By the Tar Sands Team
“The time for bold action and solidarity is now. Not once Biden is sworn in. Not after Line 3 ruptures. Now – for all our futures.”
— Mira Grinsfelder, climate activist
At this moment, Enbridge contractors at all of the Line 3 stream and river crossings across 1851 treaty land in Northern Minnesota are tearing out trees and traditional medicines at an alarming rate. On November 13, the Walz administration approved the permits for the new Line 3, and the very next day Enbridge started destruction (also known as “construction” — but it starts with forest destruction). On November 18, Tar Sands Team member Mira Grinsfelder and Betsy Foy locked themselves to an Enbridge excavator and brought work in one spot to a halt for a day. Here’s the statement Mira made after her arrest:
“Having grown up on occupied Anishinaabe and Dakota land, I feel a responsibility to defend that land and the rights of the people who have had a relationship with it. If Line 3 is built, it’s not a question of whether the pipeline will irreparably damage the land, but when, and I’m motivated to act in the now so we don’t reach that when. If the US government won’t defend Anishinaabe treaty rights, we will. If the Minnesota government won’t protect the water, we will!”
Unlike in past, less controversial operations, when work might be undertaken from the two ends of a route toward the middle, Enbridge is in a desperate rush to finish all the water crossings before the many lawsuits challenging the pipeline approval can be heard and decided. These suits — filed by Friends of the Headwaters; Honor the Earth, Red Lake and White Earth Nations, and Sierra Club; the Minnesota Department of Commerce; the Youth Climate Intervenors; and the Fond du Lac, Mille Lacs, Red Lake, and White Earth Bands of Ojibwe — have a good chance of reversing the decision, but Enbridge’s plan is to tell the judge, “We just spent a half a billion dollars on this line — are you going to tell us we have to tear it out?”
At this point, there are just two ways to stop Enbridge from completing Line 3; both are necessary and need your help. Nonviolent direct action can slow or stop work, and lawsuits can overturn the permits.
Support the legal efforts
All of the litigants have great legal arguments and skilled lawyers, but bringing suit takes a lot of money. Friends of the Headwaters is a very small nonprofit group that has done mighty work in the courts already, obtaining in 2015 the first Environmental Impact Statement for a Minnesota oil pipeline, giving the movement time to grow into the mighty force it is today. They estimate it will take $100,000 to try this case, so please dig deep and donate online or with a check by clicking here. Your help is needed and very much appreciated!
Support the water protectors on the ground
Join the water protectors for a day, a week, a month, or more, in person or from afar. The bold actions to lock down Enbridge’s forest-destroying machines are effective at stopping all work, sometimes for a whole day, but they need to quickly multiply all along the route in order to significantly slow the destruction.
There are many ways that you can help: please choose at least one and take action today!
Option #1: Go up to northern Minnesota
This is a big step, in winter, in the midst of a pandemic, and not everybody can do it. This website is a great resource for people who want to just go for a day or two, and for those who want to stay longer and lock down to a machine or do a tree sit. This page has great resources for those who want to learn to be good allies to the Indigenous people leading this fight, understand their COVID protocols, and learn how to prepare for a trip, what to expect, how to use their app to spread the word on social media, etc.
If you don’t want to get arrested, but you are willing to do other important work in a camp, here is a recent list of other ways you can help at the Welcome Center on the Great River.
- Come for the day to volunteer on our kitchen crew, with groundskeeping work, or to support direct actions taking place that day. Show up by 9:00 AM in warm clothing, ready to work!
- We are looking for experienced builders, cooks, teachers and childcare providers, teaching artists, media makers, and others who can stay awhile in camp.
- Ideally, you can be self-sufficient, living locally or providing your own outdoor winter camping gear / securing a place to stay nearby.
- Either way, reach out if you think you are ready!
- Some housing and travel support is available for Indigenous and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color) water protectors.
- Your family or community could prepare and bring a meal to share! We’ve had people bring meals along with corresponding stories or cultural teachings related to food, gathering, and resistance. We love and encourage this, and would like to coordinate around it — so please reach out if you are planning to bring a meal!
- Other groups and collectives are organizing in other places, and we hope to be able to connect volunteers with those efforts after spending some time here.
Option #2: Send material support
If you can’t be there, you can help water protectors stay there. They are asking people NOT to send food, personal items, or clothing at this time, because they have run out of storage room. But the “Priority Items” listed in the first section of this Google doc are all still needed, and if you have them and can act quickly, you can send them north. Contact us at TarSandsTeam@gmail.com with a description of your item(s) (they must be on the Priority Items list!) and your estimate of the cubic feet they will take up. We’ll tell you where to bring your item(s). If you can’t bring them, we may be able to find a volunteer to pick them up.
Option #3: Donate gift cards
The really easy way to help is to buy gift cards for water protectors to use in northern Minnesota. This Google doc lists names and info about stores that they patronize and the way to buy gift cards and get them to them. The big-box stores make you go in a store to buy a gift card, and then it’s good at any of their U.S. stores. You could buy them here and contact us at TarSandsTeam@gmail.com to see if we have someone who can take them. Otherwise, we’ll give you the address to send them to in Palisade, MN.
Option #4: Donate a working car and/or trailer to Mira
Mira Grinsfelder needs a working car to get back to northern Minnesota where she will be defending the water that all of us need. And a trailer would give her a winter home on wheels so that she can follow Enbridge crews to new locations. We know that this is a big ask, but we also know that there are some very generous people out there who can make such a large gift. Write to us at TarSandsTeam@gmail.com if you are such a person.
As Mira said, now is the time for bold action and solidarity!
We can’t all do what Mira has done, but we can all do something, and hopefully more than we have done up ’til now. So many have sacrificed so much already to stop Line 3, and so much hangs in the balance, that we each need to dig deeper, and surprise ourselves with what we are capable of. Whether it’s time, money, things, or physical courage that you can offer, we thank you!