Enbridge delivered an eviction notice to Fire Light Camp, which has stopped construction of Line 3 pipeline since Monday, at the Headwaters of the Mississippi River, in Northern Minnesota
"We are not trespassing -- they are trespassing." -- Water Protector
By Rise Coalition
Today at Firelight camp where we are peacefully asserting our treaty rights by occupying space and holding ceremony, we received this eviction notice from Enbridge.
RISE Coalition rejects Enbridge’s empty trespass claims, stands on treaty rights
For the past week, Anishinaabe band members have exercised their treaty rights and peacefully occupied a site on the Mississippi headwaters where Enbridge plans to drill its Line 3 pipeline under the river. They have been joined by many non-Indigenous allies who are invited guests.
Today, Enbridge issued a letter alleging that a ”certain group of people” is trespassing on its pipeline easement and demanded that we depart the premises.
We respectfully decline.
We are not a “certain group of people,” but members of various bands of Aanishaabe people with constitutionally guaranteed rights to hunt, fish and gather on lands that we ceded to the United States government.
Throughout the multi-year Enbridge Line 3 review process, Enbridge and the state of Minnesota have remained willfully ignorant of our rights established under the treaties of 1837, 1854 and 1855. Our treaty rights are the supreme law of the land, according to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. These take precedent over any state-approved easement or trespass laws.
We dispute many of the assertions in Enbridge’s June 12 letter.
Enbridge continues to call this a “replacement project.” It is not. It is a new and larger pipeline along a new route. That’s not a replacement.
Enbridge’s letter states that “trespassers claimed to be present on the site to conduct religious ceremonies.” It was not a claim but a fact. The ceremony is ongoing. Our people continue to fast and pray for the protection of the water and the land.
Enbridge’s letter said we have “caused significant damage to property and equipment.” This is not true. There was nothing here when we arrived other than a wood plank road that was already carved up by the coming and going of heaving equipment. There was no equipment here to damage.
Enbridge’s letter states that we are “endangering the health and safety of construction workers and the trespassers themselves.” Speaking for ourselves, we do not feel endangered. Nor have we seen any Enbridge workers since we arrived who might be endangered. This is corporate hype to create fear; our presence is peaceful nor are we trespassing.
Truth is, it’s Enbridge and its workers who have endangered the health and safety of our Indigenous peoples. Enbridge began Line 3 construction while the pandemic was still out of control. Indigenous peoples have suffered disproportionately from COVID, yet the state and Enbridge showed little concern.
Further, Indigenous people have repeatedly raised concern about an increase in sex and drug trafficking due to the influx of out-of-state Line 3 construction workers. Enbridge wrote a weak Human Trafficking Prevention Plan and the state rubber stamped it. The state imposed no reporting requirement on sex trafficking arrests, let alone imposed any sanctions on Enbridge for violations. This was callous and irresponsible.
Enbridge’s letter states it has made “multiple overtures” to the trespassers. We are confused by this statement. The June 12 letter was the first communication we received.
Enbridge refers to us as “criminals.” Enbridge is the criminal. It’s been cited multiple times for safety violations. It’s responsible for the 2010 crude oil spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River that took several years and $1.2 billion to clean up.
In the most recent outrage, Enbridge is seeking to mess with more of our clean water. It originally asked the state for a permit allowing it to dewater 510 million gallons of water for construction. On Friday, it amended its request to 5 billion gallons of water, or ten times the original amount. And this during a state drought.
Enbridge and the state of Minnesota have repeatedly failed to respect our treaty rights, our lands, and our water.
We wait with great anticipation to hear the decision on a major lawsuit before the Minnesota Court of Appeals challenging Line 3 permits. We will have more to say tomorrow.
RISE, Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging, includes women Leech Lake, Fond du Lac and White Earth, who came together to Stop Line 3.