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LMRD No. 683, Fri, Sept 7, 2018

Sat, Sept 8, 12noon:
Ebbs, Flows, and Floods

The history of the Delta can't be separated from the history of the Mississippi River. Water/Ways presents two opportunities this week to explore how the waters of the Mighty Mississippi have shaped geography, history and culture-- programs in Clarksdale and in Helena (tomorrow, Sept 8th):

  • Dr. Jim Giesen
  • to
  • Quapaw Canoe Company
  • 291 Sunflower Ave
  • Clarksdale, MS (map)

Jim Giesen
, MSU history professor, will kick off the Water/Ways lecture series with a presentation on the connection between the Mississippi River and human history, and will be specifically talking about the ’27 flood, the Mississippi River Basin Model, and the desegregation of the Biloxi beaches and swim pools.

There are few states where water has been more central to its history and culture than Mississippi. From ship-building on the coast to Native American migration along rivers and streams, from Civil Rights Movement wade-ins to Civil War strategy, water has played a central role in how and why the Magnolia state looks and operates as it does today. Jim Giesen will tell three interrelated histories of water in Mississipi to make the case that Mississippians today often overlook both the breadth and variety of ways that water has affected the history of their state. From massive natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the 1927 Mississippi River Flood, to great success stories like the ship-building and fishing industries, to less well-known incidents such as the desegregation of the Biloxi beaches and swim pools where water played an important role in the development of small communities and towns, the talk will tell not just the well-known water histories of the state, but show how water has become an often overlooked factor in our past, present, and future.

About the Speaker:

A Professor of History at Mississippi State University, Dr. Giesen researches and teaches in the area of American agricultural history and is currently writing a book about the place of agriculture within American culture.

2-3pm Delta Cultural Center:

  • Delta Cultural Center (map)


The mighty Mississippi has a mind of its own as we have seen throughout history. However, no flood has been as disastrous as the flood of 1927. Meet education coordinator Richard Spilman at the Delta Cultural Center Visitor Center to discover why this flood was so disastrous and some of the methods that were taken to help prevent future disasters.

Next Saturday, Sept 15th:
Hank Burdine & Paul Hartfield:
(moderated by Boyce Upholt)

  • Quapaw Canoe Company
  • 291 Sunflower Ave
  • Clarksdale, MS (map)

Hank Burdine from the Mississippi Levee Board and Paul Hartfield, a USFW endangered species biologist will discuss the history and future of flood control on the Mississippi River. Program moderated by author Boyce Upholt. How has flood control changed the landscape of the Delta? How should we manage flood control in the future to meet a growing population's needs without damaging the River ecosystem?

Paul Hartfield is the author of about 40 peer reviewed scientific publications on crayfish, freshwater mussels, snails, fish, turtles, Interior least tern, and Mississippi River. Author of eight Federal Register regulations listing 1 cave crayfish, 11 aquatic snails, 13 freshwater mussels, Alabama sturgeon, and 1 aquatic plant under the Endangered Species Act.

Hank Burdine has been writing for Delta Magazine and other publications for 15 years and published over 60 articles regarding to the history and culture of the Mississippi Delta. He is considered to be one of the present-day historians of the Mississippi Delta with extensive expertise in culture and historical events and flood control.

Boyce Upholt is an award-winning Mississippi Delta-based freelance writer with a particular interest in the way we shape place and the way places shape us. Boyce was named a 2016 "Writer of the Year" by the International Regional Magazine Association for his work at Mississippi Magazine, where he is the small-town spotlight editor. Boyce is also a professional member of the James Beard Foundation and a 2017 fellow with the 11th Hour Food & Farming Journalism program at U.C.-Berkeley.

Special Event Schedule


Aug 31st 6- 8pm

Grand Opening

Featuring live blues by James “Super Chikan” Johnson

Quapaw Canoe Company

Sept 1st 12-1 pm

Spirituality and Rivers

Dr. Wang Ping, Macalester College

Quapaw Canoe Company

Sept 8th 12-1 pm

Ebbs and Flows in Mississippi History

Dr. Jim Geisen, MSU Dept of History

Quapaw Canoe Company

Sept 15th 12pm-1pm

Flood Control on the Big River

Paul Hartfield (USFW) Hank Burdine (Mississippi Levee Board) - panel discussion on the history and future of flood control

Quapaw Canoe Company

Sept 22nd

Smithsonian Museum Day

Free entry to Delta Blues Museum (with Museum Day ticket)

Delta Blues Museum

Sept 22nd 4-5:30pm

Relay of Voices

Dance and Storytelling Performance

Quapaw Canoe Company

Sept 29th 10-12pm

Life in the River

Explore the life that lives in the water with Ol' Miss Biology Dept.

