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LMRD 793 - Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
"Voice of the Lower Mississippi River"
Wednesday, Aug 19, 2020
BEAM-ing the Spirit of the Tree -- Today FB live at 4pm!

Prelude: We couldn't tour our dugout canoes this year, but thanks to partnership with the the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, and the Lower Mississippi River Foundation, and some savvy internal dreaming and technical talent (Mark River & Allie Grant), we are presenting a year-long canoe carving project -- in a series of BEAM-ed events! We're super excited! This is the very first step in a year-long dugout canoe carving project! Today, Wed, Aug 19, at 4pm, we will present a live Facebook BEAM-ing event from the seats of our canoe, 8 inches from the turtles, gar fish, snakes, crickets, frogs, and the diverse biota of the Sunflower River, our inspiration and our joy, for a visit to our tree for the project, for the purpose of finding the Spirit Within. This will guide us for the rest of the year in our exploration of our backyards in thise new world. Keep reading below for more info:

In this issue:
~BEAM = Backyard Expeditions Arkansas Mississippi
~May the River be with You (Mark River Podcast, Season #2)
~Montezuma Islands Adventure
~Sunflower River Canoe Rentals

BEAM-ing the Spirit of the Tree:
Live streaming event -- TODAY! -- Wed Aug 19 at 4pm -- jump on board and join us for a short paddle up the Sunflower River through downtown Clarksdale for a visit with the "Spirit of the Tree," as found in a giant cypress tree, the first step in a year-long dugout canoe carving project.

Made possible with a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commisssion

Wednesday, Aug 19, 2020 at 4 PM
Public · Online Event
~ Quapaw Canoe Company ~ Walter Anderson Museum of Art ~

The Spirit of the Tree (Session 1 of 13)

The launch of the BEAM project takes participants and viewers aboard the Quapaw canoe up the Sunflower River, paddling through downtown Clarksdale to the cypress tree that will be used as log stock for the new, dugout canoe that will be carved over the course of the year using only hand tools. Wilderness guide and voyageur John Ruskey will introduce key survival and cultural concepts, such as the eons-old tradition of the dugout canoe, which dates back to the original Mississippian boat builders. Ruskey will explain the philosophy behind locating the “spirit of the tree” prior to beginning the process of building the canoe.

about BEAM:

BEAM Backyard Expeditions Mississippi/Arkansas is a yearlong project of Quapaw’s that brings to life the complete experience of creating a dug-out canoe, its journey from start to finish, for our Mississippi and Arkansas kids! In partnership with the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, The Lower Mississippi River Foundation, and the Mississippi Arts Commission, we have created a series of live-streamed interactive video sessions for students and communities, focusing on canoe carving, along with a myriad of other survival skills, such as: transportation (bicycle maintenance, carving dugout canoe); shelter (building a lean-to tent, setting up a tent); food (gardening, gathering wild foods and cooking over campfire); health (purifying water, ID and gathering of wild foods, wild spices & herbs); animal identification (birding, tracking). We are also sharing the tools, history and inspiration that provide nourishment, sustainability and indeed survival for the soul! Including home-grown & cultivated arts, plant arts, literature, poetry, plein air sketching, and watercolors.

Made possible with a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

For more information on BEAM, including full session plans and opportunities for tailored student engagement, contact Allie Grant at

Click Here to join Wednesday’s Join Facebook Event — a sacred canoe journey to visit the Spirit of the Tree, or cut and paste to your browser:

Spirit Canoe (watercolor by John Ruskey)

Mississippi Arts Commission


Mark River’s Podcast: May the River be with You

Season #2 is now live! Click Here to listen on Stitcher. This episode of "May the River be With You" features new music and stories about Mississippi River Flooding and Infrastructure.

6 more to come in the next year or so. Chief guide and youth leader, Mark River, is host -- and designs program. John Ruskey provides music and commentary. Recorded and edited by Coop Cooper. Supported by the Mississippi River Network.

"May the River be with You" speaks to many aspects of our deepest feelings, our goals and our overarching mission in everything we do at Quapaw Canoe Company. The podcasts are filled with river stories and original river music!

On Stitcher:

Episode Info:
May The River Be With You. 33 mins. Flooding and Infrastructure. In this episode, Mark River interviews John Ruskey about the worsening flood events along the Mississippi River and how human engineering - in a benevolent attempt to keep the river stable for development, agriculture, commerce - has unintentionally endangered the crucial wetlands and put communities such as New Orleans at risk. Recorded in Clarksdale Miss. Published Aug 11, 2020.


If you want to get outside, and get on the river, we have figured out how to do it safely, even amongst the challenges of the virus: one person, one family, one group at a time, no mixing & matching, and do your own food and shuttling. Cheaper that way also!

