Bay Mills Indian President: Line 5 Pipeline runs through Indian Waters


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The two sides of for and against the Line 5 Pipeline continue to send press releases explaining why they’re right and the other is wrong.

But through it all, one group has been largely over looked — the Native American community.

The Line 5 pipeline runs through the straits of Mackinac, deep underwater, on what some say is Indian Land, dating back to a treaty signed nearly 200 years ago.

“Bay Mills Indians Community believes this pipeline is dangerous,” said the President of Bay Mills Indian Community, Whitney Gravelle. “And it’s a piece of fossil fuel infrastructure that jeopardizes not only our natural resources but also our tribal treaty rights, our tribal sovereignty as well as the health and safety of our tribal citizens.”

Native Americans are concerned the pipeline could burst and ruin the water for everyone in Michigan — and it could affect them on a spiritual level.

“Not only are our treaty protected resources at risk, but it’s also tied to the interconnectedness that we as a tribal nation have to the land, to the water,” Gravelle said. “It’s directly related to our ceremony.”

Those in support of the pipeline — like State Senator Ed McBroom who represents the majority of the Upper Peninsula — say that the loss of jobs and projected increase in cost of oil are enough reason alone to keep it going.

“Those who are pushing this viewpoint that for the sanctity of the future 100 years from now we have to stop using it right now, they don’t care to evaluate those costs because to them the existential costs are greater,” McBroom said. “I disagree with that analysis.”

Gravelle has had her own discussions with experts and has received different responses.

“After due diligence and research and consulting with experts on the issue Line 5 is not essential to keeping gas prices low or ensuring residents can efficiently heat their homes,” Gravelle said. “All of the studies we’ve seen show the claims to be wildly exaggerated.”

It’s that disagreement that got us to this point, at the deadline, with no answer in sight.

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