On Oct. 8, over 80 American cities, states and universities will celebrate Indigenous People's Day rather than Columbus Day. It's time for Park Rapids. To be clear, we can still take advantage of those Columbus Day sales, but formally, the city can recognize our long, historical relationship and create a beautiful future.
The recent Husky Oil Refinery's catastrophic spill and fire illustrate the problem of oil and water. With immense gratitude for the firefighters who extinguished the fire, we are alive. They were able to stop the fire before it spread to the tank of hydrogen fluoride, 200 feet away. That would have been a major catastrophe. According to the Star Tribune, a "dense cold killing cloud" would have put l80,000 people at risk. We got a break; we all should be grateful.
There is this magical, made-up time between Columbus Day (or Indigenous People's Day for the enlightened) and Thanksgiving where white Americans think about native people. That's sort of our window. November is Native American Heritage month. Before that, of course, is Halloween. Until about three years ago, one of the most popular Halloween costumes was Pocahontas. People know nothing about us, but they like to dress up like us or have us as a mascot.
Most Minnesotans don't realize that largest inland oil spill in U.S. history was here. On March 3, in 1991, the Line 3 pipeline ruptured near Grand Rapids, spilling over 1.7 million gallons of oil into the Prairie River, after a delayed response by Lakehead Pipeline, Enbridge's predecessor. The Prairie flows to the Mississippi. In 1991, there was 18 inches of ice on the river, or millions downstream would have had poisoned water. Thankfully, our territories were still frozen and snow-covered in March, before climate change had fully sunk its teeth.