Derek Bailey: Grand Traverse Band aims to protect sacred water

The Boardman River in Michigan. The Grand Traverse Band is leading efforts to restore the river to its natural state. Photo by John Russell / Great Lakes Images LLC via The Boardman River Dams Project

Derek Bailey, a council member for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Michigan, shares the importance of protecting the water system:
Throughout the world, Indigenous People are now becoming more vocal and active in the preservation of our waters. Within the last two weeks, representatives from both the Grand Traverse Band (GTB) of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (three Tribal Councilors, two staff and a Tribal Elder) and from Bkejwanong Territory, Walpole Island First Nation (located in southwestern Ontario, Canada) traveled to Aotearoa (North Island) New Zealand as part of the “Indigenous Confluence: the role of Indigenous knowledge in river restoration and sustainable futures” effort.

The GTB currently is involved as a lead entity in a very complex river restoration project here locally in Traverse City, as the dams along the Boardman River are removed and restored to a natural state.

The Walpole Island First Nation, with neighboring First Nations in Canada and non-tribal governmental entities and organizations, established the Thames River Clear Water Revival to “co-manage freshwater in the Thames River watershed.

The Grand Vision: Boardman River Dams Grand Vision Student Video
GTB and Walpole Island First Nation representatives met with the Waikato-Tainui, an Iwi Tribe, to learn of not only their traditional teachings and knowledge of their water ecosystem, but also efforts to advance the protected standing of their waters for future generations. The Waikato-Tainui were successful in 2009 in finalizing one of the first legislated co-management settlements under the Treaty of Waitangi grievance process.

Of interest is that though many miles separate these three tribal governments/ communities, the focus is always on restorative and protective efforts in the spirit of promoting the health and wellbeing of our waters for future generations’ benefit.

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Derek J. Bailey: Protect Our Sacred Water (Native News Online 4/7)

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