American Rivers honors the work of tribes across the country to protect their rights and restore their ancestral rivers.
Penobscot. Tennessee. Yakima.
Many present-day river names are mispronunciations of indigenous names passed down over hundreds — sometimes thousands — of years. Penobscot comes from the Algonquin word Panawahpskek (“descending ledges”). Tennessee originates from the Cherokee word Ta na si (“gathering place”). Yakima may come from the Ichiskiin words Iksíks wána (“little river”). 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.
Learn more from interviews with:
- John Banks, Tribal member and director of natural resources for the Penobscot Nation
- Caleb Hickman, Tribal member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and fisheries and wildlife biologist for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
- Phil Ridden, Tribal member and deputy director of natural resources for the Yakama Nation