Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
Water Walk 2011
Indigenous women are powerful women. They are the carriers of life as they carry our newborns and nurture our children. In almost any American Indian community you go, it is the women who serve as the backbone of our tribal communities.
Ojibwa Josephine Mandamin, a Nokomis or grandmother, began the First Annual Women's Water Walk in April 2003 with a walk around Lake Superior. She brought together several women from various clans to raise awareness that our clean and clear water is being polluted by chemicals, vehicles vehicle emissions, motor boats, sewage disposal, agricultural pollution, leaking landfill sites, and residential usage is taking a toll on our water quality.
In subsequent years, the walk became the "Mother Earth Water Walk." All of the five Great Lakes have been walked. Indigenous communities in Canada and the United States welcomed the Water Walkers and have lent their support by housing, feeding and walking with the women to bring the strong message about how we need to preserve our water because it is precious. It is one of the basic elements needed for all life to exist. At some point, it was determined that an eagle staff carried by a man should lead the way for courageous and dedicated women.
This past Sunday the "Mother Earth Water Walk 201" concluded with a ceremony where water from four directions - east, west, north and south - converged in Bad River, Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Superior.
Hundreds of people - American Indians and non-Indians - celebrated the end of the walk. People lined the cliffs above and the shores of Lake Superior to the momentous occasion.
Josephine Mandamin and the other women who organized the "Mother Earth Water Walk 201" should be applauded for their efforts.
Personally, I have covered for the Native News Network for 24 days of the Longest Walk 3 - Reversing Diabetes since February 14. Not only have I covered the event for this publication, but have participated by walking with the Long Walkers.
My mention of this is not to bring attention to myself, but rather to relay that I know the hardships of embarking on walks for a cause. They are not some ceremonial walks through downtown to celebrate a holiday; they are painstaking endeavors - complete with blisters on the feet and sore muscles.
The cause to bring attention to how precious water is should never be taken lightly. The Great Lakes, in particular, with some 20 percent of the world's fresh water must be preserved for this and future generations.
Today the Environmental Protection Agency announced other participating organizations announced details of the first-ever Great Lakes Week scheduled for October 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The theme of Great Lakes Week is "Working Together, Taking Action" and will bring representatives of the US and Canadian governments together with a broad coalition of public and private groups to highlight efforts to implement solutions for the lakes' most pressing problems.
Great Lakes Week advances President Obama's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. The special week also gathers the annual meetings and conferences of various organizations in one place, making it one of the most wide-ranging Great Lakes summits in history.
While the October summit will draw much media attention, I believe the powerful Water Walkers successful "Mother Earth Water Walk 2011" deserves much attention as well, because the efforts to protect the Great Lakes will take a lot of effort - from the United States and Canada; from corporations to individuals and from federal governments to tribal governments.
Again, the Native News Network applauds the Water Walkers.
posted June 15, 2011 4:37 pm et
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