Horseback protest objects to pipeline route

The leader of a Native American environmental group is riding horseback across the state in protest of a proposed oil pipeline in northern Minnesota.

Winona LaDuke plans to ride the proposed route of Enbridge's Sandpiper pipeline, which would carry crude oil across northern Minnesota from North Dakota to Superior, Wis.

LaDuke is executive director of Honor the Earth. She said an area of Minnesota known for its clean lakes shouldn't be put at risk for oil spills. The route comes too close to the state's most important wild rice beds, which are sacred to Minnesota's Indian tribes, she said.

"It's our most sacred food. It's the food we have for our ceremonies, first food given to a child, and it grows on our lakes and rivers, and it's the greatest gift you could have," LaDuke said. "If you're given the gift of something that grows on the water and all you have to do is take care of your lake, it is really worth something. So any threat to our rice is of great concern."

She also said the proposed route is too remote to allow for effective monitoring. "We should be able to keep an eye on the pipelines at all times," she said. "These are remote areas that no one is going to go to."

Minnesota regulators are still scrutinizing the proposed route. Enbridge has said pipelines are much safer than they used to be, with less risk of spills.

The company also maintains that rerouting the line, as opponents have suggested, would be too expensive.

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