The Red Lake Reservation Refuses $18.5 Million From Enbridge Pipeline Company

“We gotta protect our reservation, our sovereignty, protect our people, our lands and our water and all of that,” Seki said. 

The Red Lake Tribal Council has voted to rescind a deal to sell Enbridge Energy reservation land where oil pipelines cross.

In a 5-3 vote, the council opted to pull out of a deal the tribe approved in 2015, which called for Enbridge to pay $18.5 million for less than a half acre of land.

Enbridge operates four pipelines that cross the parcel, but the tribe never gave the company permission to access the land. The half acre is about 20 miles south of the main Red Lake reservation.

Red Lake chairman Darrel Seki said that while tribe will lose out on money targeted for economic development, he supports the council’s decision.

“We gotta protect our reservation, our sovereignty, protect our people, our lands and our water and all of that,” Seki said.

An Enbridge spokesperson says the company worked hard to negotiate the agreement with the Red Lake Nation.

It’s still unclear if Enbridge will have to reroute the existing lines.

Red Lake is the most isolated reservation in the United States. In 1934, after the Indian Reorganization Act that year encouraged tribes to restore their governments, the tribe rejected joining six other Chippewa bands to organize the federally recognized Minnesota Chippewa Tribe under a written constitution. Its leaders did not want to give up the tradition of hereditary chiefs for an elected government or give up any control of its land to the Tribe. By 2007, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe reported a total enrollment of more than 40,000 members.

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