Saturday, December 4, 2021

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Prayer runners trek from Standing Rock to Line 3

There are time when people exhibit the best in humanity; when they show their true nature to one another, and in doing so inspire a nation.

Though the Olympics are happening on the other side of the world, the most difficult running in the world just took place between Standing Rock and northern Minnesota. The miles were run by some of the most dedicated and inspiring youth of our time.

Twenty-three runners made an eleven-day prayer journey over a harsh landscape, rolling prairie, and the hottest heat of the summer.

The arrival was streamed live on Facebook. Enbridge Line 3 guards and security greeted the runners with stoic silence. Water Protectors and supporters greeted the runners with cheers.

An unnamed runner spoke from the heart, “This was an eleven-day journey to stand in solidarity with the Anishinaabe people and all who oppose Line 3.  It was a wild journey to the final camp, but this was a healing run.  To everyone involved, this was for you: front-liners, campers, and people organizing from a far, this run was for you. The ones that are behind a desk doing paperwork, this is all for you. This was to help you heal because all of the work you do can take a toll. This was for you.”

“Line 3” is a pipeline expansion that will transport nearly a million barrels of Canadian tar sand oil to Superior, Wisconsin. The pipeline is meant to replace the corroded existing Line 3 pipeline. However, the route that Enbridge, the pipeline’s owner, chose is through untouched wetlands and the treaty territory of Anishinaabe peoples.

Opposition to the pipeline includes environmentalists, human rights activists, and Indigenous peoples. One reason for the resistance is the impact to the global climate. According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the oil from Line 3 would contribute more to climate change than Minnesota’s entire economy.

Folks that oppose Line 3 cite treaty rights and obligations as one of the most important reasons to stop the pipeline.  They say that Line 3 violates the treaty rights of the Anishinaabe peoples and other Native nations in its path. There are serious concerns about the welfare and health of the wild rice that is the centerpiece of Anishinaabe culture.

“I’m running to help out my Lakota relatives as they have come and joined my Anishinaabe people and Stop Line 3,” said runner Silas Neeland 

The runners made a historic stop to offer prayers at the George Floyd Memorial to give respect and show solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

“Systemic oppression is real and it affects everyone. It affects all people of color. This is real oppression and we are all here together in solidarity to create a brand-new world in which the layers of colonization are removed one at a time,” said an unidentified runner in a livestream of the run via Facebook Live.

The run brought a number of organizations and people together to pull it off.  Montgomery Brown, a U.S. Navy Veteran from SRST and one of the original Standing Rock runners to Washington, D.C., organized the prayer run with a humbleness, dedication, and the type of patience that one acquires from years of tending to Marines as a Corpsman. Twenty-three runners and their support team did the hardest work of relay running 683 miles in 100°+F heat. Nine of the runners were from CRST.

“I’m running to save the fish,” said Corbin Bowman, Anishinaabe (age 7).

“It really was a healing run. At first I was hesitant, and then I saw these people open up and so did I. From Standing Rock to Line 3, every camp opened up with strong hearts and every camp appreciated the runners. Spirits were lifted. We laughed, cried, loved, and ran,” said Joseph White Eyes.

The run was sponsored by the following organizations and donors:  NDL Collective, Indigenous Environmental Network, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Veteran Service Corps, Ruth Buffalo, White Buffalo Foods, Salt Lake City Air Protectors, Joye Braun, Arvol Looking Horse, Pamala Horne, Jeremy Red Eagle, Tim Nelson, Sam Sylvania Crawford, Julie Williams, Anita Grassrope, Audrey Bennett, SWO Youth Department, SWO Lodge, Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective, One Fargo, and About Face.

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