On Saturday, Sept. 28, hundreds of people gathered on the shores of Gichi Gami — Lake Superior — to send a strong message to our governor and state agencies that Enbridge has no business building its Line 3 tar-sands pipeline through our waters.

The location of this gathering, Giche-ode’ Akiing, formerly Lake Place Park, was of particular importance to me and to my people. For the Anishinaabe and all Native people living in this area, the recent renaming of the park was a symbol of the strength of our presence in the community and our sense of belonging.

The Anishinaabe people have been here for hundreds of years, and we still have a place here. We still harvest wild rice, as we have for generations, and hold an important connection to the land and the water. Building a massive tar-sands pipeline through these waters would violate our treaty rights and threaten the health of our communities and the practices that define us.

Right now, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is considering giving Enbridge a permit to build its Line 3 pipeline through our waters, giving it license to run dirty tar-sands oil through the Lake Superior watershed, wild rice lakes, and the Mississippi River headwaters. Lake Superior and these other critical water resources cannot be replaced, and the damage from a tar-sands oil spill here could never be undone.

When we gathered in Giche-ode’ Akiing, we came together with our neighbors from Duluth and across the Great Lakes region to speak with one voice in favor of defending this place. We know we must protect our water now and for future generations.

Our ancestors protected the land and the water of this area for us, and now we must do the same for future generations. I hope anyone who cares about indigenous rights and the value of Minnesota’s precious waters joined us as we came together to speak out against Line 3.

Babette Sandman is chairwoman of the Duluth Indigenous Commission. She wrote this for the News Tribune.