Tania Aubid is an Anishinaabe woman involved in the Water Protector movement resisting the Line 3 pipeline in northern Minnesota.
“I am an original person from these lands. My family has been here for over 15,000 years. We’ve been a nomadic family that have traveled up and down, East and West, North and South of these lands for millennia. Harvesting is in the treaties that have been signed by the federal government, protecting my usufructuary rights, my inherent rights to hunt, fish, and gather here, and to be able to stand strong in the community and to be able to protect the things that I have for future generations. Just like what my ancestors have protected for me.
The settlers of these lands have invaded like parasites, so to speak, have done destruction and poisoning of our resources and poisoning the people in health ways. And other ways
Water is the main thing that everybody needs to be able to survive. Protecting our food sources, that is spelled out in some of the treaties. And in my inherent rights is to be able to hunt the deer, the animals, the beavers, what we use to be able to have nourishment. Especially with the wild rice that’s just down the road over here. That’s something that the creator had told us to come and find to be able to know that this is where we are going to be able to stay. And to be able to protect that from any further damage. Without the wild rice, we are no longer a people.
Ever since I was a small child, I was carried around in a cradle board by my parents and we’d go visiting the elders, the medicine people. It ranged everywhere from Northern Minnesota, up into Canada, out to the Dakotas to be able to go and visit. And it’s just been basically the same thing that I’ve noticed, even up to this day. That law enforcement or the States, they want to be able to still suppress us, oppress by utilizing any type of ways or means to be able to say, ‘Oh, no, you’re not a sovereign nation. Oh, you’re a citizen of the United States now.’ And using any ways or means, written or spoken, to be able to get our resources.
You know, they wanted their pristine lands, and then they pushed us all into the swamps. And now that the swamps have resources for them to exploit, they want to push us out over here too. Through the logging companies, through the pipelines, through the mining. Any which way that they can be able to exploit any type of resources that we’ve been sent here to protect.
The Creator put Anishinaabe people here on these lands and told us to take care of these lands and all its resources, because out in the universe, there is no other place like planet Earth. So this is basically the last, last place for us to be able to take care of Mother Earth. These pipelines have been in here. We’d been invaded by them since 1934. And they started out at eight inches diameter. And now today they’re at 36 inch diameters. And what the old people would tell me is that, yeah, we’ve given the inch, given the settlers an inch, and now here they are taking more and more miles as we go along.
The more people that stand up over here, in opposition of the pipelines or the mining, and if they have to use military force, that’s basically what they want to create, is that kind of thing.
So for me, as an Anishinaabe woman, this war has never ended for the last 500 and some years. Because they call it reservations, but in reality, there are prisoner-of-war camps. I have this pretty blue card that has my prisoner-of-war number that I can show you, with the number and everything like that. You know, they prettied it all up as that, but in actuality, it’s a prisoner-of-war number. Prisoner-of-war camp is what we call reservations here. And so they gloss things over to be able to not come out with the full truth that yes, we do have prisoners-of-war here to keep committing the genocide that’s happening here still today.
The water protectors today that are showing up are non-native folks that come from pretty much all walks of life and denominations in their fields of religion, because they understand what historically what has happened to the Anishinaabe people, and some want to be able to do some repatriation or to be able to stand up for the native people, because of all the oppression that has been happening, all the genocide that has been happening. And they know that with things that have been happening in today’s day in age, they’ve fought so long and so hard, and the Indian people are so tired right now. We need non-native allies to step up and to be able to help protect the Anishinaabe people so that they get more rested and generated to be able to go head-on with all these corporations and businesses that want to keep stripping them of their so-called identity or strip them of their sovereignty.
You did not give me that right. You know, I was born on these lands and I’m able to be able to practice my own religion freely. I believe in the Creator. I’m able to provide for my family. Instead of going to the grocery store and hunting over there, like some non-native women like to do, why can’t I go out to my grocery store out in the woods to hunt deer or ducks or whatever that may be out there that provides for my sustenance?
It’s like they keep trying to assimilate us into the system of being dependent on that so-called Great White Father. You know, that’s even up til now. President Biden could be considered the Great White Father that’s going to try to negotiate with us to be able to do whatever the bidding it is of the federal government.
