University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

If You’re Interested in the Mississippi River’s Future, Start with Its Past

August 29, 2014Patrick NunnallyEvents, Former Featured PostsComments Off on If You’re Interested in the Mississippi River’s Future, Start with Its Past

There are lots of truisms about “history” and “the past”: Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it.  History doesn’t repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes. That sort of thing.

Interesting thing is, those sayings are pretty generally true, at least I see it.  Yes, as a historian, I have professional bias.

With regard to the Upper Mississippi, the public will get a chance to test these ideas and to learn about the river’s past from one of the best in the business, John Anfinson.  Anfinson, the newly-appointed superintendent at the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, will be giving a talk “Trapped by History: The Past and Future of the Upper Mississippi River.”  Check here for full details of the talk, on September 9 at 7:00 pm in Northrop Auditorium on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

For many people whose professional work concerns the Mississippi River, the central issue at hand is what balance can be struck between competing demands and needs on the river.  The Upper Mississippi is a globally important ecosystem, but it is also a key component of international trade and shipping routes.  Flood control measures protect homes, farms, and businesses, but also cut the main channel off from critically valuable linkages to the broader floodplain.  All of these uses, and the dilemmas about how the can (or perhaps cannot) be balanced are grounded in a long history of changes to the physical fabric of the river and floodplain itself.

The key question is: To what extent are those changes determining and limiting future options?

We hope you’ll join us on September 9 to hear John Anfinson’s presentation and participate in the discussion.

“Trapped by History” is a public program sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study in association with the John E. Sawyer Seminar “Making the Mississippi: Formulating New Narratives for the Mississippi River in the 21st Century.”  The Sawyer Seminar is supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of Minnesota.

Related Posts

Comments are closed.

Contact Us!
Send us a note at to make suggestions for other places we should look, media to track, and stories to tell!
River Life in Video
Come Along for a Water Walk with Kare11 and River Life, and see Gifts at Work: The Mississippi River by the University of Minnesota Foundation
Open Rivers: Rethinking the Mississippi
A joint project of River Life, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Minnesota Libraries, Open Rivers is an interdisciplinary online journal that recognizes the Mississippi River as a space for timely and critical conversations about people, community, water, and place.