|April 21, 2003||Mide School – Send Off
Bad River, Wisconsin
|April 22, 2003||Odanah, Wisconsin|
|April 23, 2003||Ashland, Wisconsin|
|April 24, 2003||Iron River, Wisconsin|
|April 25, 2003||Wentworth,Wisconsin|
|April 26, 2003||Duluth, Minnesota
Two Harbors, Minnesota
|April 27, 2003||Silver Bay, Minnesota|
|April 28, 2003||Lutsen, Minnesota|
|April 29, 2003||Grand Marais, Minnesota|
|April 30, 2003||Border Crossing
Grand Portage to Canada
|May 1, 2003||Cloud Bay, Ontario
Thunder Bay, Ontario
|May 2, 2003||Thunder Bay, Ontario
Pass Lake, Ontario
|May 3, 2003||Dorion, Ontario|
|May 4, 2003||Nipigon Ontario|
|May 5, 2003||Pays Plott Reserve, Ontario|
|May 6, 2003||Schreiber, Ontario|
|May 7, 2003||Neys Park, Ontario|
|May 8, 2003||Marathon, Ontario
Heron Bay, Ontario
|May 9, 2003||Mobert, Ontario|
|May 10, 2003||White River, Ontario
|May 11, 2003||Wawa, Ontario|
|May 12, 2003||Wawa East, Ontario|
|May 13, 2003||Agawa Bay, Ontario
|May 14, 2003||Montreal River, Ontario|
|May 15, 2003||Batchawana Bay, Ontario|
|May 16, 2003||Sault Ste Marie, Ontario
|May 17, 2003||Sault Ste Marie, Michigan|
|May 18, 2003||Raco, Michigan|
|May 19, 2003||Newberry, Michigan|
|May 20, 2003||Seney, Michigan|
|May 21, 2003||Munising, Michigan|
|May 22, 2003||Marquette, Michigan|
|May 23, 2003||Bruce Crossing, Michigan|
|May 24, 2003||Copper Harbor, Michigan
|May 25, 2003||Ironwood, Michigan|
|May 26, 2003||Mide School
Bad River, Wisconsin
Water Walk 2003 Completed
Josephine Mandamin: On a cold and rainy Easter Monday morning of April 21, 2003, we began the First Annual Water Walk. Today, as we approached our destination, we were greeted by a group of well wishers and Mide supporters who provided us rest. A welcome feast was set up by the women of Odanah, Wisconsin. The walkers in turn shared the personal experiences they encountered during the walk. The walkers who did the final stretch were: Mario Wassaygeesic, Violet Caibaiosai, Melvina Flamand, Thecla Neganegijig and yours truly, Josephine Mandamin. In the Mide Schoolhouse, we gathered for the spiritual celebration and kind words from the Grand Chief E. Benton-Banaise-Bawdwayadun.
Our Grand Chief was the initiator of an idea who through his words of “What are you going to do about it?” prompted the idea of the walk for the water. These startling reminders came during a Sundance Ceremony at Pipestone, Minnesota last year when Bawdwayadun told of a prophesy which has come to be. The abuses of the water will result in severe shortages and only those that can afford it will have water to drink and if we don’t do anything about it, our water will cost the same as gold; ounce for ounce. As in all prophesies there is hope. In this prophesy the hope is the word, “if”. Bawd, in ending his teaching, hauntingly, asked of the audience, “What are you going to do about it?”
Where does one begin to tell of such a totally awesome experience? And how do you measure the success of the Water Walk? Is it the numbers of miles walked? Is it what we experienced? Is it the people we met? What did we get out of it? Were there any rewards at the end of the journey? How do you measure spiritual impacts and growth?
Each day began with a cleansing of the pail of water and the eagle staff, at 5:00 a.m., and ended approximately 6:00 or 7:00 p.m., again the cleansing with the medicines. Each day, the dawning star began the sweeping away of the night and the brushing in of the morning dew and the sunrise’ emergence. This lady WassayAubinOkwe greets her brother the Sun as they prepare the day. The eagles have shown themselves to us to remind us of their work also and the work of the feathers on the eagle staff that travelled with us. The high noon connected with us through the centre of our beings with the universe. We shared our thoughts with the Creator as we prayed for the sick and the less fortunate. The offering of our Pipe each fourth day reminded us where we came from and connected us with our ancestors and the Creator with the tobacco offering. The water we carried in our copper pail, always reminded us of our womanly responsibilities as givers of life as Mother Earth gives us, her children, life. Without our mother the earth and her water, life would be arid and dead. The numerous, daily water songs that we sang for the water are now forever embedded in nature as we saw it and were welcomed by it. The words of the water songs made us ever humble as we walked with the copper pail of water. The copper reminded us of its element from the universe and how it formed to be a part of Mother Earth in her tender beginnings. The heaviness in our hearts was unbearable when we saw the destruction of the forests, the earth being gouged by machines, the rivers and creeks dying in the human filth amid green slime and brown, poison fluid flowing into the cleaner rivers. The death along the highways was sickening; of deer, fawn, moose, rabbits, porcupine, skunks, and birds killed by traffic. These scenes always reminded us that progress has no value for life. We can be knocked down at any time for getting in the way.
