This Day in History (March 24, 1999): Mille Lacs Band Wins Landmark Treaty Rights Case at the U.S. Supreme Court

On this day in history, March 24, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa had the treaty-protected rights to hunt, fish, and gather on the lands the Band ceded to the U.S. government by the 1837 treaty.

This treaty has particular relevance today. Anihsinaabe bands (called either Ojibwe or Chippewa by early settlers and treaty documents) are resisting the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota based on similar claims to hunting, fishing and gathering rights along the pipeline’s proposed route.

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Events: Indigenous Films and Play; MMIW Presentation, World Water Day Celebration, and More!

Upcoming Events:

  • Local celebration of World Water Day, Friday, March 22
  • A Hidden Conversation: Oil Pipelines, Sex Trafficking, and MMIW, March 27
  • Documentary: The Indian System, March 28
  • Documentary: Awake: A Dream of Standing Rock, March 29
  • Documentary: Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code, March 31
  • Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Anne K. McKeig speaks on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, April 5
  • Ikidowin Native Youth Ensemble performs: “We Do it for the Water” April 7
  • Documentary: DAWNLAND, cultural survival and stolen children, April 8 and 13

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Corporate Clout Used Against Environmental Defenders

News wrap: Three stories on extractive industries that deserve attention.

  • Enbridge spends liberally to influence the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC)
  • Polymet coopts a beloved state institution, stifling dissent.
  • Federal judge puts the brakes on oil and gas drilling in the western United States

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Line 3 Update: Opportunities to Get Involved

The Progressive Magazine just published a piece updating the Enbridge Line 3 story. Please share.

Meanwhile, MN350 provides this update:

Despite the delays in the permitting process, Enbridge is clearing land in northern Minnesota to make way for Line 3. It’s critical that we continue to grow the resistance. Governor Walz has acknowledged many times that this tar sands project requires a social permit, in addition to a legal permit. When we organize and show up, we make it clear that Minnesotans are not granting that social permit.

Opportunities to get involved follow. Continue reading

For Enbridge Line 3, It’s the Calm Before the Storm

It’s quiet now, but there’s a looming confrontation over Enbridge Line 3.

After many contentious hearings last year, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. It was a flawed decision, ignoring climate change, treaty rights, spill risks, and the fact that Minnesota doesn’t need this pipeline to meet its oil needs.

On one hand, Line 3 still faces legal challenges and regulatory hurdles and can still be stopped. On the other, the federal government could intervene and try approve the pipeline even if the state objects.

Civil disobedience and direct action could occur should Enbridge start construction. So far things have been relatively calm. Should construction start, it’s going to get ugly. (See earlier blog: Minnesota Law Enforcement Already Coordinating with Enbridge to Respond to Line 3 Protests, Report Says.)

In the meantime, here’s what’s going on behind the scenes.

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In Approving Major Crude Oil Pipelines, Consulting with Native Nations is Not Enough; the Goal is Consent

When it comes to crude oil pipeline projects, Indigenous concerns and opposition all too often get marginalized by decision makers.

Such conduct violates the principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a commitment both the United States and Canada support. The Declaration says that governments should get Indigenous nation’s free, prior and informed consent before “adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”

What happens in practice is that the powers-that-be have a “conversation” with Native nations, check the “consultation” box, and think they’re done. That’s not good enough.

The latest example comes from the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in North Dakota. It has found government documents that show how little Indigenous concerns mattered when it came to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Continue reading

Construction of Enbridge Line 3 Delayed At Least One Year

Despite the odds, pipeline resistance is succeeding!

CBC is reporting that Enbridge is delaying construction of its Line 3 crude oil pipeline for a year, pending approval of state and federal permits. According to the story:

The project, which was initially expected to be in service before the end of 2019, now won’t be ready until the second half of 2020.

Coverage in Bloomberg calls it, “a major blow to the Canadian oil industry.” It continues:

The delay is a crushing setback for Canadian oil producers, who have suffered from a lack of pipeline space that has made it difficult to ship their crude to refineries, hammering prices. Enbridge’s Line 3 is particularly important because the government of the oil-rich province of Alberta was counting on its startup this year to let it end mandated production cuts that were implemented to cope with a glut of crude.

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