Guided trips to the otherworldy wilderness of Island 63 or the Montezuma Islands, pricing starts at $85/each.

Self-guided canoe rentals on the Sunflower River in downtown Clarskdale. $25/each.

Call trip coordinator Allie Grant 662-627-4070, guides John Ruskey 662-902-7841, or Mark River 662-902-1885, and we'll make it happen! (In Vicksburg-Natchez area please call Capt. Layne Logue 601-529-7354 for other awesome daytrip options!)

Quapaw Canoe Company Pandemic Protocol:

We are using virus-era protocol for safety: 1) clients are doing their own shuttling and 2) providing their own food. We are only doing custom guided trips for individuals, friends, or families. No large groups or mixing & matching of groups. We are setting up hand washing station at landings and all stop places on trip. No hugs or handshakes. Practice safe CDC protocol with hand sanitation, use face masks in enclosed indoor places, and etc, and etc. Our staff and all Clients must sign Covid-19 agreement. Temperature taken before activity. If you are virus positive, or have been in recent contact with someone, stay home!

Quapaw Virus Protocol

The canoe and the river present special challenges and advantages:

1) no hugs or handshakes. We’re doing Japanese style bow, or tip your hat, or other no touch methods of greet and goodbyes. Don’t be insulted when we don’t hug…. We still love you!

2) Wash your hands frequently: We will make hand washing and hand sanitizer available to any visitors to our Clarksdale home base location. If you visit, go directly to one of our bathrooms and wash your hands! Use paper towels to dry, and then throw away.

3) Island Hand Wash: We will set up hand washing station with soap wherever we stop on river

4) Everyone should carry personal hand soap and/or hand sanitizer on canoe to use as needed.

5) If you have to sneeze, or cough, it’s easy in the canoe — use a disposable hand kerchief or paper towel, and sneeze towards water, away from center of canoe! Be aware of which way the wind is blowing!

6) you can always wash your hands in the river seated in the canoe. Use your personal hand soap and/or hand sanitizer. Biodegradable soaps are always a good choice for nature-friendly cleanliness (such as Dr. Bronner’s or other).

7) in public places, it’s also good to avoid touching common surfaces as much as possible -- for us that’s the paddles, life jackets and sides of the canoe. At any stops, keep your paddle and life jacket at your designated seat, or on shore. We will sanitize gunnels and seats in between trips, and at all stops during trips.

Note: As far as I can tell, vigorous hand washing with soap for 20 seconds is more effective than hand sanitizer. On the sandbars add sand for extra grit!

Info on traveling within the US:

General recommendations on prevention:

If you have any questions, or etc, see below for my contact. Feel free to write or call back!


Mississippi Arts Commission invests in our state’s makers through a variety of grant programs supporting nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and individual artists. Through the arts, diverse communities of all sizes can better identify shared values, create vibrant public spaces, and enhance the effectiveness of schools. The arts also attract visitors who leave with a strong, positive image of Mississippi. Fostering excellence in the arts provides the inspiration to generate a higher quality of life for all citizens.


The Walter Anderson Museum of Art inspires discovery, imagination, and community-building on the Gulf Coast and beyond through programs, exhibitions, and outreach; and embodies Walter Anderson’s vision for societies in harmony with their environments. "Our mission is to empower lifelong curiosity and connection to the natural world through the art of Walter Anderson and kindred artists."


1Mississippi River Citizen Program: River Citizens are people who want to clean up and protect America’s greatest River. Whether in armchairs or wading boots, River Citizens protect the River by speaking up on its behalf and caring for it in simple ways that make a big difference. Together, we can protect the River for future generations. Take the first step today and sign up for free as a River Citizen at 1Mississippi, can the River count on you?"


Balance, Diversity, Democracy

Quapaw Canoe Company core values are balance, diversity, and democracy, which all derive from our experience paddling big canoes on the big waters of North America. Balance is exemplified by the passage of our canoes. Everything we do is about keeping even keel. To do otherwise is dangerous to our health and well-being. Pandemic and police brutality are symptoms of the imbalance we seek to counteract in our services and work as canoe builders, guides & outfitters. Other imbalances include species loss, global warming, and loss of wild places. Diversity for us includes all peoples and all creatures great and small. We have always created equal access for all. Our staff reflects our regional demographics, around 60% Black and 40% White. Since 1998 we have made it our mission to make sure all communities found along the Lower Mississippi River enjoy equal access to the wonders of the big river, and the life changing experience of the wilderness. Our adventures practice the best qualities of Democracy. Everyone in the big canoe sets aside their differences and paddles together for the good of the whole. We believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Inherent in life is the right to breathe clean air, the right to drink clean water, the right to eat good food, and the right to live in healthy shelter, in healthy communities.