It will begin July 27 in Lower Red Lake and end in Grand Forks July 30
A Nibi (Water) Walk is taking place along the Red Lake River and will arrive in Crookston in the coming days. The walk will take place from July 27-30, beginning in the Lower Red Lake and continuing to Grand Forks, where the Red Lake River feeds into the Red River. The Red Lake River Nibi Walk will conclude July 31 at Old Crossing Treaty Park (Huot Park) northeast of Crookston, and then participants will walk from there to the Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing (MICAH) for lunch, a discussion and other activities.
According to nibiwalk.org, Nibi Walks are “Indigenous-led, extended ceremonies to pray for the water. Every step is taken in prayer and gratitude for water, our life giving force. We walk for the water, and as we heal the water we heal all of life. We are not a protest. We are a prayer for the water.”
People are invited to join in all or part of the walk.
The route/schedule is:
• July 27: Red River headwaters to Farmstead Road; Ending at River Road/3. Estimated 28 miles.
• July 28: Take 3, a right on 24 and left on 110, right on 22 and left on 120, right on 59 to 17 South/Pennington St. The stop is by the school near County Rd 8, South of Thief River Falls. 28 miles.
• July 29: Continue on 17 South, which becomes 2 to County Road 109 (right) left on 32, right on 1 to 13, left on 18 to 3….17 right on 13 right on 11 (ending near Crookston). 28 miles.
• July 30: 11 becomes 61. Continue onto 15, then 59, then 220 and 72. About 25 miles. End of walk.
The following information comes from nibiwalk.org:
“The Nibi Water Walks are based in Ojibwe Ceremonial Water Teachings. The reason we walk is to honor the rivers and all water and to speak to the water spirits so that there will be healthy rivers, lakes and oceans for our ancestors in the generations to come.
“When we are walking for the water, we are in ceremony from the beginning of the day until we retire at day’s end. We try to move like the river, continuously all day long, every day until we reach our destination. We carry asemaa/tobacco with us to offer to any flowing streams or rivers we cross, also to honor any animals we may cross over along the roads or trails. When we walk, this is a time for prayer or songs for the water.
“Women make the offerings for the water, sing the water songs and make the petitions for our water to be pure and clean and continuously flow down to us. Because we are in ceremony, women wear long skirts. We wear long skirts to show our respect for the grass, for mother earth and for ourselves. Women on their moon do not carry the water during this time, as they are already in ceremony.
“Men carry the eagle feather staff, but if there are no males in attendance, then women can carry the staff and the copper vessel.
“As a community of walkers, we carry the water in relay. Each woman carries the water for a little less than a mile and then passes the water to the next one. On average we might collectively carry the water 25-30 miles a day. Because this ceremony is about duration and following the water’s flow, the relay allows us to maintain our strength through a balance of rest and walking.
“The Nibi Walk ceremony walks along the roads that follow the river most closely. Often we are on country highways. We may not visually see the river. Yet we are always carrying the river.
“Ngah izitchigay nibi ohnjay– Anishinabe language for “I will do it for the water.” We say this phrase whenever we pass the water – both the person giving the water and the person receiving the water say it. The short video below can help you practice pronouncing these words and illustrates how the walkers keep the water moving the entire time, even during the pass.
“Led by Anishinaabe Grandmothers, Water Walks respect the truth that water is a life giver, and because women also give life they are the keepers of the water. In Anishinaabe religion prophecies were given before contact with light skinned people. The prophecies state that when the world has been befouled and the waters turned bitter by disrespect, human beings will have two options to choose from: materialism or spirituality. If they chose spirituality, they would survive, but if they chose materialism, that choice would be the end of humanity (“The Seven Fires Prophecy”). We choose spirituality and duality with all people who now live on Turtle Island, regardless of their ancestry. We unite with others and walk towards love and a better future for our grandchildren.
“Water Walks are focused and implemented in faith: faith in the water spirits, faith in the earth, faith in humankind and faith in the power of love. No amount of money is more powerful than these forces. When we spend time respecting and thanking the water for keeping us alive, it becomes impossible to abuse it. When we spend time praying for the water, we spend time praying for ourselves; in praying for ourselves we pray for all of our relatives3.
“At this time in our collective history, we are seeing the negative repercussions of global domination and greed. The water is polluted and suffering, plastic litters every ebb and flow of her veins. Turtle Island’s heart, Lake Superior, is threatened every day from corporations wanting to exploit our largest fresh water resource. We stand with the organizations and people working to propose legislation, clean up, hold services on the river, protect conservation trusts, mobilize and rally for the water in their communities and worldwide. We are the spiritual side of these movements and we offer our hearts, our minds, our asemaa and our prayers in support of Nibi and all those who walk with her.”