Indigenous women and supporters will gather at Big Stone Lake in Ortonville, MN on Friday, March 25, at 9 am to begin a week-long Water Walk along the course of the MNiSota (Minnesota) River. The Walk will conclude April 1 at Fort Snelling State Park in Minneapolis, MN, where the MNiSota meets the Mississippi.
“We will gather the river water at Big Stone Lake and carry this water to the confluence of the Mississippi River,” explains Ojibwe elder Sharon Day. Day has led a series of water walks over the years along the Mississippi, the Ohio, St. Louis, Cuyahoga and the James Rivers.
The MNiSota River (cloudy tinted waters to the Dakota) was formed by glaciers thousands of years ago. The river is of deep historic and cultural significance to the Dakota and also home today to many others. The river has been cited as one of the most polluted rivers in the state and nation. It is one of the larger tributaries of the Mississippi River and increases the volume of the Mississippi’s flow by 57%, thereby increasing the pollution of the Mississippi.
In recent years, there have been significant improvements in point source pollution control and adoption of conservation practices, however non-point sources of pollution are proving to be more challenging. In the summer of 2015, the public was advised to not swim in any of the lakes or rivers in the southwestern portion of the state. For these reasons, Day has chosen to walk the MNiSota River.
The purpose of the Water Walks is to draw attention to the river’s contamination and at the same time, honor the water as a living being. “The Walks are extended ceremonies for the water led by Indigenous peoples,” states Day. “We believe the water has a spirit and is a living entity that we, humans, have been gifted with to love and cherish.”
CURE (Clean Up the River Environment) is co-sponsoring the walk with promotional and organizational support.
There is a Water Walk Educational Workshop scheduled for Monday, March 7, at 5 pm at the Upper Sioux Community Multipurpose Building, 5722 Travers Lane, Granite Falls, MN. The workshop is free and open to the public.