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Owámniyomni Okhódayapi endorses
Mississippi River Restoration & Resilience Initiative
in the 118th Congress

MINNEAPOLIS (February 7, 2024) — 

Central to the work of Owámniyomni Okhódayapi is an understanding and respect for mni wičóni, meaning water is life. Ȟaȟa Wakpá, or the Mississippi River, is a living relative and source of abundance that we must nurture and support.

From this perspective, Owámniyomni Okhódayapi is pleased to endorse Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s (DFL-Minn.) reintroduction of the Mississippi River Restoration & Resilience Initiative, or MRRRI Act, in the 118th Congress on February 7, as well as the companion bill introduced by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) in the United States Senate.

Though we still feel the wówaš’ake (strength) and wówakhaŋ (power) of the River, her physical condition has been degraded from the headwaters to the gulf.

This bill will enhance federal funding opportunities for river restoration and resilience projects in the ten states that border the Mississippi River.

“Čhaŋtíyokiphi – my heart is pleased – that Congresswoman McCollum has reintroduced the MRRRI Act. Care for our water, plant, and animal relatives is at the heart of Dakota values, and it is paramount that more federal funding is directed to this work,” said Shelley Buck, president, Owámniyomni Okhódayapi.

Projects that improve water quality, protect and restore native habitat and wildlife, and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species are directly aligned with efforts to restore Dakota culture and environment at Owámniyomni (St. Anthony Falls) at the site of the Upper Lock in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The bill also directs at least 5% of funding to be set aside for use by tribal governments and tribal organizations.

“Tribal Nations, communities of color, and rural and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by the industrialization of our waterways and poor River health. We see it in the quality of our drinking water, in changes to growth of psiŋ, or wild rice, access to traditional food sources, and the physical and economic costs of flood management. Native people have cared for the water for millennia, and funding opportunities like this continue this culture of intuitive care and stewardship,” added Buck.

There is a heightened need to create places of refuge for migrating wildlife along the Mississippi Flyway; restore the buffering habitat that can provide nectar sources for pollinators, bumblebees, and butterflies; and reinstate the flow of calm water that is home to native mussels and other species.

Owámniyomni Okhódayapi is thrilled to see this continuation of MRRRI, demonstrating Congresswoman McCollum’s ongoing commitment to strengthen the health and resilience of this life-giving waterway.

Learn more about Owámniyomni Okhódayapi and its role in Indigenizing the River:


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In 2023, Friends of the Falls changed its name to Owámniyomni Okhódayapi, meaning to befriend or be friendly in Dakota. This use of Dakota language demonstrates our commitment to recognize and honor Owámniyomni (St. Anthony Falls) as Dakota homeland and create a place of restoration, education, and connection grounded in Indigenous values.