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Loving Our Lakes to Death

Sunset on Lower Mission Lake, Crow Wing County, July 4, 2021 (photo by Mark Casey). 


Huge thunderheads creep across the sky near Lower Mission Lakeon an unseasonably toasty spring evening, teasing noisy relief I’m hoping doesn’t catch me in the next hour. I’m just a few minutes into another evening paddle in paradise, guiding my kayak against the surface chop. My wife and I are “out on the lake” watching the osprey and bald eagles hunt, searching for a monster snapping turtle we named “Lord Joel of the Reeds,” floating past beaver lodges to a soundtrack of scolding red-winged blackbirds. Joining us is the after-work fishing crowd, putt-putting along in their pontoons. Could lake life be better?

Actually, it could.


Our Water Is Under Stress

Abundant water in Minnesota literally defines us. “Minnesota,” as every student in this state knows, comes from the Lakota language meaning “sky-tinted water.” Our lakes, rivers, and wetlands have few rivals anywhere (sorry, Canada, Michigan, and Wisconsin). From Lake Superior to Mille Lacs, to the Mississippi, to the Boundary Waters, water is us, and is a point of intense pride. 

Water, it seems, is also in conflict with Minnesota’s abundant commercial world. From row crops to mineral extraction, to building the dream cabin, those who see water through the dollar lens have both scale and influence. They provide essential jobs, define a leisure lifestyle, and ensure commercial viability. They’re important players in the high-stakes competition Minnesota has with rival states for growth in employment, population, and relevance. In this very American moment, when industry and prosperity often tip the scales, “Big Money,” intentionally or not, is a powerful exploiter of water. Some consider it a threat.

Oak Haven Resort owners Matt and Sarah Albers are trusting experimental non-chemical methods to manage aquatic invasive species (photo courtesy of Oak Haven Resort).

Raining White, Division of Resource Management, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, operating the Driver Assisted Suction Harvesting (DASH) platform. The band uses no chemicals in dealing with weeds (photo by Mark Casey).

But water itself has the last word because it can adapt to almost all that man and nature throw its way. Even so, it’s not indestructible. Land development, mineral extraction, drought, warmer winters, high-intensity rainstorms, smaller fish, and invasive species are a fraction of the things that challenge water and force it to change. Water is neither static nor inanimate. Many people, including those with credible science backgrounds, see water as alive because it has this ability to adapt. As it experiences pressures, water seeks ways to survive. That means our favorite lakes, rivers, and wetlands are perpetually in transition, and in this moment in history, we are feeling water’s stress.

The 2022 Annual Report of the Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates (MLR) offers some sobering information. Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are spreading, and new AIS are coming. Minnesota’s signature bird, the common loon, is dying from lead poisoning, from being strangled in discarded fishing tackle, and from nests lost when swamped by boat wakes. Fish populations decline despite stocking programs. Algae blooms increase everywhere and last longer. Half the state’s shoreline is undermined by development. Feed lots are growing as Minnesota now rivals Iowa in hog production, sending high concentrations of manure into ground and surface waters. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) list of “impaired waters”—an index compiled every two years as required under the federal Clean Water Act—has jumped from 40 percent to 56 percent since 2018. There is real concern about the future.

“We have to make protecting water a priority. We’re at a tipping point, and we’re starting to lose lakes,” warns Jeff Forester, MLR Executive Director. “We have to protect water because we need water to live.” 

Tipping Point

Matt Albers and his wife, Sarah, are living the “tipping point” at their resort near Bemidji. They’ve followed a familiar path to a life on the water. Matt spent childhood summers around Lake Kabetogama in Voyageurs National Park. The experience was so good, he quit his welding and pipe fitting business and bought Oak Haven Resort.

“It was something my dad always wanted to do, but just couldn’t pull the trigger.” Matt explains that it was an easy decision for him with a big perk. He’s at the table for family dinners most evenings. “It’s a lifestyle. We didn’t do it because we wanted to get rich. We did it because I wanted to be close to home.”

DASH pulling hundreds of pounds of starry stonewort from the Mississippi River (photo courtesy of Oak Haven Resort).

