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Reeds and shoreline. Photo by Renzo D'souza on Unsplash.

Introduction to Issue 24 | Layers

The cover image for this issue is a meditation on layers. In its two-dimensional form, it reveals dark but reflective water, distinct aquatic vegetation, an autumnal shoreline, and powerlines stretching across the deepening blue in the sky. The image reveals the layers of the visible place (the water, plants, and sky), but also evokes the layers that are invisible…

Pa’ashi in April 2023. Image courtesy of the author.

The Return of Pa’ashi: Colonial Unknowing and California’s Tulare Lake

The early morning sun shone off the water. I parked at the “Flooding Ahead” sign and walked past deep gouges in the ground. The teeth marks of a bulldozer’s blade were still visible where it had dug in to strengthen the walls of an earthen berm along the edge of what was once a ditch and is now simply a slough meandering along a larger expanse of lake…

Detail from 'Storying the Floods: Experiments in Feminist Flood Futures' Watershed meeting in Coon Creek. Image courtesy of Caroline Gottschalk Druschke, Margot Higgins, Tamara Dean, Eric Booth, and Rebecca Lave.

Creating Change through Community-Engaged Research: An Open Rivers Collection

“Why are you doing this work?” P’Ong’s question caught me a bit by surprise. I was sitting with P’Ong on a thin bamboo mat covering the tile floor of his home near the Yom River in northern Thailand. P’Ong had spent the day introducing me to his village including both the people and places that were part of the anti-dam protest movement there…

Sunrise over the pines and the bay. Image courtesy of the author.

Morning on Chesapeake

I slide my kayak into the tranquil waters of the Chesapeake Bay as the first glow of sunrise is appearing behind me in the eastern sky. The bay is quiet today, waters smooth as glass as only happens a few times during the summer. There are many mornings when the winds and the tidal currents conspire to make it impossible for a small craft like a kayak…

Detail of the cover of Harry Saddler's book 'A Clear Flowing Yarra.'

Seals, Swimmers, Bat Carers

Author Harry Saddler’s book on Melbourne’s Yarra River is an engaging account of his years exploring its native species and human communities. He acknowledges the river’s First Nations name of Birrarung, writing with a boyish enthusiasm. At times I felt his emotion jumping out of the pages, almost channelling David Attenborough’s passion for species and the environment…

An aerial view of Northrop Mall, part of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities’ East Bank area. Image courtesy of Ben Franske.

The River at our Doorstep: Student Projects Tell Stories of the Mississippi River

The Mississippi River, by all accounts one of the great rivers of the world, flows through the middle of the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. During fall semester, 2022, the University Honors Program continued a long-standing commitment to introducing students to the river at their doorstep by offering an Honors Seminar…

Roxanne Biidabinokwe Gould is preparing some smoked fish at the water and ground breaking ceremony conducted by the Indigenous Women's Water Sisterhood and the City of Duluth. The ceremony was held for an outdoor classroom on the Waabizheshikana Trail on the St. Louis River. Image courtesy of University of Minnesota Duluth.

Introduction to Issue 23 | Connections in Practice

When Open Rivers launched in fall 2015, we made a promise to try to include at least one Indigenous voice in each issue. Since then, many issues have featured multiple Indigenous voices, including many involved with the TRUTH Report. Now, with Issue 23, “Connections in Practice,” a majority of the authors—faculty, staff, and students—are enrolled members or descendants of Tribes and Nations from throughout North America. They represent a growing cohort of university faculty and other professionals who work in two worlds, creating networks, honoring their traditional ways of knowing and being, while also nudging their non-indigenous colleagues to expand their own worldviews…

Figure 9. Mural of TEK featuring three Haida matriarchs of the land, air, and water. The mural is the work of Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya (findingsproject.com). Image courtesy of Wendy F. Todd.

The Science in Indigenous Water Stories, Indigenous Women’s Connection to Water

Water is life. It is a familiar phrase, frequently spoken today. Even so, little thought goes into what this simple phrase means. We exist in water throughout our lives, dependent on it from conception, surrounded in water in our mother’s womb, until our last water vapor breath. Water is so common, we are so accustomed to our submergence in it that we fail to notice how vital it is and fail to recognize our dependence on it, taking for granted the water vapor-laden environment we exist in every moment of every day…

Approaching sundown at the Sax-Zim Bog in northern Minnesota, USA.

Connecting Environment, Place, and Community

“Connections in Practice” is an appropriate theme for this issue of Open Rivers highlighting the four years’ work, since 2019, of the Humanities-led Environmental Stewardship, Place, and Community Initiative. The goals of the [initiative] all have been about connection: connecting Indigenous ways of knowing and practices of environmental stewardship with the humanities; connecting the humanities with pressing environmental justice concerns; connecting three University of Minnesota (UMN) campuses with each other and with Indigenous communities; connecting activism and experiential practice with pedagogy; and connecting all of these to decolonization and institutional transformation of the university…