On February 28, 2013, Marty Cobenais, a Red Lake member and a Tar Sands organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, entered the Red Lake ceded land site.
Accompanied by several Red Lake
Band members, Native, and non-Native supporters, Cobenais
occupied the Enbridge pipelines that were considered to be illegally on Red Lake ceded land.
Cobenais' action wasn't spontaneous.
In the months preceding the occupation, he
set up informational meetings in Red Lake, Bemidji, Fond du Lac, and Minneapolis to discuss environmental issues associated with Tar Sands and, in particular, Enbridge pipelines on Minnesota Anishinaabeg homelands.
On February 21, Marty Cobenais
held a meeting with Red Lake members of Nizhawendaamin Inaakiminaan (We Love Our Land) Native, and non-Native supporters at the Bemidji Eagles Club
and decided to make their move and occupy the ceded land site at Leonard.
On the 27th, Cobenais
issued a list of camp rules: 1.) No drugs; 2.) No alcohol; 3.) Be peaceful; 4.) Be law abiding; 5.) Be respectful.
On the morning of the 28th, Cobenais
sent out a message:
has emphasized that the Enbridge Encampment is not a blockade.
said the focus of the encampment is to draw attention that Enbridge
is illegally on sovereign Red Lake land, and to encourage a dialogue between Enbridge and the Red Lake Tribal Council
to resolve the issue of removal of the pipelines.
Originally, the goal of the encampment was to hold the ground for 72 hours.
It was believed that Enbridge
would shut down the oil flow after 72 hours as a safety regulation.
After the time period passed, the oil continued to flow.
chose not to initiate the 72 hour regulation.
Since its inception, the Enbridge Encampment has grown.
In addition to firewood, supporters have brought gifts of manoomin (wild rice), ogaawag (walleye) waawaashkeshiwi-wiiyaas (venison), and other essential foodstuffs.
A nisawa`igan (tipi), gischitwaa-ishkode (sacred fire), and maskhkiki-mitig (medicine pole) have been erected over the pipelines.
said: "Spirits are high, and we are strong.