Local Grandmothers Highlight Intergenerational Pipeline Struggle

In late May, I travelled to Minnesota by train with three other local grandmothers, Janie Kesselman, Shirley Osgood, and Joyce Banzhaf, to join a 31-member delegation of 1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations. Our purpose was to highlight the intergenerational nature of the struggle to stop construction of the Enbridge Line 3 dirty tar sands oil pipeline. Together, we visited and helped out at the Water Protectors Camp which serves as a welcome center for visiting Line 3 activists, we hosted young Indigenous activists from a frontline camp for a memorial ceremony on the 1st anniversary of George Floyd’s death, and we held two public demonstrations, including one at the Minnesota Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul See video of that action here  and See pictures of the trip here.

The delegation included Lakota grandmothers from South Dakota. Madonna Thunder Hawk and Mabel Ann Eagle Hunter  have been activists, struggling for Indigenous rights and the rights of Mother Earth for over 60 years; Alcatraz was in 1968, and not their first big action! They were engaged with the American Indian Movement (AIM).  Their daughters and niece , now also grandmothers, had also been involved with AIM as children and teens and were also part of this delegation. All of us were motivated by concerns for today’s children, for the natural world and our other-than-human relatives, and for future generations.

Our grandmothers’ trip was a precursor to the Treaty People Gathering that is taking place early in June in support of the Anishinaabe people, whose treaty rights are threatened by this pipeline. (See #TreatyPeopleGathering). Massive demonstrations are taking place along the route of pipeline construction. Thousands are participating, including Indigenous leaders, celebrities, climate justice activists, and others who understand what is at stake if the construction of oil and gas pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure continues to extend the fossil-fuel era. People are engaging in major public actions, including nonviolent civil disobedience at pipeline construction sites.

The Nevada County contingent stayed an extra day and participated in an action led by Indigenous youth where two young people were arrested for trespassing and stopping workers from continuing construction by climbing onto the newly-laid pipeline. The four of us did not risk arrest and made it to the train for our return trip that night. We returned home grateful for being welcomed and included, sobered by all that we had learned and have yet to learn about respecting Indigenous leadership.

The Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline would run from Canada through the Mississippi headwaters and Minnesota’s lake country, threatening its pristine waters. It also runs through sacred ancient wild rice beds, traditionally harvested by the Anishinaabe people. This land is under treaty with the Anishinaabe, who have the rights to hunt, fish, and gather wild rice, all threatened by this pipeline. Treaty rights are the law of the land, with priority over federal or state laws.

Enbridge, a Canadian corporation, has a terrible safety record, with over 1068 pipeline spills before 2013, leaking 7.4 million gallons of oil. Disastrous spills continue. Enbridge calls the new Line 3 a “replacement pipeline” although it is constructing 300 miles of pipeline along a new route, abandoning the old pipeline to deteriorate in place, and doubling the quantity of dirty tar sands oil.

Climate activists make the case that long-lasting fossil fuel infrastructure such as pipelines locks us into increasing greenhouse gas emissions and rising global temperatures for decades. This project alone would have the climate impact of 50 coal mines, counteracting Minnesota’s plans to reduce climate change by investing in renewable energy, green jobs, energy-efficient buildings, and electric cars.

Since 2011, the United States has been a net exporter of fossil fuels. Under the Paris Climate Accords, our exports of fossil fuel are not counted. So even if we reduce emissions nationally, by continuing to increase our exports of fossil fuels we cancel out our stated intentions to reduce global climate change. Stopping construction of new oil and gas pipelines is a necessary step to addressing climate change.

Finally, solidarity with Indigenous peoples in their struggles for a livable world is a way to affirm indigenous wisdom and perspectives that move us from a worldview that promotes organizing society around the market to a worldview that promotes organizing around concern for the whole community of life. This lays a foundation for actions that impact the future in ways that further the good and heal the past.

For anyone who is convinced that the struggle against Line 3 is an important effort, there are many actions that we can take. Indigenous leaders are requesting that supporters call on President Biden to cancel this pipeline.  Find a petition here:  https://www.stopline3.org/take-action. Go to https://www.stopline3.org/biden for more information on how to contact Biden and make it clear to him that there is a large and diverse intergenerational movement to #StopLine3.

