Picket Against Pipeline Funder Wells Fargo

“South Bend, Indiana”—Customers attempting to enter the E Mishawaka Ave Wells Fargo branch encountered Rising Tide Michiana’s picket line. About a dozen demonstrators rejected the bank’s funding of several fossil fuel pipelines that threaten to poison water supplies, infringe on indigenous people’s lands and communities, worsen flooding, kill wildlife, and destroy livelihoods. They also opposed the pipelines’ contributions to global warming and ecological breakdown.

Julie Dye, a Potawatomi elder who attended the picket, observed,

Indigenous people have been stewards of Turtle Island for millennia, and will never stop speaking out against the likes of Wells Fargo, that actively contribute to ecological devastation and the destruction of sacred sites all across the country for big profits. Corporate funding of new dirty fuel projects at the expense of all living things is unscrupulous and unholy.

Wells Fargo has financed many of North America’s largest oil and gas pipeline projects, including Bayou Bridge, Rover, Atlantic Coast, Keystone XL, Trans Mountain, Line 3, Mariner East 2 and Mountain Valley. Wells Fargo has faced waves of protests in response to these investments in oil pipelines and their awful track record with foreclosures and fraud.

Rising Tide Michiana organized this local picket after frontline resistance groups—including The L’eau Est La Vie Camp, Appalachians Against Pipelines, Camp White Pine, and Wakpa Wasté Camp—called for coordinated actions this month to “#RiseTogether” against fossil fuel pipelines. Actions this month around the continent of Turtle Island (North America) protested the pipeline funders Bank of America, Citi Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of Tokyo, Credit Suisse, andRoyal Bank of Canada.

Local demonstrators carried a banner, “Against the Pipelines and their World.” This slogan expressed opposition not just to fossil fuel projects but also to the colonial, heteropatriarchal, white supremacist, capitalist world that enables such destructive infrastructure. They said dominant social infrastructure currently privileges profit and authority over life, community, and freedom. The phrasing also referenced the struggles of other ecological campaigners “against the NDDL airport and its world” and “against the Dakota Access pipeline and its world.”

Demonstrators asked customers to consider moving their money to a local bank or credit union. They explained that coordinated pressure and direct action from around the country could pressure the bank to stop funding destructive pipelines. The organizers are planning a direct action training to share skills for ongoing direct actions.

Rising Tide Michiana describe themselves as “the Michiana branch of Rising Tide, a decentralized movement committed to fighting the root causes of climate change. Opposing all forms of colonialism, capitalism, and oppression, we envision a world where people organize horizontally to support each other and live in harmony with the Earth and its creatures. We recognize that we live on Potawatomi land, and we stand in solidarity with the oppressed and downtrodden of this region and the world—human and nonhuman.”

For more information on #RiseTogether, see nobayoubridge.global/risetogether/. For more information on Rising Tide Michiana, see rtmichiana.org.

How to take local action against pipeline funders

The coordinators for the #NoBayouBridge campaign have put together a guide to divesting from pipeline funders, which you can find at nobayoubridge.global/move-your-money/.

At that link you can find a list of targeted banks, general advice for moving your money, and a template letter to send to your bank to let them know why you’re leaving. It’s important to let them know why you’re leaving for your action to have maximum effect.

You can also sign up for the fall direct action training.

Statement of support from Fossil Free ND

We have received a statement of support on our banner drop from Fossil Free ND:

The Columbus murals in the Main Building reflect the historical oppression of indigenous communities like the Pokagon Potawatomi. One of the primary ways this oppression manifests itself today is through the exploitation of indigenous lands and peoples by fossil fuel companies. For example, the recent spill in the Keystone XL pipeline exemplifies the threat to native lands and drinking water courtesy of industry profit motives. Unfortunately, Notre Dame remains complicit by continuing to profit from these extractive companies through its endowment investments and disrespect native people by refusing to remove these murals. Fossil Free ND thinks the murals have got to go.

Thank you, Fossil Free ND!

Statement of support from the Graduate Workers Collective

We have received a statement of support for our banner drop from the Graduate Workers Collective of Notre Dame:

The Graduate Workers Collective stands in solidarity with Rising Tide Michiana in their recent action, as well as with the Native American students of Notre Dame and the Potawatomi people in general. Notre Dame should not glorify the ongoing Native American genocide in any way, and must address the Columbus murals according to the wishes of NASAND and the local Native American community.

Thank you, Graduate Workers Collective!

Statement of support from IWW GDC Local 26

We have received a statement of support for our banner drop from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) General Defense Committee (GDC) Local 26:

Before Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean, hundreds of indigenous cultures and societies flourished throughout the Americas. Made up of more than 100 million individuals, the native populations of the western hemisphere were not here to be ‘discovered’–they were here to live their lives.

The historical evidence of the ridiculously negative impact of Columbus and his successors in colonizing these lands can only bear witness to the rape and pillage of entire societies and the extermination of tens of millions of people. We cannot know how those people felt to see their way of life and their very existence destroyed in the name of gold and empire.

To continue to glorify Columbus’ brutality with a mural in an institution of both higher learning AND supposedly compassionate religion is a slap in the face to the memories of the indigenous peoples of not only THIS area, but to all indigenous peoples who have suffered at the hands of colonial oppressors.

Recognizing this, we stand in solidarity with any and all who oppose the glorification of Christopher Columbus and the colonial destruction of indigenous society. It is time to bring an end to this whitewashing of history and recognize the disastrous results of imperial colonialism. More importantly, it is time to recognize the great contributions and sacrifices that indigenous peoples have made to our society.

Thank you, GDC Local 26!

Banner Drop Against Columbus Murals at University of Notre Dame

“South Bend, Indiana”—Studying for their final exams, University of Notre Dame students in the library on Friday morning looked up and saw a banner unfurled from the second-floor balcony. The banner proclaimed,

This is Potawatomi land! F*ck the KKKolumbus murals!

The message comes as students have been organizing against murals displayed by the entrance of the university’s main administrative building. According to a pamphlet issued by Notre Dame, the nineteenth-century murals “create a heroic impression” of Christopher Columbus, despite the conqueror’s record of mass enslavement and murder. Moreover the paintings portray indigenous people in ways that Native American students say are stereotypical and insulting.

Students are collecting signatures for a petition titled “Dear Father Jenkins, The Murals Must Go.” Signed by more than 600 people, the petition argues, “The Native persons are depicted as stereotypes, their destruction is gilded over, and their slavery is celebrated. The murals commemorate and laud the beginning of the centuries-long systematic removal of Native American persons and culture from the United States.”

The following statement was offered by Julie Dye, a Pokagon Band Potawatomi Elder and descendant of Leopold Pokagon and Simon Pokagon:

These murals are symbols of oppression that do not represent local Native Americans—but yet Notre Dame calls the location ‘A Potawatomi Place.’ They contribute to the erasure of Native culture by feeding myths of history and perpetuating stereotypes.

The original intent does not negate the detrimental impact on the audience—especially the races depicted. Images matter. Teach the truth. Honor Native people by relocating the murals to a museum or gallery.

The group behind the banner drop, Rising Tide Michiana, takes direct action confronting the root causes of climate change. They said, “White supremacy must be dismantled as part of the fight to preserve life on Earth. We will take further actions in support of indigenous people’s demands to address these racist murals.” They may be contacted at collective@rtmichiana.org.

Rising Tide Michiana has received statements of support from the IWW GDC Local 26, the Graduate Workers Collective of Notre Dame, and Fossil Free ND.

The event received press coverage from several media outlets:

Reports of our banner drop also ran in the Earth First! Newswire, the IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, and on It’s Going Down.