Take the rice, stop the pipeline

Jared Rogers-Martin

Normally, I’d be flummoxed by an attempt to connect harvesting wild rice without a permit to concerns about environmental conservation — but as it turns out, all you need to connect one to the other is federal jurisdiction.
 
Members of the Ojibwe tribes, who have conducted recent hunting and gathering “protests” in northern Minnesota, claim that the DNR has no authority over their gathering activity and that it should be dealt with through a federal-level authority. In line with the Ojibwe, I believe that these cases should be sent to federal courts and treated as civil rights abuses under an 1855 treaty, which (in admittedly vague language) outlines the territory restrictions of the Ojibwe.
 
With these violations recognized in federal courts, off-reservation issues involving natural resources used by a tribe member could set a precedent that forces Enbridge Inc. and its investors — which are building the Sandpiper oil pipeline — to reconsider their construction plans and conduct an environmental impact study. 
 
Right now, the proposed pipeline would run through a number of critical wetlands and watersheds in northern Minnesota, potentially endangering a number of wild rice lakes. 
 
The Ojibwe are correct in expressing concern about the pipeline’s implications. While I am not entirely against the Sandpiper pipeline’s construction, I do want to say “Miigwech,” or “thank you,” to the Ojibwe for making sure this energy company does its due share to diligently assess the impact the construction will have on Minnesota.
 
Also, please pass the wild rice.