For this week’s Thowback Thursday, we return to the keynote address of the 2015 Sawyer symposium entitled “The Once and Future River: Imagining the Mississippi in an Era of Climate Change.”
The Mississippi is a river burdened by its history. The shadows cast by the writings of Mark Twain and celebratory accounts of westward movement obscure many of the narratives and images that have not been part of the predominant American story. These stories and images are nevertheless vital to our ongoing understanding the place of the river in cultural, spiritual, and social topographies. Jim Rock, a noted Dakota scientist and educator whose family is deeply rooted in this place, and Sharon Day, an Anishinaabe elder known for her water walks, share some additional understandings of the Mississippi in time and space, and of ourselves as beings on the earth with a long history. Their presentation challenges us to consider our relationship to the river in both metaphysical and environmental terms, and urges us to act as ethical stewards of this place in the future.