Ni Mama Akii

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Sharon Day. (Photo by Sarah Whiting)

In the Ojibwe language, Ni Mama Akii means My Mother Earth. As humans, our mothers bring us into the world. We love our mothers. We would do anything to protect our mothers from harm.

Nibi gaa-bimaaji’iwemagak means Water Is Life. Every species on earth needs water to live. As a fetus in utero, we are nourished in the water of our mother’s womb for nine months, arriving into the world in a gush of water. When we are born, we are born with gifts.

As humans, we give away some of those gifts: kindness for meanness, generosity for selfishness, love for hate and so on.

As humans we can get our gifts back, when we act lovingly, generously, humbly and honestly. The rivers emerge from the earth perfect and clean, filtered by limestone and sand. Rivers flow — pure and sacred.

We, humans, pollute and poison the waters, thus we are the only ones who can bring them back to health. We must nurture the earth and rivers, the very essence of our lives. We can do this by honoring them. Honor the earth, Ni mama akii and our Nibi, zibi and zagiigaan by loving these life forces the same way we love our mothers and protect them fiercely.

In this Minnesota legislative session, there are laws proposed that would poison our wild rice by nullifying the sulfate standards currently in place, laws that permit pipelines, and laws that allow the ever-present danger of sulfide mining. The time for extractive industries is over. Let’s move on to renewables. Let’s be good stewards and find a good place in this web of life. It’s time.

“Caretaking is the utmost spiritual and physical responsibility of our time, and perhaps that stewardship is finally our place in the web of life — our work the solution to the mystery we are. There are already so many holes in the universe that will never be filled, and each of them forces us to question why we permitted such loss, such tearing away at the fabric of life, and how we will live with our planet in the future.”

— Linda Hogan, Chickasaw

Sharon M. Day is an Ojibwe water walker. As the website for the Nibi Walks she founded puts it, a “Water Walk respects the truth that water is a life giver, and because women also give life they are the keepers of the water.”


  • “Solar Storms,” by Linda Hogan
  • “Water Consciousness,” edited by Tara Lohan
  • “The Water Walker,” by Joanne Robertson
  • “Sacred Water,” by Lea Foushee and Renee Gurneau
  • “The Winona LaDuke Chronicles” by Winona LaDuke