The Walk to Remember, Summer 2000, was lived as a sacred journey around Lake Superior to bring forth community visions to protect the air, land and water for the Seven Generations yet to come.
Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world. For many people, it is an important source of food, livelihood and drinking water. Lake Superior is also an important part of the spirituality of the Anishinabeg as passed down by our ancestors and oral histories. It is now threatened due to contamination, global warming caused by over-development, and a growing, global water crisis that further threatens the sanctity of its waters and many life forms that depend on it, including, people.
This journey, both environmental and spiritual, was coordinated by a group of people from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ontario, and Michigan. The idea was borne out of a gathering in Sault Ste. Marie, in April of 1999, when Native and Non-Native people met to discuss issues pertaining to the Great Lakes.
This historic walk became the living result of people's dreams and visions that were brought forward at this meeting. It also seeded the continuing effort to carry out the visions concerning the connections between Great Lakes sustainability and what Native peoples' spirituality, culture, and sovereignty, have to offer for its future, as voiced by the late activist, Walt Bresette, a Lake Superior Chippewa from the Red Cliff Reservation, in northern Wisconsin, who passed away in February of 1999.
"We need to bring all the people of Lake Superior together," he often said. "We need to talk to each other about what is happening in our villages and our communities, to share our experiences, our concerns, and our hopes for the future. We need to meet our neighbors and learn from them."
The Walk to Remember, led by Walt's eagle staff, became a living circle of fire, a Village of Remembering People who carried the old ways into the new millennium. Along the way, we were astonished to find ourselves being called "The Sacred Walkers."
To us, the journey, the sharing, and that which still lies before is, is what is sacred. We have only just begun, and we hope that you, in whatever way you can, will join us. We journey onward for Lake Superior, for Mother Earth, for our ancestors and the traditional ways, for the Seven Generations to come, and for you. We are all related.
Esther Nahgahnub of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa celebrates the beginning of the historic 1,400 mile walk around Lake Superior.
The Walk to Remember goals still live, as we move forward on this continuing spiritual journey, a pilgrimage, a healing journey, to undo some of the damage done to Mother Earth and her waters, and to bring healing to her people by communicating and listening to one another.
We continue to travel and share, and to meet and learn from all who know and understand the waters, beaches, forests, hills, routes, commerce, communities, and spirit of the lake. Our work is a journey that transcends the notions of borders and boundaries. We will seek to bring people together in a common community of sharing and insight. We will make note of what we hear, see and feel. We will conscientiously carry what we learn and share it with each new person and every community that we visit.
As the original journey progressed around the lake, some common stories and themes emerged. By late summer, after every village and community was visited, and all who have wanted to be heard were heard the ended, where it began, closing the circle on the Bad River Reservation.
From the walk, a set of common principles, commitments and standards were realized towards a common vision that ensures all that is special about Lake Superior will be protected and nurtured for present and future generations.
The circle has now expanded, and will continue to grow. We hope you will add to the vision, and the dreams yet to be realized for our common survival.