DAPL Update: Pipeline Company Donates ‘Influence Money’ to North Dakota First Responders; a Disappointing Court Decision; and Charges Against Journalist Dismissed

It’s been a while since we have written on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL); here are a few updates.

File photo

First, Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind DAPL, is donating $140,000 to North Dakota first responders. I am not quite sure what to call this. At a minimum, it’s influence money. It almost feels like legal bribery for future aid. Whatever you call it, it stinks. If first responders are supposed to treat everyone impartially, these kinds of donations mess up the equation and create favorites.

KFRY TV in Bismarck, ND, reported that Energy Transfer Partners representatives hand delivered $20,000 each to the seven counties DAPL crosses, money meant for their first responders.

“And now we want to go into each county and let them know how grateful we are. We know everyone has worked hard and has been patient through this whole process and we are so grateful,” said Dakota Access Pipeline spokesperson Lisa Dillinger.

KSFY, an ABC affiliate in Sioux Falls, SD, reports that Energy Transfer Partners donated $65,000 for agricultural education, spread among the 13 South Dakota counties crossed by DAPL.

To make matters worse, on top of the influence it buys, Energy Transfer Partners probably also gets a charitable donation tax write-off.

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Events: Reflections on Standing Rock and “Killers of the Harvest Moon”

Unitarian Social Justice Group to Hear about Work at Standing Rock at Oct. 5 Event

Rev. Karen Van Fossan and her Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Bismarck/Mandan worked to develop a close partnership with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock and other Native nations for the duration of the struggle to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline and work for Indigenous sovereignty. She will be the keynote speaker at the Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA) annual fundraiser and celebration, Thursday, Oct. 5, 6-8:30 p.m. at First Universalist in Minneapolis, 3400 Dupont Ave. S. in Minneapolis.

It’s a fundraiser, but you invited whether or not you can contribute. All donations are appreciated. The evening is meant to bring together Unitarian Universalists and partners to build relationships, deepen connections, and celebrate everyone’s shared work for justice.

Rev. Karen will reflect on the relationship between healing work and decolonization as spiritual justice practices, the transformative power of deep partnerships across experiences and identities, and the inevitability of making powerful mistakes in the work for powerful change.

At the event, you’ll hear from MUUSJA’s new statewide organizer, Pastor Danny Givens, and enjoy some delicious food and drink from the Sioux Chef.

Click here to RSVP.

Discussions That Encounter Holds “Killers of the Flower Moon” Event About the Theft of Indigenous Lands in Oklahoma

The group Discussions That Encounter will host a conversation about the outrageous theft of Oklahoma oil lands in the 1920s through marriage, murder and the complicity of the white community.  The event is Thursday, September 28 at St. Olaf Church (215 South 8th Street, Minneapolis) in the Forliti  Gathering Room. Supper and social begins at 6:30 p.m. with program from 7-8:30 p.m. All are welcome, free of charge!

Ms. Liz Moore will provide a book review of Killers of the Flower Moon, a documentary of the Osage Nation murders and the birth of the FBI. The book has been described by New York Times author John Grisham as “A fascinating account of a tragic and forgotten chapter in the history of the American West.” Ms. Moore will lead us in discussion of the implications for our Native population and for all of us, and does not require that we have read the book. Please join us! (Here is a previous blog on the book.)

Free parking is available in the church lot, enter from South 8th Street or 3rd Avenue just past the church.

 

In Returning the Sacred Red Rock to the Dakota, Methodists Want to Build Relationships, Lead State Towards Healing Path

The Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) is in the early stages of returning In-Yan Sa (the sacred Red Rock) to the Dakota people, according to an article the UMC published online. The UMC says this is part of a larger effort of healing, building relationships with indigenous peoples, and leading the rest of Minnesota along this important journey.

(The Dakota word for the Red Rock also is spelled Eyah-Shaw.)

The article continued:

“We live in Dakota and Ojibwa lands—land systematically taken from the Dakota and Ojibwa through treaties violated or broken by the U.S. government, land long sacred to its native inhabitants,” said Bishop Ough. “Since the 2012 General Conference, our Minnesota Conference Commission on Native American Ministry has been preparing us to walk the path of peace and reconciliation with the Dakota people and to heal the lingering wounds form the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. This is the moment for the Minnesota Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church to lead the entire state down this path of healing and reconciliation. This is the moment to return Eyah-Shaw. This would be a powerful and just step toward peace and harmony.”

