Notes from the Editors
Even the River Starts Small is a diverse collection of art and stories from an expansive and complicated movement. Describing this project, our process, and what this work means to us and the movement was a difficult task. We hope that this collectively written introduction of the book can provide a more complete look at the project.
We welcome your thoughts and questions at our team’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This anthology is for you — for everyone who resisted and struggled for a better world through the movement to stop Line 3. In this book, we have collected stories and reflections from organizers, Indigenous leaders and community members, allies, land defenders, legal workers, artists, scientists, and hundreds of other people who came together in solidarity against this extractive project.
The book you hold in your hands is a collection of stories from nearly a decade of fierce resistance. Our initial team began collecting stories in the fall of 2021, when oil began flowing through the pipeline and when our movement was reflecting and grieving. At that time, a few of us — three organizers who had been involved in the movement for years — wanted to ensure that memories of the movement were not lost, even as we moved into a new phase of resistance.
We believe in the power of storytelling and collective memory making and decided to embark on this project with the hope that we could create a container to hold some stories from the movement. We began reaching out to our community and discovered that the idea of collecting stories resonated with many. We grew our team as we incorporated feedback and recognized the need for more capacity. In total, we spent over a year gathering, reviewing, and compiling these stories, photographs, poems, and works of art. This book is a selection of the many submissions that we received.
Many people had their lives transformed by this movement, though the nature of that transformation is not the same for everyone. This fight took place on Anishinaabe and Dakota land, led by Anishinaabe people. They were, and continue to be, most impacted by this violent rupture. Many people chose to come to Minnesota and join the fight, but Indigenous people from this land often didn’t have a choice. Our team was comprised of people who had the privilege to choose to participate in this movement. We hope that this collection can honor the people Indigenous to this land and the movement leaders who so generously invited us to fight alongside them.
Through this collection, we tried to highlight a diversity of experiences, identities, tactics, and emotions that existed within our collective attempt to stop this pipeline. We hoped to honor a range of the experiences people had and to commemorate the years of resistance. We attempted to create space for people to show some of the many different ways they showed up for the land and water, and we are grateful for the wide range of storytellers and diverse voices who chose to share their reflections with us.
This book is not a history of the movement. It is not even close to a complete collection of the diverse personal and collective experiences this movement held. It is simply a collection of some moments, some memories, and some musings from the movement, for the movement. This book is meant as an offering that can be revisited over the years. It is not meant to be read cover to cover or in one sitting. Please flip through it, read stories here and there, and take your time with it.
All of the submissions in this collection are anonymous. We chose to publish the submissions anonymously for a few reasons. We wanted everyone to feel comfortable submitting their work with as much honesty and vulnerability as desired without fear of incriminating or implicating themselves or others. We also wanted to make sure that everyone who participated in the movement, no matter their role, knew that they were welcome to share their story. We hoped that anonymity would help people feel empowered to share, but we also acknowledge that anonymity can render readers unable to comprehend the positionality of the author. We trust that the stories included here were written and submitted with good intentions.
We intended for this collection to contain personal stories and reflections, rather than critiques of movement tactics and strategy, discussion of specific leaders, or broad political analysis. While those tactical reflections are crucial, gathering them was not a goal of this project and those on our team were not the right people to foster that dialogue. We do encourage people who want to share their analyses, lessons, and experiences of harm to disseminate them in other forums so we can all learn from the lineage of this movement and engage in rigorous dialogue and healing.
This movement held many contradictions, and so do the stories in this book. Some of these stories might not resonate with you. You may disagree with or dislike some of them. This movement was made up of many different people trying many different things to make a change in the world. We’ve done our best to hold those contradictions within these pages. Just because a piece appears in this anthology does not mean that our team agrees with the author or endorses their position. We ask that you give grace to the authors in this collection and remember that individuals shared their stories for a variety of reasons and that these experiences were deeply personal. We also acknowledge that this may not always be possible for you, and we want to hold space for that, too.
At several junctures in this project’s history, we have responded to feedback, listened to criticisms, and adjusted course, sometimes significantly, as best we knew how. This book is the sum total of all that; imperfect but here. We know that there are voices missing from the collection, and that there are many valid reasons why people chose not to submit. We hope that this anthology is just one project among many that attempts to make meaning out of our collective experiences in the movement to Stop Line 3. In building this collection, we were reminded that there is no one way to participate in movements, no perfect shared understanding of how to build a better world, and that no one project can adequately hold and commemorate those struggles.
From the fall of 2021 through the summer of 2022, members of our team conducted extensive outreach to people across the movement to invite them to submit to this anthology. Through the outreach process we had a team that offered support on writing, including ghostwriting, conducting interviews, and editing stories that people wanted to share.
As people submitted their work, we had a team read through each piece to determine if it should be included in the final collection. This team met weekly for many months to decide democratically what submissions should be included, make a style guide to outline the types of edits that we would and wouldn't make, and eventually edit all the pieces. Our goal was to include submissions from numerous perspectives and experiences of the movement. We received hundreds of submissions and included as many as we could that both aligned with the goals of the project to create a representative collection and fit within our limited print capabilities.
As you read through the collection, you may notice that your submission has been changed. We copy-edited for spelling and grammar to achieve consistency across the collection, although at times we kept particular choices in place to preserve the voice of the author. All pieces have been edited for clarity and length. Some stories included here are excerpts of longer pieces. We chose to trim pieces depending on the length of the submission, its relevance to the goals of this particular project, and for the writing to flow as a part of a collection, rather than as a standalone piece. Our editorial team worked very hard to manage the volume of written work submitted to the project and developed a rigorous and intentional process for collaborative editing. We also had the final draft of the project professionally copy-edited.
The written pieces in this book are not organized in any particular order. They are not chronological or grouped in any thematic way. Some art and photos were submitted or commissioned to accompany a piece of writing. Other art and photos may be arranged with written pieces that fit tonally or topically but are meant to be appreciated on their own as standalone submissions.
We consulted with an attorney to review a draft of the book to mitigate any risks that might be associated with sharing and publishing these stories. We tried to ensure that there is no information in this book that is not already in the state’s possession, and to take steps such as changing people’s names (while leaving in place all organizational names where we could), avoiding photos with recognizable faces, and committing to anonymity for all submissions throughout the collection. Our team had lengthy discussions about the personal risks we might face for the publication of this collection and applied a security culture lens to the edits we made to the book. We know there is no way to guarantee the actions and reactions of the state to movement work, but we did our best to prioritize the safety of our team and of the people who submitted to this collection.
Additionally, Indigenous matriarch, movement leader, and writer Great-Grandmother Mary Lyons reviewed a first draft of the book and provided feedback on the written content. We are grateful for her thoughtful contributions at the early stages of this project.
While we may not have been able to include your piece in this final collection, we encourage you to continue sharing your stories and thoughts. We greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review your work, and we promise that we read each piece with care.
These stories serve as a reminder that everyone had a reason for being a part of this fight, even if everyone’s reason was different. We would like to thank everyone who trusted us with your words and art. Even if we were not able to include your piece, please know that we read each submission with gratitude and care. We are honored that so many people were moved to share their reflections with this project, and we are proud of the hard work our team put in to create this final book.
We hope that in reading these stories you find moments of joy, grief, and reflection that allow you to connect with this past era of resistance as we prepare for the fights to come.
With gratitude and in solidarity,
The Line 3 Storytelling Anthology Team