Opposition to Enbridge Line 5 in Wisconsin echoes Minnesota’s Line 3 woes

Enbridge’s aging Line 5 tar sands crude oil pipeline runs through the Bad River Band of Ojibwe reservation in Wisconsin. The Band says Enbridge’s lease expired years ago and it wants the pipeline gone. Enbridge looked at rerouting Line 5 off reservation lands and — surprise — the locals in the city of Mellen didn’t want a pipeline, either. Enbridge took a two-pronged approach; it sued the Bad River Band to keep the old Line 5 in place while continuing to pursue a route through Mellen.

Time for a Line 5 update. Continue reading

Keystone Pipeline spills 383,000 gallons of crude oil in North Dakota wetland, its fourth major spill in nine years

The Keystone Pipeline spilled 383,000 gallons of a tar sands crude oil (9,119 barrels) on Oct 29 into wetlands near Edinburg, North Dakota, according to multiple news reports.

The spill’s cause remains unknown, but one possible culprit is North Dakota’s record rains. Water-saturated soils become more fluid and can cause ground slumping; that puts stress underground pipelines. A federal government advisory has cited heavy rains and flooding as causes for other pipeline breaks. Such problems only will get worse as climate change brings more severe storms.

This should raise a red flag for Minnesota policymakers regarding the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. It would run 340 miles across northern Minnesota through our state’s cleanest waters, crossing more than 200 water bodies and 75 miles of wetlands.

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Events: Film Screening ‘The Indian System;’ Decolonization of water issues from an Anishinaabe perspective’ and Native response to Christian Supremacy

In this blog:

  • Screening of documentary “The Indian System” Sunday 1-3 p.m.
  • Decolonization of Water Issues from an Anishinaabe Perspective, Wednesday, Nov. 13, noon – 1:30 pm.
  • Who Tells the Story? A Native response to Christian Supremacy, Thursday, Nov. 21, 9-10:30 a.m.

Details follow.

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Hiawatha encampment: Lessons in unintended consequences

This is the first in a series looking back at the 2018 homeless encampment along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues.

David Hewitt, Director of the Office to End Homelessness in Hennepin County, recalls attending a meeting of the National Alliance to End Homelessness in July of 2018 where the topic of conversation turned to the challenges of large homeless encampments.

Hewitt recalls saying the county had issues with homeless people riding the transit system as a form of shelter, “but we don’t have large encampments in Minneapolis.”

That was about to change.

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News and Events: Ways of Knowing Water Seminar; ‘Tribal Justice’ film screening; Braves’ ‘Tomahawk Chop’ could get chopped, and more

In this blog:

  • Film screening of ‘Tribal Justice’ at downtown Central Library, Thursday, 7-9:30 p.m. (free)
  • Ways of Knowing Water, Weisman Art Museum, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 7-9 p.m. (free)
  • Braves baseball team to discuss “Tomahawk Chop” with American Indians
  • California tribe reclaims island it calls center of the universe
  • Eleven states and 129 cities now recognize Indigenous Peoples Day; Trump, not so much

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A small Wisconsin town took the name of a Seminole Indian Chief, but chooses myth over history to portray him

Osceola, painted by George Catlin. (Image: Wikipedia.)

My wife, I and two friends traveled to Osceola, Wisconsin last weekend to take 90-minute train ride to enjoy the fall colors.

The eye-opener for me was the “Chief Osceola” statue in the center of the town of about 2,500 that still seems stuck in the 1950s.

The statue has the stereotypical Plains Indian look, a half-naked man with an eagle-feather headdress, nothing like what Osceola actually looked like. It’s more town mascot than honoring the town’s namesake.

I’ll admit that there are many more pressing issues for indigenous peoples than one more offensive statue. There’s the loss of traditional indigenous languages, environmental threats to wild rice, homelessness, crude oil pipelines and more.

I still feel compelled to write about the statue and how it’s interpreted.

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What to consider when acknowledging you are on stolen indigenous lands

Indigenous panel on Land Acknowledgement Statements held at Metro State on Indigenous Peoples Day. From left to right: Mary Lyons, Rhiana Yazzie, Kate Beane, Rose Whipple, Cantemaza.

Kate Beane, Director of Native American Initiatives for the Minnesota Historical Society, recalled sitting in her apartment a year ago, wishing she owned her own home with her husband and two little girls.

“I was so frustrated,” said Beane (Flandreau Santee Dakota and Creek). “I wanted a big garden and a dog. … I worked so hard for a doctorate. I wanted a home. We couldn’t have that.”

She recalled getting an email one day that summer from a man who owned a new condo development in Bloomington. He wanted Beane to come and give a land acknowledgement to welcome all the new condo owners.

It was a deeply hurtful email.

Land acknowledgement statements honor the land’s original indigenous inhabitants. Such statements are common practice in Australia and Canada, and have made their way to the United States. If done well, they can serve an important educational purpose. They also can do harm. In Beane’s case, she was being asked to welcome new homeowners on her family’s ancestral lands, lands where she couldn’t afford to own a home herself.

This past Indigenous Peoples Day, Beane and other Native American leaders participated in a panel discussion on the value of Land Acknowledgement Statements and what makes a good one. Continue reading

Apology to the Minnesota Department of Commerce

A blog posted on Oct. 8 “Minnesota’s failed oversight of the Line 3 Human Trafficking Prevention Plan (continued)” incorrectly stated that the Minnesota Department of Commerce had not responded to a request for information. It had. I didn’t see it its email response because of a problem with my email program or antivirus software.

The original blog has been taken down.

The blog will be updated with Commerce’s response and reposted.