“Water is Life” – Indigenous Traditions, Land-based and Ancestral Knowledge - Ms. Lisa Bellanger
This article is part of a series covering The 2017 of Seeds of Resilience Summit hosted by the Town of Atrisco’s Land Grant, an independent, self-governed community comprised of farmers and ranchers, to educate the public on indigenous sustainable farming practices and the need to protect traditional rural land. The summit primarily focused on how the New Mexico acequia irrigation system and other traditional, indigenous systems of agriculture can help inform and shape policy that affects the land rights and longevity of rural people and in the region.
On the first day of this year’s summit, Lisa Bellanger, RC Board member spoke to the group about the role of water in traditional food gathering, family education, and indigenous rights, and taught us a song composed by her family members, the matrilineal Ojibwe clan of water protectors.
Ms. Bellanger also discussed the significance of climate change for her people. “In Minnesota, warm days are coming earlier. Traditionally, April is the time of the maple syrup moon, sometimes in March. But this year we were tapping in February. We have to look at these issues, think seven generations ahead, and show them the skills to move these traditions, knowledge, and teachings into the future.”
For many generations, entire multigenerational families would travel together by canoe for several weeks to gather wild rice and berries and medicines from communally owned islands throughout the river system. Changes in water levels, seasons and the introduction of chemical toxins endanger the ecology, human health and food security, and family bonds formed around these traditions. She concluded with a question for all to ponder.
“How do we reach the youth; how do we send that knowledge into the future?”