Native-led organization, Honor the Earth, kicked off its fifth annual Love Water Not Oil Spiritual Horseback Ride in Wisconsin. The 40 or so riders kicked off the tour with a benefit concert in Madison on July 9. The following day, they began the ride in Nekoosa and traveled North along the pipeline. After stopping for another benefit concert in Madeleine Island, they went on to travel the Line 3 Pipeline Replacement route in Minnesota. The tour raised awareness and resistance about the proposed expansion of Enbridge pipelines in Minnesota (Line 3 Replacement) and Wisconsin (Line 61-Twin or Line 66) and the impacts it could have in Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as the treaty rights that are being undermined. Read more about Honor the Earth, the tour, and the Line 3 Replacement here.
Wisconsin welcomed the out-of-state travelers (though some were from Wisconsin). Read on about the different events held to greet them during their time in Wisconsin.
Love Water, Not Oil Benefit Concert featuring Nahko Bear in Madison
The kick-off event began with a press conference outside the Majestic Theater in downtown Madison where Honor the Earth co-founder Winona LaDuke spoke of her experiences resisting pipelines and her hopes of stopping Enbridge. Bill Greendeer of the Ho-Chunk Tribe, Rebecca Kemble from Madison’s City Council, Peter Anderson of 350-Madison, and Elizabeth Ward from the Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter also spoke.
Following the press conference was a sold-out benefit concert featuring Gingger Shankar, Annie Humphrey, Maria Isa, and Nahko. All the funds raised from this concert and the rest of the tour go directly to Honor the Earth to help fund the fight against Enbridge’s expansion.
While the Majestic Theatre hosts sold-out events on nearly a weekly basis, this event carried a different energy. Every artist sang songs of resistance with personal stories and words of enlightenment woven within as the crowd united to stand in solidarity, and of course enjoy the music. Winona LaDuke spoke to the crowd again before headlining artist Nahko took the stage. The crowd erupted in support and raised their fists as she assured everyone, “It is possible to stop a pipeline,” recalling the success of stopping the Sandpiper and showing optimism of stopping the next pipeline.
Potluck in Marshfield
The Green Team of the First Presbyterian Church hosted the riders for dinner at their church. Exhausted and very hot from the first day of the ride, the riders enjoyed a potluck meal filled with salads and desserts and catered in pulled pork, rice, and beans by Jamaican Kitchen. Barb Gillespie, founder, and co-leader of the Green Team, welcomed the group and one of the riders said a prayer. While eating, Kristi Huebschen spoke about the Green Team and how excited they were to have the group. Then two landowners, Margy Hansen and Keith Merkel, spoke about their experiences with Enbridge and why they are concerned about the new proposed pipeline.
Winona La Duke stood up. Before speaking, the crowd heard from six or seven of the different groups that had joined the ride, many from as far as South Dakota. Then Winona spoke about her dream that told her to ride against the pipeline. The battles they have fought (and won!) against the Sandpiper Pipeline in Minnesota, and how they plan to win again and stop the Line 3 Replacement. She also talked about the importance of transitioning off of fossil fuels and the number of jobs that can be created as we do that.
The Green Team was grateful to First Presbyterian Church members and attendees, as together we live out our mission statement and Centering Song – “God welcomes all, strangers and friends, God’s love is strong and it never ends”
Potluck in Gilman, WI
Sixty people gathered on the evening of July 11th in the Gilman Park shelter as part of a horseback ride up the Line 61 corridor through Wisconsin. The Tri-County chapter of Wisconsin Safe Energy Alliance hosted a dinner for the riders with Honor the Earth, a national indigenous group opposed to tar sands pipelines throughout the Midwest. Winona LaDuke, co-founder of Honor the Earth and member of the White Earth band of Minnesota, was accompanied by 26 other tribal riders from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, as part of the Fifth Annual “Love Water Not Oil” tour.
The horses were happily munching through a tall grass field at a local WiSE member’s farm, while children played with the barn cats. Back at the park, attendees enjoyed a huge array of delicious food prepared and donated by WiSE supporters in Madison (including huge thanks to Healthy Food for All in Dane County), as well as Taylor, Clark, and Marathon counties. Several riders explained that their experiences fighting their own pipelines were the reason they were riding in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin who face a dangerous tar sands Line 66.
At the end of the meal and speeches, volunteers packed up leftover foods for the riders’ breakfast and lunch.
A dozen or so residents welcomed the riders as they arrived in Ladysmith. Honor the Earth Chair Paul DeMain videotaped and live streamed interviews from various riders, beginning with Winona La Duke and ending with Bill Greendeer. Bill noted that in his walking the pipeline last year that most of the people he spoke with were scared of what was or would happen to their land, especially if there was a leak or spill. But they were afraid to speak up. He encourages people to not be afraid. He said, “What do we do if we have a little land, maybe only an acre? We take care of it. That’s what we need to do all together we all need to take care of the earth.”
That evening, the riders arrived in Hayward for a meal of spaghetti and side dishes and desserts provided by members of the community. Lee Balek hosted the event. The next night, the group stayed for a pow wow and venison stew.
The group then went on to Madeleine Island for a concert at Tom’s Burned Down Café.