Perspectives Heard at the WRRC 2021 Conference

Sept. 3, 2021
“Greetings. It’s a good day,” said a speaker at the WRRC 2021 Annual Conference, Tribal Water Resilience in a Changing Environment, held August 30 – September 1. Attendees from throughout the state, country, and world tuned in to hear from conference speakers, who spoke movingly about water and Tribal resilience. Comments honoring the late Rodney “Rod” Blaine Lewis, to whose legacy the conference was dedicated, underscored his profound impact on his contemporaries and the generations who benefited from his leadership. As one speaker observed, he “bent history to justice.” With this legacy in mind, conference participants extended an understanding of Native experiences, perspectives, and wisdom on water resilience and how to achieve it. Recordings of each session and speaker slides, where available, are posted to the conference website. The following quotations give but a sample of the richness of conference commentary. Check future editions of the Weekly Wave for more information on the Rodney Blaine Lewis Scholars Award and more of what was shared at the conference.
Water - Water is the giver of life. Water is in everything and without water, we wouldn’t survive. / Our lens, our world view, water is life, may be different from other world views. / We are thankful for rains and don’t complain because that’s how things grow and the rainbow and its colors come afterward.
Resilience - Native resilience is based on … tradition and culture. / As long as we practice our customs, we will continue. / Resilience is built up by going through the trials of life. / Grandmothers are the picture of resilience.
The Changing Environment - The challenges are never-ending and are meant to tell us something is wrong. / Now we’re having to deal with 21st-century hydrology. / We are giving our mother a fever.
Responsibility - Remember, you do not own the land; you take care of the land. / We are doing what we can to save the river and repay it for all it has given us. … This is our responsibility. / [We are] tasked to plan … for seven generations out.
Sovereignty - [Sovereignty is the] ability to practice who we are without any interruptions. / For non-Tribal people, understanding sovereignty starts with invitations. / [We want to be] heard in a way that will be reflected in the laws that will be coming out in the future. / We know what works best on the ground, we know what the needs are, and we need the flexibility [to implement our solutions].
Partnerships - It’s a collaborative effort to address the water issues. / Partnerships allowed us to adapt to changing conditions. / We know that the Tribes have unique and innovative ideas. / We need each other to get across the finish line. / You need the partnership before you need the help. … You have to be purposeful in connections with partners … then when you need help, they are more likely to help.
Our Time - [We are] living in historical times; we will each have an opportunity to contribute to resilience. / Must walk two paths, [which] is a challenge in itself, but provides for resilience. We have a real opportunity to shift the conversation around water … this is a time of change … an opportunity to humanize the concept of water.
Looking Forward - We need the young people … pushing us to do the right thing. / [I am] trying to get to all youth to understand the future is theirs, not ours. / Education without action will not bring about future resiliency. / Be proactive and innovative and [do] not wait to the 11th hour to put actions into place. / Policies have to change and be brought into the 21st century.
Thank you for the rain, Grandfather God.