Sharon Delgado is a grandmother, retired United Methodist pastor, author, and activist. Her blog is at sharondelgado.org.



Local Grandmothers to Help Stop Line 3

Hello friends. Now that I am fully vaccinated, I am getting ready to take a train trip later this month to Minnesota with three local friends to join about 25 other members of 1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations. We will be joining members of the Anishinaabe tribe who are resisting the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline that would go through their territory. We are going at their ,invitation. While we are there we will support their efforts however we can, when we get back we will share their story and how it ties in to the larger struggle for a livable future.

Climate activists and others are joining together to support the Anishinaabe in their attempts to defeat Line 3. Public pressure led by Indigenous people and supported by environmental groups led to the defeat of the Keystone XL Pipeline, helped along by creative coalitions such as the “Cowboy and Indian Alliance” that included ranchers along the pipeline route. Likewise, public action draw international attention to the Standing Rock Sioux’s struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which a judge recently ruled as being illegal. Coalitions against are now at work to stop Enbridge Line 3.

Where does stopping construction of new oil and gas pipelines fit into the overall struggle for a livable future? Long-lasting oil and gas infrastructure such as pipelines not only vastly increase the capacity of fossil fuel development but lock in the extraction, transport, processing, sale, and burning of such fuels over decades, accelerating climate change into the future. Pipelines frequently pollute lands and waters along their routes through their frequent spills.

The very definition of climate justice is that we need to listen to and serve as allies to those who are on the front lines and at most risk of harm related to fossil-fuel extraction and climate change: people in sacrifice zones where fossil fuels are extracted, transported, and processed, usually communities of color; people in poor countries and communities (often communities of color) where the impacts of climate change are often first and worst; children and young people whose futures will be made much harder because of policy choices made today; and yes, species that are struggling to survive as ecosystems are degraded and destroyed.

On Earth Day this year, Earth Justice Ministries published a commentary about The Rights of Indigenous People and the Rights of Mother Earth. Acknowledging the rights of Indigenous people and centering their voices about caring for creation is critical if our work to create a livable future is to bear fruit. This awareness is essential for anyone concerned about climate change and other environmental damage, for simply changing our lifestyles or working piecemeal on individual policies will not bring about the overall systemic change that is needed. It will also require a change of worldview and frontline communities taking nonviolent action to keep polluting fossil fuels in the ground.

To contribute to our travels, you can donate to the Go Fund Me account Send Grandmothers to Help Stop Line 3.

To find out more about the effort to halt construction on Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, see the resources at Honor the Earth, Stop Line 3. Stay tuned for more!


The rights of Indigenous People and the Rights of Mother Earth

Dianna Suarez, Michelle Montgomery, Guarionex Delgado, and Sharon Delgado                         for Earth Justice Ministries

Published in the Union of April 24, 2021  https://www.theunion.com/opinion/columns/earth-justice-ministries-the-rights-of-indigenous-people-and-the-rights-of-mother-earth/

On April 22, 2021, we here at Earth Justice Ministries observe and celebrate the 51st anniversary of the first Earth Day while the shadows and legacy of racism, white nationalism, and white supremacy loom over the United States of America. We reflect on how humankind is witnessing the painful consequences of our collective behavior on the living planet that we call Earth. We face this reality and acknowledge the harm we have done.  We accept responsibility to deal with present day ecological and environmental challenges and emergencies by making amends through restoration, reparation, and restitution for our wrongs and those of the many who came before us.

On this occasion, we affirm the rights of Mother Earth and the rights of Indigenous people, and human rights as integrally connected and essential for transitioning to ways of living in harmony with the natural world.

We humans are part of the interconnected community of life, yet often we remain mired in ways of thinking and behaving that are selfish and destructive, even self-destructive, when considered from the perspective of the larger whole. We are aware of past environmental and ecological harm we human beings and our institutions have caused as well as the continuing and escalating harm we do.

Water, land, and air are being polluted by our exploitive and extractive practices, trash, hazardous waste, and the burning of fossil fuels. Ecosystems are being destroyed and forests are dying because of human induced climate change and drought as well as being cut down to satisfy the desires of the consumer culture that dominates the Earth.

