On Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, District Judge Doug Clark dismissed all charges against five of the ‘Shell River Seven’ water protectors. The five included Kelly Maracle, Trish Weber, Mary Klein, Barbara With, and Cheryl Barnds. Judge Clark dismissed the cases on grounds that the state had failed to demonstrate probable cause to sustain all charges. In doing so, Judge Clark did not reach the Shell River defendants’ treaty-based claims.
[00:00:41] Several charges against the other two Shell River Seven water protectors—independent photojournalist K. Flo Razowsky and Winona LaDuke, executive director and co-founder of Honor the Earth—remain in place pending ongoing litigation.
[00:00:56] The Shell River Seven were charged for peacefully standing up against the Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline in July 2021, which was forced under the Shell River at a time of extreme drought, violating Anishinaabe treaty rights and threatening the river’s endangered mussels and other river life, as well as drinking water for millions.
[00:01:18] “Criminalizing and overcharging protestors is a common tactic used by the state to scare activists and suppress movements. The criminalization of the Shell River Defendants was no exception, and this dismissal is a powerful victory for water protectors,” said Attorney Claire Glenn.
Glenn, the Line 3 Legal Fellow of the Water Protector Legal Collective and Civil Liberties Defense Center, represented Cheryl Barnds and will continue to jointly represent Winona LaDuke with Anishinaabe movement lawyer Frank Bibeau.
[00:01:52] CLDC attorneys Lauren Regan and Sarah Alvarez represented the four other Shell River defendants whose cases were dismissed. “We’re hopeful that the prosecutor will do the right thing and dismiss the other water protectors’ cases that remain open in Wadena County, including that of Shell River Guardian, ad litem Winona LaDuke,” Glenn added.
[00:02:24] Cheryl Barnds: I’m originally from Colorado, which is a very dry, mountainous state. So water is a precious resource there, and I always grew up knowing that we had a water reservoir. And we have occasional, you know, big rains there and creeks, but no large bodies of natural water. It’s a scarce resource. So I grew up knowing that water was precious. I didn’t think of it as being sacred, but I do now.
[00:03:01] And then I eventually ended up in Maryland, which is somewhat near the ocean. I absolutely love being near the ocean, but I’m also aware that we can’t drink that water. There’s a limited amount of water that we can drink, and our bodies are mostly made of water. So the idea that people are okay with destroying drinkable water is hard to understand.
[00:03:32] I am here as an invited guest on 1855 Treaty land. I am here to honor the treaties that were made with the Anishinaabe people. They have rights to this land that are being violated. And I feel, in particular as a white person who’s come to awareness about my responsibility to uphold the treaties. I feel it’s my obligation to be here to protect the water, to protect the wild rice to protect the, Anishinaabe way of life, which is absolutely being threatened and potentially destroyed by the Line 3 project.
[00:04:21] I’m here because I feel it is my responsibility to be here to help stand in solidarity and do everything I can to protect this beautiful place and these beautiful people.
[00:04:34] Yeah, so the tar sands is sort of one of these last gasps of desperation of the fossil fuel industry to keep going when we can’t afford to keep going with this. This would be the last tar sands pipeline. So one of the—it’s one of the dirtiest types of fuels in the world, if not the dirtiest.
[00:04:57] And one of the many countless concerns about it is that if this pipeline is built and when it leaks, which they always do, the bitumen, I believe I’m saying that correctly, sinks.
[00:05:11] So how could you clean it up? This river is full of life and I’ve been sitting here watching birds catching fish out of this river, and I saw a squirrel drinking out of the river, something I’ve never seen before, and I just kept thinking: What will happen? They can’t drink bitumen, we can’t drink oil. We need water. We all need water.
[00:05:34] So these issues have not been addressed and there’s been no federal environmental impact statement made on this project, which is unbelievable. the issues around the treaties and around the water and around the climate and around missing and murdered indigenous women, none of those have really been studied, addressed for the permits that have been given for this project.
