In Solidarity with #NoBayouBridgePipeline National Day of Action
BEMIDJI, Minnesota—Early Tuesday morning, September 18th, a group of indigenous water protectors from the Ginew Collective, raised a tipi and blocked a bridge south of Bemidji, halting work at a construction site for the recently permitted line 3 pipeline. Ginew (Golden Eagle) is a grassroots, frontlines effort led by indigenous women to protect Anishinaabe territory from the destruction of Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands project.
While the tipi blockade prevented bulldozers and street paving machines from laying down new asphalt over the Mississippi, a local Anishinaabe woman held a water ceremony on the bank of the river offering medicine, prayers and songs. The action took place just miles from 3000 year old Dakota village sites near Lake LaSalle where Clearwater county road 230 crosses the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
One member of Ginew declared “We’re here today protecting our water, our burial sites and standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters down south who are fighting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. The Mississippi River begins here in the headwaters, where we are standing right now, and it ends in the Gulf of Mexico, in the bayous, where folks have been fighting against Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) for months, putting their bodies on the line for clean water and safer communities. We’re fighting Enbridge here, a different company that is also invested in ETP. Enbridge wants to cross over 200 water ways and drill under the Mississippi River multiple times to construct Line 3. Enbridge wants to put this new poisonous black snake where the river begins and turn this area into an industrial corridor. They want to poison our seed of hope for clean water and turn us into another alley of cancer.”
Many of the work trucks bore out of state plates, one indigenous woman pointed to the out of state plates and explained that “Extractive industry impacts indigenous peoples first and worst – the men come into our communities to build these destructive projects and we women face increased risks of violence, harassment, and potentially life-threatening assaults while our native communities are jurisdictionally limited in the right to prosecute offenders.”
Another water protector put it simply. “We will make it clear that indigenous territories are not sacrifice zones, and the tar sands machine must stop. Line 3 is Enbridge’s single largest project in the company’s history, and with the cancellation of Energy East and uncertain financial backing of Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL, this has become a fight that could cripple the industry while changing the narrative of indigenous peoples within mainstream society. Standing Rock planted seeds across Turtle Island and the world, we Anishinaabe in what is now known as Minnesota are prepared to fight and to stand side by side with indigenous and non-indigenous peoples alike in our work.”