Saturday, 30 April 2011

Indigenous women's Walk for Water

Anishinaabe women are leading a Mother Earth Water Walk 2011, from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Superior. Carrying a pail of water from the Gulf of Mexico, they will walk forty miles a day (see map with  their blog) for over six weeks to reach their destination. On June 12 in Wisconsin, they will meet other groups carrying water from the Atlantic, Hudson Bay and the Pacific—representing the four directions of Turtle Island.

Sharon Day director of the Indigenous People's Task Force in Minneapolis, explains:
“We want the walk to be a prayer. Every step we take we will be praying for and thinking of the water. We’ll carry the water and an eagle staff. We’ll start at sunrise and end at sun down each day. Every four days, we’ll have a ceremony. This will be our life until we get to Lake Superior. Water is essential to life. We live in the water of the womb of our mother before we come into the world. We are birthed from water, our bodies are primarily water and we can’t survive without clean water. At some time in your life you have to take a stand.” 

More details are given in a slideshow on the IPTF site:

Giganawendamin Nibi
• We must all take care of the water and the food that grows on the water like Mahnomen [wild rice]
• Only 1 percent of the earth’s water is drinkable
• It has been foretold that soon, water will be more expensive than oil or gold. (Phillip Deere and Baudwaywidun)

What can we do?
We can talk to the water and tell the water “thank you, migwetch”
We can sing to the water and tell her we love her.
Giimigwetch awayngimigoo
Gizhaywaygimigoo *

Plants need water.
The whales need clean water.
The Arctic ice caps are melting.
The White Bear, our relative, who sits in the north, needs our help!

Practice our Teachings. Women care for the water. Acknowledge the power of the water. Water is essential to life.

7 Anishinaabe Teachings
• Humility - Dabasendizowin - to take up the work for the water
• Truth - Debwewin - The truth is only 1% of the water on the earth is drinkable
• Courage - Zoongide’iwin - Courage to take a stand
• Honesty - Gwayakwaadiziwin - to share with the people about the water
• Respect - Manaji’idiwin - Respect for the water
• Love - Zaagi’idiwin - Love for the people
• Wisdom - Nibwaakaawin - Through this work you will gain knowledge and knowledge leads to wisdom.

How can I help?
• Be conservative in your use of water
• Drink water from the tap/ use a re-useable bottle for drinking water
• Wash laundry only when you have a complete load.
• Remember all the chemicals you use in your house, on your lawn or garden, go into the rivers and
• The next generations are counting on us! Send donations for food, shelter and fuel to Indigenous Peoples Task Force 3019 Minnehaha Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55406 Migwetch!
The Great Lakes hold 20 per cent of the fresh water in the world. But they face grave dangers: fracking (fracturing of bedrock for oil and gas exploration), toxic releases, transport of radioactive waste, invasive species, oil refineries, huge consumption by bottled water companies and other corporate users along with the increasing privatization of water services for the 44 million people who get their drinking water from the lakes.

Anishinaabe elder Josephine Mandamin began the Mother Earth Water Walk in 2003.  She had grown up eating the fish and drinking the water on Manitou Island in Lake Superior and witnessed the collapse of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Today, most Anishinaabe communities have to boil their water before drinking it, and health agencies warn of the dangers of eating fish, once a staple of Great Lakes Indian Nations. “What will you do?” she asked herself. That spring, she picked up a copper pail and walked all around Lake Superior, to raise awareness of threats to the lake, and to teach people to love and care for the water. Since then, every spring she and a small band of Anishinaabe and supporters have walked around one of the Great Lakes. This year, the Walk is continent-wide.

Indigenous Nations, inner-city organizations, environmental groups and social justice advocates have launched a Great Lakes Commons Initiative with the goal of declaring the Great Lakes a commons, public trust and protected bioregion.

* Click here for an MP3, history and translation of the water song. Videos of elder Josephine Mandawin, of Garden River ON, describing the first Water Walks in 2003-2005.

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