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.

Azhe-mino-waankamitoodaa:

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.

Lisa Fitzpatrick

Growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Finland, I bring strong bonds with nature and sisu (Finnish: courage and resoluteness in the face of adversity). From the time I was 3 and a baby turtle clambered into my red rubber boot, I have loved to be immersed with nature. When I’m not outside, I work as a technology-based futurist, tasked with finding emerging trends and applying them to learning at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. However, the greatest future challenge (or opportunity?) is the climate crisis and the dissociation of human beings with their heritage as creatures of this natural world. This is why I am standing for the Rights of Nature for the St. Louis River Estuary and its flora, fauna, folks and future.

Lora Wedge

Raised in a nursery-business family, I have always had a connection with the plants around me, but it has only been in recent years that I have developed a deeper and more embodied sense of the interconnection of all of life. With a background in nonprofit advocacy work, education, and spirituality, my current focus is exploring the intersection of climate change and consciousness. My participation in this effort to secure rights for the St. Louis River Estuary arises out of the hope that we humans can become more consciously aware of our role in supporting regenerative life and take the steps necessary to do so.

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.

Jamie Harvie

I grew up in the country, north of Montreal, Canada. The woods are where I found and to this day, play, and find peace. Over the last three decades my environmental policy and advocacy work has taken me around the globe. I’ve come to see how our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. And the healing of our river requires healing of ourselves. It is a spiritual word. This beautiful planet and its gifts will be fine. The jury is still out on our species. It is a joy to be doing this work in community.

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!

Libby Bent

No matter where I have lived across the country, I have been drawn to northern Minnesota’s boreal forests of pine, spruce, birch, aspen, and cedar, of primitive loons, returning to their same lake year after year, and of incomparable bogs containing fragile native orchids and insect-eating pitcher plants and sundews. Now that our home is Duluth, it is the St. Louis River estuary that draws me to its shores and Lake Superior-bound waters, and I am honored to be part of this group working towards recognition of its right to thrive.

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Map of Rights of Nature and Earth Law Around the World

by Addison Luck for the Earth Law Center

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