The wonders of miracles and the sheer impact of what innocent prayer can bring melted our hearts and quietly marvelled at the reality of what we asked for when we wished for fulfilment to our needs. Needs not wants. The wonderment of the coming together of Grandmother Moon with her daughter Aki Kwe, our Mother, or as science calls it, the eclipse. In this union, I was awestruck and was held in suspension with tobacco in hand as I listened to our Mother speak to her Mother about her hurts, her pains, and that she is hurting so much, that she can hardly sustain herself to provide for her children. She was telling our Grandmother how we are causing her slow destruction and causing her great pain and many illnesses. On and on she spoke, in much the same way we have spoken to our mothers when we were hurting or when we were telling on someone. Grandmother listened to all her daughter was telling her and spoke, “It’s okay my girl, I will look after all things for you. There are those who are still following the teachings, doing their work, those who still keep their stories, their songs, will be recognized and acknowledged when the time comes”.
The experience was humbling in that, I knew at last what we were doing. Words cannot fully describe what we were doing. We did it for the water, for the earth, for the animals, for the insects, for the trees, for all the two leggeds. To remind all those we came across, that the walk was for them. Not us. The walk was for the next generations, we walked with the water for them also. They will know, as Mother Earth knows that we walked with the water for all of creation. When the walk got tiring and painful, this was ever on my mind that I walk with the water for whomever needs it and I would walk the distance to bring the water to those who need it. The next generation will remember the Water Walk, our grandchildren will remember the water walk, and so on to the next generations. Not one of us was separate. We walked as one.
It was not all as serious as it sounds. We had many memorable, precious, Kodak moments which we keep in our hearts. It was with great joy to have people walk with us and show their support. We want to acknowledge the group of young people who came from Minneapolis, Minnesota to join us a few days, the lovely, mature ladies who sacrificed themselves to walk a distance with us, the people who walked and gave up their homes for us to spend the night, the casinos that provided accommodations and meals, the organizations who offered their lodging for a few days and pampered us with soothing foot baths and feast food. The food we were given kept us well fed. The medicines for our aching muscles and bandages for our blisters, the water we were given by generous people, and money that people gave to help us for gas and other necessities. The police who were ever watchful as also the eagles in the sky, watching for our safety and verbally encouraging us with kind words. Our Grand Chief who was ever so kind in offering to wire us money when he thought we were left out in the cold with no money for shelter. We were always provided for, one way or another. We give thanks to the mothers who brought little girls with them and the bus loads of young people who came to walk with us. They helped carry the water and the eagle staff and during these times we were able to take time out and rest more.
We laughed together, we cried together. These were the greatest moments. These were the moments when we were closely united in spirit. We all took care of each other. As someone in our group said “Actions speak louder than words”, we witnessed this from all the people who were ever so generous and kind. The wonderful couple from Cedarville, Michigan who put us up in their home and took such good care of us all the way. Creator is certainly flowing blessings to them. They are muchly rewarded. They walked with us a great distance and took themselves away from their busy lives to be with us. Despite their hardships of car problems, (two at the same time), they still came to feed us with smiles and great joy in what they were doing.
The young man, Mario who stayed with us all the way was always the brunt of our jokes. One morning, his hand got stuck on the steering wheel as he was making a turn. To this day we can never figure out how and why his arm was in the steering wheel. Thank goodness there was no traffic so early that morning. On another occasion, after getting soaked from walking in the rain all morning, they checked into a motel room for an hour to change into some dry clothes and to have some lunch. The owner allowed them the use of the room to do this. Having changed into warm dry clothing, within an hour, they all emerged from the motel room, one guy and three ladies laughing and happy to be dry again.
On Monday, May 26, 2003, we reached the same location where we had started from.
We look forward to Water Walk 2004 around Lake Michigan. We will begin on Easter Monday again. The women who live around the lake are gearing up for the walk. It is their lake!
Violet Caibaiosae: Thursday, April 24, 2003 Packed up the tent and breakfast at Iron River, WI then began to walk. It’s Josephine, Thecla, and me. (on her time) I was feeling enthusiastic and walked most of the day. It was really sunny and got sunburnt. We made it as far as Ammicon Falls where we camped again, but it was cold. Slept with my clothes, mitts, hats, scarves, and extra sleeping bags. Thecla had gone ahead and made a fire, and had set up the tents too. Supper: Baked beans for two, peanut butter and jam. Josephine rubbed my feet with Mimi ken! A great treat! In Maple, we got $10 – a donation from a woman today as well as some cedar from a women friend of Gene Anderson. Also a woman pulled over and gave us an orange. Words I learned: Goose – Wawa, weywey, nikwk, Bimaazhi wug nikuk, Skunk – Zhigagg, Porcupine – Gaag and Deer – Wawash kesh.
Three Fires Society
Kakabeka Crystal Spring Water
Mayor K. Boshcoff
Ontario Native Women’s Association
Native Art High School Minnesota
Paul and Karla Sundberg
South Western Ontario Mide
Grand Portage Lodge and Casino
Grand Portage Tribal Council
Henry Flamand and Family
The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of Buraga, Michigan
Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation