ICWA lawsuit primer: What it’s about, what’s at stake, who’s involved, and why we should care

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case this year trying to end the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law that provides states guidance on how to handle “child abuse and neglect and adoption cases involving Native children,” with the goal to keep Native children in Native homes.

The case, Haaland v. Brackeen, has huge implications for Native children and families. Less well known is how corporate interests appear to be weighing in, trying to undermine Tribal sovereignty to increase their profits.

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Understanding the Regulatory/Industrial Complex’s ‘Pipeline Playbook’

File: Line 3 construction

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), Enbridge Line 3 in Minnesota, Enbridge Line 5 in Wisconsin and Michigan, and other crude oil pipelines have had, or continue to have, controversial paths towards approval.

With the exception of Keystone XL, corporate interests have won out over strong public resistance and weak regulatory oversight. 

Pipeline firms have got the go-ahead on massive infrastructure projects in spite of their their treaty violations, their troubling track records, and their long-term environmental costs, including their significant climate damage.

The Regulatory/Industrial Complex has a Pipeline Playbook that needs to be named and called out.

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Water protector wins civil rights appeal against Morton County for excessive force used during DAPL resistance

Water protector Marcus Mitchell won a victory in the Eighth District Court of Appeals today; the ruling reversed a lower court decision that dismissed his excessive force claims.

Mitchell’s lawsuit now goes back to lower court for further deliberations.

Morton County Sheriff’s deputies shot Mitchell with lead-filled bean bags while he peacefully protested the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in 2017. One of those bean bags hit him in the head, shattering his eye socket. (Photo here.) Mitchell lost sight in his left eye, and has partial hearing loss in his left ear, an article in The Guardian said.

The decision is powerful in how it paints a clear picture of Morton County’s excessive use of force against many water protectors.

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From the Line 3 front lines: Arrests at multiple sites, police dogs, an eviction order and its repeal, police harassment, and cultural renewal as pipeline construction escalates

Photo: Indigenous Environmental Network

Indigenous nations and people are flexing their treaty muscles to Stop Line 3.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota Department of Transportation threatened arrests and evictions earlier today at the Red Lake Treaty Camp in Pennington County. The camp is adjacent to lands where Enbridge plans to tunnel Line 3 under the Red Lake River.

The agencies later rescinded their trespass order, indicating that Water Protectors in the area are not required to leave.

That said, law enforcement arrested one person at the Treaty Camp Tuesday. They also brought attack dogs, according to a media release, reminiscent of Standing Rock.

Unlike Standing Rock, however, which focused on the Dakota Access Pipeline’s Missouri River crossing, Line 3 runs 337 miles border-to-border through northern Minnesota, crossing more than 200 bodies. Resistance is spread out. Water Protectors use a variety of tactics. Some resist with peaceful presence, exercising their treaty-protected rights to hold ceremony on Line 3 easements. Others lock down to equipment.

In other news today, Water Protectors locked down to Enbridge’s Horizontal Directional Drill (HDD) equipment being used to bore a Line 3 tunnel under the Straight River in Hubbard County, according to the Giniw Collective.

On Monday, three Water Protectors connected to a ceremony were arrested in Aitkin County on an Enbridge easement for its second Mississippi River crossing.

Details below.

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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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Decision delayed (again) on DAPL shut down; Appeals Court strikes down key ICWA provision, and more

In this blog:

  • Judge, Army Corps, play Kick-the-Can-Down-the-Road on DAPL shut down
  • U.S. Court of Appeals weakens Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
  • ND House passes law mandating Native American history as a part of K-12 education
  • CNN Op/Ed by Rep. Ilhan Omar, Tara Houska: The pipeline that President Biden needs to stop
  • Water protectors blockade Enbridge’s Bemidji office demanding #StopLine3
  • Michigan tribal leaders denounce Enbridge for ‘manipulative’ video about Indigenous peacemaking
  • Enbridge and Frankenstein
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Line 3 updates: Enbridge, PUC field tough questions in court; “Operation River Crossing,” and more

  • PUC rejects nearly $100,000 in Line 3 reimbursements sought by the Beltrami County Sheriff
  • Northern Lights Task Force launches “Operation River Crossing” for Line 3
  • Enbridge faces tough questioning on the need for Line 3
  • U. of M. students press Regents to denounce and defund Line 3, seek public support
  • Stronger Together to Stop DAPL, Line 3 event Tuesday, March 30
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