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The quieter side of the bridge over the Red Lake River in downtown Crookston, Minnesota. Image courtesy of Caryn Mohr.

Water and Equity

Water has long played an important role in my life. In fact, it played a role in my very beginning. Like all of you, I first lived in a water environment, then was born into this world. A few weeks later, I was baptized with water. This sacrament joins me with many others that share my faith traditions, and water is sacred in many traditions.

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 sunset on Mille Lacs Lake as seen from Father Hennepin State Park near Isle, Minnesota. Image courtesy of Tom Webster (CC-BY-2.0).

Misi-zaaga’iganing (Mille Lacs Lake)

Mille Lacs Lake is the second largest lake in Minnesota and archaeological evidence suggests that it was one of the first areas that humans settled in the region. Many different groups of people have called the area around the lake home. A number of Native American tribes have lived around the lake throughout time.

A group of people are on a large boat with a flat gathering area. They are all listening to an instructor.

We Are Water MN: Relationship-Based Water Engagement

A project of the Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), in collaboration with the Minnesota Departments of Health, Natural Resources, and Agriculture as well as the Minnesota Historical Society, We Are Water MN strives to bridge the disconnect between scientific knowledges about water and human practices and engagements with water.

We Are Water MN exhibits are shown here in the Institute on the Environment space at the University of Minnesota.

We Are Water UMN

An unassuming email with the subject line “possible to talk about hosting a water-community exhibit in LES?” came through my inbox midday on February 27, 2018. Little did I know this email would change the way I looked at my work at the Institute on the Environment (IonE) and spark my drive for collaborations within and outside the University community in respect to absent narratives.

We Are Water MN on exhibit in the lobby of Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth, March 10–April 22, 2019.

We Are Water: Stories and Connections to Nibi

“What’s my relationship to water, as a woman?” Fond du Lac’s Nikki Crowe repeated the question posed to her. “Women take care of the water. Everyone in this room came from a woman, and started in the womb being carried in water, so for women, it is important for us to take care of the water.”

Whitewater State Park naturalists Jeremy Darst and Sara Holger pose on Seibenaler Ridge overlooking the Whitewater River in the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area. The naturalists are the story keepers for the Whitewater valley. They share the valley history so that others might learn from the past and make better choices for the future.

Whitewater State Park: 100 Years in Paradise

This year, 2019, marks the Centennial Anniversary of Whitewater State Park located in Winona County in the southeast Minnesota blufflands region. The story of how this place evolved into the popular tourist destination it is today is both fascinating and frightening and the park naturalists are working to make sure that story is not forgotten.

Braided sweetgrass, its three strands representing the three interwoven components of the book: scientific knowledge, Indigenous story, and personal narrative. Image courtesy of Jamieson Lawrence.

Woven Ways of Knowing

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (2013) is a nonfiction compilation of essays written by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a celebrated botanist, poet, and Indigenous member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.