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.
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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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
A concern for climate change has burst onto the national media, scientific literatures, and other discourses over the past year. As someone who teaches in design- and natural resource-oriented fields, I feel an obligation to equip my students with critical awarenesses of the patterns, as well as a sense of what they can do, professionally and personally, to face this crisis.
All of us, regardless if we are Native or non-native, hold a specific location near and dear to our hearts. In this article, I focus on a place near and dear to my heart, exploring the history of my family’s cul-de-sac area known to my family, and much of the surrounding community, as Blue’s Bottom.