Years ago, a Deep Green Resistance member hosted the RAGE podcast: Radio Against Global Ecocide. We have posted an archive page of the audio episodes, and we wanted to repost this episode from August 12, 2010. Host Seymour Lyphe holds his first interview with a non-human: the kisiskāciwani-sīpiy (Saskatchewan River) near his home.
Listen to this episode, or read Seymour’s original post:
I used to believe I was fairly good at being in touch with nature. When I walked though the forest I would walk around spider webs, careful not to step on mushrooms. Even in town I would step over ants on the sidewalk, which is tricky because ants are not very linear. I talk with chickadees, crows, and magpies; any bird that will hang around for a chat. I stop walking so a squirrel will not see me and can safely cross the road. I talk with plants and, yes, have even hugged a few trees, which gives a very calming feeling.
It was not until I did the interview with kisiskāciwani-sīpiy that I realized that much of my relationship the real world was, well, less than real. My connection with the kisiskāciwani-sīpiy was one of the most emotional experiences of my life.
It has been very hard for me to figure out how I going to present this; at the same time I believe it is important that I do.
As I was sat down (I slipped and fell in a sitting position so I stayed where I was) to do my interview with the river and record the sound it was making, it become obvious, as it would to anyone who sits by a river, that a river is much more then water running over rocks. It is everyone who lives in and around it. It is the beings who come in contact with it, no matter how briefly. I will play Derrick Jensen’s piece “Pretend you are a River” at the end of this, as it is one of the best pieces I have every read and heard on what it is to be a river. Here is the story the river told me, through imagery and emotion.
The kisiskāciwani-sīpiy was born with the rise of the mountains and was shaped through the ice age. Now it told me it is dying. The glaciers that give it life are fading away.
I was shown images of a time when the forest and prairie crowded against the river, when it had friends to talk with, not the strange yellow or green aliens of today.
Then it all changed.
Imagine you are being poisoned. Imagine that the life blood is being drained from you so the poison becomes stronger. Imagine that you are forced to pass this poison on to all your friends and those who live with you. Imagine you are forced to give this poison to everyone you meet on your path. Imagine that with very fibre of your soul you do not want do to this. You scream out for help but those who listen are gone. And the poison keeps coming.
I saw the death of kisiskāciwani-sīpiy friends, death of those who listened. At times there was more blood then water, then the oldest of friends fell and soon came the strange and crazy ones.
During this time I cried as the river was crying. It seemed to be coming from a depth I have not been to before. I choked and gasped as if I were trying to rid myself of the poisons within me. At times I just writhed in pain.
Afterwards I lay there, stunned by the emotions I had witnessed. I felt I had just an inkling of what it must be like to be tortured or subjected to the worst concentration camp conditions.
I thought also that we who live in the dominant culture really have no idea what it’s doing to the world, to the living earth, for our comfort and ease of life. I’d like to think that if those who are supposedly fighting for kisiskāciwani-sīpiy and other rivers really understood the pain the rivers are in, they would be working that much harder to protect them. But I am not sure, for I have seen very little willingness on the part of environmentalists to give up their comfort for any of the living world.
I also start to understand what it is to be alive in the world, to feel connected to the place I live. I wonder if I came anywhere close to the connection between past listeners and the river. I will make every effort to do so.
After my talk with kisiskāciwani-sīpiy I have come to realize that we are meant to drink living water. The water that comes from pipes is no longer living, and is full of its own unknown concoctions. The problem is that the living water is now poison and we cannot drink it. Tap water is zombie water, zombie water for zombies.
We need desperately to heal the rivers, heal ourselves. We need a resistance that will make it so.