What Matt and Sarah didn’t know is that they were in the center of an outbreak of a new and scary AIS: starry stonewort. Oak Haven is eleven miles east of Bemidji on the Mississippi between Wolf and Andrusia Lakes. Its location on an inland river is what set off the alarms. Oak Haven’s three docks allow resort patrons to put in boats on the Mississippi and float to either Wolf or Andrusia. In the summer of 2021, members of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe launched their canoes from one of the docks. On board was Raining White.

 “I looked down, and you know, my heart sank. I mean we recognized it.” The memory is sharp for White, who deals with invasive species as a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and an assistant manager of Plant Resources in the band’s Division of Resource Management (DRM).

“I knew the weeds were bad, and I didn’t know anything about stoney at all,” Matt Albers recalls. “I mean they were so thick, it looked like you could walk across from the dock.”

 “Stoney” or “starry,” as the biologists call it, can rapidly make a lake unnavigable, growing from the bottom to the surface filling a water column. It presents as tightly woven, thin strands of algae anchored by a star-shaped bulb. Starry first appeared on the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1978 and in Lake Koronis in Stearns County in 2015. But until Raining White’s heart-sinking moment, it hadn’t been seen in a Minnesota river. Most concerning, watercraft moving from Oak Haven’s docks could carry starry to other lakes.  

What to do? The conventional approach might include herbicides combined with increased boat inspections for AIS. It didn’t feel like enough. Plus, Matt and Sarah didn’t support chemical treatments. Fortunately, Raining White had a plan, and the Albers would prove to be great partners.

Dr. Nick Phelps studies emerging aquatic threats and directs Minnesota’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (photo courtesy of MAISRC).

An Indigenous Solution

The Leech Lake Band had been testing an AIS removal system called Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting, or DASH.  

 “DASH is pretty much a pontoon with a shop vac,” explains White. A very powerful and—at $25,000—expensive shop vac. 

White and his team are the “diver assist” part of the acronym. They’re scuba divers who use DASH hoses to suck up the starry, filter out fresh water, and isolate the quickly decomposing AIS in mulch piles away from the lake.  

With blessings from the band, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Albers, Oak Haven got the full treatment as a test site for using DASH in a river. White’s team removed 6,800 pounds of starry stonewort in 2022. Their work will continue through 2023 and into 2024 if necessary. They project extracting well north of 10,000 pounds. 

“Just the willingness they have to help, to try to get it cleaned up, and to preserve the water,” raves a very grateful Matt Albers, “I mean, it’s been nothing but a good experience.”

At least as important as DASH’s early success is a growing partnership between traditional science and the approaches used by Indigenous peoples. Gerald White, Raining’s father and an Ojibwe elder, describes it as “not science to dominate, but science to help.”

Committed to incorporating the Indigenous knowledge while sharing his own is Dr. Nick Phelps. Since 2016 he has led the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC). The Center’s “Labs to Lakes” June workshop took place on the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe reservation. The conference of scientists and lake association members included field study on tribal lakes, a clear signal of cooperation and collaboration.

“Something that research generally hasn’t done well has been to listen to communities directly involved in the landscape, and nobody’s more important than tribal communities,” Dr. Phelps explains the shift in approach. “Their histories and perspectives on the natural world are very different than our western view of science. We’re trying to find ways where researchers can understand traditional ecological knowledge and approaches to living with the environment and help them advance their priorities [in ways] consistent with their values and their culture.”

 Turns out traditional science and Indigenous values are an ecological power couple, each able to maintain their standards while working together.

For the Ojibwe, water is the culture, central to their origin story and to the manoomin, the wild rice that nurtures them. Tribal manoomin can never be fouled by herbicides, requiring an adaptive approach to AIS threatening it, including experimental removals like DASH. It’s a more focused method than spraying herbicides, whose impacts can harm beyond the targeted AIS. 

“You know a lake is not just the water. It’s the birds, little insects, the plants, the fish. It’s all these things that combine in tandem,” says Raining White, drawing on the teachings of his father and ancestors to explain a key Indigenous conservation principle. “They’re supposed to be there and we’re supposed to take care of them.

The Guardians

What’s not “supposed to be there” are extractive practices—including those found in mining, oil pipelines, large-scale farming, and schemes to ship water from Minnesota to the thirsty southwest. Lucky for us, we have more than a handful of dedicated individuals advocating for clean water for all of us. I’ll call them the “Guardians.”

Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates Executive Director Jeff Forester is a Guardian. He ranks runoff from massive, interconnected farms—critics call them “industrial farms” or “Big Ag”— as his number two threat to water, right behind climate change. Forester finds massive feedlots and mega farms highly destructive, citing soil-killing herbicides and pesticides as triggers for algae blooms and AIS. He worries about over pumping groundwater for irrigation.  

When Big Ag defends these practices as necessary to "feed the world," Forester points out they’re missing the big picture. He explains: “We can feed the world without trashing our water to do it. If you want to farm, use regenerative agriculture and build soil health.” 

“Regenerative agriculture" is defined by Oklahoma’s Noble Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to family farms and soil health, as “the process of restoring degraded soils using practices (e.g., adaptive grazing, no-till planting, no or limited use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizer, etc.) based on ecological principles.” Its critics remain skeptical, even as the practicality of large-scale regenerative agriculture is researched. Scaling is essential to meeting the needs of a hungry world.    

Still, Forester points to farmers who’ve rebuilt their land and communities. He believes consumer demand for chemical-free foods will energize a regenerative agriculture movement and avoid water disasters.

“A blue-green algae bloom in Lake Erie shut down Toledo’s water supply for two weeks,” says Forester, recalling the 2014 crisis as a warning to Minnesota. “It’s not tenable. We gotta protect water.”

Another Guardian, Ingrid Lyons, sees pressure from another untenable industry. This one threatens what may be Minnesota’s most significant body of water: The Boundary Waters, which are perpetually in the crosshairs of multinational mining companies. 

These waters are on or near what the mining industry claims are highly desirable copper deposits. The catch: Copper and nickel are essential metals for batteries and circuitry needed for the transition to clean energy. And in today’s culture, every human function requires a smartphone connected to the internet. Copper ore is needed for both. Mineral extractors want in and have powerful political allies working to open the door. Holding it shut is Lyons, executive director of the nonprofit Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.

Minnesota Chamber’s Tony Kwilas pushes for environmental permitting reform (photo by Andrew VonBank, copyright Minnesota House of Representatives).

“We really are talking very specifically about America’s most toxic industry next to the most visited wilderness area in America,” says Lyons, who believes copper mining is a death sentence for an almost pristine wilderness. “We do know what we can do to protect one of our state’s cleanest and most untouched water resources is to prevent a sulfide or copper mine in the watershed of that ecosystem.” 

Caught between industry and conservation are Minnesota’s political and business classes. The power of Big Ag and Big Mining is not lost on these leaders. Thousands of good folks with families have jobs that rely on digging in soil, and potentially fouling water, whether it’s planting row crops ditch to ditch, processing food, or cutting into ore veins. 

Minnesota’s Department of Labor reports, “Agricultural production and processing industries generate over $112 billion annually in total economic impact and support more than 431,000 jobs.” Nearly 12,000 work in mineral extraction, according to a study by the University of Minnesota Duluth. Those muscular numbers would give pause to any politician’s decision to choose clean water regulations over jobs. 

But those numbers alone don’t tell the complete story.  

Minnesota Department of Revenue figures show about 300,000 people live in cabins and houses on Minnesota lakes and rivers. Their property taxes support schools and communities all over the state. Fouled water in front of a family cabin is a nonstarter, and not just for the cabin owner. It would gut an essential revenue stream for local governments, something job creators say they want to avoid at all costs.

“We are blessed in Minnesota with an abundance of water resources. Two national parks, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and Lake Superior, as well as state parks and trail systems that are the envy of many, many other states,” says Tony Kwilas, who directs environmental policy at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. “The number one priority of the business community is to make sure those are protected.” 

Kwilas uses Minnesota water as a selling point to recruit businesses, an asset his top competitors in the Dakotas, Iowa, and the mid-south can’t match. But he believes the state’s environmental permitting requirements are inefficient. Though designed to protect a priceless resource, Kwilas says they push jobs away.

“So when somebody looks to expand and they go, ‘Well, we’re not even looking at Minnesota anymore. We’re going to go over to North Dakota, South Dakota, or Iowa,’ we’re losing economic development opportunities and jobs here in Minnesota.”

