For SESP senior Forrest Bruce, a member of the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe, water is central to his creation story. In it, the Great Spirit created Turtle Island (or North America) after watching a group of animals band together to rebuild the Earth after it was destroyed by the Great Flood. Turtle Island was the animals' second chance at living in harmony with the world around them, whether that be other animals, humans or nature itself.
Bruce told the Ojibwe creation story at the Earth Day Water Talks on Saturday, an event hosted by the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance (NAISA) and Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA). About twenty people gathered to hear different perspectives on Earth's most valuable resource in honor of the holiday. In addition to Bruce's speech, Tevelee Gudino, who is Fort Sill Chiricahua Warm Springs Apache and Spirit Lake South Dakota Sioux, recalled several experiences she'd had throughout her life with water, and NU Center for Water Research Dr. Aaron Packman offered a more analytical, research-focused perspective on the resource.
"[The speakers] were fantastic," said former NAISA president Lorenzo Gudino. "I thought Aaron was able to give a very scientific point of view, and Forrest also did a great job sharing his creation story. I thought they all complimented each other."
On the other end of the spectrum, Dr. Packman discussed how water has shaped the Earth's landscape. He mentioned how the Himalayan mountains were shaped almost completely by water, and also talked about several issues that accompany water research, such as toxic algae and contamination. In particular, he talked about this past year's water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
"Flint was a stark reminder that we have to put in ongoing effort to make sure we have safe water to drink," Packman said. "There's these beautiful aspects of water shaping landscapes, but there's also issues related to water that we have to invest in."
Lorenzo Gudino's mother, Tevelee Gudino, discussed how throughout all the different environments she and her community visited over the years, water was the connector. The theme throughout her speech was the importance of only taking what you need, and she said she always tried to do that through teaching her kids to be mindful of the world around them so they wouldn't be wasteful.
"It was a blessing to have her come and speak," Lorenzo Gudino said. "I was really blessed to come and hear the knowledge that she shared. It was great."