Indigenous group concludes 310-mile walk to Capitol for safe water

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Native water protectors walked 310 miles from the Mackinac Bridge to the State Capitol to protest Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. The group concluded its walk on March 30.

People of Three Fires, the Anishinaabe alliance of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi indigenous tribes, gathered at Adado Riverfront Park on Saturday afternoon. They marched to the Capitol yelling, “Shut Down Line 5” and “Water is Life.”

Dennis Durfee at Adado Riverfront Park

“Water is a precious thing for life,” said Dennis Durfee of Lansing. “Every part of Earth is dependant on that water for its survival. I’m here to bring awareness to people that there is nothing more sacred and we’re all going to perish and die unless we protect our water.”

Before the final part of their walk, the indigenous group sang the “Ojibwe Water Song” by Doreen Day, followed by a drum-ceremony at the Riverfront Park. Women carried copper containers filled with water throughout the march.

“The copper helps put the blessings in the water and we thank it,” Nichole Biber said. “It’s one of the duties of [our] women to carry that forward. There is a ceremony where every time you drink you can thank the lord and consider to be blessed.”

Nichole Biber with Beatrice Jackson at Adado Riverfront Park

After Cody Bigjohn Jr. and LJ Denemy gave speeches to the crowd at the Capitol, the marchers sang their water song and held a pipe ceremony. According to Native Americans, the pipe ceremony is a sacred ritual for connecting physical and spiritual worlds.

“This walk is for the water,” said Sarah Jo Shomin, the leader of the water walkers. “We love our water [and] we respect our water.”

The original three walkers, Nancy Gallardo, Shomin, and Bigjohn, began walking on Feb. 25.

Justin Kenwabikise and Sarah Jo Shomin held a “Shut down Line 5” banner

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