The Guardians recognize Minnesotans need jobs, and they hear the critics who claim that the Guardians won’t be satisfied until we’re all in caves shivering in the dark. Forester self-deprecatingly refers to the dilemma of being tagged as a “dirt-eating tree hugger.” But the stereotypes don’t hold. The Guardians are highly aware they must make the case that protected water will generate income and preserve communities.  

Lyons believes a pristine Boundary Waters makes Ely, Cook, Grand Marais, and Tofte potential “Zoomtowns,” the post-pandemic “I can work from anywhere” hot spots. She’s looking to attract outdoors-loving professionals to the wilderness edge whose salaries will grow local commerce.

“We have someone in our Ely office who is building bridges to other entities in town, whether they have been historically pro- or anti-copper mining, by asking, ‘How can we work together?’ to solve some of the very basic problems that keep businesses away,” she says. “They want a good, healthy, strong place to live. There’s a lot of community development that’s going on in the wilderness edge in addition to the industry that the Boundary Waters already supports.”


On the food front, Forester believes regenerative agriculture will both keep lakes and rivers clean and repopulate small-town Minnesota with a new generation of farmers and the businesses needed to support them. “Our [current] farming practices are depopulating our towns. You can go to work for John Deere in Waterloo, or you could go back on the farm,” he says.

The Chamber’s Tony Kwilas still wonders if Minnesota can keep watching mining and ag processing jobs go elsewhere. But he’s ready to keep discussions with the Guardians going, hopefully finding ways to protect and preserve water quality and quantity and build the economy.

“It’s a good conversation to debate. Where is that point that we can have the economic development and the jobs and still protect the environment?” 

Saving The Happy Place

“We’ve built 600-square-foot places. We’ve built 10,000-square-foot places. Despite what we all think of them when we’re in our pontoon boats driving around the lakes, they’re cabins to these people. The cabins are their happy places,” says Matt Balmer, explaining the almost spiritual connection Minnesotans have to their homes on the water.

His company, Lands End Development in Crosslake, has been custom building “happy places” on lakes, rivers, and throughout rural Minnesota since 2004. When Covid-19 mainstreamed working from home, it launched an ongoing boom for lake cabins as both home and office. 

“You know markets across the country and off-lake probably are cooling off a little bit, but there’s just still an influx of people coming and spending more time in the Lakes Area, and I don’t think it’s just our Lakes Area.”

Matt Balmer creates ”happy places“ on Lakes Area waterfronts (photo courtesy of Lands End Development).


It’s not; 120,000 people own cabins in Minnesota, according to state revenue department data. Over decades, many are passed from generation to generation. And those cabin owners, old timers and newbies, are concerned about their lakes and are actively working to improve them. Nearly a hundred of them filled the Hazelton Town Hall last June for the annual Farm Island Lake Improvement Association meeting. It’s a springtime ritual repeated at five hundred or so Minnesota lakes associations, more than any other state. 

For nearly three hours on a gorgeous spring Saturday, homeowners sat through presentations on AIS from the Aitkin County Soil and Water Conservation District. They heard reports from the “Loon Watch” team on sighting and nests, along with warnings to throttle back pontoons when the birds are close by. Underlying the questions, neighborly small talk, and door prizes, was a thread of constructive concern. 

For MLR’s Jeff Forester, the engagement is essential.  

“A strong lake association, a strong civic organization in the community partnering with a local government unit, like a soil and water conservation district, and then leveraging resources from the federal and state level to change it.” This is Forester’s recipe for successful water protection.

The Lake Stewards

Mary Corrigan is part of the solution. She and her husband, Tom, recently became “Lake Stewards.” The MLR program assists homeowners in restoring their shorelines and properties using natural vegetation and anti-erosion practices. There are sixty-three Lake Stewards following the Corrigans’ lead throughout Minnesota and ninety more working toward certification. Gull Lake, where Mary’s family (the Johnstones) have spent summers since the 1940s, has one of the most successful programs. Mary and Tom are committed to keeping their shoreline natural.  

