WCMC: Call for immediate citizen action as riverbank erosion nears the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline

Pipeline employee says he was fired for raising safety questions

Yellow post (right) marks Line 5’s centerline. Image: Peter Bigboy’s Facebook page, captured by WCMC before Bigboy’s account was hacked.

(Recommended actions listed in an earlier version of this blog have been updated.Information on Judge Conley’s ruling has been corrected/)

Riverbank erosion near the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline corridor is raising immediate safety concerns about the pipeline’s stability and the possibility of a rupture, reports the Wisconsin Citizens Media Coop (WCMC).

The erosion is occurring along the Bad River, where it runs through the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’ reservation in northern Wisconsin. The erosion is now within seven feet of the Line 5 pipeline, WCMC reported.

Organizers are asking for people to pressure on President Biden to revoke Line 5’s Presidential Permit. The permit is needed for liquid pipelines that cross the U.S. border, which Line 5 does, at Sarnia, Ontario. The Secretary of State has the authority to issue Presidential Permits.

To create pressure at the federal level, contact Biden, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Here are a few options.


Line 5 moves “540,000 barrels – or 22.68 million gallons – per day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids,” according to Enbridge.

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Website launched ahead of trial for those at the Fire Light Treaty Encampment

One of the last criminal cases related to Enbridge Line 3 will start Monday, May 8, in Clearwater County.

Defendants in what is known as the Fire Light Treaty Encampment have created a website to explain their case and lift up the importance on non-Indigenous peoples being treaty partners and standing up to honor treaty rights. Click here for the website.

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News/Events: Native fashion, the brain and historical trauma, Line 3 legal update, and more

In this post:

  • Webinar on Native fashion and sovereignty tomorrow (Thursday)
  • NABS webinar on the brain and historical trauma
  • Line 3 legal defense fund update
  • U.S. Supreme Court holds oral arguments on Navajo water rights case
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Walker Brook shows we still don’t know the extent of Enbridge Line 3’s construction damage

Waadookawaad Amikwag is working to find out

Screen grab from a Waadookawaad Amikwag 2022 video. The wood-plank road allowed Enbridge to bring heavy equipment into a wetland.

Enbridge work crews officially finished building the new Line 3 tar sands pipeline across northern Minnesota in late September, 2021. The last section completed ran through the Walker Brook valley, a forested peat bog in Clearwater County.

Less than a year later, work crews returned to Walker Brook to fix problems created by this ill-considered and poorly permitted project.

State regulators haven’t talked about problems at Walker Brook publicly. Members of the public don’t know how many other Line 3/93 construction damage sites exist that they haven’t been told about. (Regulators don’t talk about them until they have been investigated and, if appropriate, levied fines, which leaves the public in the dark for long periods of time.)

I wouldn’t have known about the problems at Walker Brook but for friends who volunteer with a group called Waadookawaad Amikwag (Anishinaabemowin for Those who help beaver). They coordinate with drone pilots who monitor the Line 3/93 corridor looking for potential trouble spots. When problem areas are identified, volunteers go in on foot for a first-hand look.

On a recent Sunday, I joined my friends in what they call a “ground truthing” of the Walker Brook site.

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Native Nations’ ongoing efforts to enforce Treaty rights on health care, and to hunt, fish, and gather on ceded lands

In this post:

  • Time to make amends: Improving the health of American Indian and Alaska Native mothers and infants
  • U. of M, Tribal study to investigate farming’s impact on water and Treaty rights in Pineland Sands region
  • Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe sues Seattle over its hydroelectric project on the Skagit River and its impact on treaty rights
  • Great Lakes pollution threatens Ojibwe Treaty rights to fish
  • U.S. to focus bison restoration on expanding Tribal herds
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The legal foundation for Indian gaming traces back to a Leech Lake mobile home property tax dispute

Indian gaming hit $39 billion in 2021, according to news reports. It all began in 1972, with a dispute over a $147 property tax bill on a mobile home on the Leech Lake Reservation.

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Court: Fond du Lac’s suit against U.S. Forest Service to block PolyMet land transfer can move forward

Patrick Schultz, Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court for Minnesota, issued an order Friday saying the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has legal standing to challenge a land transfer between the U.S. Forest Service and the PolyMet mine. The land transfer would open the door for the company to pursue its plans to operate an open-pit copper-nickel mine on that land.

PolyMet challenged Fond du Lac’s legal standing to bring the lawsuit, arguing the Band had no legal interest in the land exchange.

Schultz disagreed. He ruled the Treaty of 1854 between the Fond du Lac Band and the U.S. government gave the Band treaty-protected rights to hunt, fish, and gather on the lands in question, so it has legal standing to bring the case.

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Court: Mille Lacs County improperly limited the Mille Lacs Band’s inherent law enforcement authority

Almost all people, regardless of race or income, agree that it’s important to honor your agreements.

Yet all too often, local, state and federal governments seem incapable of living that value when it comes to honoring treaties with Native Nations.

Native Nations received very little in treaty agreements. Native Nations have relatively small populations, making them easy targets for bullying. At every turn, when treaty disputes arise, Native Nations have sue to enforce what benefits they have.

The latest case comes from Mille Lacs County, where the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe won the latest legal dispute with the county over the Band’s reservation boundaries and the extent of Tribal police authority.

Perhaps county leaders are pressing the case to hold onto power through division, treating the Mille Lacs Band as an enemy.

In all likelihood, the county will continue challenging the Band’s treaty boundaries.

Everyone in Mille Lacs County has the opportunity to honor the treaty agreements that have not, and are not, being followed. They can encourage county leaders to drop any further litigation.

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This day in history: The Ghost Dance begins, and other news and events

In this post:

  • This Day in History, 1889: A prophetic vision for the Ghost Dance
  • Under treaties, the U.S. has a ‘Duty to Protect’ Native Nations — and it should be court enforceable, author says
  • Indigenous and Faith Leaders United in Climate Justice Zoom event, Tuesday, Jan. 10
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Thousands of captured Ukrainian children sent to Russia for adoption

As horrific as that is, it’s happened here, too

Russia troops have absconded with thousands of Ukrainian children who were separated from their families during the war, the Washington Post reports. While the numbers aren’t clear, Ukraine’s top children’s rights official said family and friends have reported more than 10,000 unaccompanied Ukrainian children have been sent to Russia.

For example, Oleksandr, a 12-year-old boy injured in a Russian attack in Mariupol, was separated from his grandmother while seeking medical help, the Post story said. Troops took him to a hospital in Donetsk, in Russian-occupied Ukraine, where he was told Russian parents would adopt him.

Lyudmila, the grandmother, somehow was able to save him before he left for Russia. She shared her grandson’s experience: They “told him that Ukraine is bad and Ukrainians are evil,” she said. “They forced the children to speak Russian.”

I couldn’t read this story without thinking about the legacy of Indian boarding schools and other U.S. assimilation policies.

We rightfully condemn Russia’s actions, which are war crimes. At the same time, we need to take a hard look at our own history, and our failure to repair the deep harm U.S. actions have inflicted on Indigenous children, families, and communities.

We can’t condemn the one, and ignore the other.

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