From June 5 – 8, thousands of people from across the country are convening at the Treaty People Gathering site in Northern Minnesota to join Indigenous people on the frontlines of resisting the construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline.
Line 3 is proposed to carry 760,000 barrels per day of tar sands — the dirtiest fuel on the planet — from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin, endangering the Anishinaabeg people and treaty territories in its path. The route of the pipeline is set to cross 200 bodies of water, including the Mni Sose or Mississippi River, lakes, aquifers, wetlands, and wild rice beds, violating the treaty rights of Anishinaabeg people to subsist off of and maintain ancestral connections to land and waterways.
An Indigenous-led movement to take a stand against Line 3 has been taking charge through legal advocacy, organizing, and direct action. Now, Indigenous leaders are calling on Native and non-Native allies to come together on sacred land as treaty people — people committed to honoring and upholding treaties — and to engage in direct, nonviolent resistance over one historic weekend.
Answering the Call
Some local residents have already packed up and started traveling to the gathering. Many, however, do not have the ability to make the trip. To make up for this, Patti Warner, a member of the Corvallis Climate Action Alliance (CCAA) and the climate action group 350 Corvallis, helped come up with a creative alternative for people to still “show up” and make their solidarity known.
Warner proposes that people could take pictures of themselves holding signs with relevant texts. She suggests “Stop Line 3,” “Honor Treaties,” “Defund Pipelines,” “Get Off Fossil Fuels,” “Water Is Life,” “Protect the Sacred,” etc. These could then be printed out and delivered to the Treaty People Gathering site.
Warner was partially motivated by her own inability to travel to the gathering, and inspired by the now common options for people to join virtual events without having to make an in-person appearance.
“I think one thing the pandemic showed us is that there’s other ways of showing up and showing support,” she said.
Between May 23 – 25, Warner, with the help of her friends, sent out an invitation via email to roughly a dozen groups locally and throughout the state, extending the call for allies to engage in the fight against Line 3 by sending in photos of themselves holding homemade or printed signs with big, bold lettering.
“I got another environmentalist friend,” Warner said, “to compose an invitation letter that we sent out to a lot of environmental groups and social justice groups in Corvallis. I also sent out the invitation to 350 Eugene and 350 PDX.”
Once the photos were enlarged and cropped appropriately, they were placed in sheet protectors, boxed up, and given to those who would be driving up to the Treaty People Gathering site. There, they can be displayed in a myriad ways.
“The pictures might be attached to stakes impounded in the ground; they might be tied onto an existing fence; they might be hung up by a couple of strings, like on a clothesline — that’s yet to be seen,” she said. “But there’s a lot of options.”
One outcome from such a project that Warner is hoping to see is the idea of showing up in this way catching fire among other social movements.
“What I’m hoping and what I thought about when I was putting this all together is, imagine the amount of people who went to Standing Rock,” she said. “Imagine you have the amount of people who were there showing up on 11×17 photos at the Treaty Gathering. I think that in itself is a powerful statement; in a way it’s almost like an art form. It’s a way of showing up, it’s a way of letting the people on the frontlines know that they’re supported. Because not everyone can just get up and go to Minnesota, and not everyone can get up and go take to the streets sometimes.”
Warner said she believes that Indigenous people are leaders in addressing and confronting the climate crisis, and added that joining their movements and deferring to their leadership is not only an act of solidarity, but a form of reparations.
“They were keepers of the land we’re living on for generations before Europeans stepped foot on this continent,” she said. “This is a way of making amends for those who have been wronged, and Indigenous people have certainly been wronged.”
Other Ways to #StopLine3
Warner noted that another way people can take action locally is to put pressure on the banks in their communities to stop funding Line 3.
“Citibank is funding $5.15 billion; Wells Fargo, $3.86 billion; Bank of America, $3.16 billion; JPMorgan Chase, $1.80 billion — that’s outrageous,” she said. “And a lot of those banks are here in Corvallis. People need to move their money; we can vote with our pocketbooks. It’s not difficult to get your money out and put it in a credit union.”
350 Corvallis has held protests in front of banks located throughout Corvallis to demand their divestment from fossil fuel companies and projects. Those who are interested in participating in future protests can contact the group through the Corvallis Climate Action Alliance’s website. In addition, a demonstration will be held in front of the Benton County Courthouse on Monday, June 7 from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. for members of the Corvallis community to stand in solidarity with the treaty people on the frontlines in Northern Minnesota.
More information on the Treaty People Gathering can be found on the Treaty People website. Those who are interested in learning more about Line 3, how they can engage and educate their communities on this issue, and other actions they can take to halt the pipeline’s construction can visit Stop Line 3’s website for resources and ideas.