Shutdown Line 5 keeps fight against Enbridge through winter

Interview by Paul DeMain
- Pellston, Michigan - (NFIC) -

I’m Sara Jo Schulman. I grew up in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, a boarding school town, but my family comes from northern Michigan, Cross Village, about 20 minutes away. It’s not far.

Paul DeMain: Tell us a little bit about your story about what led you to come to the camp here? 

Sara Jo: The Great Lakes, first and foremost, they brought me here. I never knew that they were under attack until like two years ago and that really was kind of insulting because I found out not at home, I found out in front of a bunch of people at Standing Rock. So, once I heard that, I knew in my head that it was my responsibility or close to my responsibility to get something up and going because this is where we live.

So, after all that, after Standing Rock, we made the connections and we realized that when we’re all together things can change. When we put all our differences aside, you know, what happened in the past, and we come together for one thing it can actually change and people care. So, just being from here, that really brought me here. And to think one day that this is just gonna be a waste land, it really scares me and I don’t wanna be ... after everything’s spilled and done and it’s all bad, I don’t wanna be one of the people that just sat around at work. I don’t want that to be my excuse. “I had to work. I was doing my job.”

They’re just doing everything they can to ruin it. To them it’s not personal. To them this ain’t their mom, this ain’t... you know, the four legged, the two legged, the fish, they’re not their relatives but they’re our relatives. They just don’t care about anything besides the money that’s in their hand and they’ll do anything to get it. Such as poisoning a whole fresh water source.

DeMain: Did you know much about the Kalamazoo spill at all here in Michigan?

Sara Jo: I heard about it a little bit but I didn’t realize it was so big. And I didn’t realize they covered a lot of it up instead of actually cleaning it up. It was heartbreaking. It truly was.

DeMain: Tell me about one of the more prominent memories you have at Standing Rock.

Sara Jo: Going to jail, of course. That was my first time ever in jail. Got my own dog kennel, so ... not my own, no, there was many people in there. Standing Rock was scary. It was so scary. But you had the scariest time of your life there but you also had the most beautiful time of your life there. After the front lines, everything, after all the violence and the ugly was done, you’d go home to your family and you would be together.

I guess just the love everyone had for each other. No one went hungry or cold. It was crazy. It made me really believe that we can actually do this. I guess that’s the thing I’m trying to say, is like, I guess there’s not really a memory but a feeling it gave me, a feeling of power and our voice can be heard if we yell loud enough and if we do something enough. ‘Cause there’s not just one memory I can just single out from all of them ‘cause the whole thing was just a beautiful fucking mess. I’m so sorry! I should not have swore.

DeMain: What kind of things are you doing here?

Sara Jo: I just did a prayer walk from camp to the bridge, and of course we do the paddle out and we stay in prayer all the time. You know, connecting with the community, well trying to connect with the community. We go out to the local tribes’ feasts and all that stuff, and their language classes. I did a prayer walk for the first time. It was about 20 miles. I did it with a couple campers here and I like it. So, I’m planning on doing one to Lansing very soon from the bridge.

DeMain:    Are you finding some support in the community?

Sara Jo: Yeah, a lot of them do support what we’re doing but there’s also that bunch that’s like, “You know, you’re not gonna beat them, might as well join them.” But for the most part, yeah we do have a lot of support.

DeMain: Anything particular here, other than you said you organized the walks, is there anything else that you have found really inspiring about being at the camp here and your interrelationship with people?

Sara Jo: Well, living so close to Her, ‘cause you know, in our houses we’re not this close to Her, we’re pretty boxed off. So, I feel like I can feel Her a little bit more. I feel like I, not talk to Her, but I can just feel how hurt She is and I couldn’t feel that at home. But here, I can. And I can really feel my ancestors when I’m doing this, doing a fight like this, ‘cause I know that they would be fighting for me if this was them.

DeMain: If you had a chance to give a message to the world ... what’s that message to them going to be?

Sara Jo: To the world. To the world what’s going on right now, here. It’s not about us. I wish it was ‘cause that would be easy, that’d be so easy, but it’s not. It’s beyond us. It’s everything that’s living around us. It’s the animals, the trees. Everything has a spirit and I wish people could just understand that just like how you cry and how you laugh and how you feel all that stuff, they feel it too. We’re not the only ones that are here and need Her, as in Her I mean Mother Earth.

DeMain: What are you mad about? Tell Enbridge what you’re mad about..

Sara Jo: I’m mad that they don’t give a second thought to anything that they do. They seem like a teenager who is just crying to get their way. We’re not gonna be what we’re at forever. It’s time to grow up. It’s time to grow up like everyone else has to grow up.

I would hope the Governor stands by what she said, what she built her campaign around, and shut down Line 5.

It could all be so simple but it’s not.

DeMain:    Anything else you want to add?

Sara Jo:    Shut down Line 5. Shut down Line 3. Shut it all down. We’re smarter than this. We can do so much better. We’re so smart as humans, you know? Like, we have thumbs!


Also Check Out the Interviews With Cody Bigjohn and Nancy Callardo


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