Next Monday, 14 October 2019, is Indigenous People’s Day, a national holiday in the United States formerly known as “Columbus Day.” The commemorative subject of the holiday was only recently changed (and still not recognized in several states)—and only as a result of active anti-colonial struggle, by the survivors of genocide fighting to preserve their histories, cultures, experiences, and their very existence in the face of violent attempts by colonial society to erase them completely.
This year there are actions, protests, and convergences of all kinds planned to mark the occasion, all across the country. Some will be in solidarity with current victims of the United States’ colonial violence, protesting borders and concentration camps and the cruelty of the racist settler state’s increasingly restrictive immigration and asylum policies. Others will be in defense of land and resources and indigenous cultural rights and heritage.
A march planned for Monday in northern Minnesota falls into the latter category. The indigenous peoples of the upper Midwest have been fighting for centuries to protect the water, their sacred lands and food sources, and their treaty rights under the heavy boot of colonial resource extraction. Right now there is a new expanded oil pipeline in the works, one that will bring tar sands crude from the Mordor-esque mines in Alberta through the lakes, wetlands, and wild rice beds of northern Minnesota on its way to foreign markets. Water protectors across the region are saying No!
We have already seen the deadly effects that past pipeline projects have had on the people and the lands and waters they cut through—and not just in terms of the callous excavation of sacred cultural sites during construction or irreparable oil pollution from leaks and ruptures during operation. The trafficking of indigenous women and girls in North America, which is at crisis levels as it is, is always terribly exacerbated by these sorts of megaprojects.
The movement around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives points to companies like Enbridge and projects like Line 3 as central drivers of this epidemic of colonial violence. Company work camps and vehicle fleets are used by workers—overwhelmingly white, male, from elsewhere, and with a sense of total impunity—for disgusting crimes while the company and law enforcement look the other way. People near project construction sites live in constant fear for their and their families’ safety.
Tired of being ignored and insulted by state authorities and the company throughout years of resistance, indigenous water protectors, land defenders, and community caretakers are marching on Monday into the heart of the beast, a pipeline terminal in Clearbrook, Minnesota which is a central node in Enbridge’s extensive North American pipeline network. There they will hold a peaceful rally telling the company and the state that they refuse to be silenced and will never give up the fight for their lives, their lands and waters, their ancestors’ memory and their children’s future.
Joined in solidarity by allies from the environmental justice movement, hundreds of people will converge on this small company town in a nonviolent show of determination. The message: Line 3 will not be built! Minnesotans, Native and not, are overwhelmingly against the project and recognize that it only serves the narrow interests of a tiny number of fossil fuel capitalists and their cronies in government. It doesn’t even benefit Minnesota workers.
We’ve seen the money sloshing around, and we’ve seen climate scientists’ warnings. We’ve seen the tar sands open pit mines and we’ve seen the spill in the Kalamazoo river, which poisoned thousands of defenseless people and will never be fully “cleaned up.” We’ve seen the colonial violence at Standing Rock and we’ve seen indigenous women and relatives disappear without a trace. We will fight the forces of death with life! We will fight colonial violence, capitalist greed, and ecological destruction with our memories, our witness, our songs, and our bodies! We will not give up!
We will stop Line 3, and we will build a better future, together, without it!
If you live in the region and wish to join us in Clearbrook, register here. If you cannot make it but wish to show solidarity with the Movement to Stop Line 3 with a financial contribution, donate here.