Missouri River Walk 2017

We began August 1 at Three Forks, Montana at the headwaters of the river. Our little troupe was quite diverse. Three Indigenous women, three women of European descent, three children who are Ojibwe, and one good man of European descent. Three of the us are two spirits/lesbians. We were newly acquainted for the most part.

We followed the Lewis and Clark trail and ended our journey in St. Louis on the same day in history that they returned from their expedition. We were speaking to the water spirits each and every day. We traveled through a smoky hazy Montana where much of the grass ranges had been consumed by wild fires. We crossed Fort Peck Dam, the largest earthen dam in the world and then crossed over to North Dakota and walked across the Bakken Oil fields. We saw oil wells and pumps covering the land and the flares from the burn off of the natural gas plumes from the fracking sites.

Walking on a ribbon of asphalt
Up and down
Up and down
Clouds form in the east
The sound of animikee
Thunder birds
Sun shining in the west
Then rain
Glorious rain
Just the feel of it
Pelting our bodies
Rain rain rain!

We continued on following the river to Standing Rock and crossed over the Cannon Ball River into Fort Yates and Wahkpala. We were joined by Bobbi Jean, the youth who led the run which began Standing Rock.

As we traveled along the river and across many Tribal communities we were met with kindness and support. They housed us and fed us on many occasions. We are grateful to the people of Wolf Point, Poplar, Newtown, White Shield, Standing Rock, Fort Yates, Wahkpala, Fort Randall, Macy and Winnebago. Also to the urban Indians in Sioux City, Iowa, Columbia and St. Louis.

We are most grateful to you, the individual donors, and contributors who supported us financially. We are grateful to the foundations who also lent support such as McKnight Foundation and Honor the Earth.

We are grateful to the individuals who sang at Benefits, organized those benefits, kept up the website, Emily Jarret Hughes, and to the marvelous queen of the mothership, who watched us day in and day out for 54 days, Joanne Robertson. I want to also thank Paul Moses and his engineer buddy who fabricated the pedaling mechanism for the floating lodge which will make her debut next spring.

It was an honor to walk the Missouri with such a great crew! And we hope she heard our call.

We walk in the spirit
We walk in the light
We walk for the water
For water is life
And we call on our ancestors
To my left and my right
To walk with me.

– adapted from Maggie Wheeler

Chi Migwetch!