct term to make this more digestible for most state residents.
Tragedy gives the sense that what happened was an accident or the result of some natural catastrophe. This was a crime.
The Big Sandy Lake Recreation Area has a marker, erected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which reads: “Wikwendaagoziwag: We Remember the 400 Anishinaabeg who died in the winter of 1850-51.” The signage with this monument reads in part:
The tragedy unfolded when U.S. government officials attempted to illegally relocated a number of Ojibwe [Anishinaabe] Bands from their homes in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan to northern Minnesota. In the late autumn of 1850, thousands of Ojibwes had assembled at Big Sandy Lake for their annual treaty annuity payments. As the Ojibwe waited nearly six weeks for their payments, they suffered from illness, hunger and exposure. Many died from dysentery and measles. The promised annuities were never fully paid, and after the last of the meager provision were distributed on December 2, the Ojibwes began an arduous journey home. Harsh winter conditions had already set in and many more died along the way.
An article in the Minnesota History Magazine “A Day in the Life of the Ojibwe” by Anton Treuer and David Treuer, provides additional information, noting that the government gave the Ojibwe spoiled meat: “Indians felt that the poisoning was intentional. American officials claimed it was an accident, however, and no reparations were made.”
Illegally pushing people off their land. Failing to live up to promises to provide basic sustenance. Giving people spoiled meat. This is more than a tragedy. There must be a more honest name for this event, such as the Big Sandy Lake Extermination.
Big Sandy Lake is one more symbol of the broken promises the U.S. government made to Native peoples. Approving Line 3 would be another broken promise. The Anishinaabeg have treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather along the proposed Line 3 pipeline route. They have not been adequately consulted in the process. A pipeline spill could do incredible damage to wild rice areas.
The Line 3 final Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Department of Commerce evades taking a position on whether Line 3 violates treaty rights, showing a lack of responsibility and courage on the part of the state.
Has Enbridge Started Pipeline Prep in Minnesota?
Garrett Lampson has posted videos on Facebook (here, here, and here) suggesting that Enbridge already is clearing right-of-way near Mud Lake in Minnesota in preparation for the new Line 3 pipeline, even though it has not been approved yet.
On the video, the narrator says it is on the right-of-way for a power line, but it also is on the proposed route of the Line 3 pipeline. Culverts and a wide clearing suggests this is more than just a right-of-way clearing for a power line, the narrator said.
This is one worth following.