Quapaw Canoe Company

Sept 29th 12- 1 pm

Youth Art Exhibit and Sale

Local youth artwork related to power of water on display

Meraki Coffee

Oct 6th 12 pm - 1 pm

Swimming and Civil Rights

Moderated panel discussion of the role swimming and pools in civil rights

Crossroads Cultural Center

Oct 7th 12pm - 1 pm

Mississippi River Blues

Exploration of how water led to the formation of the blues culture

Crossroads Cultural Center

Oct 6th and 7th

Sunflower River Paddle Day

Half off canoe, kayak and SUP rentals on the Sunflower River

Quapaw Canoe Company

Oct 13th 9 am-12

River Clean Up and Closing

Give back to the Sunflower and celebrate closing of WaterWays

Quapaw Canoe Company

Special Events - Helena

Sept 8th 2pm

The Mississippi Flood of 1927

Learn the history of the great flood

Delta Cultural Center

Sept 14th-15th

Plein Air Paint Out- Historic Helan Association

Art competition, show and classes

Downtown Helena

Sept 15th 9am

Kayak Test Drive

Try out a kayak for free!

Storm Creek Lake

Sept 22nd 8 am

Great Arkansas Clean Up

Clean ups in multiple locations.

Meet at Storm Creek or Helena River Park

Sept 23 3pm

Autumn Kayak Tour

Call to register 870-295-4040

Storm Creek Lake

Sept 27th 5pm

Youth Art Exhibit and Sale

Local youth artwork related to power of water on display

LMRF- 107 Perry St

Oct 7th 3 pm

Horner Neck Kayak Tour

Call to register 870-295-4040

MSR State Park Visitors Center

Oct 13th

Steamboat PPT & Kid’s Craft

Learn how steamboats have been used in the past

Delta Cultural Center

Visit for more details

Smithsonian Water/Ways Exhibition
Quapaw Canoe Company, Clarksdale, MS
Aug 31st - Oct 13th, 2018

For Immediate Release:
August, 24th 2018
Smithsonian Exhibit Set to Spark Conversations About Water in the Delta

This fall, a travelling Smithsonian exhibit invites residents of the Delta to explore the complex ways that water impacts their lives. The Water/Ways exhibit will be on display in Clarksdale from August 31st through October 13th.

The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program brings exhibitions to small towns throughout the country. This year, the Water/Ways exhibit is touring Mississippi and is making it’s only stop in the Mississippi Delta in Clarksdale. Admission is free and open to the public.

Water/Ways is designed to be a starting point for conversations about water and how it impacts our lives. The exhibition explores the role of water in culture, spirituality, communities, and economics, as well as some of the current water issues on our planet and their potential impacts. Visitors are encouraged to share their own stories and discuss ideas sparked by the exhibit.

The exhibit in Clarksdale will focus on the relationship between the communities of the Delta and Mississippi River. Along with the exhibit, special programs in both Helena and Clarksdale will allow visitors to explore more deeply their own relationship to water. “The Mississippi River connects everyone in the Delta. We wanted to include events on both sides of the river to highlight the interconnectedness of our communities” said Shannon McMulkin, Director of the Lower Mississippi River Foundation.

Special events will include programming on flood control, the relationship between swimming and civil rights, the influence of water on art and music and more. A full list of special events is available at

The exhibition and special events were organized by the Lower Mississippi River Foundation with support from the Mississippi Humanities Council and many local partners. “This has been a very collaborative effort between local organizations and the event should draw attention to several different businesses and nonprofits in the area,” said McMulkin.

The space for the exhibit is being donated by Quapaw Canoe Company, a guiding and outfitting company that has been working to connect people to the Mississippi River for over 20 years. John Ruskey, the owner of Quapaw Canoe Company said about the exhibit, “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 will help bring greater understanding of the river, its sources, and its future to the people of the Delta, especially to our youth.”

A Grand Opening celebration will take place on August 31st from 6- 8 pm on the street in front of the exhibit. The event will include food vendors and live blues from James “Super Chikan” Johnson. The exhibit will be open to the public for tours and several visiting scholars will be available during the opening to answer questions about the Mississippi River.


The Lower Mississippi River Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to promoting stewardship of the Lower Mississippi River by providing opportunities for residents of the Delta to experience and learn about the river.

Water/Ways is made possible by the National Endowment for Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council.


Shannon McMulkin

End Note: amazing opportunity now open for a Chiropractor looking to relocate in established practice in cultural hotspot on the Mississippi River. Also, opportunity for someone wanting to run their own Canoe Guiding & Outfitting Business. Clarksdale, Miss, heart of the blues; land of dreams. Respond to this email for more information.


The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch "Voice of the Lower Mississippi River" is published by the Quapaw Canoe Company, which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary Year in 2018. Photos and writing by John Ruskey, Mark River and others. Please write for re-publishing. Feel free to share with friends or family, but also credit appropriately. Go to and click on "Quapaw Dispatch" for viewing back issues of the LMRD.