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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Everyday People Speak Up

"Brian Phillips, an environmental scientist, collects water in North Bennnigton for testing. Last week [March 2016], five wells in North Bennington near the former Chemfab factory tested positive for the suspected carcinogen, PFOA." HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN / VPR

“Brian Phillips, an environmental scientist, collects water in North Bennnigton for testing. Last week [March 2016], five wells in North Bennington near the former Chemfab factory tested positive for the suspected carcinogen, PFOA.”
HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN / VPR

Howard Weiss-Tisman was hired by Vermont Public Radio in September 2015 after having worked for the Brattleboro Reformer for eleven years. Over the last month he has effectively followed the water crisis in North Bennington, Vermont and he attributes the contamination to defunct materials factory Chemfab.

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Indigenous Southwestern Marvels Nearly Forgotten

Harry Williams overlooking one of the Bishop area ancient irrigation ditches originally constructed by ancestral Paiute. There It Is-Take It! © Kim Stringfellow

Harry Williams overlooking one of the Bishop area ancient irrigation ditches originally constructed by ancestral Paiute. There It Is-Take It! © Kim Stringfellow

Every year Americans travel across the sea to experience the ancient architectural wonders of the world such as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Great Wall of China, and the Roman Aqueducts. Few realize that North America is also home to great architectural wonders. The Hohokam built canals to feed what is now the City of Phoenix in order to create a habitable environment. The Paiutes also built ditches that connected the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to Owens Valley, California. Most of these architectural achievements are lost in history, as America has chosen to forget its Indigenous past.

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PAYA Showing & Panel at Vermont Law School March 22

PAYA

We attended the screening of PAYA: The Water Story of the Paiute (the work of filmmaker Jenna Cavelle, many Paiute community members, and others) at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont on March 22, 2016. Learn more about the film at PAYAtheMovie.com. The forty-five minute film was followed by a panel discussion with Environmental Mission Scholar Jacklyn Velasquez, Native Water Activist for the Bishop Paiute Tribe Harry Williams, and Environmental Director of Big Pine Paiute Tribe Sally Manning.

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International Water Day March 22

White River Junction, Vermont

White River Junction, Vermont

Happy International Water Day and Indigenous World Water Day!

International Water Day is an observance of water, which is understood as the source of life. The event was created by the United Nations in 1992, and has been celebrated every year on March 22 to create awareness about global water issues and concerns. Events, such as symposiums, film screenings, and art exhibits are held around the world to promote sustainable management of fresh water.

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A Path Full Cycle

Quechee-Gorge-VermontWelcome to the “Water River Life-Giver” Blog!

In Navajo, we introduce ourselves by clans. My mother is American of Irish and English descent, and my father is Navajo. Through my father, I am born for the Kinyaa’áanii (Towering House clan). My family history has inspired me to pursue Native American Studies. Since I was a child, I loved to hear my family stories, and that passion has carried me to this time in my life. I am currently the Charles Eastman Fellow in Native American Studies at Dartmouth College where I have finished my dissertation to earn my Ph.D. in U.S. History from Arizona State University.

When I moved to Vermont near Dartmouth, I received news of the Gold King Mine Waste Water Spill. I felt shock and had to sit down. I felt helpless. I could not run home, because I lived across the country. I felt so far away and powerless. I was scared. I was worried for my Navajo family, people, and homeland. I was frustrated, as I thought to myself, “What can I do?”

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Blog Contest

 

Navajo-Rug-Water-Themed

Navajo Rug Special-Made for Water River Life-Giver Blog Prize

Entering: Everyone is invited to submit a blog post; the Water is Life blog contest is open to any United States resident age 18 and up. For full rules and prizes see the contest rules.

Voting: Come back later to vote for your favorite blog posts. Voting closes 11:59PM EDT on April 27, 2016.