This is an overview of current pipeline struggles and local indigenous struggles in occupied Ohlone territory in the Bay Area where I live.
Saying No to Line 3
Line 3 is a proposed pipeline expansion to bring nearly a million barrels of tar sands crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company responsible for hundreds of the dirtiest oil spills in the world including the largest inland oil spill in the US, is building a new pipeline corridor through pristine forests, hundreds of waterways and untouched wetlands; crossing the Mississippi River twice, and going through the treaty territory of Anishinaabe peoples to end at the shore of Lake Superior. Line 3 would violate the treaty rights of Anishinaabe peoples and other nations in its path. Wild rice, a centerpiece of Anishinaabe culture, grows in numerous watersheds in the path of Line 3. The pipeline could also contaminate the drinking water for millions of people.
This expansion of a dying tar sands industry would emit 193 million tons of greenhouse gases in the next 50 years, the equivalent of 50 coal plants. Its carbon footprint would exceed the entire state of Minnesota and would extend the economic viability of the ultra-polluting crude oil source in a way that one expert called “game over for the climate.” If completed, Line 3 would carry hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of tar sands crude oil, some of the dirtiest oil in the world. Huge clear-cuts and massive destruction of the land and water can be seen in videos of the construction alone.
Enbridge is trying to rush the pipeline completion through this winter with more than 4,000 workers from all over the country living and working in close quarters, a super-spreader environment for Covid to workers and the surrounding communities. There has also been an increase in documented assaults and sexual violence against women in the area as has been seen wherever these “man camps” exist. A recent report of a human trafficking sting in Northern Minnesota resulted in the arrest of two Line 3 workers and one man was charged with soliciting sex with a minor. Indigenous people had warned state regulators that Line 3 would bring increased sex and drug trafficking to the area and add to the existing epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives. In response, the state permits for pipeline construction stipulated that Enbridge had to create a fund to cover anti-human trafficking efforts they knew would be associated with the pipeline construction.
The current line 3 is corroding and has hundreds of structural problems. There is undoubtedly contamination under the line. Enbridge wants to simply abandon the old line 3 and the expensive clean up. Indigenous nations are standing up along with local people, mayors, and county commissioners increasingly concerned about Enbridge ignoring liability for its old pipeline. This is a problem with much of our aging fossil fuel infrastructure. The corporations walk away leaving us to deal with the toxic sites.
The permit for Line 3 was granted, and the recent Minnesota Court of Appeals failed to halt construction. Massive direct actions and protests are continuing to block construction. Nearly 200 people have been arrested in the brutal cold of a Minnesota winter. Defenders have set up resistance camps, blockaded and occupied worksites, locked down to construction equipment and inside the pipeline. Tribes vow to continue fighting and are appealing to Biden to cancel the permit. Thousands of other groups support their call to protect indigenous rights and culture and decommission the old crumbling Line 3 and justly transition to a renewable, sustainable economy. The Giniw Collective, indigenous woman, 2-spirit led, are in frontline resistance and say “We stand unafraid” to protect our Mother, defend the sacred, and live in balance.
Wall Street is funding, insuring and investing in the climate crisis. Stopping this money pipeline is one of the most important ways we can address the climate emergency. There are many campaigns to stop the flow of money to fossil fuels. Just this week Rutgers University voted to divest all university money from fossil fuel industries. Insurance companies are also responding to public pressure, and the writing on the wall of climate catastrophe, to stop insuring fossil fuel infrastructure. Check out campaigns under Stop the Money.
OnApril 1stfrontline Indigenous youth and organizers from the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipeline fights will travel to Washington D.C. to demand that President Biden Build Back Fossil Free by stopping these climate-destroying projects. By the time this edition of UltraViolet is out, there will be announcements of national solidarity actions. Info at Build Back Fossil Free Campaign. More Info Honor the Earth or Stopline3.org
Fight Against DAPL Continues
April 1st 2021 marks the five year anniversary of the birth of the Sacred Stone Camp and the well known fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) which brought together Indigenous people from across the Americas and supporters from around the world to stop the 1,172 mile pipeline at the point it was crossing under the Missouri River on the Standing Rock Reservation. Five years later indigenous people are still struggling to protect the water, land and sky for future generations (as they have for hundreds of years). The pipeline’s trespass of their historic territories was a violation of treaties with the U.S. government. The opposition was violently attacked, and the DAPL pipeline was illegally completed.
