Scott Kretz owns 30 acres of god's country inside the Fond Du Lac Reservation, about 10 miles north of Cloquet. The property address reads Brevator Road. But the camp inside it goes by the name "Makwa," Ojibwe for bear.
Kretz's land is currently home base to people who've assembled in opposition to the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, which will move Alberta tar sands crude through Minnesota to Wisconsin. The 337-mile portion of the project in Minnesota has yet to be approved. But one of the possible routes would knife through Fond Du Lac Band land in St. Louis County.
Which is why the self-anointed "water protectors" have come, inhabiting what is described as a village of tents, tepees, and other makeshift accommodations.
Many participated in protests in Wisconsin that began in August, in which some were arrested for blocking the construction site and attaching themselves to vehicles.
It's unknown how many people are living on Kretz's land, but according to a report by Duluth's KBJR-TV, their numbers swell to "nearly 150 people… on weekends."
The crowd has caught the attention of county officials. Earlier this month, they sent Kretz a letter, stating his "hosting" of "an extended gathering" constitutes the property "as a campground."
The municipality said ordinances dictate Kretz must pay fees like for waste disposal and offered to help "in properly establishing a campground."
Property tax records classify the acreage "vacant." Kretz could not be reached for comment. He's reportedly lived there for 15 years and resides in a passenger bus.
It looks like his guests aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
"I'm not going to get a permit. You only get permission or a license to do something which would otherwise be unlawful," Kretz recently told the Duluth News Tribune.
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