August 2011 Archives

Hudson Bay Bound and our connection to water

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MissionMtns_web.jpgComing off a three day symposium on water and wild rice (Nibi and Manoomin: Bridging World Views Symposium) in Mahnomen on the White Earth Reservation, and reading the update on the two young women making their way from St. Paul, MN to Hudson Bay by canoe has centered my thoughts on women and water. In the Ojibwe traditional view, women are the caretakers of water. It is their responsibility to protect and take care of the water on this earth. Water is life giving, women are the bearers of new life.

In Mahnomen this week I had the privilege of being part of a traditional Ojibwe Water Ceremony, led by Josephine Mandamin, the grandmother who when asked "What will YOU do?" to protect our water answered with a journey that has taken her in a walk around all the Great Lakes and to each of the four bodies of salt water around North America (Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Mexico). She is calling attention to our water, and the need to protect it for all peoples.

Water - we can't live without it, yet most of us rarely even think about it when we turn on a tap, or step into the shower. Do you know where your water comes from? Mine comes from a well in the backyard, but in the thirteen years we have lived here we have not tested it beyond the initial testing when it was dug. That is complacency. We expect that it won't change, and that for the most part, it will always be there. What would happen if your taps were turned off for a few weeks? If everyone's tap in your community was shut off?

Water gets our attention when it is contaminated, flooding our homes or washing away our soil. The grand displays of water are celebrated with national status (Niagra Falls, Yellowstone and Yosemite, Voyageurs National Park) and even local for us Minnesotan's in the case of Gooseberry State Park, Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and White Water State Park). We need a new approach to water - not just one that admires the grandness or focuses on problems, but one that recognizes the absolute need and essentialness (is that a word?) of clean water for life. Everyone should have the right to clean water.

Red River Water Levels and flood info at Fargo

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The Fargo Flood Homepage is provided in public service by North Dakota State University. This web site, in continuous operation since 1997, is focused on access to scientific, geographic, and historic information to assist the public in better understanding the nature of flooding in this region. The hydrographs and automated water level are courtesy of Nem Schlecht.

Great jumping off point with links, resources and flooding history of the Red River! Check it out!

A beginning...

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Just as all rivers have a beginning, so does this blog. Six months ago I was hired as a water resource educator with the University of Minnesota - Extension, but supported with funding from the International Water Institute and North Dakota Extension. My work area is the entire Red River Valley of the North, at least the part in the U.S. As most everyone in the Valley should know, the Red flows north, ending its run in the waters of Lake Winnipeg.

Water in the Red River Valley is not always welcomed. Flooding takes its toll. We will always flood, that I know. The Red River winds north, like a serpent across a vast, flat lake bottom. The Red River is a young river, still carving out its path. When the flow becomes too great to hold within its banks, the flat topography allows the river to spread out, in many directions. Only dikes, levees and roads create barriers to the rivers movement. At this stage, no one wants the extra water and the goal is to get rid of it, quickly and efficiently. But the water connects us...moving along, one week our worry, the next week another communities concern, down river. We are all communities connected by the Red River and I hope that this blog creates awareness, understanding and collaboration for celebrating life along the river.

RW teachers on RedLkRiv_Reduced.jpg

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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