[00:06:03] Normally indigenous women suffer about 40% more cases of being murdered and going missing and being forced into sex trafficking and other things they don’t want to do. And what happens when a pipeline like this is being built is that a man camp, it’s called, is created someplace for all the men to stay and they come from all over the place to build these huge infrastructure projects that we don’t want or need.
[00:06:37] So there’s a high correlation between having these man camps built and an increase in rates of murdered and missing indigenous women to the tune of, I think, 10 or 20 percent on top of the regular 40 percent.
[00:06:52] So Biden absolutely has the power to halt or stop this pipeline. The Army Corps of Engineers issued the permits and they report to him, so it makes sense for him, given that Trump is the one who approved this pipeline and waived all the regular legal requirements. And he did it in the 11th hour of his office.
[00:07:17] I would imagine—I don’t understand why he wouldn’t want to at least do the correct, because he’s science-focused. He said he is going to do things based on science, so you need to do the studies on how this will affect the climate, how this will affect the water.
[00:07:34] He has said that he cares about the treaties. He came out with a big statement about it. So if you care about the treaties, you need to see how this impacts the treaties, and you might notice that the people who hold the treaties did not give their consent for this project, and they’re fighting to protect their way of life.
[00:07:53] So all of the things he has said that he cares about, I mean, it would be a wonderful way for him to check off so many of his priorities. The climate president, he’s come out on clean water recently, wetlands protection, honoring our nation-to-nation relationship, all of these things, not to mention that it was a Trump pipeline.
[00:08:15] So I’m baffled. It’s economically a loser. So it’s very hard to understand why he hasn’t at least paused to do the studies on a federal environmental impact statement. And really, once they do those studies, they will find that this is—this is utter madness to build this. So please, President Biden, do that. He’s heard from millions of people on this. And the White House has been silent, which is extremely frustrating.
[00:08:46] The head of the Army Corps now is Jaime Pinkham. He’s also a Native American. We’re asking him, you know, we’re asking (Secretary of the Interior) Deb Haaland to at least use their influence to get these studies done. Pause the water permit, and I think there’s a second permit just to do the research and make sure that it’s a good idea. You know, that’s not asking a lot and it should have been done.
[00:09:22] Also, Gina McCarthy, who is in charge of our climate policy, who— several of these people had come out against Line 3 before they entered the administration. So I don’t know what happened to them, but we’re calling on all of them to do the right thing and at least look into the impacts of building this at the end of the fossil fuel era when we cannot afford to build it in so many ways.
[00:09:47] We can’t afford to build this thing. We can’t afford to use it. My message is that this pipeline is significant. It’s not just another pipeline. It’s huge. It matters in all of the different ways that we’ve talked. It matters for the treaties and the water and the climate and the missing murdered indigenous women.
[00:10:07] It matters to the four-leggeds and all of the animals who live in the water. It matters for so many reasons that we all care about and get involved. This is the time and this is the place to take a stand and draw the line and say no more to being bullied by the fossil fuel industry.
[00:10:27] Enbridge is just steam rolling the people here and the water, I mean, I keep saying it over and over, but they are lawless renegades. They are breaking their own rules and they have set up something that’s unprecedented, which is an escrow account that the local police are charging all of their time and equipment directly to this account.
[00:10:50] It’s never been done before. You could call it corporate fascism and we have to stand up and say, ‘No!’ This is the place and the time and it is absolutely beautiful here. I mean, you wouldn’t regret a minute of time being here. Is there a heron flying by? (Eagle.) An eagle.
[00:11:09] So we’ve been invited by the 1855 treaty people to come here, take a stand, and it matters. It really matters. Every single person who comes here can have a big impact and it matters to come here now. So it’s also really fun here! I’m sounding very serious, but it’s beautiful and it’s a beautiful community and a lot of fun. Come join us.
[00:11:38] For KEPW News, I’m DJ Suss D.