Bemidji is the first city on Misi-ziibi, the Great River. This region includes abundant forest land and boasts some of the highest water quality in the country.
It’s also the next host to We Are Water MN — a popular statewide traveling exhibition that invites visitors to explore the water and the people in their community.
The exhibit features community members in audio and written form. One featured local is Anton Treuer, a published author and professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State. When native people say water is life, “it’s not just a metaphor,” says Anton, “it’s a truth.” Water is a practical necessity for our bodies as well as for sustaining communities. For many years, the waterways in northern Minnesota were the highways that connected people, enabled them to travel, and provided most of their food.
The connection is reflected in place names like Bemidji, derived from the Ojibwe word “bemijigamaag,” which means “where the current cuts across.” Anton says the word describes a unique geographical feature of Lake Bemidji, and underscores the long native land tenure and history here.
“There is a connection to place that is deeply intertwined with the water” for native people, he says, that anchors their identity to a particular place in a different way than many other Americans experience. “You can’t be the people of the wild rice if you’re not living in a place where there’s wild rice growing on the water,” Anton concludes. “You surrender something important.”
Stories and science
We Are Water MN — a popular statewide traveling exhibition and community engagement project — invites visitors to reflect on the experiences of local people and come to a deeper understanding of what taking care of water means to people.
Science and history are also included this 1,000-square foot, hands-on exhibit created by the Minnesota Humanities Center, MPCA, Minnesota Historical Society and the Departments of Health, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
This is the second statewide tour of the We Are Water MN exhibit. It visits eight Minnesota communities between October 2018 and November 2019: St. Paul, Bemidji, Crookston, Duluth, Austin, Northfield, Grand Rapids, and Onamia.
Visiting the exhibit
We Are Water MN opens December 1 through January 13 at the Headwaters Science Center, 413 Beltrami Ave NW, Bemidji, MN. We Are Water MN explores the connections between the humanities and water through an exhibit, public events and educator resources. The 2018-2019 tour will feature the stories of two Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program certified producers and how they manage water quality on their farms.
As part of the exhibit, the Headwater Science Center and their partners will offer:
- An opening celebration, December 1, 1-5:30 p.m.
- A weekly Celebrate Fishing! Series, Mondays, 5:30-7:30 p.m. starting December 3
- Ice Fishing Follies introduction to ice fishing event, December 15, 2-5 p.m.
- Fish Tales story event, January 5
- Business community event, January 8
Visit the Headwaters Science Center website for full program details. School groups and walk-in visitors are welcome during open hours.
Visit Bemidji will get you excited to check out the area. Winter water—snow and ice—will keep you happy with XC skiing, snow tubing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and hockey. But when the bitter winds wear you out, try the local shopping, dining, and arts scene. There is plenty to do! Here are a few we got excited about:
- Visit the iconic Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox and take a picture with the 18 foot tall giant.
- Check out Lake Bemidji State Park. Perfect anytime of the year for hiking, bird watching, snowmobiling, or cross-country skiing.
- Bemidji Community Art Center. It’s located in Library Park along the waterfront of Lake Bemidji and hosts photography, painting, art and craft exhibits throughout the year.
- Beltrami County History Center. Drop by the Beltrami County History Center for your daily dose of Minnesota history. Housed in the restored Great Northern Depot, the center includes a three gallery museum, public archives, research library, meeting room, and gift shop.