We Are All Treaty People: Reflections & Follow-Up from Treaty People Gathering

Hundreds of UUs were among the more than 2,000 water protectors and allies who joined the Treaty People Gathering over June 5-8. Over this powerful weekend, the Multifaith Delegation heeded the call of Anishinaabeg water protectors to bring shared prayer, witness and direct action to help stop the Line 3 tar sands pipeline in northern Minnesota. 

It was an honor to come to Anishnaabeg territory representing UU Ministry for Earth, joining the larger UU contingent from Side With Love and the Unitarian Universalist Association, the UU Service Committee, several UU State Action Networks, as well as UU clergy, seminarians, and lay people from across the US. 

Throughout the weekend, we were reminded that we are all treaty people: treaties are the supreme law of the land, and they protect all of us. Treaties protect the Anishinaabeg right to hunt, fish and gather — but those rights depend on the water being protected. Line 3’s path leaves 67 river crossings, as well as the wider Great Lakes watershed, vulnerable to oil spills. On Friday night, the Multifaith camp gathered with Winona LaDuke on the shores of a small lake to share a water ceremony and Havdalah ritual. The Mississippi River and its watershed provided much-needed replenishment as we braved record-breaking — and heart-breaking — temperatures, caused by climate change. 

Treaties also bestow responsibility to both parties: this shared history grounds us in the shared purpose to protect the sacred. This gathering, while one of the largest mass mobilizations in pipeline resistance history, was one drop in the much longer river of the struggle for Indigenous sovereignty and climate justice — and the struggle continues.

Several UUs were among the almost 300 water protectors who were arrested, many facing gross misdemeanor charges of Trespass on the Property of a Pipeline, which carries with it a fine of $3,000 and/or a year in prison. Days after the action, an appeals court decided to uphold approval of the permits, and President Biden remains silent.

But the river of liberation is long, and our UU faith remains a well of strength and clarity — we know another world is not only possible, but on its way. As Anishinaabe pipeline fighter Tara Houska has noted, Line 3 represents one of the last vestiges of the dying fossil fuel industry: thanks to more than a decade of Indigenous-led resistance, the Keystone XL pipeline was finally cancelled this past week.

Actions continue on the frontlines in northern Minnesota, and your ongoing witness and solidarity is needed. Whether you can act from near or far, there is a role for you in the fight to honor treaties and ensure Indigenous communities thrive. 

TAKE ACTION

  1. Make your donation to the Treaty People Gathering fund, which will be used to pay off the fines incurred by arrestees as a result of the #StopLine3 direct actions. Fill out this form to help us track Unitarian Universalist contributions toward our goal of collectively donating $100k to the fund.

  2. Organize an Action Hour today to tell President Biden: Stop Line 3

  3. Join this Organizing Training for the Multi Faith Network

Tuesday, June 29 at 12-3pm PT / 1 MT / 2 CT / 3 CT – grow the Multifaith movement to Stop Line 3 and create a just transition by attending this training with Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light and GreenFaith. Real cost is $50, free for those who attended the Treaty People Gathering. – REGISTER

 

Amelia Diehl
Amelia Diehl
Amelia Diehl is the Network Coordinator for the UU Young Adults for Climate Justice Network, and a Communications Specialist for UU Ministry for Earth. She's been with UUMFE since 2015 and is based in Chicago and the Great Lakes region. Her other movement homes include Rising Tide Chicago, SustainUS and freelance writing.