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Introduction to Issue Eighteen

On local and global scales, concerns about our water systems emerge from many directions. We read stories of contaminants compromising hydrologies and water ecologies, of farm runoff in the Midwest creating an expansive hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. We view shocking images of the effects of a decades-long drought diminishing the flow of the Colorado River. Hazardous drinking water conditions and deteriorating infrastructures like those in Flint, Michigan inspire distrust in resource management methods and make evident how inequalities and injustices are part of everyday entanglements with water. The present conditions of water—and our relationships to it—provoke an endless set of questions about what our future with water may look like…

Prairie and spiderweb. Image courtesy of Jan Huber.

Introduction to Issue Seventeen

In recent years, the practice of land acknowledgements—making statements to acknowledge that white settlers to Turtle Island (what we now know as North America) are all on lands unethically, unconscionably, taken from Indigenous peoples who lived and thrived here long before settlers—has become common.

Intersections of roads, railroads, drainage, and river. Image courtesy of Sergio Souza.

Introduction to Issue Sixteen

There’s a saying among water professionals that the public only cares about water when there is too much or too little, when there is a flood or a drought…

People moving through the We Are Water MN exhibit.

Guest Editors’ Introduction to Issue Fifteen: We Are Water MN

Water can be described as a molecule, a solvent, a relative, a healer, and a force that both gives and takes life. Reader, what is water to you? If any article in this issue brings you into deeper understanding of the answer to this question, then we have succeeded. Like the We Are Water MN project as a whole, the goal of this issue is to share multiple ways of knowing water and to deepen your relationship with and responsibility to water.

The opening ceremony for the We Are Water MN exhibit at the University of Minnesota.

Introduction to Issue Fifteen

A couple of summers ago, the University hosted an international graduate student workshop on the environmental humanities, that is, interdisciplinary examination of environmental questions from scholars of literature, philosophy, language disciplines, and the like. Not surprisingly, the group wanted to take a Mississippi River boat tour and I was invited along as the University’s resident “river guy.”

A few old houses sit on a rocky shore. The settlement of Kangeq in Southwest Greenland was abandoned in the 1970s. The site has been occupied for thousands of years.

Introduction to Issue Fourteen

Climate change has virtually exploded as a subject of news reports, scientific analysis, and advocacy attention in the past six months. In November, the United States Global Change Research Program released its Fourth National Climate Assessment.  Longstanding debates about the relative importance of mitigation and adaptation have further receded in urgency as this spring’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) finding that a million species are threatened with extinction have grabbed headlines worldwide.

View of the Chixoy River, the Tortugas salt dome, and the Nueve Cerros ridge in 2018. This part of Guatemala was covered in lush forest for over a millennium between the Classic collapse and the land initiatives of the 1980s.

Guest Editors’ Introduction to Issue Fourteen: Climate, Change & People

Archaeologists, by definition, are interested in using various techniques to learn about the human experience in diverse places, from ancient through contemporary times. A key part of this has been understanding human adaptation to diverse environmental and climatic changes over time, and for archaeologists, the long arc of human existence refers to at least around three million years.

Guest Editor’s Introduction to Issue Thirteen: Water & Environmental Justice

The work collected here was written about and on the sovereign land of many First Nations. The place it was assembled—the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities—is a land-grant institution that operates on Mni Sota Makoce (called Minnesota), Dakota land, and alongside and over the Mississippi River whose watershed is the major artery of Turtle Island (called North America).

Aerial of dock on water at Belle Isle, Detroit, United States.

Introduction to Issue Thirteen

Simi Kang agreed to guest edit this issue of Open Rivers, moving our work toward questions of environmental equity and justice, and by extension coming to understand their opposites: environmental inequities, injustices, and racism.

An excavation unit has been carefully laid out and is awaiting excavation at Réaume's Leaf River Post, Minnesota.

Guest Editor’s Introduction to Issue Twelve: Watery Places and Archaeology

Archaeology, the study of past human societies, has a certain aura of mystery to it that captures the public’s imagination. The authors in this issue, myself included, are broadly defined as archaeologists. Not the Indiana Jones kind—more the geeky and scholarly kind, whose job and passion is not only to uncover how past people lived based on the things and structures they left behind, but also to take prodigious amounts of notes, photographs, measurements, and soil samples.