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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Northern Minnesota is not North Dakota. Or is it?

In late February, the Beltrami County Commissioners approved the county sheriff’s request for a mutual aid agreement with various northern Minnesota agencies to beef up for their assessment of an imminent approval for Enbridge’s Line 3. Their decision is morally wrong. I want to thank Commissioner Tim Sumner for his “no” vote on this matter Feb. 20; it is nice to see courage.

Beltrami County’s decision sends a message that protecting the rights of corporations over the rights of people is acceptable. It is troublesome. Many of us were at Standing Rock and experienced extreme violence at the hands of police, military, paramilitary and other forces upon us. Northern Minnesota is not North Dakota; we neither have the oil interests slathering our politicians (one would hope), nor do we have the hatred for native people that earned North Dakota the nickname “the Deep North.” Or do we? Now is the time, Beltrami County, to decide if you are willing to seize people’s land, and shoot at them, to ensure the profits of a Canadian pipeline company. Now is the time to make a decision not to do that.

Let me remind Beltrami County of what happened. Hundreds of people were injured, they were attacked by dogs, had rubber bullets and percussion grenades lobbed at them, freezing water, and a host of other propellants. People were sprayed with gases, had toxins dropped on them from planes. Tigerswan, a paramilitary security force came directly from the Middle East to fan fires, and many people’s lives have been changed forever. The Water Protector Legal Collective reports 854 people were arrested. Many are from Minnesota.

Enbridge, as one-third owner, is responsible for much of this. We asked them to stop it.

Minnesota does not have to be North Dakota. In fact, it does not have to approve the permit for the pipeline. It is the decision of this state, no other entity, and that decision will be made by the Public Utilities Commission in June. No pipeline approval, no major encampment of water protectors, no need for guns, no need to shoot your neighbor, or their children. That’s what this about. Use your voice to protect us, Beltrami County.

Beltrami County, I need to ask if you want to shoot me to protect the profits of Enbridge? Do you want to shoot the citizens of Minnesota and Anishinaabeg people because we want to protect the water?

Winona LaDuke, White Earth, is executive director of Honor the Earth.