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Gathering the Grandmothers to Protect Water: Led by Jane Fonda, Winona LaDuke and Tara Zhaabowekwe Houska by Ann Treacy
March 16, 2021, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Minnesota

March 15, the Ides of March, I went with a group of Minnesota Women’s Marchers headed up Park Rapids to join Honor the Earth and Giniw for a gathering of grandmothers (and others) to protect the water from Enbridge’s Line 3. It’s a three hour drive from St Paul. It was an opportunity for us to build community and make plans for future Women’s March Minnesota events. It was an opportunity to soak up the beauty of Minnesota, which none of us have done much during the pandemic.

The advance details were a little clandestine because it’s not always safe to protest Line 3 in the area. People have been arrested. Enbridge security is everywhere and on high alert. Enbridge is trying to build the pipeline before they are stopped. Building the pipeline has brought protesters and builders to the area. The builders have formed man camps. Honor the Earth has statics on the increase in crime, especially crimes against women in and around man camps in North Dakota. We were there to protect the water and the women – especially the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.

You know stuff is going down when you invoke the grandmothers! (In truth, all genders and all ages present but a real focus on the grandmothers and a celebration of being a grandmother!)

We got to the meeting place, created a caravan and moved to a beautiful area on the shores of the Crow River. We were greeted by a pack of wild turkeys crossing the road but we were not detained or hassled. However 20 minutes later, one of the cars in Jane Fonda’s group was stopped leaving from the same spot. They were well supplied with lawyers and were not detained long but they were hassled and stalled.

In the meantime, community was building at the site by the River. There was a prayer given and tobacco shared and returned to the River. Water protector Sharon Day gave a blessing and reminded us that Line 3 was a distraction what we really needed to be doing was looking to the water near where all of us live. We need to give thanks, spend time near that water with an intention that is meaningful to us and think about what the Earth needs. Later Winona LaDuke made a similar point recognizing that the pandemic is a sign that the Earth is fighting the infection of disruption. She spoke about the pandemic as portal to change. It is a time a reckoning – a time for more choices. Jane Fonda built upon Winona’s comments by saying that Winona often said as a community we had a choice of carbohydrates or hydrocarbons and we chose wrong; now it a time to make the right choice. And went on to talk about the dangers of letting a foreign oil company bring the most danger tar sands oil through our country at a time when scientists are telling us we are going through the most existential climate crisis. We have 10 years to cut fossil fuel in half – we must do it for our future. Line 3 is a step in the wrong direction. This is a global crisis that we can stop now.

There was humor – in the ongoing commentary by the giant dancing bear. There were warm drinks and some food. There were red dresses everywhere represented the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, which always breaks my heart. The double vulnerability of being a young woman in an economically distressed area, being Native and knowing that the rules do not protect you. (National Institute of Justice reports that 84 percent of Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime.) Tara Zhaabowekwe Houska spoke about the man camps, trying to solicit underage women and creating an unsafe environment for women in the community. We could feel an ounce of that malaise when we drove away to men in shiny pickups at most corners of the country highways.

So much happening in what feels like plain sight that we are choosing to ignore – but we ignore at our own peril. We are trading the priceless future of our rivers, our lands, our women for nickels that will be overspent and worthless much sooner than we recognize.

So what can we do?

  • Tell President Biden to #StopLine3 As the ice on the rivers thaw, it’s more important than ever that we contact President Biden and tell him how vital it is that he Stop Line 3 and protect our lands, air and water. President Biden can stop construction immediately.
  • Sign the petition asking President Biden to #StopLine3
  • Donate to Honor the Earth (tax deductible) or to the frontlines.
  • Join a protest of rally  – follow #StopLine3 or Honor the Earth for updates
  • Monitor the construction with Watch the Line MN

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