Mass march to keep ‘oil in the soil’

July 4, 2015

From the July-August 2015 issue of News & Letters

St. Paul, Minn.–About 5,000 people marched from the banks of the Mississippi to the Minnesota state capitol on June 6, taking advantage of a beautiful day in St. Paul to voice our objections to Enbridge Corporation’s pipeline expansion. Marchers included tar sands, pipeline, coal, oil and fracking protesters, supported by the Sierra Club, Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago, Fight For 15 and many First Nations.

Picture thanks to the Sierria Club.

Picture thanks to the Sierria Club.

We chanted: “We are the people two! We are united three! We will not let you build this pipeline ONE! We are the people two, etc.” Some of our signs read, “Love water, not oil,” and “Keep the oil in the soil.”

The program centered on Native American sacred water ceremonies. Indian dancing, singing and speeches were featured. Former Vice-Presidential candidate Winona LaDuke spoke at the kick-off press conference, vowing that First Nations would never stop defending mother earth!

In a day that felt triumphant, Bill McKibben predicted that no other pipeline would ever be built without massive, increasingly implacable protests. “The days of pipelines are over, folks!” he said; and “We are starting to win this, people!”

I distributed flyers from the Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago (NEIS) and talked to about 40 receptive people about NEIS’s project to document “America’s Chernobyl,” the experience of Native Americans as they try to raise children and protect their families from radiation beaming from the unspeakable filth of active and abandoned uranium mines. Read more at and access the documentary at

The protest focused on Enbridge having increased pressure in the already aging Alberta Clipper pipeline and plans to create a new line, Sandpiper, from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to Superior, Wisc.

Transport of tar sands oil is a thorn in the side of all communities on the route. Since a record-breaking Enbridge spill into the Kalamazoo River that has not been cleaned up, and indeed cannot be, neighbors of existing pipelines are wary of them. But communities are equally worried about what have come to be known as bomb trains, like the eight cars that exploded in Lac Mégantic, Ontario.

In 1953 Enbridge surreptitiously sank a pipeline under the nexus between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the Straits of Mackinac. Decay of that pipe is another issue that grates on the sensibilities of First Nations and the other residents of Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ontario. Indeed, it eats at almost all who are aware of this threat to the water supply for tens of millions of people.

Our enjoyment of Indian dancing, music, speech and ceremony, along with cries of “This is what democracy looks like!” and “Another world is possible!” indicate the path forward to a just, non-sexist, non-racist future for mankind.


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