The River Is in Us (Paperback)

Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community

By Elizabeth Hoover

Univ Of Minnesota Press, 9781517903039, 360pp.

Publication Date: November 1, 2017

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (11/1/2017)

List Price: 28.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Winner of the Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award 2017

Mohawk midwife Katsi Cook lives in Akwesasne, an indigenous community in upstate New York that is downwind and downstream from three Superfund sites. For years she witnessed elevated rates of miscarriages, birth defects, and cancer in her town, ultimately drawing connections between environmental contamination and these maladies. When she brought her findings to environmental health researchers, Cook sparked the United States’ first large-scale community-based participatory research project.

In The River Is in Us, author Elizabeth Hoover takes us deep into this remarkable community that has partnered with scientists and developed grassroots programs to fight the contamination of its lands and reclaim its health and culture. Through in-depth research into archives, newspapers, and public meetings, as well as numerous interviews with community members and scientists, Hoover shows the exact efforts taken by Akwesasne’s massive research project and the grassroots efforts to preserve the Native culture and lands. She also documents how contaminants have altered tribal life, including changes to the Mohawk fishing culture and the rise of diabetes in Akwesasne.

Featuring community members such as farmers, health-care providers, area leaders, and environmental specialists, while rigorously evaluating the efficacy of tribal efforts to preserve its culture and protect its health, The River Is in Us offers important lessons for improving environmental health research and health care, plus detailed insights into the struggles and methods of indigenous groups. This moving, uplifting book is an essential read for anyone interested in Native Americans, social justice, and the pollutants contaminating our food, water, and bodies.

About the Author

Elizabeth Hoover is Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies at Brown University, where she serves as a co-leader in Brown’s Superfund Research Program Community Engagement Core, as well as a member of the executive committee to develop Native American and Indigenous Studies.

Praise For The River Is in Us: Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community

"The River Is in Us takes readers to Akwesasne—a place where decades of environmental contamination has become embodied through acts of traditional land-based subsistence. Emphasizing inescapable connections between food and health, Elizabeth Hoover suggests how environmental justice, affirmative indigenous identity, and decolonization might be achieved at individual, social, and structural/political levels. Essential reading for anyone interested in intersections of ecology, sustenance, and survivance in Native North America."—Anna J. Willow, Ohio State University, author of Strong Hearts, Native Lands

"Navigating historical and political landscapes of industrial colonialism along the St. Lawrence River, Elizabeth Hoover illustrates how Mohawk people revolutionized environmental health research through the development of a community-based participatory research model. Her rich ethnography will leave an enduring mark on the field of Indigenous environmental studies."—Clint Carroll (Cherokee Nation), author of Roots of Our Renewal

"The River Is in Us is rewarding reading for anyone interested in environmental justice or indigenous people."—Foreword Reviews

"Hoover’s study is comprehensive, historically sound, richly detailed, and sensitive to the Mohawks’ perception of the crisis as they wage a continuing struggle to rehabilitate their homeland, rallying to face an existential threat."—CHOICE

"Elizabeth Hoover manages to tell this complex story from a complex setting implicating multiple locations of academic and indigenous theory, in a way that is engaging and instructive."—American Indian Culture and Research Journal

"The River Is in Us offers a sweeping analysis of the psychosocial and material effects of industrial contamination of the St. Lawrence River on the Mohawk community of Akwesasne. The book ultimately provides us with a rich, moving story of indigenous survivance, resilience, and regeneration."—Medical Anthropology Quarterly