Corporate Accountability and the Enbridge Pipelines of the Great Lakes

 - Enbridge is a major Partner in Dakota Access -

By Winona LaDuke
News From Indian Country Guest Perspective

Enbridge is going to need to do some accounting for us all. When Enbridge announced the cancellation of the proposed Sandpiper pipeline, after a four year battle in Minnesota, they bought a 28% interest in the ill fated Dakota Access pipeline.

Recently, that pipeline battle saw a victory for the people, as the Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit for the highly contested project to cross the Missouri River. This has been a hard fought battle for many, including Enbridge.

Now Enbridge is turning its focus to the proposed Line 3 pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Alberta to Superior, WI, through some of the best lakes and wild rice beds of Northern Minnesota, and the heart of Ojibwe treaty territory. As Enbridge kicks off a renewed public relations campaign for Line 3, they owe us all an explanation of how this project is any different from Dakota Access. And they need to account for the hundreds of injuries, Sophia Wilansky’s arm being blown off by a police lobbed concussion grenade, and the violations of civil and human rights in Morton County. All for a pipeline. Enbridge, you don’t get a free ride.

Let's be frank. As of November 18, the Morton County Sheriff’s
Department inventoried their troops at 1,287 deputies.

Let’s be frank. As of November 18, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department inventoried their troops at 1,287 deputies, including police from 25 North Dakota counties, 20 North Dakota cities, and 9 states (Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming). Over 550 people have been arrested, many of them strip searched and cavity searched for misdemeanor charges, and a number of them held overnight in dog kennels. Now the state has fired on unarmed people who want to protect the water from contamination. After all, that’s what this is about.  

To serve the convenience of a deadline for Energy Transfer Partners’ and Enbridge’s corporate profits, the police have fired teargas canisters, concussion grenades, rubber bullets, tasers, and bean bag rounds at unarmed people trying to protect their water supply – elders and children included. They have maced us by the gallon, beaten us, and sprayed us with water cannons in subfreezing temperatures. They shot and killed one of our horses.   We bring out our sage bundles to pray and they show up in riot gear with armored vehicles. Of course, most of the water protectors are Native, and the North Dakota media has continued to portray us as outlaws.

When 21 year old New York resident Sophia Wilansky’s arm was blown off by a concussion grenade, Morton County Sheriff Kirchmeier suggested she caused it. A statement from her father, attorney Wayne Wilansky, differs: “At around 4:30pm after the police hit the bridge with water cannons and rubber bullets and pepper spray, they lobbed a number of concussion grenades, which are not supposed to be thrown at people directly…. A grenade exploded right as it hit Sophia in the left forearm taking most of the undersurface of her left arm with it. Both her radial and ulnar artery were completely destroyed. Her radius was shattered and a large piece of it is missing. Her medial nerve is missing a large section as well. All of the muscle and soft tissue between her elbow and wrist were blown away. The police did not do this by accident - it was an intentional act of throwing it directly at her. Additionally police were shooting people in the face and groin, intending to do the most possible damage…”

A month ago, I asked Linda Coady, Enbridge’s Sustainability Director, aka. “ the Indian Listener,” in text messages, phone calls, and a very direct request to Enbridge CEO Al Monaco, to respect Native people, and to call for demilitarization of the law enforcement response and a full environmental impact statement, which is now finally being requested by the Army Corps of Engineers. Enbridge had plenty of opportunity to do the right thing in North Dakota, and chose not to.  

So, what’s up Enbridge? Are you going to bring those tanks to Ojibwe territory now?   And, when are you going to repair the damage you have caused us? That’s even before you clean up the old mess of the existing Line 3.

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