Native Americans involved in the Environment. The Potomac River was a full on cesspool up until the early 1970’s. So bad, then President Richard Nixon ordered a cleanup, as the river would be a national embarrassment during he 1976 Bicentennial celebrations in Washington, DC. Between 1970 and 1976 substantial cleanup efforts resulted in a vastly improved river system, and gradually the native fisheries recovered….Until President Raygun loosened the laws on cleaning up sewage being dumped into the river by treatment plants. Which resulted in green algae blooms covering the water from shore to shore, Fortunately residents raising hell caused Congress to act. Most of the river is cleaner than it’s been for over 100 years now, and all but a few sections are safe to swim in. Water from the river tapped above the city is tapped to provide drinking water.
It’s noon on a Thursday, and Reyna Davila-Day would ordinarily be sitting in her AP Human Geography class, memorizing the rivers of the globe.
Instead she’s stumbling in and out of a gully alongside a busy road, ignoring the cars and trucks that whiz past, walking as fast as her 14-year-old legs can carry her. Instead of memorizing the world’s most important rivers, she’s walking one of them: The mighty Potomac, 405 miles from its source in West Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay.
In a 13-day relay, Davila-Day and dozens of fellow participants in a Native American ritual are walking the entire length of the Potomac, praying for its return to unpolluted health. They will speak to the water, sing to the water, and pray for the water.
And now, on a Thursday afternoon half a continent away from her Human Geography class, Davila-Day is carrying the water.
“It’s us showing that the water needs to be cared for, and that we care about the water,” she says, beads clinking against the copper vessel full of a few precious pints of the river. “At school, they ask why I do it. I tell them that the water has a spirit. They’re like, ‘It does?’”
The Potomac River Water Walk began with a water ceremony — a tradition in the Ojibwe tribe — at Fairfax Stone, the 18th-century marker now located in a West Virginia state park that marks the source of the Potomac River. Participants took water from the clear pool at the start of the river and filled the copper vessel. Starting on Oct. 7, a band of Native Americans and supporters began walking that vessel all the way from the river’s clean source to its significantly more polluted end.
“We want the water to have a taste of itself. This is how you began, and this is how we want you to be again,” explained Sharon Day, the organizer of the walk and Reyna’s great-aunt.
The walkers made plans to pass through the District on Saturday — walking right past the White House — and to reach the Chesapeake Bay on Wednesday, Oct. 19. There, they’ll pour the clean water into the polluted bay.
People tend to ask Day if the walkers’ goal is to raise awareness about water pollution. Sure, awareness is nice, she responds — but that’s a paltry goal. The intent of this walk is to speak to the water’s spirit, not to a human audience.
“All the while, we’re speaking to that water. We’re telling the water how much we care about her,” Day said. “We really do support the work of other environmental groups. We believe what’s missing from most of this work is the idea that the water has a spirit, and we as spiritual people need to speak to that spirit.”…Read the rest Here…