Aug. 12–In 2016, Nancy Shomin camped at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota with fellow protesters, trying to block the completion of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
Now, Shomin, who said she grew up in Flint and is a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, finds herself again protesting an oil pipeline — but, this time, closer to home.
Shomin, 54, and others have set up a camp to protest Canadian oil transport company Enbridge’s Line 5, which carries millions of gallons of oil and natural gas liquids each day, splitting into two pipelines as it passes underwater through the Straits of Mackinac.
“The goal is to shut it down,” she said.
Shomin said there are currently about seven people in the camp, staged on a 10-acre property in Levering, which is about 15 miles south of Mackinaw City. Set up in the same type of tents used in 2016, she said she hopes their numbers increase.
The fall 2016 demonstrations in North Dakota involved thousands of people, many of whom were in clashes with police as they tried to stop construction of the roughly 1,200-mile pipeline — running from North Dakota to Illinois — at a location near the Standing Rock reservation. Shomin at one point was arrested as part of the demonstrations before she was released and returned to the camp, she said.
That December, cheers erupted at the camp on news that the Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement that would have allowed the pipeline to cross a lake — effectively halting work on the project. Shortly after President Donald Trump took office the following January, he signed an executive order clearing the way for work on the pipeline to advance, USA Today reports.
Amos Cloud, who said he is running the camp in Levering, said he is a member of the Gun Lake Tribe and also was at Standing Rock. He said the goal is to continue the camp until Line 5 is shut down.
Shomin said she and others in the camp plan to participate in an upcoming flotilla to protest the 65-year-old pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac. Critics say the pipelines pose a risk to the Great Lakes.
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Pipe Out Paddle Protest 4 will be held Sept. 1 in the water near the Mackinac Bridge, said Jannan Cornstalk, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the main organizer of the event.
She said protesters will gather at 8:30 a.m. in Mackinaw City for the flotilla, which is in its fourth year and will be followed by the Water is Life Festival in the city’s Conkling Heritage Park. Cornstalk said a press conference is also scheduled to be held at 11 a.m. that day.
For the flotilla, Cornstalk said participants can bring their own kayaks and flotation devices, or kayaks will be available for rent, she said. She said tribal conservation officers will be patrolling around the flotilla for safety.
Cornstalk said she hopes to bring national attention to the issue.
“Our water,” she said, is in a “state of emergency.”
Contact Gina Kaufman: 313-223-4526 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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