Minnesota Pipeline Battle: Ojibwe Tribe Cites Prophesy of Deadly Energy Decisions

Water Protector Ascends Tripod Blockading Enbridge Line 3 Pipe-yard
Facebook/Giniw Collective

A bitter winter delayed work on replacing part of Enbridge Line 3 pipeline that has brought oil from Canada through Minnesota since the 1960s. But protesters, including Native Americans, are seeking to shut down the project citing Joe Biden’s war on fossil fuels and an ancient prophecy.

CNN reported on what the media outlet said is a growing protest: 

Though they failed to stop the oil now flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline, maybe this was a sign Biden would take their side in the David versus Goliath fight to stop Line 3. And maybe people would finally heed an ancient warning known as The Seven Fires Prophecy.

In Ojibwe tribal lore, an environmental moment of reckoning was predicted in the time of the Seventh Fire, when “the light skinned race will be given a choice between two roads,” one green and lush, the other black and charred. A wrong choice, it was warned, would “cause much suffering and death to all the Earth’s people.” The Ojibwe are of the largest groups of Native Americans north of Mexico with tribal members stretching from present-day Ontario in eastern Canada all the way into Montana.

As a half-dozen female tribal elders sing and pray alongside the frozen Mississippi, it’s obvious that for some bands, the fight is sacred and eternal. The question is how many will join them in the face of tougher legal challenges, increased pressure from police and the limits of the pandemic.

Activist and tribal attorney Tara Houska said 130 people have been arrested for protesting the pipeline, herself included. CNN said she had to post a $6,000 bail to remain free ahead of her hearing.

“They seem to think that it’s going to deter us from protecting the land,” Houska said. “They are fundamentally missing the point of what water protectors are doing, which is willing to put ourselves our freedom, our bodies, our personal comfort on the line for something greater than ourselves.”

But an official with Enbridge, the company that operates the pipeline, said every federal, state, and tribal test for environmental safety has been met. And he said 40 percent of the pipeline is already complete.

Enbridge Chief Communications Officer Mike Fernandez said this pipeline is different because of its longevity.

“It already exists,” Fernandez said. “And it already is an energy lifeline for literally millions of people in the U.S. and in Canada. And the reality is, even as we see great growth in renewables, we’re still going to need some fossil fuels 40 years to come.”

But while critics say they are protecting the water, workers say they are protecting their livelihoods. While some of the 5,200 people building Line 3 are from Texas and Louisiana about 400 are Native Americans.

CNN also talked to Jim Jones, a member of the Leech Kaje Band of the Ojibwe and a former cultural anthropology for the state of Minnesota. Enbridge hired him to walk the pipeline and ensure the operation wasn’t harming indigenous spaces.

“You think that people that are scrambling at home, running out of gas with no heat, are thinking about climate change?” Jones said. “They’re thinking about how they’re going to heat their home and put food on the table.”

“I’m at peace that I’ve done the best I can to protect what’s important to us,” he said. “And I can honestly tell you, as of today, nothing of historic context has been unearthed or disturbed.”

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