Ever since I was young there have been non-native allies coming in to help protect these lands, but then at the same time, these same non-native allies would get ostracized within their own communities and be bullied or have things happen with their homes or families. And that’s, what’s happening up here now.
Some of them are from this area, and a lot of them are coming up from Twin Cities areas, or even from different parts of the country. Because they know what it’s like to not have fresh clean water, like over in Flint, Michigan. We’ve had people come in from over there to let us know this is what’s happening over there. We hate to see what happens, what will happen over here, because of all the poisons that were already leaked into the water in those areas. And, they know what it’s like to be able to have it. And then all of a sudden, boom, it’s not safe enough to drink or anything like that. So they come and stand with us.
Right now, if you go to some hotels, it’s like $8 for a liter of water. Do we want to keep paying for a bottle of water at that price and have it go even much higher. Right now it’s even more expensive than a gallon of gas. It’s kind of like a losing battle, and it only fills only a few pockets.
What keeps me going is the future generations. I see my children and I see my children teaching their children on what not to take for granted. I’m thinking seven generations ahead in my family dynamics. They too need to have a place that they can feel safe and happy, and to be able to do those things as spelled out by the treaties, the usufructuary rights, my inherit rights.
If we take a look at the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, they came from over overseas. And those boats were loaded with rapists, murderers and killers and people with mental illness. So they finally landed over here by mistake. Those boats loaded up with them type of people, they were trying to run away from taxes and everything that was going on over there, but yet applied the same things over here.
In our traditions, stories of lore, whatever you want to call it, there’s this spirit being called a Windigo. And that Windigo is never, never satisfied with whatever it takes, whatever it eats. And it just keeps going after and it kills and destroys whatever it’s in its way. Keeps always wanting more. So to me, all those people that came up from abroad and immigrated over this way, they had that mentality of always wanting more. Nothing was ever satisfying to them. That’s kind of like the Windigo spirit that I see. That has a mental illness type of situation, that no matter what I’m going to get my way. No matter what, I will bully my way, or I will kill for my way to be able to get what I want.
I can’t trust the process. The process doesn’t work. If you don’t get along, this is what will happen to you. You’ll always be in that constant state of oppression. If you get along, these are the toys and things trinkets that you’ll be able to have, but if you don’t get along, you’ll be denied all that.
Right now, Fond du Lac is really opposing the copper-nickel mining that’s happening up by the Boundary Waters. If they get that in over at the Boundary Waters, it would open it up to digging over here by Tamarack. And they say, well, you want your windmills and all this, but we’re going to need this resource. So they’re talking about the copper and the other rare earth minerals that are used in a lot of renewable infrastructures.
You know, you got your cell phones and everything. How many of those cell phones are sitting in waste management sites? Why aren’t they recycling those? It seems like anything new that they want, it’s got to be fresh. They talk about doing this recycling bit and everything. But yet there’s these garbage heaps full of that stuff in there. And it’s poisoning the grounds there. Making them super fund sites. Take a look at the oceans too. There’s refuse the size of Texas that’s floating around out there. And to me, it’s like a blatant, blatant disregard of human life.
This is progress. This is good for you. But, they keep bombarding you through the internet or the radio or the TV. And just to keep that brainwashing thing going on. You need this, you definitely need that.
I’m standing strong to protect our future generations. Not only of the Anishinaabe, but also from whichever background that you are, that you come from. Whether you are non-native or not, you too need fresh water and fresh food to eat and fresh air to breathe.
The face paint is because of the ceremony that I have been through. Especially when it was out at Standing Rock. It’s a ceremony for me to be able to come out and speak about the truths of our people. And when this was placed on me, they told me to always wear it when you are in ceremony. So this for me is like a ceremony to be able to speak up for the voices that can’t speak.”
-How long has your family lived in North America?
-Do you know who lived on the land around you before European settlers arrived?
-Tania uses specific language to reference the people who were on the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Does it take you by surprise?
-Have you heard of the Windigo before? How does the story relate to how you see European settlement?
-What are the ways you work to preserve resources and the environment?
-Tania talks about a vision of looking ahead seven generations. What is your sense of responsibility to those who come after you?
-Are there ways you have been an ally to Indigenous communities?
-What are the specific treaty rights issues currently unfolding in your state?