“Mní Wičhóni: Water is Life”—Healing the Planet’s Water Systems
Bioneers Pulse – updates from the Bioneers Community
The truth of the Lakota phrase “Mní wičhóni” (“Water is life”) is coming squarely into focus for people across the globe. A quarter of people on earth live in an area of extremely high water stress. In California alone, 300 communities and more than 1 million residents do not have access to safe drinking water. This week, we’re highlighting just how pressing the water crisis is becoming and lifting up the voices of those developing crucial solutions.
“Mní Wičhóni: Water is Life” — a 2018 Bioneers Indigenous Forum Presentation
The Lakota phrase “Mní wičhóni” (“Water is life”) was the anthem from Standing Rock heard around the world, but it also has a spiritual meaning rooted in many Indigenous world views. For Native Americans, water does not only sustain life, it is sacred. How can Native Americans create cross-cultural understanding for a river’s rights to protection? How do we help guarantee such “rights of nature” in mainstream jurisprudence? As we take leadership roles in restoring our rivers, how do we blend our Traditional Ecological Knowledge with contemporary science? Tribal leaders working to restore riparian ecosystems explore cutting-edge Indigenous approaches to watershed management and restoration.
This recent Bioneers Conference Indigenous Forum conversation addressed these questions and others. It was moderated by Clayton Thomas-Muller(Pukatawagan), author and campaigner with 350.org; and featured Caleen Sisk (Wintu), Carletta Tilousi (Havasupai), and Carrie “CC” Curley (San Carlos Apache). Following is an excerpt from the forum.
Carrie “CC” Curley: For us, mní wičhóni – water is life. I tell people, young people, older people – if you don’t understand that basic concept, I don’t know what to tell you. Every day we use water. Give thanks for it, for every drop.
Mní wičhóni and part of the Apache stronghold, we went up to Standing Rock as well with our leader, Wendsler Nosie, former chairman and councilman in San Carlos. We went up there with gifts. When you’re on this right path of sacrificing yourself, and feeding your spirit, and you’re away from home in your own community, because Oak Flat is 44 miles off our reservation, it’s hard... The battle to wake up your own community, to tell people water is life, is hard.
When you fight for the water, and you find that you’re on the right path, the water will always bring you back to that circle, it will always make an impact on you. So with the mní wičhóni, it was an awful thing to see what was happening to brothers and sisters out there. It was awful to see what was going on in the media. It could break your heart. And I know the sacrifice of it, too, in my own community.
The greatest thing that I know from the Oak Flat spiritual fight is I can pray, because right now our springs, our aquifers, they are at risk from a copper mine. They want to get that little amount of copper, but when water is so valuable, you can never repair that damage. Just like my sister was saying here, it’s your veins. You have to look at it like that, what you put in your own bodies and what we’re doing to the Earth. You put something in your body that’s not meant to be, it will destroy that vein, and it’s the same for the rivers and the streams and the oceans and the lakes here. If you understand that, you’ll see the damage that we’re doing to the Mother Earth.
When you find that in yourself, to step out of being selfish, you’ll realize that there’s just so much to pray for and so much to be grateful for, and to continue to pray.
Take Part in the Bioneers Water and Agriculture Full-Day Workshop—Oct 21
Global agriculture uses about 70% of the available freshwater on earth. Arid regions represent 41% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface, are home to 2.5 billion people and grow 44% of the world’s food. These regions are drought prone, experience water scarcity and are being affected by desertification and biodiversity loss.
At this one-day intensive workshop, hosted at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, farmers, permaculturists, researchers and policy makers will share the hard realities, innovative approaches and best practices of careful and responsible management of this precious resource to help make farms more drought resilient. World renowned experts will join us to explore new technologies and urgently needed strategies of conservation, groundwater recharge, and increasing the water holding capacity of soils, as well as policies that take a long view of water stewardship.
U.S. Pure Water has been providing cutting-edge, full-spectrum water treatment solutions for homes and businesses since 1985. Bioneers is thankful for U.S. Pure Water’s partnership for this year's conference.
In the face of global climate disruption, two billion people worldwide will be challenged by too much water, and nearly another two billion by not enough. When you fight nature, you lose, says Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Henk Ovink. He’s dramatically demonstrating on large scales how to shift our relationship to nature and to culture – and climate-proof our cities and coasts.
Check out this interactive tool: A quarter of the world’s population currently faces extremely high water stress. More densely populated areas are using up their water supplies quickly, but critical solutions are being developed that could help regenerate these water sources.
Take Action: Safe Water for All
Californians: Did you know that 300 communities and more than 1 million residents in your state do not have access to safe drinking water? If you want to help rectify this issue, contact your local representatives using this easy tool from the Community Water Center.
Video of the Week: Wallace J. Nichols – I Wish You Water
The cognitive and emotional benefits of healthy oceans and waterways have been celebrated through art, song, romance and poetry throughout human history. Marine biologist, activist, community organizer and author Wallace J. Nichols dives deeper and explores our blue minds through the dual lenses of evolutionary biology and cognitive science, reminding us that we are water.
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