LAKE GEORGE -- Line 3 protesters blockaded an Enbridge construction zone with a traditional prayer lodge near Lake George on Thursday afternoon.
According to a release from the Giniw Collective, around seven Indigenous water protectors sang and prayed inside of a waaginogaaning, a traditional Anishinaabe structure, while another dozen or so protestors locked themselves to one another around the lodge, blocking Line 3 construction on Thursday, March 25.
Enbridge representative Juli Kellner sent a statement to the Pioneer soon after the incident, stating "As a company, we recognize the rights of individuals and groups to express their views legally and peacefully. We don’t tolerate illegal activities of any kind including trespassing."
Protestors streamed an 80-minute video of their prayers, songs and encounters with law enforcement. The livestream appears to show Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office deputies cutting off the protestors locking devices and making arrests.
“You guys are all under arrest for unlawful assembly and trespassing,” one officer said toward the remaining individuals within the lodge near the end of the stream. The video feed cuts off as officers lifted the lodge off of protestors.
Giniw Collective representatives said this action intentionally coincided with the spring melt, the maple syrup harvest and the spring awakening.
“We will not achieve change comfortably. Our Mother is calling out, she is killing us all over the globe for our endless theft and consumption. I stand in solidarity with all land defenders fighting for our Mother, for our collective survival, for those yet to come,” Tara Zhaabowekwe Houska, Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe, said in a release sent Thursday. “Today we give voice to the voiceless.”
Representatives from tribes around the country have joined forces with Ojibwe “water protectors” in the state.
“I’m here to stand up for the wetlands because in my homelands the wetlands were destroyed by colonization and exploitation. It breaks my heart to see what is happening here to the land. It’s our responsibility to stand together as Indigenous peoples and defend our ways of life," Maura Sullivan, from the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation in California, said during the event.
"We hoped all parties would come to accept the outcome of the thorough, science-based review and multiple approvals of the project," Kellner told the Pioneer on Thursday. "Line 3 has passed every test through six years of regulatory and permitting review including 70 public comment meetings, appellate review and reaffirmation of a 13,500-page EIS, four separate reviews by administrative law judges, 320 route modifications in response to stakeholder input, and multiple reviews and approvals on the state, federal and tribal levels."
According to Kellner, Enbridge has demonstrated ongoing respect for tribal sovereignty. As the result of negotiations with tribal leadership, Line 3 was routed outside of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation and through the Fond du Lac Nation. She said that both Leech Lake and Fond du Lac have spoken and written repeatedly in support of project permits.
"The replacement of Line 3 is an essential maintenance and safety project that enhances environmental protection," Kellner said. "It also is creating significant economic benefits for Minnesota counties, small businesses, Native American communities, and union members including 5,200 construction jobs, millions of dollars in local spending and tax revenues at a time when the state needs it most. "