Last month, Michi­gan offi­cials announced plans to shut down a con­tro­ver­sial oil pipeline that runs below the Great Lakes at the Straits of Mack­inac. Gov. Gretchen Whit­mer and Attor­ney Gen­er­al Dana Nes­sel, both Democ­rats, cit­ed sev­er­al rea­sons for the deci­sion, includ­ing one that got the atten­tion of trib­al lead­ers in Michi­gan who have been fight­ing the pipeline for years.

In the shut­down order, Whit­mer ref­er­enced an 1836 treaty in which trib­al nations ced­ed more than a third of the ter­ri­to­ry that would become Michi­gan in exchange for the right to hunt and fish on the land in per­pe­tu­ity. An oil spill from the pipeline would destroy the state’s abil­i­ty to hon­or that right, Whit­mer said. 

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