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Congress Needs to Investigate Corporate Influence on Law Enforcement’s DAPL Response

An Open Letter to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken, and Rep. Keith Ellison:

Regardless of your view on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), I hope we all can agree that the standoff and violence that occurred near Standing Rock should never have happened. We must learn from this tragic event.

In that regard, I ask you to investigate the actions of the National Sheriffs’ Association and  its role in doing opposition research against water protectors and its ties and coordination with TigerSwan, the private security firm hired by Energy Transfer Partners to protect DAPL. This should include a review of the rationale and appropriateness of the law enforcement tactics used.

Screen capture of 2016 video showing the heavily militarized response to water protectors.

This is a national issue. Law enforcement  from several states — including Minnesota — were deployed to Morton County, North Dakota through mutual assistance agreements. What are the lessons these law enforcement agents will take back to their home communities?

This should be of particular to concern to those of us in Minnesota. Canadian company Enbridge Line 3 has proposed expanding a tar sands crude pipeline through the state, called Line 3. It would run from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, and includes 337 miles of pipeline through Minnesota. It would cross the Mississippi River, twice, and cross many wild rice lakes. This project most likely will provoke a similar resistance movement as happened in North Dakota. (See MPR story: Minn. oil pipeline fight stokes threats, fears of Standing Rock.)

How will we respond if and when that happens?

We need a thorough review of law enforcement’s response at Standing Rock so that we don’t repeat the mistakes that were made.

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Reflections on the Sacred and Recipes from the Sioux Chef

I have been reflecting on an article I read recently in the Washington Post headlined: Catholic nuns in Pa. build a chapel to block the path of a gas pipeline planned for their property.

It’s a story about Sister Linda Fisher, 74, and her fellow nuns who are trying to stop a natural gas pipeline from crossing their rural Pennsylvania property.

“This just goes totally against everything we believe in — we believe in sustenance of all creation,” she said.

Their solution? Dedicate an outdoor chapel on the pipeline right of way. Continue reading

FYI Water Protectors: Governor Dayton is Holding Water Quality Town Hall Meetings

Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith have organized ten town hall meetings around the state giving Minnesotans an opportunity to discuss the water quality challenges, learn from experts, and engage with policymakers. The goal is to spur collaboration and action to improve Minnesota’s water quality 25 percent by 2025.

This is another opportunity for those opposed to the expanded tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota (Enbridge Line 3) to engage with state leaders and make your voices heard. A major tar sands pipeline spill would set water quality back significantly. Enbridge, a Canadian oil transportation company, has proposed abandoning an existing and failing pipeline (Line 3) and installing a new and larger pipeline, including a partial reroute. The proposed route would cut right through the Mississippi headwaters region as well as prime wild ricing areas. (For more background, click here.)

Here are the cities and dates for the Town Hall meetings.

More news and events follow.

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MPR Tar Sands Pipeline Story Flawed, Slanted

DAPL protest sign.

Let’s starting watching how the media covers the proposed expansion of a tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota, a project that threatens our environment and provides no significant benefit to Minnesota. Today’s example is MPR’s story: Minn. oil pipeline fight stokes threats, fears of Standing Rock.

Quick background: Enbridge Line 3 is a tar sands pipeline that runs from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, via northern Minnesota. Enbridge wants to abandon its old and deteriorating pipeline in the ground. It wants to install a new and larger pipeline, running 337 miles along a new route through northern Minnesota. It would cut through the Mississippi headwaters, threaten lakes and wild rice beds, and violate treaty rights.

The MPR story is deeply flawed.  Starting with the headline, the story raises “threats” and “fears” over the pipeline fight. So the first question to come to mind is: Who is doing the threatening and creating fear?

Here’s how the story sums it up:

Activists are pressing Minnesota officials now to deny the permit and kill the project. State officials and company executives working to head off a confrontation say they’re doing more than ever to listen to the concerns of those in the pipeline’s potential path.

That may not be enough to stop a confrontation.

Comment: In this frame, activists are “pressing” and even trying to “kill” the project. (“Kill” is a violent word.) State officials and company executives, on the other hand, are framed as peacemakers. They are “working” to head off a confrontation. They are doing “more than ever to listen” to concerns. As this frame goes,all that hard work and listening might not be enough to stop the confrontation, the threats, the fears.

You get the picture. This makes the activists seem unreasonable and the state and the company seem reasonable. The people — not the pipeline and the damage it would cause — are the threat.

That’s bunk. Continue reading