Minneapolis, MN – In honor of American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis James Banks, who passed away on October 29, people took and held space in the middle of Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis on Saturday, November 5 slightly after 11 p.m. CDT. The shutdown was also an action in solidarity with resistance to the proposed new Line 3 pipeline in northern Minnesota.
Unicorn Riot streamed the brief street occupation, which can be viewed below:
Banks, whose name was also Nowa Cumig “in the center of the universe,” was a notable Ojibwe and Turtle Clan indigenous activist born on the Leech Lake Reservation. He participated in the occupation of Alcatraz Island in the late 60s/early 70s as well as in the 1973 occupation at Wounded Knee and organized the five-month Longest Walk in 1978.
He was also sentenced to three years in prison in the 1980s (serving eighteen months) for charges stemming from his actions at a 1973 protest in Custer, South Dakota. The protest had been called after the murder of a young Ojibwe man, and according to a post by indigenous activist Lehman L. Brightman (link to Facebook), violence began when police refused entrance to the mother of the victim.
Banks was still active as of last year, when he was nominated as the 2016 vice presidential candidate by the Peace and Freedom Party under the banner “For the Earth and people to live, capitalism must end.” He also went to the Standing Rock Reservation to join the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Cedar Avenue action was attended by community members from Makwa Initiative (link to Facebook), the Line 3 frontline resistance community, who had released the following statement after the passing of Banks:
We send out our deepest respect and love to Dennis Banks and his family; we still fight with the same Spirit that you all had so many years ago, we carry on this fight in the name of our people and for the future generations to come. Chi MiiGwetch for helping pave the way to true Indigenous Pride nation wide. You helped us find our voice again and be proud to be native post-assimilation era. That fire has been re-lit and burns again fiercely, please help watch over us and many blessings and prayers to you and your family. #StopLine3 — Makwa Initiative
See our previous coverage of Line 3 protests:
- Resistance to Line 3 Pipeline Seeks to Save Sacred Manoomin
- Direct Action Ramps Up Resistance to Line 3
The proposed Line 3 pipeline is one of the largest proposed infrastructure projects in North American history. Already construction is happening in Canada and in Wisconsin, though construction has not been approved in Minnesota.
In September Unicorn Riot traveled to northern Minnesota to visit the site of the current Line 3 pipeline, and also traveled to Wisconsin where construction is already underway as well as resistance to it. Watch the video below:
Land defenders and water protectors have been gathering on private land in Northern Minnesota at Makwa Initiative, dedicating time and energy in an indigenous-led resistance and defense of the area’s natural resources of water and manoomin (wild rice) as well as the wildlife habitat and burial sites that would be threatened by the project. Already sixteen arrests have taken place in resistance to Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 replacement (PDF).
Stay tuned with Unicorn Riot for future specials on the struggle against Line 3 and those fighting to defend and protect the Ojibwe way of life.