Line 3 & Winona LaDuke

Photo illustration by Bráulio Amado. Source photograph by Kerem Yucel/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images

Defeating Line 3 is important. This matters for all humanity, and all other inhabitants of the earth. But the ones most directly and immediately affected are those whose ancestral lands are being intruded upon. However much better the current president of the USA may be compared to his predecessor is a red herring; the bar was below low on environmental grounds. What matters now is what this president does on the most important issues facing our planet. Strong words follow:

Winona LaDuke Feels That President Biden Has Betrayed Native Americans

Winona LaDuke (center) and other protesters at a construction site for the Line 3 oil pipeline near Palisade, Minn., in January. Kerem Yucel/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images

Right now in northern Minnesota, the Canadian oil-and-gas-transport company Enbridge is building an expansion of a pipeline, Line 3, to carry oil through fragile parts of the state’s watersheds as well as treaty-protected tribal lands. Winona LaDuke, a member of the local Ojibwe tribe and a longtime Native rights activist, has been helping to lead protests and acts of civil disobedience against the controversial $9.3 billion project. “I spend a lot of time,” she says, “fighting stupid ideas that are messing with our land and our people.” So far the efforts of LaDuke, who is 61 and who ran alongside Ralph Nader as the Green Party’s vice-presidential nominee in 1996 and 2000, have been in vain. The Biden administration declined to withdraw federal permits for the project, a stance that Line 3 opponents see as hypocritical given the president’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline as well as his vocal support for climate action. “I have had the highest hopes for the Biden administration,” LaDuke says, “only to have them crushed.” Not long after we spoke, LaDuke was arrested and jailed for violating the conditions of her release on earlier protest-related charges, which required her to avoid Enbridge’s worksites. She has since been released.

How do you understand Biden’s decision to allow the construction of Line 3? He’s hellbent on destroying Ojibwe people with this pipeline. Why do we get the last tar-sands pipeline, Joe? It’s kind of like when John Kerry went and testified to Congress against the Vietnam War and said, Who’s going to tell that soldier that he’s the last one to die for a bad war? Who’s going to tell those Ojibwes that they’re the last ones to be destroyed for a bad tar-sands pipeline? What’s right about this? I organized people to vote for Biden. I drove people to the polls through seas of Trump signs. I drove Indian people to vote who hadn’t voted in 20 years. And what did we get from Joe? A pipeline shoved down our throats.

Are you saying that you think Biden has some specific animosity toward the Ojibwe? No. He doesn’t have animosity, but he’s privileging a Canadian multinational. He knows that this pipeline runs right through our reservations. They know, and have a choice of what they’re going to support. I think it’s a trade-off for him: I canceled Keystone, and so we’ll just let this one go through, because it’s a replacement pipe. It’s not. It’s a new pipe.1 It’s horrendous. It’s a violation of not only the treaties but also every ounce of common sense. It’s a drought right now. But Enbridge put in an amendment: They get five billion gallons of water2 out of a region where rivers are 75 percent below normal. What’s with that? There was not a federal environmental impact statement on this pipeline, and the Biden administration just said we don’t need to do one. I mean, why?…

Read the whole interview here.

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