Waankam: People for the Estuary

Waankam: People for the Estuary is a Duluth citizen initiative for protecting the environment, specifically the St. Louis River and Estuary, by imbuing the ecosystem with the same legal rights that are recognized for people. In Anishinaabemowin, the native language of the Indigenous people of our region, the St. Louis River is referred to as Gichigami-ziibi and has always been viewed as sacred. 

The initiative is part of a wider, global effort to recognize the “rights of nature,” which has taken root in many nations and communities around the world. In 2008, Ecuador became the first country in the world to incorporate the rights of nature into its constitution. In the U.S. several communities have also codified the rights of nature into law, such as Toledo, Ohio, where a Bill of Rights was adopted for Lake Erie in 2019. The year before, in the state of Minnesota, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe passed a law in tribal court to protect the rights of manoomin (the Anishinaabe word for wild rice), which was the first law in the world to recognize the rights of a specific plant species. If the City of Duluth recognizes the rights of the St. Louis Estuary, it would also be another significant step in the rights of nature movement.

Learn more in this feature article in Agate magazine.

Get involved

Now that you’ve learned more, the best way to create change is by getting involved! Donate your money or time, find support, and take action. Citizen climate action means a stronger, healthier, more vibrant Duluth!

Learn more and get involved with Waankam: People for the Estuary.