Rivers of memory, lakes of survival: Indigenous water traditions and the Anishinaabeg nation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


For all indigenous peoples of the world, water is the source of material, physical, and spiritual life. (Tlatokan Atlahuak Declaration, March 2006, 4th World Water Forum) This chapter explores the spiritual meaning of water from indigenous environmental perspectives, focusing on my own tribal perspective as a member of the Anishinaabeg nation of the Great Lakes Region of US/Canada. I focus on water as a holy element essential to the spiritual traditions of Native Americans and provide a specific example from my tribe and its particular relationship to water systems. Of all of the forms of water on the planet, I reflect on the ecology and metaphors of rivers and lakes in North America. I assert that in addition to water being essential for physical survival, it is a metaphysical and metaphorical substance important for human spiritual imagination and crucial to the traditional knowledge and lifeways of native peoples. Personal introduction I have not sat beside a clean river in a long time and that longing to do so is part of my motivation for writing this chapter. If I cannot be by a river landscape then I seek to create a waterscape in my mind. My previous publication on the subject of water is entitled ‘Constructing a Confluence’ (2000). It refers to the odd juxtaposition of construction, the human effort to think through and build a structure, and a confluence, a seemingly effortless flowing together of two or more streams or elements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDeep Blue
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Reflections on Nature, Religion and Water
PublisherEquinox Publishing Ltd
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781845537197
ISBN (Print)9781845532550
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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