Protocols for the Nibi Walks

The Nibi Water Walks are based in Ojibwe Ceremonial Water Teachings.  The reason we walk is to honor the rivers and all water and to speak to the water spirits so that there will be healthy rivers, lakes and oceans for our ancestors in the generations to come.

When we are walking for the water, we are in ceremony from the beginning of the day until we retire at day’s end. We try to move like the river, continuously all day long, every day until we reach our destination. We carry asemaa/tobacco with us to offer to any flowing streams or rivers we cross, also to honor any animals we may cross over along the roads or trails. When we walk, this is a time for prayer or songs for the water.

Women make the offerings for the water, sing the water songs and make the petitions for our water to be pure and clean and continuously flow down to us. Because we are in ceremony, women wear long skirts. We wear long skirts to show our respect for the grass, for mother earth and for ourselves. Women on their moon do not carry the water during this time, as they are already in ceremony.

Men carry the eagle feather staff, but if there are no males in attendance, then women can carry the staff and the copper vessel.

As a community of walkers, we carry the water in relay. Each woman carries the water for a little less than a mile and then passes the water to the next one. On average we might collectively carry the water 25-30 miles a day. Because this ceremony is about duration and following the water’s flow, the relay allows us to maintain our strength through a balance of rest and walking.

The Nibi Walk ceremony walks along the roads that follow the river most closely. Often we are on country highways. We may not visually see the river. Yet we are always carrying the river.

Ngah izitchigay nibi ohnjay– Anishinabe language for “I will do it for the water.” We say this phrase whenever we pass the water – both the person giving the water and the person receiving the water say it. The short video below can help you practice pronouncing these words and illustrates how the walkers keep the water moving the entire time, even during the pass.


Other Helpful tips and what to bring:

If you feel called, we welcome you to walk with us for any length of time.

Please plan to be self-sufficient. You are responsible for your own lodging. A mid-day meal will be provided.

During the day the walkers are accompanied by a cars. Sometimes we try to consolidate cars and arrange for people to leave their cars at a location – everyone gets back to their car by the end of the day.

Things to bring:

  • Please bring a refillable water bottle, we do not want to purchase any bottled water.
  • Bring your own plates and silverware for shared meals at the beginning and end of the day so you do not need to rely heavily on disposables.
  • If you have high visibility clothing (reflective vests for biking, for example) that can be useful.
  • We walk in all weather – please be prepared for precipitation.
  • 2 pairs of walking shoes.
  • First aid; moleskin and blister bandages!
  • Respect for the territory you are traveling through.
  • Be prepared to camp and / or share sleeping quarters with others.

If you would like more information to help you connect with a walk contact Sharon Day at smarieday @ or (612) 721-0253