LaDuke: Looking for Work?


The Enbridge Company has announced its

looking for a new tribal relations specialist for northern Minnesota.

They are hiring. This is going to be interesting, particularly since

no tribal government or Native organization, or, let’s just say,

traditional Native person in the north seems to want this Sandpiper


Chairwoman Karen Diver of the Fond du

Lac Ojibwe wrote a letter this last month, expressing significant

concerns about both the pipeline and Enbridge’s safety record, in

light of significant tribal harvesting interests. This letter follows

resolutions by tribal governments, testimony and legal interventions

opposing the Sandpiper, by the White Earth and Mille Lacs band and

the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. In short, it’s tricky terrain.

This reminds me of the federal

government’s Office of the Nuclear Waste Negotiator in the 1980s.

This guy was charged with getting communities to consider a no

strings attached grant to review nuclear waste options and then a

bigger grant to look at it some more. Now, no one wanted really to

hang out with this guy, I’m betting, but 16 of the 20 recipients of

the initial money were Indian tribes, so he was working hard to get

Native people involved. And, after all a lot of tribes were pretty

poor at that time, so it was a good target, besides having all that


As a matter of fact, there was this

great promotional literature, which referred to Native people being

really the guardians of Mother Earth, so naturally we would feel

really comfortable caring for nuclear waste. Well, as we know, this

has not yet worked out. (I did testify at the hearing on the nuclear

waste repository potential site called the Headwaters Site, right by

the Mississippi Headwaters. At the hearing, I explained that I

understood that it was a suppository, not a repository. But that’s

last millennium news.)

Enbridge’s proposal is not a lot

different. A 60-year-old corporation asks a people who have lived

here for 8,000 years to assume the liability for a pipeline that

carries oil through your territory. It is not as if we do not notice

that the profit is being made at either end, except for those tax and

a minimum benefits we get along with that liability. With 800 spills

and counting and a new proposal to put 400, 000 barrels of tar sands

oil in a 50-year-old pipeline with a whole bunch of structural

problems, Enbridge is going to need one sweet talking Native.

After all, Red Lake, Leech Lake, White

Earth and Fond du Lac are all impacted by these pipeline proposals

and those Ojibwe can be, well, contentious.

Best of luck to you, guys.