Great Lakes as Sacred Places

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“North America’s Great Lakes, which have suffered plenty from commerce, were also once sacred. The Ojibwe believed that Lake Superior, with the largest surface area of any lake in the world, was ruled by Misshepezhieu, the Great Lynx. That deity was both benevolent and malicious, fitting qualities for a body of water that can change from tranquil to furious in a moment. Those moods were a fact of life – still are – for anyone who lives in the region.

The Great Lakes are like five beautiful and charismatic sisters: willful, tempestuous, frequently charming, often dangerous, and ultimately unfathomable. As the main trade route to the interior of the continent and surrounded by lands flush with resources, the Great Lakes were central in transforming the U.S. and Canada into industrial and economic giants. Yet the lakes remain among the least appreciated of our major geographic features. No longer am I surprised to meet people who don’t know that the lakes are too vast to see across or that they contain most of the surface freshwater in North America. I am surprised, however, by the people who assume that all that water is there to be ransacked.

Maybe the lakes are too great for their own good. If they were contained entirely within Ontario or Michigan, they would be more ferociously defended. Instead they overlap two nations and eight states, and are constantly snarled in legislative complexities that make them vulnerable. And because they contain such an enormous volume of water — nearly a fifth of all that’s available on the surface of the earth – and are spread across a wide swath of North America many assume that they’re inexhaustible. With that much water, the thinking goes, there should be plenty for everyone.”

Read more: Huffington Post


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