The Water Still Flows

Editorial for September 2nd, 2015

We are proud to announce that our Healthy Roots project is kicking off again and it’s such a joy to see the t-shirts being worn not only on Six Nations but throughout many territories. This time we will be focusing on the Healthy Harvest which is an important time for our families and for ceremony.

Meanwhile the Navajo Nation farmers of the American southwest are mourning the loss of their crops after a deluge of toxic waste from the Colorado Gold King mine polluted their sacred San Juan River earlier this month. An estimated 3 million gallons of heavy metals and poisons such as arsenic turned the waterway a bright orange. Reports have said that people at emergency water stations could be seen weeping.

Many farmers have said that their crops have died in the poisonous aftermath. Others are saying it could take years for the ecosystem to return to a natural balance. What could be the saddest part of this story is how familiar it sounds to indigenous people everywhere. It makes you wonder – why does our water always get so polluted?

Perhaps water everywhere is polluted and indigenous communities are just not able to build the infrastructures and facilities to treat it properly. Many native people resort to conspiracy theories because the big picture has always looked bleak. Maybe the reason is undetermined.

Even Six Nations well water is often contaminated with E.coli and other bacteria from the run off seeping into the ground because of the fertilized farmers’ fields. It’s an embarrassing thing to try to explain when entertaining your city guests who start pouring themselves a drink from the tap.

“Uhhhh, yeah. You can’t drink that! The C&S bottled water is over there *points with lips.”

The Grassy Narrows First Nation, 100km north of Kenora Ontario is all too familiar with undrinkable water – they have been under a boil water advisory for a very long time. They recently discovered uranium in tap water samples and a state of emergency was declared. The elders of Grassy Narrows have also lived with mercury problems in their water for the last 50 years which has not yet been resolved.

Far away in the West, nestled amongst the picturesque mountains of Northern British Columbia, the Tahltan Nation of Telegraph Creek live a life free from pollution and toxic spills. The Stikine River sustains the community by doing what normal water is supposed to do. Clean water sustains everything.

If that isn’t enough the elders of the community preserve a secret spring that flows at the base of a mountain side that brings glacial water down from the icy peaks. It is like drinking the purest water that could ever exist on our planet. This is the kind of water that existed everywhere at one time and the indigenous people can still remember.

It has now become our responsibility to have the courage to dream that it can be this way once again. And that is why we initiate projects such as Healthy Roots in hopes that others will catch the dream and partner with us to envision a better world for the generations to come.

“As long as the Sun shines upon this Earth, that is how long our [Two Row Wampum] Agreement will stand; Second, as long as the Water still flows; and Third, as long as the Grass Grows Green at a certain time of the year. Now we have Symbolized this Agreement and it shall be binding forever as long as Mother Earth is still in motion.”

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