the eyes of the Native people, the rivers, lakes, brooks, streams and/or
any other natural water surfaces are not just ordinary bodies of water.
They, in fact, are an organic part of our humanity. In their closeness
to us, rivers truly represent a biological extension of our bodies, our
homes, our communities, our families, our sources of food and life, our
highways, our livelihoods, our shelters, and yes, they are even our
private spiritual places. Rivers and other bodies of water, in fact, are
not only our physical links with our friends and neighbors here and
abroad, but are regarded as sacred elements of our being.
For many thousands of years before the coming of the Europeans,
Native people depended on rivers for their mobility, safety and
survival. It was the river that always gave them the means to access
anything they needed for survival. Rivers constantly gave them fresh
protein and nourishment to make it through the toughest of winters.
During summer seasons the rivers provided them resources, availing to
them total abundance and natural places for ceremonies. It was also the
rivers that provided them endless system of highways and the vital
supply routes to any part of the continent. Rivers were the means to
create business with other tribes and nations who would exchange and
trade unique indigenous products inter-tribally. Rivers and Native
people were synonymous; they were ONE.
It is universally recognized today that great damage has been done to
most of our grand rivers around the world, and tragically, still more
destruction is coming as industry takes precedence over the value of
life. The once crystal-clear rivers that contained the clearest water,
pure enough to drink, have now been turned into deadly cauldrons of raw
sewage and toxic waste materials spewed from factories, plants and other
industrial complexes along the industrial heartlands.
Industry has impacted heavily on the quality of life along these
rivers, affecting all forms of life within, above and around their
wasted shorelines. Massive wildlife slaughters and huge fish-kills have
been reported and made into real legends of horror movies. Traditionally
renowned communities that had long relied on particular ways of life and
adhered to livelihoods handed down from their ancestors were suddenly
torn apart. Lost forever, with the decline and demise of rivers.
Our rivers are either dead or are dying
from man's greed, misuse and abuse.
There is no cool way to explain greed, except to say that it can
either mess you up permanently, or will finally kill you morally and
Generally speaking, misuse of a river is created from dumping
exorbitant amounts, tons, of waste materials into rivers and not
cleaning up while the waste matter builds up to eventually overpower the
water's natural healing ability to clean itself. Equally destructive is
the 'thermal shocking' of rivers by dumping super-heated
"coolant" waters produced by nuclear generators. This very
deadly act alone kills, disables and/or contaminates fish in wholesale
proportions, which ultimately affects human consumers of fish products.
Victoria County Record)
Abuse happens when huge man-made obstacles like hydro dams,
waterfalls, dikes, waste disposal units, bridges and underground water
channels for power generation are constructed in river environments.
These projects, in turn, impair or destroy the natural flow of water and
in effect obstruct or terminate the migratory routes of creatures in
rivers. Yet another destructive feature of abuse comes from rerouting or
creating reverse flow patterns of rivers such as that witnessed in the
Churchill River Power Project in Western Canada, or the mega James Bay
Power Project in northern Quebec. In-land seas or empty riverbeds can
result from this type of abuse, which also has an overwhelming
destructive impact on wildlife.
Another example of abuse is the outright and complete drying up of
river beds from man's re-use, over-consumption, and over-use of river
water as seen happening in the lower delta areas of the Colorado River
in Southern California. That river literally dries up and disappears
into thin air at a certain point on its way to the ocean.
For over a half-century now, we have also witnessed and heard of
horror stories from around the globe of chemically charged rivers and
petroleum-saturated river waters that have ignited and exploded upon
contact of the slightest spark. Such an incident occurred on the
Allegheny River in PA during the fifties. Industrially-driven nations
responsible for creating these extremely volatile conditions have been
known to disown their responsibilities directly, or deny exporting their
industrial poisons hundreds of miles downstream to affect or destroy
everything within, above and around the waterways en route.
Native people, having the innate responsibility of stewardship of the
land and creatures on Earth, are truly hurt and grieved by these acts of
greed, misuse and abuse by humankind. We relate to you that these things
are continuing to happen at the peril and expense of tilting or
destroying the natural ecological balance. Will we, as humans, ever
realize or comprehend that tilting the balance of our ecosystem could
forever alter life as we know it today? Or are we just too caught up in
that "Greed" thing to ever change our ways?
Efforts have to be made to turn this industrial madness around. If
each person made a conscious decision to put their personal efforts into
saving only one river, we would all be a part of a huge movement that
could ultimately benefit the whole world, and also enable us to pass
down a very special gift to our Seventh Generation.