September 23, 2021

Water Protector Gina Peltier is Fighting for Future Generations

Gina Peltier Water Protector
At Seventh Generation, we believe that a just transition to renewable energy starts with keeping fossil fuels in the ground. It starts with defending our planet’s water and air, investing in renewable infrastructure, and standing up for vulnerable communities first and worst affected by the climate crisis [1].
We’re proud to amplify the work of powerful climate activists like Honor the Earth’s Gina Peltier, a water protector on the front lines working to protect water, Indigenous communities, and to stop the Line 3 oil pipeline expansion.

Line 3 is poised to bring nearly a million barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Construction runs through more than 200 fresh water bodies, 75 miles of wetlands, and some of the world’s largest wild rice beds. [4] Line 3 also violates tribal sovereignty and treaties dating back to the 1850s [2]. The effects on climate and community, today and for generations to come, are incalculable.

Peltier, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota, is determined to stop that from happening. When she learned about Line 3, and the threat it poses to water, climate, and neighboring tribes, she knew she had to do something. “My sisters are out there on the front lines,” she says. “I have to be with them by their sides. Our water is at stake and everyone needs water to live.

The construction of Line 3 underscores how Indigenous communities are often hit hardest by fossil fuel production and the climate crisis. “Our communities are going to be facing the worst of this,” Peltier says. “Just like the Navajo nation during the Pandemic". [3]

Peltier feels honored to be fighting for future generations, and to be part of a lineage of Indigenous water protectors.

“Water is sacred. Water is life,” she says. “I’m proud that my ancestors gave me the courage to be out here. I’m very honored to be a water protector.”

From peaceful protests at construction sites to ongoing legal battles and calls to action, Indigenous-led organizations like Honor the Earth are doing everything they can to raise awareness and Stop Line 3.

For those on the front lines, the fight is not without risks. When Peltier first become a water protector in December, 2020, she was often outdoors in below-freezing weather. Now, she and other water protectors face sweltering summer temperatures and long days of sun exposure. “It’s a big sacrifice for people to be out here doing this. It’s exhausting.”

Even though Indigenous women have been historically marginalized and discriminated against, Peltier is proud that “Indigenous women are the ones out there leading this fight. We’re the ones trying to bring awareness. In Indigenous culture, we are peaceful, and we want to live in a peaceful world.”

But water protectors can’t do it alone. They need businesses, citizens, and elected officials to step up and do their part.

Peltier believes there are lots of ways for ordinary people to take action, not only to Stop Line 3, but to protect water and our climate for future generations. “You don’t need to be on the front lines to be a water protector. You can be an advocate by going out in your community and spreading awareness.”

Make your voice heard and send a message directly to President Biden, who can stop Line 3 by executive action and keep his promise to be the Climate President. If we tell our leaders to keep fossil fuels in the ground, we can build a future worthy of the generations still to come.

As she looks ahead, Peltier finds strength and inspiration in her heritage, and believes that Indigenous wisdom can help us chart a path away from fossil fuels. “We’re raised knowing that Mother Earth provides for us, so we need to honor and protect her. I want future generations to be okay.” 

When it comes to working together for a just and sustainable future, we all have a role to play.

The good news is that you can take action right now.
Join us in standing with Gina and other water protectors by taking action today.





Photo credit: Ne-Dah-Ness Greene, Greene Photography

Unless otherwise noted, photos and statements were collected by Ne-Dah-Ness Greene, Greene Photography (Leech Lake Nation), on behalf of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN).