Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 - Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019
Add to Calendar 


Pokegama Lake Dam (parkling lot next to Dam)
Grand Rapids, MN 55744


Jennifer Tonko 
Minnesota Humanities Center 

Pokegama Lake River Nibi Walk Orientation and Nibi Walk 

Event description:

Join the Minnesota Humanities Center and its “We Are Water MN” partners, in learning more from the Pokegama Lake. The Nibi Walk program of the Indigenous People’s Task Force, led by Sharon Day, will lead us in a Nibi walk: an Indigenous-led, extended ceremony to pray for the water. Every step is taken in prayer and gratitude for water, our life giving force. The walk will wind around the lake. This event has two parts: on Friday, Aug. 9 from 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m., walkers will learn more about the Anishinaabe history of the lake, the ecological impacts of and to the lake, and about the Nibi Walk protocols; the actual walk will begin on Friday, Sept. 13 and end on Saturday, Sept. 14 . In order to participate in the walk on Sept. 13, it is necessary to participate in the orientation on Aug. 9.

Event Schedule:

Nibi Walk Orientation: Friday, Aug. 9 from: 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. at Blandin Foundation.

Nibi Walk: Friday, Sept. 13 - Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019 beginning and ending at Pokegama Lake.

Please read and be prepared to abide by the Nibi Walk protocols on September 13:

The Nibi Water Walks are based in Ojibwe Ceremonial Water Teachings.  The reason we walk is to honor the rivers and all water and to speak to the water spirits so that there will be healthy rivers, lakes and oceans for our ancestors in the generations to come.

When we are walking for the water, we are in ceremony from the beginning of the day until we retire at day’s end. We try to move like the river, continuously all day long, every day until we reach our destination. We carry asemaa/tobacco with us to offer to any flowing streams or rivers we cross, also to honor any animals we may cross over along the roads or trails. When we walk, this is a time for prayer or songs for the water.

Women make the offerings for the water, sing the water songs and make the petitions for our water to be pure and clean and continuously flow down to us. Because we are in ceremony, women wear long skirts. We wear long skirts to show our respect for the grass, for mother earth and for ourselves. Women on their moon do not carry the water during this time, as they are already in ceremony.

Men carry the eagle feather staff, but if there are no males in attendance, then women can carry the staff and the copper vessel.

As a community of walkers, we carry the water in relay. Because this ceremony is about duration and following the water’s flow, the relay allows us to maintain our strength through a balance of rest and walking.

The Nibi Walk ceremony walks along the roads that follow the river most closely. Often we are on country highways. We may not visually see the river. Yet we are always carrying the river.

Ngah izitchigay nibi ohnjay– Anishinabe language for “I will do it for the water.” (A phrase we say when the water is passed.)

Other helpful tips:

If you feel called, we welcome you to walk with us for any length of time.

Please plan to be self-sufficient. You are responsible for your own transportation to and from the walk locations and any lodging and food costs you choose to incur. The Minnesota Humanities Center will provide lunch for each day of the walk.

Things to bring:

  • Please bring a refillable water bottle, we do not want to purchase any bottled water.
  • Bring your own plates and silverware for shared meals at the beginning and end of the day so you do not need to rely heavily on disposables.
  • If you have high visibility clothing (reflective vests for biking, for example) that can be useful.
  • We walk in all weather – please be prepared for precipitation.
  • 2 pairs of walking shoes.
  • First aid; moleskin and blister bandages!
  • Respect for the territory you are traveling through.

If you would like more information to help you connect with a walk, contact Sharon Day at smarieday@aol.com