Quinobequin Intertribal Paddle spotlights efforts against river dams

A fleet of canoers and kayakers paddled down the Auburndale section of the Charles River early Saturday morning, marking the second annual Quinobequin Intertribal Paddle organized by Indigenous Peoples Day Newton and the Charles River Watershed Association.

The event is a good opportunity for people to form a relationship with the river, according to Hartman Deetz, a native cultural consultant to the CRWA.

“In being on the water, you also engage with the geese, with the heron, with the herring with you know, the hawks and the turtles and all the different life that comes through this water,” Deetz said. “So it’s an important thing, not to just have a river be an abstract thing that we talk about over here, but to be with it.”

The canoeing started at the Newton Boathouse and ended at Auburndale Cove with a lunch prepared by Sherry Pocknett, a chef and the first Indigenous woman to win a James Beard award.

Riders wait in front of the Newton Boathouse before they set off on a paddle through the Auburndale section of the Charles River. Photo by Genevieve Morrison

During the paddle, cultural bearers described the history of the canoeing tradition, as well as sharing efforts to remove dams from rivers around the country, including from the Charles River.

Dams restrict fish migration patterns and have negative effects on the river ecosystem. These effects were particularly impactful for the indigenous populations that rely on the river as a food source, according to the CRWA.

The CRWA advocates for the Watertown Dam to be removed from the Charles.

Emily Gomez, a Malden resident who attended the paddle, said that the event helped her to learn more about a river that she kayaks on often.

“I think it’s really important, especially as white people, as we experience nature that was never ours to begin with, that we understand and obtain as much knowledge about what we’re enjoying as we can,” Gomez said.

Indigenous Peoples Day Newton is gearing up for their big annual Ceremonial Celebration, to be held on Oct. 14 at Albemarle Field.