It’s the morning mist. I'm looking at the horses in the mist. Then we ride to the lake. It’s Rice lake, in the midst of the Rice Lake refuge. The place is Minisinoo, a traditional village of Anishinaabeg, who have lived here. For thousands of years, they have lived there.
“I can’t fathom how they would put the pipeline here .... It’s a glacial lake bed bottom, with vast amounts of manoomin ...making the quantities and qualities of life rich. We feel threatened.”
The land is full of lakes, medicine plants and marshes. I am looking at blueberries, Mashkode Niibiish, High bush cranberry: aniibiminagaawanzh . And a multitude of wealth and health. This land was all under water in the hundred year flood, two years ago, the same one which took Duluth by surprise and the polar bear and seal escaped the zoo. Those floods are more and more frequent.
There is no need for an oil pipeline here. That’s what I am sure of. The biodiversity and stunning beauty of the ecosystem is, maamaakaajizhichige. It is amazing. And it is full of smells.
The traditional and ceremonial leadership of the village of East Lake welcomes us, prays for us and feeds us, feeding our spirits, pasturing our horses, and feeding our bodies. We explain the logistics of the pipeline, talking about the 20,000 gallons a minute which would come from a breach in the pipeline, and we all know it would go directly in to the water. After all, when they dug the expansion on Highway 2l0 from McGregor to Fond du Lac, you could run a boat the whole way, in the ditch. The water table is a foot below the surface.
The pipeline is a threat. And, the pipeline is joined by another extreme extraction project lurking in the area- a Rio Tinto Zinc/Kennecott Copper set of mining explorations, for some “unobtainable” I believe it is the name of the mineral that was searched for in Avatar. Traces of copper, zinc, magnesium diamonds and gold, deep, deep beneath the glacier bed that made this land. The company, we are told had leased a building in the town north, and keeps looking, digging around.
There is no safe place to hide, to rice, to be Anishinaabeg. So we protect our territory, as we have for centuries. It is still beautiful and full of clean water, and medicines. It is worth everything. Our water is more important than their oil. Our mino bimaatisiiwin will see us through. Love water not oil.
– Winona La Duke
#LoveWaterNotOil #enbridge #Sandpiper
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