The Fire Light Treaty Case is one small part of a legacy of work to protect and uplift Indigenous sovereignty, inside & outside court systems. Fire Light is rooted in a vision of respect and collaboration, solidarity, ceremony, spirit, and love for Land and Water.
A Brief Introduction
At the height of construction on the Line 3 pipeline, Anishinaabe Water Protectors and their allies were arrested after holding an eight-day ceremonial treaty encampment near Mississippi River’s headwaters in what became known as Fire Light.
The story of this case takes place on land Anishinaabe people have belonged to for over 8,000 years. Settler-courts are not sacred places, but the lakes, rivers, and aquifers of Northern Minnesota are. The intent for this case is to recognize the protection of these sacred places and uphold treaty obligations in a court of law.
Since their arrest in June of 2021, three Native defendants – Nancy Beaulieu, Justin Keezer, and Todd Thompson – had a historic win in tribal court in June 2022, affirming that the Fire Light Encampment was a legal exercise of their treaty-reserved rights as Anishinaabe people in the 1855 territory.
Fire Light participants were prepared to present their case via jury trial in Clearwater County (settler) court, arguing their trespass charges should be dismissed because they were invited guests of the Anishinaabe and were lawfully present as treaty partners upholding Article VI of the US Constitution. As of April 26th, 2023 all charges were dismissed by the State, and although this particular case is no longer going to trial, the work of treaty partnership will continue!