Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

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Colleen Cooley on the San Juan River, UT | Photo by Spruce Tone Films/Taylor Graham

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…


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

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John Banks | Photo by John Banks

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…


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

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Phil Rigdon | Photo by Steven Gnam

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…


Faces of Rivers is an ongoing profile series from American Rivers

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Caleb Hickman | Photo by G. Peeples USFWS

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…


Faces of Rivers: A profile series from American Rivers

This interview is part of the American Rivers’ Along the Delaware tour. Day five of the tour was in Bridgeton, NJ.

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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?


Faces of Rivers: A profile series from American Rivers

This interview is part of the American Rivers’ Along the Delaware tour. Day four of the tour was in Camden, NJ.

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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.

As for…


Faces of Rivers: A profile series from American Rivers

This interview is part of the American Rivers’ Along the Delaware tour. Day three of the tour was in Bethelem, PA.

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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?


Faces of Rivers: A profile series from American Rivers

This interview is part of the American Rivers’ Along the Delaware tour. Day two of the tour was in Phillipsburg, NJ.

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American Rivers: Tell us about your connection to the Delaware River!


Faces of Rivers: A profile series from American Rivers

This interview is part of the American Rivers’ Along the Delaware tour. Day one of the tour was in Hancock, NY.

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American Rivers: The Flexible Flow Management Program, developed in 2007 and updated in 2017, is the latest plan to manage reservoir releases from the NYC Delaware River basin reservoirs building on decades of previous plans. How have the dams and the FFMP impacted the river in the Upper Delaware and throughout the entire basin? Can the FFMP be improved to protect both down basin needs and the water supply interests of NYC?


Faces of Rivers: A Profile series from American Rivers

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Devin Reuben atop Devil’s Slide at Hells Gate State Park on the Snake River. Photo: Emily Nuchols

By Emily Nuchols

Over the past several years, I’ve gotten to know Louis Reuben and his son, Devin. They are Nimiipuu (Nez Perce), the original inhabitants of this landscape at the confluence of two historic waterways — the Snake and the Clearwater.

Louis and Devin are canoe carvers, and their sense of place and belonging goes beyond sentiment. It’s in their DNA. …

American Rivers

Stories about protecting and restoring our nation’s rivers and streams. How will you get involved?

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