RISE - Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging Coalition
Co-founding Sisters: Debra Topping, Sherry Couture, Karen Durfee & Dawn Goodwin
Four Women were brought together through their passion to protect the balance of the four sacred elements - the nibi, aki, noodin, & ishkode.
The sisters in RISE Coalition met one another during the Line 3 Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MNPUC) public commentary hearings, where Debra Topping of Nagachiwanong (Fond du lac) took note of the positive qualities of each of her new found sisters.
Enbridge’s preferred route would cut through a new portion of the 1855 and 1854 Treaty areas where the Anishinaabeg retain their treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather. This new corridor would cross 227+ water crossings, wetlands, and our rich freshwater ecosystem putting our sacred manoomin & nibi at risk. After the rogue June 2018 MNPUC decision which granted Canadian corporation, Enbridge Inc the Certificate of Need and Route Permit for the Line 3 relocation/replacement project, each of us knew we needed to come together along with our allies, to defeat this multi-million dollar corporation.
Following the June PUC decision, the Fond du lac Band of Ojibwe was given a 60 day notice to choose the route for Enbridge’s Line 3 project. The Fond Du Lac Reservation Business Committee (elected officials) then chose the route without Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of the people of Fond du Lac which violates their MInnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT) constitutional rights.
Our determination to protect Treaties, the lands, and our inherent rights was our inspiration to co-found RISE Coalition during a 2019 retreat in a little cabin located near lake Gitchi gami. As we sat around a fire, our discussion led to the development of this coalition of sisters protecting all that is sacred.
As resilient sisters we’re engaging, active, and present, at numerous layers of tribal, state, and local governments. We also network with other nonprofit environmental organizations such as: MN350, Indigenous Environmental Network, Sierra Club, North Star Chapter, MNIPL, Honor the Earth, 1855 Treaty Authority, Nookomis Adoopowin, Nibi Center, Giniw Collective, and The Youth Climate Intervenors.
RISE Coalition is currently focusing on the MCT tribal government and the MCT Executive Committee. We assist MCT constituents with attending meetings, we facilitate meeting spaces, and have taken legal action against the MCT Executive Committee in regards to the illegal MCT land transfer. RISE works to ensure that the voice of the people is included in the dialogue in tribal decisions, many decisions in the past have been made and continue to be made without the people’s consent.
RISE Coalition will continue to address the issues that affect Indian Country, these issues include sovereignty, MCT Land Transfer, and our Minnesota Chippewa Tribe constitutional rights. We work to speak for those who can’t and for those not born yet. Our future depends on what works best for all our people, the tribe.
Our efforts include public speaking, creating spaces for our people to build relationships and healthy engagements - we shift power when we build power. We also network with our non-native allies to build understanding and solidarity. Our intentions are to educate all Americans about the true history of our people and Treaty responsibility. We must remember we are all Treaty people and Americans continue to benefit from the Treaties but have yet to honor them. We work to change this through education, engagements, Treaty responsibility, and standing in solidarity.
What makes our work possible?
Support from our allies and resources that are available to us. Our work was made possible by the efforts on behalf of our allies, we couldn't do it without them - we appreciate the support they have shown us.
The people of the MCT are continuously underrepresented and need legal support to challenge the unjust decisions and abuse of sovereignty made on behalf of the MCT lawyer and the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe executive committee.
The constituents of the MCT are currently challenging the illegal MCT Land Transfer Congressional Bill and seek financial assistance to obtain legal support to prevent the transfer. We’re asking our allies to support our efforts in retaining a lawyer, together we can do this.
The Treaties protect our allies as well, so, we encourage you to support our continued efforts to seek justice in all levels of government because Treaties do matter, let’s honor them because together we stand.