Winona LaDuke, the only “Shell River 7” case not dismissed in Wadena County

December 13, 2022

Winona LaDuke to appear December 14, 9 AM CST via Zoom on misdemeanor obstruction charge during Line 3 construction.

  • Wednesday, December 14, 2022 – 9:00 AM CST 
  • Wadena County Courthouse: 415 Jefferson St S, Wadena, MN 56482, or
Meeting ID: 161 009 9976
Meeting Passcode: 469854

Winona LaDuke, Executive Director and co-founder of Honor the Earth, will appear in court tomorrow via Zoom as the sole remaining “Shell River 7” defendant. In July 2021, six women and a photojournalist were arrested on the banks of the Shell River in nonviolent protest of Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline, which crossed the river and many other waterways in Anishinaabe treaty-ceded territory. 

The seven were taken to Wadena County jail, where they were held for two days. LaDuke–a Harvard graduate, longtime political organizer, Anishinaabe tribal member, and the appointed Guardian ad litem of the Shell River–was held a 3rd day and transferred to the Aitkin County Jail for allegedly “violating conditions of release” in a prior #StopLine3 case. She wrote a Letter from the Wadena County jail.

LaDuke’s two gross misdemeanor trespass charges from the same incident were dismissed for lack of probable cause in June 2022. She still faces a single count of misdemeanor obstruction with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail.  

Identical charges against the other six “Shell River 7” defendants have been dismissed for lack of probable cause. Charges against Kelly Maracle, Trish Weber, Mary Klein, Barbara With, and Cheryl Barnds were dismiseed on October 31. On that basis, lawyers requested dismissal of the same charges against independent photojournalist K. Flo Razowsky and LaDuke. While Razowsky’s charges were dismissed by the Wadena County Attorney’s Office, the prosecutor has refused to similarly dismiss the remaining charge against LaDuke. 


Shell River 7, July 19, 2021

LaDuke’s attorneys Claire Glenn and Frank Bibeau will appear with LaDuke tomorrow and ask the Court to dismiss the case. LaDuke is the only Anishinaabe member of the Shell River 7 and the guardian ad litem of the Shell River, as appointed by the White Earth Nation. The State’s refusal to dismiss the remaining charge against her has raised concerns that she is being targeted due to her high profile and in an effort to suppress her multipronged activism.

“Criminalizing and over-charging protestors is a common tactic used by the State to scare activists and suppress movements,” notes Claire Glenn, one of LaDuke’s attorneys. ”The criminalization of the Shell River 7 defendants was no exception, and the recent dismissal of the other defendants’ charges was a powerful victory for water protectors. Since the prosecutor has refused to dismiss her case, we are hopeful that the Court will do the right thing and dismiss the last remaining charge against Winona, who is the tribe-designated Shell River Guardian ad litem.”

Shell River

The Shell River was one of more than 22 waters crossed by Enbridge’s hastily built Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline expansion in 2021. It was also home to Shell River Cultural and Treaty Camp and a site where many protestors were arrested and charged with multiple infractions.

Shell River Cultural and Treaty Camp invited Native and non-Natives alike to visit throughout the summer. Over 3,000 people came to participate in river monitoring, to kayak and canoe the Shell, take part in cultural activities and presentations, share community dinners, and learn about Anishinaabe culture, history and the 1855 Treaty between the Upper Mississippi Ojibwe and the U.S. government. The camp also served about 30 youth from the White Earth reservation and beyond, with continuing coming-of-age ceremonies, out-of-doors activities, and cultural teachings.

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