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LMRD 669, July 6, 2018
Announcing Smithsonian Water/Ways!
At Clarksdale's Quapaw Canoe Company
Aug 31 - Oct 13, 2018

~Grand Opening Celebration ~
Friday, August 31st, 5-7pm

Sunflower Avenue Block Party
with James "Super Chikan" Johnson

Made possible by the Mississippi Humanities Council
Presented by the Lower Mississippi River Foundation

*Note: Planning group meeting Monday, July 9, 11am at Meraki Coffeeshop in Clarksdale. All invited. Please come join us and find out how you can help make Water/Ways Clarksdale a success!

Y'all -- We're excited! We were selected as one of the 6 sites in the state of Mississippi for the Smithsonian’s Water/Ways traveling exhibit.

The exhibit opened this Summer at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center in Moss Point. It will continue on July 14th at the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum (Meridian). Other locations include: 1) Ocean Springs Municipal Library, Ocean Springs; 2) Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum, Jackson; and the 3) Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Transportation Museum, Columbus. See below for full schedule.

About Water/Ways:

Water/Ways is a traveling exhibit offered by the Museum on Main Street division of the Smithsonian Institution. It consists of five free-standing display units incorporating photographs and text as well as numerous interactives ranging from basic flip charts to state of the art audio and video devices. Requiring a display area of a minimum of 650 sq. ft., the exhibit is designed for smaller venues, thereby achieving the goal of “bringing the Smithsonian to Small Town America.”

Water/Ways explores the endless motion of the water cycle, water’s effect on landscape, settlement and migration, and its impact on culture and spirituality. It looks at how political and economic planning have long been affected by access to water and control of water resources. Human creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.

Why Clarksdale?

This North Delta town though typical of the region also possesses unique characteristics linking it to the water. The exhibit would be set up along the banks of the Sunflower River (at Quapaw Canoe Company) in downtown Clarksdale. The town is situated on the banks of an old channel of the Mississippi River — pre Hernando DeSoto days. Coincidentally, the Sunflower River has been declared America's Most Endangered River 2018.

The Mississippi Delta is made by water, defined by water, and (periodically) destroyed by water. The Sunflower River flooded 300 Coahoma County homes, farms and businesses in 2016 (thought to be a thousand-year flood). In 2011 the waters rose to the highest levels against the levee since 1937. The Mississippi River meanders 440 miles along the Mississippi’s Western edge, while the Yazoo trickles out of the hills in a 475 mile path to meet the big river at Vicksburg. The Delta is defined by the verdant prolific floodplain in between the Mississippi and the Yazoo. While the Mississippi River is a spectacular example of the raw power and beauty of water, it is also little known and understood by its closest residents. Water/Ways would help bring greater understanding of the river, its sources, and its future to the people of the Delta, especially our youth.

Water/Ways Schedule, 2018-2019, Mississippi

May 31 – July 7
Moss Point, Pascagoula River Audubon Center
5107 Arthur St, Moss Point, MS 39563

July 14 – August 25
Meridian, Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum
1808 4th St, Meridian, MS 39301

August 31 – October 13
Clarksdale, Lower Mississippi River Foundation
291 Sunflower Ave, Clarksdale, MS 38614

October 20 – November 30
Ocean Springs, Ocean Springs Municipal Library
525 Dewey Ave, Ocean Springs, MS 39564

December 7 – January 19
Jackson, Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum
1150 Lakeland Dr, Jackson, MS 39216

January 25 – March 8
Columbus, Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Transportation Museum
318 7th St. N., Columbus, MS 39703

For more information about Water/Ways, contact:
Shannon McMulkin -
John Ruskey -
Caroline Gillespie -

Additional Information & Description

The story of the Delta can be told through the big river, from the post ice-age flooding through the migration routes of the first people. From the Mississippian mound builders to the modern native tribes. From the Spanish, French & English explorers to the first pioneering families. From the kingdom of bears and panthers to the cotton kingdom. From the largest trees Teddy Roosevelt saw outside of the West Coast to the richest soil in North America.

The river is everything to the state of Mississippi. But it flows in mysterious ways, like the muddy water itself. Direct connections are not always apparent in the murkiness. It is stronger felt than seen. It flows through all of us. Not only did the river's name become the name of our state, it also traces 440 miles of our western boundary, from Tunica to the Tunica Hills below Fort Adams. Mississippi is defined by the Loess bluffs of Western Tennessee to the north, the foothills of Appalachia to the east and the Gulf to the south. But none define the state as strongly as the river does. None are as deeply felt as the river. Our history follows its meandering channels from the post ice-age flooding through the migration routes of the first people. From the Spanish, French & English explorers to the first pioneering families…

Paradoxically, it remains unknown to most, and also feared, loathed, revered and loved all at the same time. Civil Rights leader Aaron Henry said, the plantation owners of the Delta fear two things, God and the River. And they fear the River more. (Paraphrased). It flows through the music and the literature of the state.

It creates the single most important migration route for songbirds and waterfowl in North America. The batture sustains the richest white tailed deer habitat on the continent, and black bear have recently been delisted as endangered. (Batture = land between river and levee). The river connects the heartland of America to the world, and is the nation’s superhighway of commerce and industry. But the river and its broad floodplain also thrive with dynamic procreative biologic vitality, and could be one of the most powerful solutions to global warming and the decline of species. Its rich soils produce the highest rate of carbon sequestration north of the jungles of Central America. The Amazon loses 1,000s of species every year, but the Mississippi has lost only 9 in the past 100 years (that we know of). It is perhaps our most resilient landscape, not because of the intentions of mankind, in fact, much the opposite, contrary to man’s greed and ambitions. It is America’s most resilient landscape due to the wild raw power of the river in its cycles of flood and drought. It stays wild and procreative because the river is wild and untamable. Maybe it will work with us patiently for ten years, as Faulkner writes, like a mule, like for that one chance to kick us in the butt.


Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

"Voice of the Lower Mississippi River"

Published by the Quapaw Canoe Company since 1998

Celebrating our 20th Anniversary Year in 2018!