Native American business owners and employees are speaking out against the actions of protesters who oppose Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project.
“We are encouraging leaders of tribal communities across Minnesota to renounce these actions and call on these groups to stop future destructive and unlawful protests,” reads a letter signed by the Native owners and employees of six businesses.
On Monday, during a four-day protest in Park Rapids against the pipeline, nearly 200 arrests were made. Some of those arrested locked themselves to machinery inside a pump station. The protest is said to be one of the largest demonstrations yet against the pipeline.
The letter from tribal-owned businesses explains that many Native people work on the pipeline, and these workers were forced to leave their job sites on Monday “because protesters trespassed into a construction site and vandalized equipment.”
Equipment owned by Gordon Construction, a company that is 100% Native-owned and based on the White Earth Reservation, was damaged by protesters and will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix, according to the director of operations at Gordon Construction.
The protests have created challenges for workers, as well as the companies that employ them, by “creating additional tension and consequences” within tribal communities, the letter states.
“[The protests] also create a false narrative that there is no Native American support for this project and the economic impacts and opportunities it brings to our people,” the letter continues.
While these business owners and employees recognize everyone’s right to demonstrate, the group believes the Monday protests were out of hand.
This group is encouraging other tribal businesses to “renounce” the actions of the protesters and urge them to stop further protests that establish division in the “communities in which we work and live.”
In an email to Alpha News, a Gordon Construction spokesperson said the group of Native Americans who wrote the letter wants to “start a discussion around the true impacts to local Native Americans in Minnesota brought on by the senseless destruction and illegal behavior demonstrated by a small, loud, mostly out of state minority.”
Pipeline activists hope to pressure President Joe Biden into canceling the project, like he did with the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office.