People of Faith Join Thousands at Capitol to #StopLine3
Last week, hundreds of people of faith and spirituality joined more than 2,000 water protectors at the Minnesota State Capitol for Treaties not Tar Sands: Capitol Action to Stop Line 3. We came together in witness and solidarity to call on President Biden to honor treaties and Native sovereignty, to protect the water, and to revoke federal permits for the Line 3 tar sands pipeline project.
On Monday and Tuesday (Aug. 23 and 24), Indigenous elders from White Earth held ceremonial space on the Capitol lawn, and we joined talking circles and helped set up tipis with Indigenous artist, Rory Wakemup. Then on Wednesday, we joined the last few miles of the Treaty People Walk for Water, a 250-mile journey from the Mississippi headwaters to the Capitol led by the Indigenous Environmental Network and the RISE Coalition. We walked silently and wore orange to commemorate the missing and murdered Indigenous children. We also carried signs uplifting our shared commitment to stopping the pipeline and all fossil fuel projects. Watch our Facebook livestream to feel the energy and spirit of this march.
When we arrived at the Capitol, we participated in a massive rally featuring powerful remarks from Indigenous leaders, local community organizers for racial justice and Native sovereignty (including MNIPL), and Minnesota state elected officials. View a full live recording here (MNIPL’s Youth N’ Power group are at the 2:14:45 timestamp). At the end of the rally, organizers read a statement of demands criticizing Governor Walz’s support of the pipeline and his administration’s militarized response to the movement.
“Our original treaties were with the creator and with the relatives, whether they had wings or roots or paws. That’s our agreement as human beings, our right to be here, and we need to remember and reaffirm that relationship and that original treaty because them guys, the fish and the little clams in the Shell River, them deer, them moose, they can’t talk. That’s us. That’s us that gotta stand up for them.”
Winona LaDuke of Honor the Earth
Indigenous leaders continued to hold ceremonial space on the Capitol lawn through Friday, holding on as long as they could while law enforcement harassed them and then made arrests. To support those bearing witness at the Capitol, MNIPL staff and volunteers coordinated the generous gift of sanctuary by Christ Lutheran Church, which was available 24 hours a day. Hundreds sought respite and were grateful to have a safe place nearby to rest, eat, and recharge before returning to action.
This past Sunday, leaders from Camp Migizi led a march from the Capitol to the Governor’s Mansion and engaged in peaceful protest to bring the #StopLine3 message directly to Gov. Walz. They were met by State Patrol officers in riot gear who violently harassed and arrested them using kettling tactics. 69 Water Protectors spent multiple nights in jail.
As a community of people of faith and conscience, we are called to recognize the need for spiritual, emotional, and physical healing of all people who have experienced trauma from police brutality and all forms of harm and oppression. We must continue to support water protectors who are being arrested and brutalized for protecting the water and standing up for treaty rights. Please consider giving directly to the Camp Migizi bail support fund, which helps with the ongoing needs of arrested water protectors. You can also support MNIPL’s ongoing work to organize communities of faith to the frontlines by donating here.
As construction of Line 3 nears completion, some Indigenous-led resistance camps are thinking about how we might best shift towards long-term action, community building, and healing. (Follow here and here for some of the latest updates.)
As people committed to spiritual practice, this moment offers us the chance to pause, reflect, and honor the love and energy that countless people—especially Native and Indigenous Water Protectors—have offered to this movement over many, many years. The movement continues in Minnesota, with more actions on the horizon, and we will let you know as these opportunities emerge.
President Biden can stop this pipeline anytime, even stopping the flow of oil after construction is complete. It is up to all of us to amplify the work and messaging from the Indigenous-led frontlines: we are all Treaty People, and Biden must finally honor Indigenous sovereignty.
Without increased grassroots pressure, we know that President Biden will not act. The Build Back Fossil Free coalition is organizing People vs. Fossil Fuels, a national mobilization that will take place in Washington, DC from Oct. 11-15. This Indigenous and coalition-led week of action calls for thousands to engage in civil disobedience as we urge Biden to stop all fossil fuel projects. Please watch for more details about how people of faith and spirituality from Minnesota and nationally will be showing up.
This moment weighs heavy on all of us as Line 3 construction comes to an end, but we know that the arc of this movement is not over. Individual people, communities, and organizations — including many, many of you! — have united together and dared to imagine and work for a better future. We have built relationships, shared stories, inspired others to change their minds, and signed on for the long haul in building a fossil-free world.
You have shown up in a multitude of ways in this work for climate justice and racial justice. Our faith traditions, spiritual practices, values, and consciences continue to ground us in what is required for real change. Our voices are still loud and our hearts remain big!
We know this land, its waters, and all of life are sacred. As our friends at Camp Migizi said, “if we come together across our traditional boundaries, if we act with a unified voice and spirit, we can win this fight.”