Monday

In a 13-day relay, Davila-Day and dozens of fellow participants in a Native American ritual are walking the entire length of the Potomac, praying for its return to unpolluted health.

They will speak to the water, sing to the water, and pray for the water.

“It’s us showing that the water needs to be cared for, and that we care about the water,” she says, beads clinking against the copper vessel full of a few precious pints of the river. “At school, they ask why I do it. I tell them that the water has a spirit. They’re like, ‘It does?'”

The Potomac River Water Walk began with a water ceremony — a tradition in the Ojibwe tribe — at Fairfax Stone, the 18th-century marker now located in a West Virginia state park that marks the source of the Potomac River. Participants took water from the clear pool at the start of the river and filled the copper vessel. Starting on Oct. 7, a band of Native Americans and supporters began walking that vessel all the way from the river’s clean source to its significantly more polluted end.

“We want the water to have a taste of itself. This is how you began, and this is how we want you to be again,” explained Sharon Day, the organizer of the walk and Reyna’s great-aunt.


The walkers made plans to pass through the District on Saturday — walking right past the White House — and to reach the Chesapeake Bay on Wednesday, Oct. 19. There, they’ll pour the clean water into the polluted bay.

“All the while, we’re speaking to that water. We’re telling the water how much we care about her,” Day said. “We really do support the work of other environmental groups. We believe what’s missing from most of this work is the idea that the water has a spirit, and we as spiritual people need to speak to that spirit.”


“Ni guh izhi chigay nibi onji,” Barb Baker-LaRush says as she grabs the vessel. I will do it for the water, the words mean in Ojibwe. They’re written on the back of her shirt in more than 30 languages. She speeds down the shoulder of Route 9, barely wide enough for a person to walk. They’ve recently crossed from West Virginia into Virginia.

She explains her fast pace: “We’ve orphaned this water from the headwaters. We want to get this water as fast as we can back to her relatives.”
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Responses to "Native Americans carry Potomac water on prayerful, 400-mile journey"

  1. I am grateful! Thank you! Aho

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