The Treaty People Gathering was as a coalition-led direct nonviolent action event on June 5-8, 2021 at White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota to protest the construction of Line 3 tar sands pipeline. Attended by over 2000 water protectors from across the country and supported by dozens of organizations, the event was the biggest action yet against Enbridge LN3. Special guests included Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Rosanna Arquette, Taylor Schilling, and Bill McKibben. Over 500 water protesters shut down the Two Inlets pump station for over 29 hours. At least 200 were arrested. In the course of the protest, about 1500 people marched to the spot where the Line 3 pipeline is scheduled to drill under the Mississippi headwaters and launched an ongoing treaty encampment in the path of the pipeline, with 200 people camping overnight. While the Treaty People Gathering was scheduled to wrap-up on June 8th, the ongoing encampment and lockdowns demonstrate water protectors’ commitment to stop the pipeline.
The Treaty People Gathering offers an inspiring example of direct nonviolent action which succeeds through building broad coalitions among Native and non-Native peoples to resist Big Oil. Water protectors and their allies are calling on President Biden to stop line 3. Its construction threatens northern Minnesota’s waters and violates Anishinaabe treaty rights. If the pipeline leaks, which is statistically highly probably, it would irreparably destroy one of the most pristine water ecosystems on the planet. But even if the pipeline never leaks, it would facilitate exploitation of the Canadian tar sands, contributing enough oil to heat up the Earth’s atmosphere by .4 Celcius: a suicidal amount of extra heat for the already warming planet.
The best picturebook to date to frame classroom discussions of the Treaty People Gathering and other Indigenous-led climate action is We Are Water Protectors. You’ll find more info about the history of LN3 protests at Stop the Line 3 Pipeline and Honor the Earth. We also highly recommend watching the 2020 documentary LN3: Seven Teachings of the Anishinaabe in Resistance (dir. Suez Taylor), which comes with a study guide.
Joshua Portlow, “Pipeline protesters seize Minnesota construction site in bid to stop $4 billion project” The Washington Post, Jun 8, 2021.
Hiroko Tabuchi, Matt Furber and Coral Davenport, “Police Make Mass Arrests at Protest Against Oil Pipeline” The New York Times, Jun 7, 2021.
©2021 ClimateLit (Marek Oziewicz)