Historically, Coast Salish female identity depended upon water. Waterways provided women with countless economic opportunities, fostered family ties, created plentiful food sources, and encouraged female autonomy. Even as female maritime practices changed drastically throughout the pre-colonial and colonial periods, Coast Salish women imagined new ways to maintain connections to water.
We seek to tell a story that demonstrates how combining a common goal with compromise and deliberate action leads to creative solutions and meaningful progress. Our professional backgrounds and experiences are diverse—our group includes a professional land manager, a clean water policy attorney, a conservation agronomist, and a municipal watershed manager. Through each of our personal stories, we will share examples of action-oriented strategies for improving the quality of Iowa’s land and water.
As a work of social choreography, Niimikaage is meant to listen to the movement of the Mississippi River through the lives of people connected to it. Whether their story is directly connected to the river or not, water shapes the world around them.
Using GIS mapping, I can identify at-risk communities most impacted by water-related natural disasters in the Houston Metropolitan Area (HMA), which is highly susceptible to hurricanes, tropical storms, and excessive flooding. Geospatial analysis reveals that at-risk communities are not randomly distributed throughout the HMA; populations like women and children are at higher risk of disproportionate outcomes during flooding events.
Open Rivers contacted Natalie Warren, author of Hudson Bay Bound: Two Women, One Dog, Two Thousand Miles to the Arctic, to talk about her memoir and the story it chronicles: a river trip by canoe with her best friend, Ann Raiho, from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay.
Endless hours writing and analyzing samples in the lab was not the most difficult part of graduate school, however. It was walking into a class and seeing that, yet again, no one else looks like me. It was walking into a room and knowing I must fight twice as hard to disprove any underlying biases people might have of me. It was when comments were made that weren’t necessarily targeted at me, but that impacted me because I was the only black woman in the room, lecture hall, or meeting.
The association between WASH services and gendered vulnerability to violence in rural locales and urban slums in developing countries has received the most study, but women everywhere are vulnerable when they lack access to, or are accessing, WASH services. All of which leaves one asking why global leaders focus on the possibility of future water-related conflict rather than respond to the very real crisis conditions in which women and girls exist now?
In the Midwest, women landowners are one of the most powerful populations who can effect real change in water quality. Their potential, however, has been under-recognized, and they have been largely left out of conservation outreach and education.
Through interviews, surveys and focus group discussions with 258 households in Mathare during 2016 and 2017, I found that women faced huge challenges and trauma in collecting water. Besides the woes of finding a running tap and wasting valuable time waiting in queues, procuring water entails physical hardship that often leads to mental agony that sometimes even threatens the women’s safety.
With more-than-human mentors as teachers and guides, we ask of ourselves, and each of you readers: What does it mean to know a place deeply? How might we co-create learning that engages elders and youth as the storytellers of the natural and cultural histories of the land?
We refer to the issue as “Women & Water: Calling” because collectively these articles demonstrate the ways that water calls to people, drawing women into connection and commitment to the material world and to each other.