The Lakota phrase “Mní wičhóni,” or “Water is life,” has become a new national protest anthem. It was chanted by 5,000 marchers at the Native Nations March in Washington, D.C. on March 10, and during hundreds of protests across the United States in the last year. “Mní wičhóni” became the anthem of the almost year-long struggle to stop the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River in North Dakota.
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In the early 2000s, the idea of giving legal rights to nature was on the fringes of environmental legal theory and public consciousness. Today, New Zealand’s Whanganui River is a person under domestic law, and India’s Ganges River was recently granted human rights. In Ecuador, the Constitution enshrines nature’s “right to integral respect”.
Angie Tillges is the Great River Passage Fellow. She is a public space artist and educator who is skilled at working with public institutions and community organizations on projects of social, artistic, and ecological importance. She leads projects that provide people the opportunity to make personal and lasting connections with public spaces in their communities.
Citizens who appreciate the importance and preservation of our country’s natural resources know that governmental agencies need assistance to do their jobs. That’s why in the conservation arena so many not-for-profit or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are acting to augment and monitor the work of the government agencies.
When over 800 Minnesotans gather in a windowless basement on the first beautiful spring-like day, there must be a compelling reason. In this case the reason was water.
In spring 2015, the Pollution Control Agency released a report stating that half or fewer of the lakes in Minnesota watersheds dominated by agricultural and urban land fully support the standard for safe swimming, among other things. Residents of the Land of 10,000 [Beloved] Lakes were alarmed and asked for change.
Open Rivers contacted Paul Huttner, Chief Meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio. Huttner writes the Updraft blog and hosts MPR’s weekly Climate Cast. We wanted to learn more about the impact climate change is having on rivers and communities and how discussions about environmental issues and water are changing.
Imagine sharing conversation, learning, and ideas with politicians, researchers studying bald eagles and river otters, people who make your water drinkable and those who clean your used water (who are different people, at least for now…), and those thinking about and establishing policies and practices to help protect the Mississippi.