Jo-Ellen Darcy has worked in the world of water for 25 years, as Senate staff on the Environment and Public Works Committee and then as the civilian head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the Obama administration. She was also the Executive Director of the Great Lakes and Water Resources Planning Commission in Michigan.
We sat down with Jo-Ellen, now a member of American Rivers’ Board of Directors, to get her take on how far the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has come, how the Biden administration is doing, and where the biggest opportunities lie for American Rivers.
If we are fortunate in this lifetime, we might find a singular place that fills our cup time after time. These are the places that, if we surrender to experiencing them wholly, keep us curious, keep us dreaming and reflexively draw us back.
My story with the Grand Canyon began before my memory can recall. It began in the belly of my six-month pregnant mother who hiked me down to the banks of the Colorado River near Phantom Ranch, where my uncle worked as a backcountry ranger and river guide. …
Colleen, thanks so much for taking the time to talk today. Can you introduce yourself to our audience?
When I introduce myself in my language, that’s who I am. I represent myself, my family, and my four clans. That’s where I come from. And, truly, that is all that matters. My name is Colleen Cooley. I am Diné. We all have our own different perspectives and upbringings and I can only speak from my experiences and teachings that have been passed down to me from my elders, from my parents, and from our ancestors.
Can you tell us a little…
For Indigenous Peoples who have lived on and cared for their lands and waters for thousands of years, rivers are a source of identity, life and community. Here, John Banks, a member of the Penobscot Nation in Maine and the tribe’s director of natural resources, speaks with us about his deep connections to the river and the Penobscot Nation’s game-changing leadership in rethinking dams.
What does the river mean to the Penobscot Nation?
Our original reservation is a large portion of the Penobscot River. We are very much a riverine-based tribe, and our reservation is over 200 islands in the…
Many present-day river names are mispronunciations of indigenous names passed down over hundreds — sometimes thousands — of years. A history of colonization and centuries of systemic marginalization, however, have damaged river landscapes essential for the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples. Today, tribes across the country are leading efforts to remove dams, restore rivers and preserve cultures and economies that rely on healthy river systems. Their efforts are proof that in order to truly conserve our rivers, all voices must be part of the conversation.
Phil Rigdon is a tribal member and director of natural resources for the Yakama Nation…
Anyone who cares deeply about rivers has much to learn from the wisdom of Indigenous Peoples. Today, tribes across the country are using their sovereignty, knowledge and expertise to work for a future in which local communities and sacred river ecosystems can thrive. The rest of us should listen closely.
We spoke with Caleb Hickman, tribal member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and fisheries and wildlife biologist for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, North Carolina.
What does the river mean to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians?
There are three federally recognized Cherokee tribes and the Eastern Band…
This interview is part of the American Rivers’ Along the Delaware tour. Day five of the tour was in Bridgeton, NJ.
American Rivers: Green infrastructure on school properties in Bridgeton is addressing municipal stormwater runoff and engaging citizens, and future citizens. How has school department partnering, and the related community engagement, helped Bridgeton address its stormwater management? What other community-based partners have contributed to this program and in what ways?
This interview is part of the American Rivers’ Along the Delaware tour. Day four of the tour was in Camden, NJ.
American Rivers: Integrating green infrastructure practices into water infrastructure management is becoming the norm thanks in part to the innovative approaches of the Delaware River’s cities. How important do you think green infrastructure is to the successful sustainability of urban water management in these cities?
Andy Kricun: First of all, our focus on equity including water equity needs to be sharper. Between Covid and George Floyd, equity needs to be at the forefront of everything including water.
This interview is part of the American Rivers’ Along the Delaware tour. Day three of the tour was in Bethelem, PA.
American Rivers: Bethlehem was settled on the banks of the Lehigh River at the mouth of Monocacy Creek. In what ways were the rivers, or the water from the two rivers, important to the settlement of Bethlehem, its growth and its vitality today?
Stories about protecting and restoring our nation’s rivers and streams. How will you get involved?