News: MN Supreme Court upholds Bde Maka Ska name change, Alberta tar sands workers spread COVID-19, and more

In this blog:

  • Minnesota Supreme Court upholds Bde Maka Ska name change
  • Tar sands workers in Alberta spread COVID-19
  • Pandemic closes casinos, causing economic harm in Indian Country
  • Pine Ridge locks down after first two confirmed COVID-19 cases found

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Walz says he prioritizes safety of most vulnerable communities during pandemic, but would he intervene to stop Line 3?

Gov. Tim Walz

Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan issued a “Coronavirus Response and Preparation” update Friday that said: “As COVID-19 has exacerbated racial, economic, and educational inequities, the Walz-Flanagan Administration has prioritized the safety of our most vulnerable workers, families, and communities.”

Al Monaco, president and CEO of Enbridge, has said he believes construction on Line 3 could start this summer. Yet the pandemic isn’t going to be over by the summer. An influx of workers risks bringing more coronavirus cases to northern Minnesota. Line 3 runs near the White Earth and Red Lake reservations and through the Fond du Lac Reservation. Those communities have more than their share of health problems and their members would be more vulnerable to the virus.

In the worst-case scenario where Enbridge gets all the state permits it needs, the Walz administration needs to intervene to stop construction. With the current oil glut, there’s no public urgency for Line 3 construction to move forward.

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COVID-19 highlights the U.S. government’s failure to meet health care obligations to Indian Country

The current coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the many failings and disparities in the U.S. heathcare system.

Dr. Mary Owen, President-Elect of the Association of American Indian Physicians, recently wrote a column for Indian Country Today where she highlights the fact that Native Americans are the only population with a “legal right to health care,” and how the system is failing them.

“Despite the guaranteed provision of health care that is in part, payment for millions of acres of land, the Indian Health Service is chronically underfunded,” said Dr. Owen, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School-Duluth and the Director of the Center of American Indian and Minority Health. Continue reading

White Earth to Walz: Live up to your pledge of ‘meaningful consultation’

Michael Fairbanks, chairman of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, has written Gov. Tim Walz reminding him of his promise of “meaningful consultation” with Native Nations, and urging him to intervene on a key Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline permit. In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, he’s asking Walz to direct the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to deny Line 3’s water quality permit, allowing Enbridge to refile after the health crisis passes. This would allow time for meaningful engagement.

It’s the latest example of efforts to stop environmentally damaging projects that are moving forward while much of the country is being required to stay at home. Continue reading