Campus teach-in highlights the spiritual and environmental importance of clean water.

By Rhonda K. Miller

We should appreciate all that Mother Earth provides for us to survive on both a spiritual and practical level, said Onondaga Nation Chief Jake Edwards during a keynote titled “Haudenosaunee Perspectives on Water: Native Views of Water and Water Issues in North America.” Edwards was a featured speaker during the four-day “Water Water Everywhere,” an environmental teach-in on campus in April co-sponsored by the Department of Religion and the Nature and Human Communities Initiative of the Environmental Center.

“We all carry water in us,” Edwards said. “Food is a medicine for us, and water is a medicine for us. We should be thankful for the water and our Mother Earth.” Edwards began the session by reciting a prayer of thanksgiving in his native language, asking the audience to open their minds to discussing the topic and giving thanks for their attendance. The prayer offers thanks for the Mother Earth, Grandmother Sun, Moon and sacred waters, and he recites it before every event, whether business or social.

The Onondaga Nation is part of the Haudenosaunee (pronounced howd-in-saw-neh) Confederacy, which includes the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas. The confederacy was intended to unite the nations and create a peaceful means of decision-making. The Haudenosaunee, or People of the Long House, and Bucknell have partnered to establish a Susquehanna River national historic corridor, and Edwards’ nation is among several that are playing an important role internationally in representing indigenous views of the environment.

“The lifeblood of our Mother Earth is the water. To take care of our mother, we must take care of the water,” he said. “The decisions we make today have to be accurate and safe for at least seven generations to come,” Edwards added, referring to the nations’ beliefs that the earth must be protected for future generations.

Other events during the teach-in included water-focused talks from faculty in religion, philosophy, psychology, history, geology, chemistry, comparative humanities and Asian thought, art history, anthropology, environmental studies, English and mechanical engineering.

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