Waankam: People for the Estuary

About Us

Boozhoo Indinawemaaganidoog – Greetings Relatives!

We are thankful and blessed to live within proximity to the largest freshwater lake in the world, Chigaming – Lake Superior. It is our duty as humans to stand for and protect the life-giving womb of this Great Lake by protecting the waters and beings within Azhe-mino-waankamitoon, St. Louis River Estuary. We join together our knowledge, skills, and values to protect a natural space that is home to the four-legged, swimming, crawling, flying, and rooted relatives.

We acknowledge that when we begin a great work, whether it entails thinking about, planning for, or protecting life for generations to come, that we may not see the end goal come to fruition. Throughout this journey we must note and treasure the small victories and celebrate the relationships that come from the struggle. There is beauty, medicine, and teachings within the struggle. Our children are in the struggle because we are in the struggle and they learn through watching us act responsibly, respectfully, and relationally.

It is from a place of humility and gratitude that we reach out today to gather and protect Nibikong Manidoog – sacred life in and around the estuary, as it is our connection between the present and future. We are thankful for the teachings of Nibi – water and all of life. We are grateful to join as a diverse human family remembering our indigeneity and connection to all that lives, standing with and for our voiceless relatives that inhabit the estuary. We are thankful for our ancestors who brought us to this place, for our teachers that have gifted us with knowledge to do this important work, and for the future generations that will follow our example in preserving Azhe-mino-waankamitoon.


Let’s return the estuary to its pristine state

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Our Values

We recognize our interdependence with air, earth, fire, and water; all life.

We honor the right of humans and all beings to have clean water, now and in future generations

We celebrate the sacredness of the estuary and recognize our human responsibility for its stewardship

We recognize that these values are the original ways of the Indigenous people who call this land home

Core Team

Zhaawanangikwe – Leah Prussia

It was near the Wild Rice and Red Rivers exploring the curves and textures of the banks, climbing tall oak trees, under the tutelage of area frogs and turtles that I began my protective relational connection with the natural world. I carried those same values with me as I found my way across Minnesota to the largest freshwater lake in the world, near one of the sacred stopping places for the Anishinaabe – Manidoo Minis. My work focuses on collaborative clinical, research, and advocacy work that repairs the disconnect between humans and the environment – standing for the rights of the St. Louis River Estuary to ensure its viability for future generations is the natural next step for personal and planetary wellness.

Emily Levang

I grew up in the woods near the estuary in West Duluth. This sacred land and water are my first teachers. I dedicate my work as a writer, facilitator, and parent to caring for this Earth.

Barbara Akre

Although my Indiana childhood gave me no knowledge of the Indigenous peoples who preceded my European ancestors and no understanding of the ecology and evolution underlying the wildflowers and butterflies which delighted me, my family’s camping and cross-country travels instilled in me a passion for natural history which led me to study Biology and Ecology. For nearly five decades now, I’ve lived on the hills overlooking Lake Superior, learning from her wisdom and spirit and teaching about the ecology she obeys, the birds of prey she guides, and the animals, plants, and ecosystems native to her waters and watershed. Coming full circle, I am beginning to connect with related insights from Indigenous teachings. The inherent rights of all beings are clear to me, and I am honored to work to protect them for my grandchildren, and their grandchildren.

Ricky DeFoe

We are born into a very sick and violent world. We live in a society built on a predatory ethic. In this society we’re told to chase a dream, not realizing it was a nightmare!  This world is out of balance, out of harmony, out of rhythm. Our challenge is to re-spiritualize our collective consciousness, to right-side an upside down worldview. There are many challenges and difficulties ahead of us for sure.  Death manifests itself in many forms, lack of empathy or death of the ability to care, death of our imaginations, and physical death to name a few.  We value life in its many forms today, so that our Great- grandchildren can live tomorrow and beyond. Let’s work together today to honor the life we’ve been given, and to honor this moment in time!

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This is a community effort to support the estuary’s right to flourish, thrive and regenerate. Please sign up here to stay informed and learn about opportunities to get involved.

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