It’s More Than a River, It’s Our Way of Life

Louie Hena | New Mexico
Louie Hena fishing on the RIo Grande | Photo: Justin Clifton

When I look at the river, I’m seeing life. I’m seeing my partner, who helps me make a living, who helps me water my crops so I can feed myself and my community. I see my ancestors using the water, like I do now. And I am seeing my grandkids running the river, like I’m doing now.

In these communities, we say Earth Mom is sacred. Everything out here to us, has a spirit. Our communities are connected to springs, which are connected to a river, and those rivers are connected to lakes up in the high mountains. We are all part of that system and this river gives life to us here.

More people around the world need to start listening to indigenous peoples, because what we do, we do it for Earth Mom, and if you look at Earth Mom, it is one big basket, and we are all corn kernels in that one basket. So whatever happens to Earth Mom, we are all impacted.

Everything who I am, is here. My way of life, is here. Clean air, clean water. The cactus, the willows, the piñon, sage, the bighorn sheep, the birds that you see flying around, the fishing. This is what we use within our communities. This is home.

My greatest hope for the future, is that the river does not run dry. For not just my kids, but for everybody’s kids. This is the lifeblood of New Mexico. This is the greenbelt. So if this goes, everybody’s gone.

Water and I, we’re one. We are always together. You start the day by saying prayers, then you end the day by saying prayers. It’s to leave the land saturated – wet.

The value of Wild & Scenic is that my grandkids’ grandkids’ grandkids will enjoy what we are enjoying today.

Support the protection of 5,000 new miles of wild and scenic rivers