“Like these people going by in this boat. What do you want to see? Do you want to see nature? Do you want to see a huge home? You have a choice.” Mary is in her yard on a Sunday afternoon as the sunbathers, swimmers, speed boats, and anglers all seemed to have converged just beyond their shoreline. “If it were me, I would prefer to see a natural shoreline and feel and see the beauty in that [rather] than something that has been dictated to us.” 


Lake Stewards Mary and Tom Corrigan strive for a shoreline designed with nature and sustainability in mind (photo courtesy of the Corrigans).

The “dictated” part is peer pressure many property owners feel to create and maintain a look rivaling the spreads in glossy home magazines (like this one). The Corrigans respect an individual’s choice to go with a big house and a manicured look, but they prefer to see more nature. While a showcase property can include a Lake Steward shoreline, not everyone buys into the concept. At one point, and against their wishes, a neighbor’s lawn service insisted on applying herbicides on the Corrigan’s property. As he sprayed, the gardener railed against their efforts to plant native flowers and plants that, well, to some, can look like weeds.

The Corrigans want a cabin without a manicured lawn and beach, without the uniformity delivered by herbicides and pesticides that come at a steep cost to the water and overall environment. At the start of the transition, the yard looks a bit ragged. It takes several seasons for the native plants to take hold and blossom. The Corrigans, committed to living a sustainable lifestyle, are willing to wait.  

The Fish Story

Over on Lake Hubert in northern Crow Wing County, Nisswa Fishing Guide Jon Stolski is doing what he can to keep AIS from ruining a livelihood that’s also his passion. As his boat goes through an AIS inspection at the public access, Jon considers the trap of taking water for granted.

“Once in a while I have to stop and go, ‘This is pretty lucky what we have here.’”

Stolski started guiding in the 1980s in Alaska before partnering with Marv Koep, the legendary founder of the Nisswa Guides. He’s a school teacher who guides in the summer for paying clients and family outings. Today, after a morning with customers, he’s sharing thirty-five years of observations with me.  

Inspection completed without a problem, we’re quickly on Lake Hubert. Almost instantly, Stolski has a line in the water and a large-mouth bass on the hook. It looks almost too easy, hiding the skills of an accomplished guide who’s adjusting to fishing on a lake that, in turn, continually adapts to zebra mussels and Eurasian milfoil and the AIS of the moment.  


Lucky or good? Fishing guide Jon Stolski adapts to weedy waters in his hunt for the big ones (photo by Mark Casey).


After sixty years of guiding, Marv Koep wonders if fish stocks can keep pace with technology (photo by Mark Casey).

“They have altered fish patterns a little bit because of the clarity of the water. Weeds are growing in places now that I never saw before because the sun is penetrating farther into the lake,”  he explains the cleansing effect of zebra mussels between casts. “The fish stay in those areas with the vegetation. There are more areas now for the fish to hide.”

Water-cleansing zebra mussels may sound like a good problem. It actually does a lot of harm. The AIS filters microscopic algae, negatively impacting fishing and destroying native mussels.  

An experienced guide like Stolski still finds success, aided by rapid modernization of gear. Depth finders. Fish finders. More powerful motors to quickly cover more water. Koep, who retired from a guiding career that began when he bought a bait shop in 1961, worries that between AIS and technology, overfishing is a threat that restocking may not be able to overcome.

“I don’t know if they can keep up with the technology. It’s put and take. If there’s more people taking what you put in, you can only put in so much and reap any benefits.”

Koep is speaking from his living room, nursing an iced tea after guiding on a hot morning on Pelican Lake. “DNR [Minnesota Department of Natural Resources] is doing a good job. But in the old days, you would fish, and I’d expect six to ten walleyes. Today, I’m smiling with two.” 

Citizen Science

One hundred and twenty miles north on the reservation of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, a group of thirty or so graduate students, state biologists, and leaders of lake associations weather the rain at Bimijiwan Recreation Area, formerly Knutson Dam. They’ve just learned how to collect vegetation specimens by building a two-sided garden rake attached to about fifteen feet of rope. They toss the contraption into the water and pull it along the bottom, picking up weeds along the way. 

At a regional Labs to Lakes workshop, Citizen Scientists duct tape the business end of two rakes together to harvest vegetation specimens for analysis (photo by Mark Casey).

