HDT was recently invited to attend the We Are Water Summit, part of a statewide traveling interactive exhibit led by the Minnesota Center for the Humanities and statewide partners. According to their website, “We Are Water MN” explores the connections between the humanities and water through an exhibit, public events, and educator resources. Visitors reflect on local stories and the meaning and experiences of water in Minnesota with space to add their own stories. By creating relationships around water, we are creating networks that can promote positive social norms, and share a vision for and participate in water stewardship.
Here’s a short video on the exhibit:
The Summit, held November 2nd at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, started with a presentation by Wakinyan & Thorne LaPointe about Mni Ki Wakan: World Indigenous Peoples Decade of Water Summit, an indigenous-led initiative that is dedicated to elevating indigenous voices on water and human rights. Each year, it convenes indigenous peoples, youth, global actors, and allies from the international community at the host site designated by indigenous peoples. As part of this effort these young men went to the United Nations to speak about the indigenous peoples relationship to water and the need to protect it.
Hillary Sorenson with the 1854 Treaty Authority discussed the programs they have to protect clean water and specifically the work they are doing on climate change and the recently completed 1854 Ceded Territory Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan. According to their website this assessment and plan “is to investigate how changing climate conditions already are and will continue to affect the landscape and species within the 1854 Ceded Territory and the respective reservations. In addition to assessment of the changes, climate-related vulnerabilities and strategies were identified to create more climate resilient systems to support those resources.”
Winona LaDuke talked about the connection of the Ojibwa people to water. Manoomin, or wild rice, is still a staple of the Indians living in northern Minnesota. She spoke of efforts to bring sturgeon back to the native waters of the clan of this magnificent fish. And she spoke of the need to rid our agriculture system from it’s fossil fuel addiction and how the Indigenous people farmed in nature’s imagine which protected the water cycle.
The event ended with a local panel discussion with speakers from Happy Dancing Turtle, Mille Lacs Soil and Water Conservation District, and The Nature Conservancy’s Our Mississippi, Our Future campaign and a discussion on how people can take action in their everyday lives to protect our precious water resources.