SINGING TO THE SPIRIT OF THE RIVER
Indigenous-led 981 Mile Ohio River Nibi (Water) Walk begins April 22, 2014
Tuesday, April 22, Earth Day, 9 to 10AM
Water Steps at North Shore Riverfront Park, Pittsburgh, PA
The rivers are the arteries of the earth and they are in peril, with the Ohio River bearing the dubious distinction of being the most polluted waterway in North America.* Once beautiful and free flowing, the Ohio is now misshapen by 20 dams and made toxic from coal mining, agricultural runoff, chemical spills, and fracking waste. The recent coal slurry spills and the chemical spills at Elk River, which feeds into the Ohio, are merely the latest chapter in the ongoing plight of the River and the people who live near her shores.
Despite growing environmental awareness the challenges facing the Ohio and all of our fresh water continue to mount. Ongoing activism is crucial however we must also embark on a spiritual journey – one that will lead us to honor the water and embrace that all things are connected: that together with our lakes, streams and rivers, we will thrive or perish.
Water is life: the Nibi Walkers invite all to journey with them.
Nibi means water in the Anishinaabe language. In Anishinaabe teachings it was promised that the water would always flow down to us as long as we remembered to sing and make offerings to the water.
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The Nibi Walkers believe these songs and offerings are crucial now, when the health of our freshwater is at great risk. They invite people from all walks of life to join them – in person or in spirit – on this sacred mission.
Beginning on Earth Day – April 22 – the Nibi Walkers will begin a 35 day, 981-mile, walk down the Ohio River. They will carry a ceremonial copper vessel of water from the confluence of the Ohio River at Point State Park in Pittsburgh, PA to Cairo, IL, where the Ohio joins the Mississippi River. They will walk, pray, and sing daily, sun-up to sun-down, to heal and honor the River. Though steeped in Anishinaabe ritual and beliefs, people of all faiths are welcome to walk for an hour, a day, or more.
“We want the Walk to be a prayer,” says Sharon Day, the leader of the Ohio River walk. “Every step we take we will be praying for and thinking of the water. The water has given us life and now we will support the water.”
To learn more about the Ohio River Nibi Walk visit HYPERLINK “http://www.nibiwalk.com” www.nibiwalk.com.
Sharon Day, the Anishinaabe elder leading the Ohio River Nibi Walk, is available for interviews. Please contact her directly at the number listed above. Photos available on request.
* A 2012 report of Environment America Research and Policy Center states that the Ohio is North America’s most polluted river, with approximately 32,111,718 pounds of toxic discharge entering the waterway annually*