HYDE PARK — A lakefront dance party and potluck this weekend will support organizers protesting an oil pipeline being built on Indigenous land in northern Minnesota.
The mutual aid event is being hosted by Chicago Against Line 3, a campaign joining organizers from multiple causes in the city to heighten visibility and spur support for protests against the Line 3 oil pipeline extension project. The planned extension would transport oil through Anishinaabe land in parts of Minnesota.
The event will take place 5-9 p.m Saturday at Promontory Point in Hyde Park.
Enbridge, a Canadian multinational energy transportation company, started construction on the 340-mile pipeline extension in December. When completed, the pipeline will transport 1,000,000 barrels of oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to Minnesota and northern Wisconsin, according to Vox.
Line 3 is part of Enbridge’s U.S. mainline network that transports crude oil to northern Illinois and throughout the Midwest.
Laurel Chen, a University of Chicago alumna, said Saturday’s event will generate monetary support and solidarity for Indigenous people on the front lines of construction.
Activists in Minnesota are calling on President Joe Biden to cancel the pipeline extension with an executive order, just as he did with Keystone XL in January. Organizers against Line 3 are also calling attention to the way that protesters, many of them Indigenous, have been treated during encounters with police on the front lines of Line 3 construction.
“Right now, more than 800 protesters have been arrested for protecting the land and water,” Chen said. “They’ve used physical torture tactics to repress water protectors, and it’s really the collaboration between Enbridge Corporation and the Minnesota state police that’s allowed this pipeline to be built.”
Those against the pipeline construction also cite environmental concerns, like potential oil spills into bodies of freshwater. One report found the Line 3 extension will have the equivalent climate impact of 50 new coal plants.
“While the pipeline is 10 hours away, the Great Lakes are connected,” Chen said. “So an oil spill in Lake Superior or the Mississippi River threatens the waterways of everyone who is downstream. With Line 3, it’s not a matter of if it will spill but when, where and how much.”
Organizer Carly Ann Braun said it’s been difficult generating media attention around Line 3 compared to previous, more well-known pipelines, such as DAPL and Keystone XL.
“You can see how as each new corporation pushes through their own pipeline project, they get smarter and more prepared,” Braun said. “Unless you follow more progressive or independent media, you may not haven’t heard about Line 3 at all. I think giant corporations have tried to get way ahead of us.”
Organizers also have cited multiple treaties between the Anishinaabe people, including the Ojibwe, and the U.S. government in their effort to have the pipeline construction stopped. These treaties were primarily established between 1825 and 1867, according to the MinnPost.
The treaty of 1837 was the first major cession of Ojibwe land to the U.S government, but it reserved the right of Native people to fish, hunt and gather on reserved lands.
However, as logging became a high-demand industry in the United States, natural habitats for many Indigenous people’s food supplies became sparse, putting more pressure on reservation resources. An 1855 treaty excluded long-established rights of Indigenous people to use the land as a food source and led to major court action. For decades, Ojibwe people were arrested while fishing and hunting on their reservations and during court cases.
This culminated in a 1990 Supreme Court case, Minnesota vs. Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians, in which justices affirmed the Ojibwe people’s right to fish, hunt and gather on reserved territory. This ruling, activists claim, is being violated by Enbridge and other oil companies, with the assertion that oil pipelines directly threaten the natural resources in the area.
“I feel like it’s framed as like a group of people have an issue with this corporation,” Braun said. “Versus [the framing that] the U.S. government is intentionally siding with a corporation over the will of the people and intentionally violating a treaty that still stands. They’re dismissing the will of the people that they should be hypothetically representing, but actually protecting the interests of corporations.”
All of the funds raised from Saturday’s event will go toward legal fees for people who have been arrested protesting Line 3. There will be music from DJ Zolita and DJ Clubchow, dancing and food.
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