You’ve heard of Keystone XL (KXL) which President Biden stopped; you’ve heard of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) still delivering oil; and hopefully now you’ve heard of Line 3. It’s the most recent huge high-pressure pipeline proposed to bring dirty tar sands oil south from Canada and ultimately to port in direct violation of treaty agreements. Like DAPL and KXL, there are multiple Line 3 legal challenges linking indigenous rights and vulnerable waterways, but the simplest path would be for the Biden Administration to cancel it. To do that we’re going to need to make a lot more noise.
With that in mind, seven of us — dubbed the Mayflies — and all but one of us women of a certain age, set out from Massachusetts in a rented van. After two 15-hour days of driving we arrived in Northern Minnesota.
We’d been accepted to work with a camp (there are five or six) of water protectors through our connection to the Weymouth Compressor Station, also an Enbridge project. Our camp was run as a Indigenous women and two-spirit camp. We spent the evening getting to know each other around the fire. The next day began with an excellent, and much appreciated decolonization training. Then we had an action-planning meeting, where they told us what our target would be. When they said we’d be blockading an Enbridge employee mancamp, a cheer went up! Our action coincided with the Day of Recognition of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2-Spirit relatives (MMIWG2S). The incidence of violence against women has gone up several fold in the area because of these camps; two men from an Enbridge mancamp had recently been arrested for sex trafficking.
The next few days were a whirlwind of preparation for the action and bonding with the folx we were working with. Some of the people risking arrest with us were quite a bit younger, and they told us repeatedly that our willingness to put our bodies on the line gave them both courage and reassurance. Several had not been arrested before. Our connection with them was truly gratifying.
The day of action started very early, rendezvousing from several locations, exciting but nerve-wracking, and of course not everything went as planned! We all needed to arrive at the same time, right after local workers came in but before they deployed to construction sites. After some machinations we did manage to get there, lock the gate, lock to each other, lock into equipment, deploy art and red dresses (symbols of MMIWG2S), mask up, and settle into place blocking two entrances. Our support people were across the road videotaping and leading us in chants.
The police came quickly, but it took them all day to get all of us out of the devices. We were relieved to find they seemed to know what they were doing. We successfully blocked construction for a full day!
Our jail experience is another story but we were out in 24 hours. We had the great luck to spend Mother’s Day canoeing with Winona LaDuke on the beautiful Mississippi just south of the headwaters.
The battle against Line 3 is gathering momentum. The organizers have put out a call to the entire world to come together from June 5-8 for the Treaty People Gathering in Northern Minnesota. Over a thousand have already signed up. The next group out from 350 Mass, dubbed the Junebugs, welcomes your participation. If you cannot attend, but would like to support, they have set up a GoFundMe site for donations.
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