DAPL cost $3.8 billion to construct going from the Baaken shale fields to Illinois. Another leg, the Bayou Bridge pipeline, went south to St. James, Louisiana through the largest swamp in the US. A fierce coalition of Indigenous folks, local black residents, people whose living comes from fishing in the area, and supporters were violently and illegally attacked with hundreds of arrests while blocking construction. The oil is flowing but water protectors were able to demand a reroute to save 11 acres of swamp where they have grown an amazing food forest that contributes to the mutual aid network in the area.
DAPL currently pumps 570,000 barrels a day of fracked shale oil. Oil has been flowing since 2017 despite Tribal governments and organizations continued pressuring of courts to subject the pipeline to a full environmental review. In March 2020 a federal judge ordered the Army Corps to conduct an EIR and vacated the pipeline’s right to pass beneath Lake Oahe. Indigenous groups say the pipeline is now operating illegally because of the judge’s decision. Energy Transfer, with the Trump administration’s support, refused to shut the line down and wants to increase the flow to 1.1 million barrels a day. This would add even more risk for spills of this extremely dirty oil.
Following a Jan. 27 court ruling that the pipeline is operating illegally without the necessary federal permits, President Biden has the opportunity to immediately shut down the illegal Dakota Access Pipeline while the Environmental Impact Statement process is conducted. Campaigns raising this demand are ongoing. Last month, Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux youth ran 93 miles to site of the Sacred Stone Camp to pressure President Biden shut down the Bakken oil pipeline. The demand will also be raised in Washington DC on April 1 along with Stop Line 3. More info on the DC action Build Back Fossil Free. Info on DAPL at Indigenous Environmental Network
The West Berkeley Shellmound
The West Berkeley Shellmound (WBS) is an Ohlone sacred village and burial site that is approximately 5,700 years old located in Berkeley CA. It is the oldest place of human habitation in the Bay Area. Members of the Ohlone community gather at the site for prayer and ceremony today as they have for thousands of years. Local Ohlone leaders say the site is critical to the cultural survival of a people who have been systemically oppressed for generations. “It’s not too late to save this one piece of ground, this one place that doesn’t have building, this one place that is open to the sky.” said Corrina Gould of the Confederated Villages of Lisjan (Ohlone)
While it’s covered in concrete now, the City of Berkeley designated the site as a City Landmark, because of the significant and essential role the site plays in the history of the Bay Area. The State placed the site on the California Register of Historic Resources, and the National Trust placed the WBS site on its 2020 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places
The WBS is at risk of desecration by a multi story condo and shopping development. The Shellmound defenders are working to return the site to open space with room to continue Ohlone gatherings and ceremonies. Past excavations in and around the proposed site have uncovered hundreds of human burials and undisturbed cultural remains. When the City of Berkeley denied the permits, the developer sued the city and lost the case. In February 2021, the developers appealed the massive court victory, which protected WBS from development. Simultaneously, they imprisoned the WBS site in thousands of feet of barbed wire and fencing, covered with dozens of no trespassing signs and security cameras which deny any access to the site. From the WBS call to action this week, “This is another act of settler colonial aggression and violence, part of a long history of the criminalization of Indigenous religion and spirituality. May all the fences, walls, and borders fall! FREE the West Berkeley Shellmound! “ More info at Save the West Berkeley Shellmound FB page or website
Free the Indigenous People’s Day Five
5 Indigenous women and Two Spirited people are facing felony charges in relation to the toppling of a statue of Junipero Serra at Mission San Rafael. Known as the Indigenous People’s Day 5 (IPD 5), they were picked out for prosecution from a large, 80% white crowd present at a demonstration on Indigenous People’s Day in 2020 where the statue was brought down. This is part of a nationwide effort to remove symbols of white supremacy, violence, enslavement, and genocide, with many removed by city and state officials themselves.
Junipero Serra was an architect of the mission system in California, which imprisoned and enslaved Indigenous people. Serra was directly responsible for rape, torture, and genocide. His canonization was, and is, opposed by many both Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups, and numerous statues of Serra have been taken down.
“Progressive” Marin District Attorney Lori Frugoli is continuing to press charges, despite thousands of emails and phone calls from supporters across the Bay Area and beyond demanding that the charges be dropped. A petition was delivered to her office with 76,000 signatures. March 18 is the next court date. Please call Frugoli to demand the felony charges be dropped at 415-473-6450. More info at Indigenous Peoples Day 5 Solidarity Coalition