Living Water: Three generations of Apsáalooke revive a river

On the Crow Nation, scientists, students and community members come together to study and protect the Little Bighorn River.


For generations, the Little Bighorn River was the main source of water for the Apsáalooke citizens of the Crow Nation in southern Montana, not far from the Wyoming border. It remains the center of cultural life, but climate change, overuse and pollution from upstream farms have diminished and contaminated the river, changing the Apsáalooke community’s traditional relationship with its waters.

Living Water explores the intergenerational effort to study, document and protect the Little Bighorn River, with an emphasis on the next generation of Apsáalooke youth and their teachers. As Vanessa Simonds, a professor at Montana State University and the director of the Guardians of the Living Water program, said, “Our children can be guardians of this land and really build off of all these people that have been taking care of our water over the years.”

Brandon Yadegari Moreno is High Country News’ climate justice fellow. Email him at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.

Reporting for this story was supported by the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resource and the Society of Environmental Journalists.