Youth from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe tend to wild rice in MInnesota. Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Environment | Opinion | Politics

Indian Lawmakers: Enbridge pipeline threatens Ojibwe way of life in Minnesota

The four Indian women who serve in the Minnesota House of Representatives are taking a stand against the $7.5 billion Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline. State Reps. Jamie Becker-Finn, Peggy Flanagan, Susan Allen and Mary Kunesh-Podein explain how the project threatens the livelihoods of Ojibwe people, by putting wild rice in the route of the project:
In all the coverage of Enbridge Energy’s proposed Line 3 pipeline project, and in the recent and predictable pro-pipeline commentary by an Enbridge vice president, John Swanson, we have heard little regarding how Enbridge’s preferred route would specifically harm Native American people and communities.

The current environmental-impact statement briefly acknowledges the disproportionate harm to Native people but fails to answer many of the questions specific to Native communities. Enbridge acts as it pleases without regard for Native people, and we as the Native American Caucus in the Minnesota House oppose its current proposed pipeline route.

Enbridge gives the misleading impression that by abandoning the current corridor, it is somehow compromising with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. By Enbridge’s own admission, the current corridor is “congested.” The company now wants a pat on the back for choosing a route that snakes its way between reservation boundaries.

This new route highlights willful ignorance regarding Ojibwe history and rights in what we now call Minnesota. When the Ojibwe people signed treaties with the federal government, they explicitly retained the ability to harvest wild rice, hunt and fish on the waters and land of the ceded territory. There is a difference between reservation land and ceded territory. While skirting reservation boundaries is a nod to the affected tribal communities, Enbridge’s preferred route does not avoid the plants and wildlife Ojibwe people have a legal right to access. The new route is no compromise at all.

Read More on the Story:
Jamie Becker-Finn, Peggy Flanagan, Susan Allen, Mary Kunesh-Podein: Enbridge’s Line 3 Proposal Shows Willful Ignorance of Ojibwe History and Rights (Indian Country Media Network 8/1)