The Culture of Water Leadership Summit on July 26, 2014 brought together eight culturally-based music and dance groups to deepen our work for water. Below is a reflection based on conversations that happened throughout the day.


It is the source of life. It is sacred.

When did you first really know water?

How do you maintain a meaningful and vital connection to water?

I will sing and dance for you and share ancestral wisdom about caring for water and the source of life. There are so many ways to sing and dance to celebrate how water blesses us. There are so many ways to sing and dance to bless our waters.

Our waters have stories to tell us. Will you listen? Some are about the beautiful lakes and streams that feed our river. Some stories are about pollution and privatization.

Sometimes my heart breaks when I realize the suffering of our waters, a suffering we share through all the water in our bodies. Singing and dancing are good for broken hearts. The ancestor wisdom encoded in our songs and dances is here to guide us towards making things right.

I am proud to be part of a group of culturally-based dancers and musicians who are awakening our power to restore our community’s relationship with water. Here are highlights from our recent showing at Get with the FLOW.

As artists and cultural leaders, we are able to draw attention to our waters and awaken people’s hearts. We create meaning around our relationship with water and motivate behavior change. We want to embed ourselves in our community so that our waters are infused with meaning. We join in the vision that water can be the means for waging peace and prosperity for all.

Emily Jarrett Hughes


Photos by Michael Bischoff.

This event is presented by Wisdom Dances with support from Capitol Region Watershed District, Northside FLOW and the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.