Testimonies from Treaty People

Many members of MNIPL’s extended community attended August’s Treaty People Walk for Water and Treaties Not Tar Sands. Below are a few beautiful personal testimonies about their experiences, offered generously through words, video, and imagery. Click here for more Line 3-related blog posts.

(1) Rachel Binstock

When I arrived at the Target parking lot Saturday morning, unsure what was about to ensue, the first person who spoke to me was a young boy named Yoelle, who couldn’t have been more than four. He jumped out of his car, looked me in the eyes and asked, “Are you a water protector?” My eyes welled up at the question. I thought to myself, who is this earnest and clear soul? I guess that was why I was there and so I replied, “Yes, are you?” He agreed he was as well with a fervent nod of the head. As I let that intention settle in, it set the tone for the next week. It was an honor joining in for the last five days to walk prayerfully alongside the committed and fiercely compassionate organizing team and core group of walkers, many of whom had been walking for weeks and literally hundreds of miles.

I came to the walk, responding to a call from indigenous leaders asking for bodies on the front-line of this stop line 3 fight. I came because as a Jew, I am obligated to defend the sacred, to protect the mayim chayim, the living waters that give all of us life. I came because I wanted to support the rights of indigenous people to thrive in their own ancestral homeland, in the face of continued genocide and other gross atrocities. I came to say enough to corporate interests who put profit over people and are set on ensuring that the balance of life will not continue dor l’dor from generation to generation.

My first night camping with the water protectors, we had a council, and some walkers shared a curiosity about what it meant to walk in prayer. Many decided to walk in silence the following day, taking in the scenery, stepping with intention, and meditating on what is at stake. I took the challenge, and walked in silence and noticed so much more presence and intention in my step, so much more awareness for the wild world harshly intersected and interrupted by the highway we were walking on, and I noticed the panic and upset in my chest and throat about this heinous tar sands pipeline and all the pain it has and will cause. I was moved by the way my soul felt, walking in silence alongside so many others who came to pray for the people and the land and the future; uplifted, fierce, compelled, angry, bolstered.

It is hard to describe what it meant to me, to be a part of the treaty people walk for water. Arriving at the capitol on the last day, being joined by hundreds of others on our last 1.5 miles, taking the street and walking in silence was so incredibly powerful. The image in my mind will be seared forever, hundreds of people in the street with colorful flags waving silently in the wind “honor the treaties,” “defend the sacred,” “climate justice now.” What else is there to say?”

—Rachel Binstock, from Ashland, Oreg. and from Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action

(2) Rev. Ben Connelly

Rev. Ben Connelly is a Soto Zen Buddhist priest at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center.

(3) Photo Montage

Photos offered by Matt Quast and Alana Howey

It felt good to be acting in solidarity with indigenous leaders. So many reasons to stop Line 3! Honor the treaties and the earth along with the urgent need to stop climate change. It was heartening to also be with folks from all over the US that share in the resistance!

—Alana Howey