Four grandmothers answer the call |

Four grandmothers answer the call

From left, Joyce Banzhaf, Janie Kesselman, Shirley Osgood and Sharon Delgado, will be joining members of the Anishinaabe tribe to help protect their land by peacefully protesting against the construction of Enbridge corporation’s new crude oil pipeline.

At the end of May, four Nevada County grandmothers will be taking the train to Minnesota to join members of the Anishinaabe tribe to help protect their land and water from the severe environmental impacts of Enbridge corporation’s new Line 3 Canadian tar sands crude oil pipeline. Tribal members are calling on allies or friends, known as “niijiiwag,” and those of “strong hearts” to join in the nonviolent protest. At the invitation of Anishinaabe grandmothers, Sharon Delgado, Shirley Osgood, Janie Kesselman and Joyce Banzhaf will be joining roughly 25 other members of the Bay Area-based group 1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations on the journey. The grandmothers’ group initially formed in 2016 in solidarity with elders at Standing Rock, and have since acted collectively in support of the rights of Native Americans and continue to address issues surrounding the climate crisis and systemic racism.

Enbridge is a large energy delivery company that moves roughly 25% of the crude oil produced in North America. In November 2020, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s administration approved final water permits for Enbridge to complete an expansion and re-routing of its already-existing Line 3 pipeline. The “Line 3 Replacement Program” is now the largest project in Enbridge history.

According to the Sierra Club, “The pipeline will violate U.S. treaty agreements with the Anishinaabe people. The treaties granted Anishinabe people rights beyond reservation boundaries, such as the right to hunt, fish and harvest wild rice. Line 3 runs through this treaty territory.” Additionally, the Sierra Club asserts that Enbridge has “one of the worst safety records of major pipeline companies and had more than 800 spills in the U.S. and Canada between 1999 and 2010, leaking 6.8 million gallons of oil.”

If finished, the last section of the pipeline in Minnesota will pump oil sands and other forms of crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wisconsin, which cuts through Indigenous treaty lands along its path. Lawsuits, including several environmental organizations and two Indigenous nations, are pending. Construction is already underway.

In her New York Times piece, “Not Just Another Pipeline,” author Louise Erdrich deemed the massive project “a breathtaking betrayal of Minnesota’s Indigenous communities — and the environment.”

“We will be joining members of the Anishinaabe tribe, who are resisting the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline that would go through their territory,” said Delgado. “We are going at their invitation. While we are there we will support their efforts however we can — and when we get back we will share their story and how it ties in to the larger struggle for a livable future.”

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