Ignorance, denial, and biases make it difficult to address the systemic injustice and destructiveness affecting the human family and much of life on Earth. They also make it difficult to respond effectively to the existential and spiritual threats to humans, Mother Earth, her creatures, and natural systems, especially those which are most vulnerable. Our human and non-human relations are all being adversely affected by our lack of respect, and mental and spiritual disconnection from the web of life. Many species are rapidly becoming extinct.  

Around the world, Indigenous peoples are rising to today’s challenges, taking the lead on varied struggles, insisting that “water is life,” pointing to ancient worldviews and values that inform ways of living that have sustained humans and other forms of life for thousands of years.

But collective action by all of us is required to bring about a just transition to a livable future. Such action must be grounded in evidence-based science and must challenge the consumer culture’s worldview and values, which are insufficient for bringing about the transformation that is required. We must also recognize, honor, and renew our spiritual and emotional connections to the whole community of life.

In this region, these include the polluting impacts of legacy mining and the damming of rivers. Locally, we seek to prevent further degradation of the environment by joining together, supporting, and collaborating with others who are actively opposing the reopening of the Idaho Maryland Mine by the Rise Gold Corporation and the damming of Bear River by the Nevada Irrigation District. We also support removal of obstacles that prevent salmon from accessing headwaters where they spawn and die contributing their bodies as nourishment to the land and continuing and benefitting the cycle of life.

We recognize that we, in the Americas, live on land stolen from its native people through violence and genocide. We call on nations and governments to honor treaties and restore the land to the descendants of its original people. We support and call for federal recognition of the Nisenan people, who are indigenous to this region, fully understanding that environmental and ecological wellbeing and the rights of Indigenous people are intertwined.

We ask that Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church admit the harms caused by the papal bulls “Dum Diversas” issued by Pope Nicholas V in 1452, known as the Doctrine of Discovery, and “Inter Caetera” issued by Pope Alexander VI in 1493,  which authorized Spain and Portugal to colonize, convert, and enslave the Native peoples of the Americas as subjects.  We ask that Pope Francis rescind them and disavow their moral and ethical legitimacy.

On this Earth Day, we once again affirm our commitments to the well-being and restoration of Earth, her natural systems, the community of life, and humanity. And once again, we urge universal adoption of the Rights of Mother Earth and the Rights of Indigenous people.  Finally, we affirm the need to confront and heal the legacy of racism and violence that threatens to undo the hope and promise of democracy and peace for our hurt and hurting world.



Earth Day Prayer

Earth Day Prayer

Michelle Montgomery

Dear Mother Earth,

On Earth Day, we humbly stand before you asking for your forgiveness for our selfish actions. We, your children have neglected you, damaged your beautiful Earth, and have been creating more problems for any Mother to bear.

We stand before you now as the hours are becoming close to being too late to take back the harm that we have done from not taking time to honor you the way that we should.

Dear Mother, for this, and so much more, we ask for your humble loving kindness, mercy, and for your grace.

Our rivers, oceans, waters, and our air is being polluted by Humans.  Our trash is not handled properly in the proper removal of trash, recycling, and other hazardous materials. The use of oil for transportation in automobiles further pollutes the environment.

Your 2-Legged, 4-Legged, Winged ones, and Crawlers are all being affected by the disrespect, and disharmony of the human species.

The Animal species (especially our Wolves, Birds, and Bears), and so many of your creatures are becoming extinct in rapid fashion.

The Trees who were once great in number are being chopped down for selfish greed in forests across the globe, and causing harm as we have been destroying the Ecosystem, which previously provided so many minerals, and plant medicine to heal the planet. Sadly, some of your Children only think of the profits they will make, and fail to see the errors in their harmful ways.

We must  face the reality of our present of The Earth that is losing a battle that we are far behind in acknowledging the error in our ways.  We face the continuous destruction of Climate Change, and which will ultimately cause the end of our entire species to die.

This is an emergency wake up call to those who have been tasked to be Earth Stewards. We have a responsibility to make amends for the wrongs of so many who came before us, and who are no longer here to deal with the present day emergency challenges.

Please help us beloved Mother to make those wrongs, rights. Use our love, light, wisdom, and humility to compost that which is no longer needed into something that will be everlasting, in order to transform our planet.

May we be guided through your song of truth, justice, love, compassion, and make our Earth green, and strong again.

To whom much is given, much will be required. Luke 12:48