Women Are the Protectors

A “gathering of grandmothers opposed to Line 3” was held on the banks of the Crow Wing River near Park Rapids March 15. L to R: Tara Houska, Giniw Collective; Jane Fonda, actress and activist; and Winona LaDuke, Honor the Earth. Photo Keri Pickett

When Enbridge comes in, there are big bulldozers, excavators, backhoes, and people that walk through the forest beheading trees before they come back for the rest. They are coming at the rivers with a high directional drill: the Mississippi, the Willow, the Shell, the Little Shell, the Crow Wing — 22 river crossings. They plan to shove in a 36- inch pipe, so it can move 915,000 barrels a day of the dirtiest oil in the world across 337 miles of Northern Minnesota to Lake Superior. All for a dying industry.

It feels a lot like rape.

We have been fighting this off for seven years so far. The carbon output is the equivalent of opening 50 new coal plants. Enbridge continues to drill. People continue being arrested for trying to disrupt rape.

On the bank of the Mississippi, in the pathway of the pipeline, there is a prayer lodge, a waaginoogan, a ceremonial teaching lodge, and we have been praying there. We have built lodges like this on the shores of the river for generations.

Indigenous people and our allies are resisting across the pathway of this pipeline, from near the Red Lake Reservation in the Northwest, to the Fond du Lac reservation on the eastern end. People are joining us in prayer for the earth: legislators; friends in the cities; people of all faiths; relatives from South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois; water protectors from all four directions.

More than any time in my life, women are reclaiming our power. You can see that in the surge in movements. It is a really beautiful and powerful shift that is making change.