Water Walk 2017 – For the Earth and Water – From West to East


At 6:00 am, April 20th, 2017, on Spirit Mountain, Duluth MN, USA, Anishinaabe (Ojibway) Grandmother and respected elder Josephine Mandamin began leading another epic walk for the water – for nibi.

Josephine has become an iconic symbol for the earth and water. A living  vessel that contains her spirit force – the molecules of her ancestors. She is driven, in turn, to carry a vessel filled with liquid life – a copper pot.

Josephine, and those who sojourn with her, carry a copper pot, dipped and filled by the cool April waters of L. Superior. It will be the women walkers who carry the water (for the most part) – the men travelling along as guides and protectors will carry the Eagle Staff  – an extension of the ancestors who they carry  in every intentional footstep – in every place and time where their feet land – where they breathe the air – where they petition the waters with sacred tobacco and ceremony.

From an April 20, 2017 Facebook post by ‘MotherEarth Water Walker – Norma Peltier, ‘Blessings as we are praying for the water. Ancestors are with us. Miigwetch.’

And so it would begin – before dawn – 33 degrees F. in the region around Duluth, Minnesota on April 20th, 2017. And the accuweather forecast for the foreseeable future isn’t much better as the earth and water walkers continue along a route heading east.

Early morning – Day One – April 20,2017

Starting out in the wee hours of the morning each day, the temperatures are low and darkness brings its own challenges.

The roads can be iced up and slippery in  in N. Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The vehicle that travels with them provides a light to drivers and walkers on the highways and byways. The walkers gather and rest at various locations, along the route. Schedules are as fluid as the contents of the copper pot.

Like-minded people are encouraged to join the walkers when so moved. There are a set of Protocols, which deepen the experience for persons who are unfamiliar with the rhythm and cadence of the walkers. All of that can be found here: ‘For the Earth and Water Walk 2017’  website: www.motherearthwaterwalk.com

Cover Art by Isaac Murdoch

‘Join us and say: Nga-zhichige Nibi Onji  – I will do it for the water.’ (excerpt from media release)

Josephine Mandamin is a living, breathing, walking ‘call to action’. For Earth Day 2017, a person would do well to think about the water – the earth – through the lens of ‘For the Earth and Water Walk 2017.’

The walkers are expected to move through the Algoma District, in early May.  A Ceremony and Feast is being planned in Garden River First Nation for Monday, May 8th.

Media release:

‘In 2003, Josephine listened to the call of the Elders to do something about the pollution and poisoning of our sole source of life. She responded to this call by lifting Nibi – the water – and walking around all the Great Lakes in addition to other lakes and rivers. With that first step, this Grandmother started the Water Walking movement, walking over 25,000 KMs. She has been joined by many people and her efforts to protect the water are echoed in larger First Nations environmental responses like Idle No More and Standing Rock. Beginning at Sunrise on April 20th, Josephine along with other Anishinaabe Elders, Leaders, Water Walkers, and community members held a ceremony which will ended with her scooping water from Lake Superior on the shores of Spirit Mountain into a copper pail.

She and her group of Water Walkers then began the long journey of carrying that water across Turtle Island (North America) along the Great Lakes to Matane, Quebec, Canada where it will be joined with the water of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The journey covers 1420 Miles/2285 KMS. The core walkers will be walking all day until sundown for approximately 4 to 5 months. As they move through the traditional pathways of the Anishinaabe, they are, at times, joined by other Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who wish to participate. The ceremonial movement of the Water Walk is in honor of Nibi  – the Water – A gift of life for all of Creation. The water walkers do this to honour and remember how without Water nothing would survive, including humans. They walk to remind people of the need to protect the Water for future generations. They walk because Water is Life.’

For the Eart & Waters – Water Walk 2017 Day One

Everyone is welcome to attend the Water Walk at any point along the journey. Protocol and tentative schedules can be found on the Facebook page: CLICK HERE

The 2017 Water Walk would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Native Women’s Association. ONWA has generously agreed to provide the water walkers with support for a vehicle rental.’

To follow the ‘Spot’ Water Walkers 2017 Route, go here::GO HERE

Joanne Roberston, local artist, author and farmer (Fiddlehead Farms) has set up the ‘Saved by Spot’ – For the Earth and Water | WATER WALK 2017 webpage, which tracks the walkers day-to-day, hour– by– hour.

On Day 1, Thursday, April 20, 2017, Joanne writes,

‘Nibi loved up the walkers today in all forms, rain, snow, ice! Spot couldn’t see the sky for half the day, but I guesstimate they walked 45 miles today! Tasha Beeds just messaged me and they walked 44 miles today! 5:00 am touchup tomorrow.  In the coming days we will have a new Spotter posting in the evenings. Her name is Nicole Hewson and she is my little migizi sister. I’m grateful our youth are eager to continue this work!’

Photographs and images used in article are courtesy of Water Walkers 2017, Norma Peltier, Mike Clark, Andrew Mandamin, Joanne Robertson, Cover design for MotherEarth Water Walk 2017 is by Artist Isaac Murdoch.