After a few throws and recoveries, the group huddles at a picnic table around Minnesota Department of Natural Resources AIS Specialist Nicole Kovar. She demonstrates a process for identifying starry stonewort and other AIS, pulling apart the samples, draining chlorophyll, comparing textures of one plant to another. Her audience is fully focused, firing questions as they hold up samples and consult laminated guidebooks spread over the table. They’ll take this new knowledge back to their cabins, those “happy places” as Balmer calls them.  

The DNR is hopeful these “Citizen Scientists” will keep tossing the rakes back home, supplying the data needed to constantly track, monitor, and respond to AIS outbreaks all over Minnesota. This is the calculated, deliberate work of science, a process often misunderstood and ridiculed as slow and ineffective.

“The problem of aquatic invasive species is far too complicated and interconnected to be solved with a single silver bullet,” cautions Dr. Phelps, Director of MAISRC. “There are big ideas and moonshots we could go after that will help us take big steps forward, but it’ll still be a multipronged approach involving lots of people.”


Get your hands dirty! Citizen Scientists are instructed on how to separate the strands of vegetation to search for aquatic invasive species (photo by Mark Casey).

“Lots of people,” like these Citizen Scientists, spending their Saturday soaked in downpours, swatting at pesky mosquitoes as they duct tape garden rakes together. They’re in an upbeat, inquisitive mood, trading comfort for a chance to help the water, on a beautifully wet Minnesota afternoon.

Dodging The Storm

Back on our lake, the storm clouds remain distant as my wife and I complete our evening ritual. Floating in the bulrush across the lake, we watch a blue heron feeding, a beaver remodeling its lodge, and dodge the ever-annoyed red-winged blackbirds. It seems, no, it is idyllic. We are mighty lucky to live here.

But the thunderheads a few miles away are a kind of metaphor, a storm warning. To continue to experience these amazing moments, or more practically, if we want navigable and drinkable water, we need to take action. The water has enriched our quality of life, and it’s time to return the favor.

Though let’s be clear, that’s not a viewpoint shared throughout Minnesota. Some believe water is resilient.    Their opinions have some factual foundation, but the scientific data makes it clear that water won’t hold up to the pressures of climate change, industrial needs, and AIS without our help.

“This idea of accepting invasive species as a new normal….” Dr. Nick Phelps’ voice trails off as he considers the leave-well-enough-alone approach. This collective sense of inevitability actually keeps him awake at night. “There is this big problem. And it’s easier to go with the status quo.” 

Dr. Phelps is not a status quo scientist. Despite the sleep interruptions, he’s optimistic because plenty of others are acting to—excuse the cheekiness—save the water. For all who love the lakes, who believe heaven is an afternoon canoeing the Crow River, who rely on wetland filtered waters to feed their families, there’s passion in Minnesota for water.  

“There’s a lot of committed folks out there on the lakes,” he said. “People using the lakes, people who just care about the lakes and want to do something.”

Duct taped rakes tied to a rope are tossed into the water and dragged along the bottom to obtain vegetation samples (photo by Mark Casey).

“Something” like learning how to capture AIS specimens while standing in the rain getting shredded by mosquitoes. “Something” like putting aside old ways to trust a conservation experiment.  

“Something” like spending many, many millions of tax dollars to “promote and protect clean water for the next fifty years,” according to the budget passed by the Minnesota legislature in 2023. That’s big stuff with a meaningful price tag.  

Individually, we don’t need a million dollars to help. Sure, what we do is on a smaller scale, but it’ll have real impact when multiplied across 11,000+ lakes; 6,564 rivers and 10.6 million acres of wetlands. Love and protect the water by:

  • Making sure your septic tank is pumped at least every two years.  

  • Not using fertilizer on your lawn, especially on a waterfront.  

  • Planting native grasses and flowers.

  • Keeping grass clippings out of the water.

  • Being nice to the people at public access checking your boat for AIS.  

  • Joining and supporting your lakes and rivers associations.  


And listening to wisdom passed on from people who came before us. “Minnesota doesn’t own this water. Water was here before Minnesota was a thing. Before colonization, before the Anishinaabe even.” Raining White remembers the guidance of the elders from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, including his father.  

“I think we should respect it more than we have been. It’s taken care of us. We’ll take care of it.”

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