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Thursday, September 05, 2019

La Pointe, Wis., passes resolution supporting shut down of Enbridge Line 5

This map shows the location of Mooningwaanekaaning Minis -- Madeline Island -- and its proximity to the Bad River Indian Reservation. Bad River is suing Enbridge because of threats from Line 5, which crosses through 12 miles of sensitive habitat on the Reservation. (Maps and photos courtesy Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa)

By Barbara With*
Posted Aug. 28, 2019, on Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative
Reprinted with permission.

LA POINTE, Wis. -- In a stunning show of support for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Town of La Pointe (Wis.) Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Aug. 27, 2019, to pass Resolution 2019-0827 Enbridge, denouncing Enbridge Line 5 and all pipelines in the Great Lakes, and standing by Bad River in their July 23, 2019, lawsuit against the foreign oil company. La Pointe is on Mooningwaanekaaning Minis -- Madeline Island -- in the middle of the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin.

The Bad River suit is to force the foreign oil company to comply with its legal obligations to decommission and remove the 66-year-old pipeline from the Bad River watershed. Oil continues to flow across 12 miles of sensitive reservation habitat, even though the right-of-way easements expired in 2013, and Line 5 is in imminent danger of failing. The suit comes only after several years of mediation that failed to get Enbridge to shut the line down.**

According to the lawsuit:

A meander bend in the Bad River adjacent to where the pipeline is currently buried under the River -- and directly upstream from the Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs -- has been migrating, causing the river to move ever closer to a portion of the pipeline that is buried much shallower than the adjacent river bottom. That bend is highlighted in blue below. When the migrating channel of the Bad River reaches the buried pipeline, the river will erode and remove the surrounding soils (a process known as scouring) until the pipeline is exposed. When this occurs, portions of the pipeline will no longer be supported by underlying or surrounding soils for the length of the exposure, and the unsupported span will lengthen as the river continues to carry away the soils.

This aerial view shows the Line 5 pipeline (slightly diagonal orange line) crossing the meandering Bad River on the Bad River Reservation. Click on image for larger view.

The foregoing circumstances represent an existential threat to the Band, its Reservation resources, and its way of life. They pose a dire threat to the treaty-protected rights of the Band and its members in the lands and waters of the Reservation. Accordingly, in addition to constituting a trespass and unlawful possession of the Band’s lands, Enbridge’s refusal to halt the flow of oil across the Reservation constitutes a grave public nuisance.

Read the entire lawsuit here.

The Tribe continues to monitor and document the dangerous conditions of the pipeline and the imminent danger to the entire Chequamegon Bay because of Enbridge’s refusal to stop the oil. Bad River is hoping to avert a potentially devastating situation before it happens and bring the company’s unauthorized presence to an end.

This photo was taken  where 25-40 feet of Enbridge Line 5 pipe are unsupported and exposed to the elements at the Denomie Creek tributaries on the Bad River Reservation. 

Resolution 2019-0837 Enbridge addresses the 1,244 spills, leaks and releases over a 17-year period, the failure of Enbridge to have a plan to clean up a spill under ice, and the urgency to decommission Line 5, considering the extremity of the problem and the great risk La Pointe and Madeline Island are currently in because of Enbridge’s refusal to stop the oil.

Residents of La Pointe who attended the meeting were in agreement with the resolution.

Mashkiiziibi (Bad River) Band requests Enbridge line 5 cessation of oil flow

On August 21, 2019, Bad River Natural Resources Department and technical experts discovered over 48 feet of exposed pipeline on Enbridge line 5 at the Denomie Creek site identified as slope # 18. Various interactions with storm events combined with the natural unpredictability of the land and water have naturally eroded enbankments throughout the area.

Tribal staff and technical experts are currently on site analyzing the threat and have been directed to prepare for emergency management response. Over the last few years, Bad River NRD has been communicating to Enbridge that these right-of-ways need to be continually and routinely monitored and brushed because of the natural changes of the landscape and threats the pipeline poses. Slope # 18 represents an area that Enbridge bas not presently brushed and maintained on the surface.

In a letter dated August 21, 2019 from Bad River Chairman Michael Wiggins, Jr., to Enbridge President Guy Jarvis, Wiggins states, "I do not need to tell you that the discovery of this exposed and unsupported stretch of pipeline is a highly significant and alarming development." Chairman Wiggins acknowledged two steps considered by the Band to be essential to addressing the situation: 1) The Band requested the cessation of oil flow through the reservation. 2) The Band requested that Enbridge respond and participate in the further investigation of the situation.

The Band filed suit in the Western District of Wisconsin Federal Court on July 23, 2019, asserting invaluable resources at stake and that certain areas were at risk for pipeline exposure.**

With over 7,000 members, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians is located on an 125,000-acre reservation in an area within Ashland and Iron Counties on the south shore of Gichi-Gami (Lake Superior). The Ojibwe people have a long and rich heritage throughout the Great Lakes region prior to European contact and through to today. Treaties signed by eleven Ojibwe Tribes ceded millions of acres throughout the region, including what is currently the upper one-third of the State of Wisconsin, but retained the rights to hunt, fish, and gather in the ceded territories, both on and off of their reservation land.

Bad River Band logo courtesy Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Click here to learn more about the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

* Guest author Barbara With is an award-winning author and composer, international peace activist, founding member of Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative, and defender of Lake Superior and the Penokee Mountains.

** See our July 28, 2019, article, "Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sues Enbridge to remove Line 5."

Monday, September 02, 2019

Nick Estes to speak on Standing Rock, Indigenous resistance Sept. 3 at Michigan Tech

Poster courtesy Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign.

HOUGHTON -- Nick Estes, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and assistant professor in the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico, will present "Our History is the Future - Standing Rock vs Dakota Access," at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, in the Alumni Lounge, Memorial Union Building (MUB) at Michigan Tech.

His talk is about the lessons of the ten-month Indigenous resistance at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016. Estes places this narrative in the context of the long tradition of Indigenous resistance to the United States genocidal wars against the native peoples of this continent and the development of colonial institutions. He notes that the theft of Indigenous lands continues up to the present and is an integral part of global imperialism. In that sense, the Indian Wars have never truly ended. They continue and reach beyond the borders of this country. Thus the spirit of internationalism is an existential necessity, and ending imperialism abroad by ending it at home is a sacred duty of the Indigenous movement.

At Standing Rock in 2016, this spirit of internationalism was evident, as Indigenous nations from around the world made their way to the camp site in solidarity.

Nick Estes places the struggle at Standing Rock in the context of the struggle against capitalism. His recent book, Our History is the Future, closes with the following words:

"The Water protectors also ask us: What does water want from us? What does the earth want from us? Mni Wiconi -- water is life -- exists outside the logic of capitalism. Whereas past revolutionary struggles have strived for the emancipation of labor from capital, we are challenged not just to imagine, but to demand the emancipation of earth from capital. For the earth to live, capitalism must die. Hecetu welo!"

In 2014, Estes co-founded The Red Nation, an Indigenous resistance organization. In 2017-2018, Estes was the American Democracy Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. His work engages colonialism and global Indigenous histories, with a focus on decolonization, oral history, U.S. imperialism, environmental justice, anti-capitalism, and the Oceti Sakowin.*

This event is sponsored by the Michigan Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion; the Michigan Tech Social Science, Humanities and Physics departments; the Episcopal Church; and the King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.

*Oceti Sakowin (Och-et-eeshak-oh-win), meaning Seven Council Fires, is the proper name for the people commonly known as the Sioux.