Likely it is part of the full circle—the water blesses the songs and the songs bless the water. When the Water Walks were started, first around Lake Superior by Thunder Bay Ojibwe elder Josephine Mandamin in 2003, Dorene Day’s beautifully haunting “The Water Song” became something of an anthem for the walk and a prayer to protect and celebrate water.
Now, on Sunday May 1, songs will be used to help raise money for the Nibi (Water) Walks, so that the participants might continue to bring attention to water issues and needs. Echoes of Peace Choir will perform “The River Sings” at 3 p.m. in Weber Music Hall at the University of Minnesota Duluth to benefit the Nibi Walks. Tickets are $20 at the door.
Part of the presentation will include a video of Sharon Day, director of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, who has taken the lead on the walks, as with the 2014 St. Louis River Nibi Walk. Day, Bois Forte Ojibwe elder, led this year’s weeklong MNI’sota River Water Walk, which ended on April 1 at Bdote (Pike Island) at Fort Snelling Park, the Minnesota River’s confluence with the Mississippi River.
“The MNiSota River (cloudy tinted waters to the Dakota) was formed by glaciers thousands of years ago,” the Nibi Walk site reported. “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 percent, thereby increasing the pollution of the Mississippi.”
As with other Nibi Walks, many people join all or part of the walk, carrying a bucket of water from the headwaters of the river to its confluence, mingling the first waters with the last. Day explained the values and purposes of the Nibi Walks recently on a Minnesota Public Radio program as part of Water Month.