We Are Water MN

We Are Water MN is a partnership formed to tell Minnesota’s water stories collaboratively, bringing together personal narratives, historical materials, and scientific information. Combining these ways of knowing water strengthens Minnesotans’ relationships with and responsibilities to water. This partnership is led by the Minnesota Humanities Center with support from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.


Water Stories from Minnesota

No one knows the waters of Minnesota like the people who live here. Listen to stories from parents, children, fishers, farmers, indigenous Minnesotans, immigrants to Minnesota, water professionals, and people who just love to be out on the lake.

"When we sing, when we say, ‘Water we thank you; water we love you; water we respect you.’ it’s to that spirit of the water….All the water that we have on this planet today is all the water that we’re ever going to have.. What would happen if we treated all of the rivers and streams as if they were the arteries of Mother Earth? How would we take care of them then?”—Sharon Day
Explore Minnesota's Water Stories

We are the Headwaters

Minnesota has a very unusual geographic position. We sit atop a triple-continental-scale water divide. This means that we are not receiving polluted water from a state with lower environmental standards. But it also means we have a responsibility to keep water clean—for our communities, for other states and nations, and for future generations.

We Are Water MN is a traveling exhibit and community engagement program where each Minnesota community that we visit explores the question, “How’s the water?”

View Photos from the Exhibit



Water is Life

Minnesotans enjoy a quality-of-life defined by our water—and quality of water defined by our life. People change water. What you do matters. In 2015, six communities came together to host the first tour of We Are Water MN in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street Program and traveling exhibit Water/Ways. Now we’re looking for eight new communities who are ready to engage in important and difficult questions around water, have the capacity to host a traveling exhibit, are interested in working collaboratively with state and local partners, and will practice the Minnesota Humanities Center’s Absent Narratives approach.

Learn More About Hosting We Are Water MN in Your Community



Water Voices

The Humanities Center practices learning from the perspectives and experiences of people and communities that are often left out or marginalized. For the We Are Water MN partnership, this means learning from and amplifying indigenous perspectives, particularly Dakota and Ojibwe people. We build relationships in rural and greater Minnesota communities as well as the Twin Cities region and host cross-sector and cross-disciplinary conversations among those who protect and affect water.

By creating relationships around water,we are creating networks that can promote positive social norms, and share a vision for and participate in water stewardship.

Sharon Day, a midewin, (water woman in Ojibwe) has taught us a lot about water.


Upcoming Events

We will be bringing the We Are Water MN exhibit to the Eco Experience building at the Minnesota State Fair, August 24-September 4, 2017.


Questions: Jennifer Tonko, Program Officer, 651-772-4264, jennifer@mnhum.org