“Access to Time” (Field Station working title)
Lake Itasca in the North of Minnesota is considered the “source” of the Mississippi. But it’s better to see the headwaters region as a vast tapestry of lakes, marshes, streams and rivers, within a large area consisting to of first nation lands, state parks and rural municipalities. This is a resource fringe, with a major timber industry. Pipelines from the tar sands of Northern Alberta traverse this area and new ones are being proposed. The recent contestations over their construction have brought the ongoing struggle between resource economy and indigenous land and water rights onto the front page of newspapers worldwide.

From Minneapolis to St Louis, the Upper Mississippi appears like a massive geotechnical engineering project. Since the 1930’s, this large section of the river has been entirely reworked through a system of 27 locks and dams built by the Army Corps of Engineers in order to guarantee a nine-foot depth for year-round navigation, ensuring that the entire river is a usable and durable water highway for agricultural and industrial products.

While the Upper Mississippi resembles a series of reservoirs articulated by lock-and-dam constructions, the hilly region around the Wisconsin River has neither been transformed by layers of glacial drift of the last Ice Age nor by bigger geotechnical interventions — an interesting counterpoint to the rest of the Upper Mississippi.


Alya Ansari (Macalester College),
John Kim (Macalester College)


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