Water Running by Melissa Michal

Water Running

Until I moved to Arizona, I hadn’t thought about water and how the liquid gives us life and connection and cleared spirits. The east coast is plentiful with water. Growing up in Western New York, there was a lake at the edge of our town, creeks in my grandparents’ backyards, waterfalls at Letchworth State Park, the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, the Atlantic Ocean, all within driving distance. My other grandparents had a cottage along the St. Lawrence River at the 1000 Islands. Water literally surrounded me, not only in bathtubs, kitchen sinks, showers, pools, and garden hoses, but everywhere we visited. I had no worries or concerns.

The Hohokam, original Indigenous peoples of Arizona, built over 500 miles of canals which sustained approximately 80,000 people, and probably more, using what is now the Gila and Salt Rivers. Those rivers have since been diverted by Arizona for man-made lakes, drying them nearly to dust.

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Clean Water Was My Privilege by Kelli King

Kelli King in the Philippines

Kelli King in the Philippines

Clean Water Was My Privilege

For a year and a half in 2012-2013, I lived in the Philippines as an LDS missionary.  I was 22-23 years old. When I got the letter informing me that I would be going to the Philippines, I was so excited. I wanted nothing more than to help bring the people of the world closer to God. With that excitement however, also came a little bit of worry as to health risks that come from living in a third world country.

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Water Walks and Wild Rice by Blaire Topash-Caldwell

Water Walks and Wild Rice:

Reclaiming Anishinaabe Space and Place through Traditional Knowledge and Ecology Ethics

My research is based in the ceremonial and political spaces of the Indigenous lived worlds in the Great Lakes region—a region which is on the cusp of an adverse ecological regime shift. This shift is due in part to the accidental introduction of an invasive species: the emerald ash borer. Additionally, Michigan recently broke a record for hydro-fracking proposals submitted to the state—a controversial resource extraction method which often significantly pollutes water tables. In response, Anishinaabe communities in this region are more progressive than ever in both political mobilization and ecological restoration projects.

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Returning to Fort Yukon by Paul Thompson

Returning to Fort Yukon

Fort Yukon

Fort Yukon

In October 2014, after many years away, I returned for a visit to Fort Yukon, Alaska, where I had lived for several years.  The day I arrived a fundraising event was being held for a woman with cancer with whom I had worked with the school district in the past.  I learned that various other people I had known had died of cancer or currently had cancer.  Another thing I learned soon after arriving in Fort Yukon was that there was a moratorium on taking salmon from the Yukon River.  When I lived in Fort Yukon, people used fish wheels to catch salmon, which was an important source of food.  When I visited the nearby village of Venetie a few days later, I learned about the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council.  This group was formed in 1997 by seventy-three Canadian First Nation and Alaska Native Tribes that live along the Yukon River and its tributaries. The goal of the Watershed Council is to have all of the water in the Yukon River watershed be drinkable within fifty years.

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Indigenous Destinies and Dams

A Klamath River dam outside Hornbrook, Calif., is shown in 2009. Four dams spread across 65 miles of the Klamath River would be removed under a 2010 agreement that is now in danger of collapse. (Jeff Barnard / Associated Press)

A Klamath River dam outside Hornbrook, Calif., is shown in 2009. Four dams spread across 65 miles of the Klamath River would be removed under a 2010 agreement…. (Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2015, Jeff Barnard / Associated Press)

What did the fish say when it smacked its face into a wall?

“Dam.”

President Obama and California officials are about to announce an agreement that will dismantle four dams on the Klamath River, thus saving the faces of many fish. As a kid I remember learning in elementary school that hydroelectric power is one of the cleanest sources of energy. The public school that I attended simply taught that unlike energy derived from coal or petroleum, hydroelectric energy was powered by gravity and falling water. Little did I realize at the time that dams serve as a source of not just electric power, but also social and political power. For those that control the dam, they control the water. And they, who control the water, control the lives of the people around that water. The United States government for so long has controlled dams on Indigenous land. Indigenous people now seek to take back control of their water by preventing, dismantling, and taking control of dams on their Indigenous lands.

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