LETTER TO THE EDITOR: As a tribal member, I honor the Earth

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Bemidji Pioneer by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bemidji Pioneer. To submit a letter, email or mail it to Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.


I am a Leech Lake Tribal Band member and have proudly served as a Conservation Officer and Public Safety Officer for many years. Currently I am employed as a Tribal Labor Coordinator for Enbridge on the Line 3 Replacement Project.

It has been very troubling and concerning seeing the recent protest activities. While it is everyone’s First Amendment right to protest, the right to protest does not include the right to harm or destroy property, scare local residents and communities nor cause undue harm nor stress to others.

It is disappointing that local activists are inviting people from all over the country, especially during this pandemic to come to our homeland, disrespect our communities, people’s safety and the sovereign rights of Minnesota tribes.

These outsiders do not represent the tribes nor do they understand our cultural beliefs or way of life. The aggressive protest activity I am seeing is not representative of what a peaceful and respectful protest should be, let alone what a protest to protect treaty rights should look like.

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As a tribal member, I honor the Earth and try to be a good steward. I hunt, fish and gather on these lands and firmly believe they should be protected for generations to come. I work for Enbridge because I believe they are doing the right thing by ensuring the communities are kept informed and the workforce is as well represented by tribal members as possible.

Driving thousands of miles across the country to attach oneself to a piece of equipment, cutting fuel and transmission lines (to leak all over the land and surrounding area) or throw “suspicious devices” in the end of a pipe is not peaceful or respectful. It is dangerous and considered criminal behavior, which is taking place on our lands, my homeland. It is not wanted nor welcomed.

Over the past 10 months, we have all witnessed the destruction and fear within our communities across the state caused from outside sources.The cry for help from these “water protectors” who are encouraging this dangerous and criminal behavior by all must stop now!

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