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Flag of the Ojibwe White Earth Nation in Minnesota.

A Lake with a Crossing in a Sandy Place

A few months ago, it was a typical day at work for me. I was tasked with producing a basic map graphic for an outreach brochure—nothing extraordinary. I sent off the completed graphic and moved on to another project. The next day, our local watershed partner replied to my email and asked me to “add the reservation communities of Little Rock and Ponemah to the map.”

Kevin Kuehner, MDA hydrologist and researcher (left), Wayne DeWall, participating farmer (center), and RRFSP walkover technician Ron Meiners (right) pause at the edge-of-field monitoring station in DeWall's field. Data collected at this station over many years is now informing on-farm management decisions throughout the region. Image courtesy of Paula Mohr, “The Farmer” magazine.

Strong Relationships Result in Conservation Action

In southeast Minnesota, we are fortunate to have an abundant supply of groundwater. It is the water we drink and the source of water in local trout streams. However, the unique geology of this region makes it vulnerable to contamination. A complex network of cracks, open channels, and caves below the surface provides a quick and direct path for surface water to reach groundwater. As water travels over the landscape it can carry contaminants such as bacteria, pesticides, fertilizers and road salt underground.

Detail from a panoramic photograph of Nacimiento. Photograph courtesy of C. R. Chiriboga.

Water and the Preclassic Maya at El Tintal, Petén, Guatemala

As part of the 1931 Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Uaxactun expedition, geologist C.W. Cooke (1931: 286) noted, “If the bajos were restored to their former condition, the Petén would be a region of many beautiful lakes. Travel in it would be easy, for one could go from place to place by boat, with only short journeys overland, from one lake to another, across country that offers little impediment to travel at any season.” These bajos mentioned by Cooke, low-lying swampy areas prone to flooding, are spread throughout most of the northern lowlands of Petén, Guatemala, characterizing the region with seasonal and perennial wetland systems.

Detail from "Washing Rice," 2018. Image courtesy of Tori Hong, http://ToriHong.com.

What Helps You Dream?

To create this list of “contraband” practices (forwarded by David Naguib Pellow in our feature of the same name), our contributors responded to the following question: If you were to gift someone one thing (reading/practice/site of engagement) to guide them to environmental justice or a different relationship with water, what would it be?

Fishing on the Nile. Photographer Islam Hassan.

Paradoxes of Water: A Reading List

Questions about water are often implicitly about systems of power. The benefits and impacts of how water is used, distributed, and accessed are unevenly distributed. Water thus becomes a site where the inequalities in society are made visible and contestation arises. The readings listed here offer a sample of some of the ways water is implicated in systems of inequality and work toward social justice.

Historic Fort Snelling from Round Tower. Image courtesy of the author.

The Story Behind a Nassau Bottle Excavated at Historic Fort Snelling

For millennia, Native American people traveled and traded on the Mississippi River. When colonial powers moved into North America, they quickly saw the importance of controlling transportation and the movement of goods on the river. In 1820, The United States government established Fort Snelling at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers to protect American fur trade interests in the region and to gain a foothold in the western territory that would become Minnesota.