Week 4 Highlights: Featuring Dawit Tobiaw and Carla Miller from Team ZAAGA’IGAN

Dawit Tobiaw photo 5 by REU SLAWR
Dawit Tobiaw photo 5, a photo by REU SLAWR on Flickr.

Measuring the speed of the flow of the stream


By Dawit Tobiaw, Team ZAAGA’IGAN:

July 2nd

Kari and I went to Stony brook stream which is located at Pine Drive to see the water level change after the flooding and to download the water pressure data from the gage. This is usually done in fall. However, due to the massive flooding we had about two weeks ago, we had to go out and download the water pressure from all the gages we have in the streams and measure the speed of the flow water. The staff gage reading was 6.6 feet. As Kari told me, it is the highest she has ever seen it. After we downloaded the data, we looked at the graph that shows the water level. At the day of the rain event, the water level had increased like never before, and it was flowing at an amazingly fast rate.  After Stony brook stream, we went to Fond du Lac creek. We were able to jump in to the stream and measure the speed of the flow of water, and record the staff gage reading.

July 3rd

We went to Martin branch stream and recorded staff gage reading and downloaded the water pressure. In the afternoon, Kari and I went to Perch lake. This time instead of canoeing to get to our sampling stations we took the air boat. This was my first time riding on an air boat.

July 5th

We went to Stony brook stream and Simian stream and downloaded the water pressure graph and measured the water flow from the gage.

JULY 6th

All of us from Team Zaaga went out and visited an island located in St. Louis River. It was recently bought by Fond du Lac. We took an air boat and a boat with us to get to the island. We also went to Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake in the world. This was my first time visiting Lake Superior!

Plans for next week

  1. To learn how to hook up the trailer to the truck because when Nancy go on vacation, I will be the one in charge of doing water quality testing.
  2. Learn how to perform titrations
  3. To learn how to use varieties of instruments we have in the lab
  4. To learn how to canoe
  5. To learn how to count zooplankton
  6. To finish up my assigned readings

Carla counting charcoal. Photo by Carla Miller, Team ZAAGA’IGAN.

By Carla Miller, Team ZAAGA’IGAN:

Last week’s goals were:

  • Visit Fond du Lac Culture Center and Museum – visit with elders

I had the chance to visit the Fond du Lac Culture Center and Museum one day last week.  There I meet a gentleman named Jeff Savage, who is the Director.  He told me about the center, gave me a book and video on the Birch Bark Canoe Building Project which began in 2007. This project promotes traditional craftsmanship and language preservation. Met the woman that supervises the elder center in Sawyer, and plan to go there, hang out, and mingle.

  • Sign-up for beading classes at the Center

Was told that this was a misprint in the local paper, and there are no beading classes, this was a disappointment to me.

  • More research on Cranberry Lake

On Friday team Zaaga’igan went to visit Spirit Island, a sacred Ojibwe Island on the St. Louis River, which is in Duluth, MN. The team was accompanied by Tom Howes and Nancy Schuldt from the Fond du Lac Resource Management Center.  Spirit Island was the 6th stopping place of the Anishinabe people during the migration period.  The seven prophecies led them on this journey, to where food grows on water was located. Back then, the headwaters of the St. Louis River was abundant with wild rice; but it has now been disturbed by irrigation, mining and development. Fond du Lac reservation bought back this nearly 6-acre island from a Duluth resident approximately one year ago to begin assessment on the St. Louis River.  Contaminants such as carp, which are bottom feeders, rip out the wild rice plants and eat the sediments that provide nutrients for the plants.

The surrounding development, including mining upstream, also contaminates the ground water and affects the wild rice.  The Great Lakes Legacy Act and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) are working collaboratively on these issues and recognize the heavy contamination. US Steel plants have been in operation for 80 – 90 years and prove to have a negative impact on the growth of wild rice.

We had the FdL Resource Center’s air boat and a regular boat and cruised across to Spirit Island.  We split up in two groups – the larger group headed into woods and crossed the island, while myself, Carlos and Christa walked along the shore of the Island.  As we walked, I took notes, documenting things that I found out of the ordinary; such as the orientation of the smaller vegetation, logs in the water, washed up large logs with bark peeled off probably from the force of the water, logs that came from a company or industry that had the ends cut by a saw. Two huge poles; perhaps old telephone poles connected together by two large screws and washed up garbage and debris.  Carlos asked me why I was taking notes, and I told him that I keep a journal for my grandchildren; this is something that my grandfather had done, but we no longer know where his journal is.  I believe Carlos thinks this is a tedious task, but I think this is important for our future generations.  We laughed about it and I told him “what you may think is silly, I think is important”.

We also went to Wisconsin Point which is the largest freshwater sandbar in the world. This has the Ojibwe Sacred burial ground, 2 ¾ miles of beach, a place to go if your interests include bird watching and wildlife; it also has a functioning lighthouse at the end of a pier.

My main goals for this week are:

  • Work on research paper
  • Create Power Point
  • Work on Background
  • More Research on Cranberry Lake

The week flew by once again, counting charcoal seems mundane, but when you find something other than just the average miscellaneous piece, it gets a little exciting. This week I found three pieces of Branched Charcoal. Now that I know the lake that I am studying is located in a mining district, I find myself looking for peculiar pieces of anything that may be out of the ordinary. I am pretty confident working in the lab doing the procedure of preparation before baking and placing in the petri dishes. This is a skill that I have picked up quickly, with ease and accuracy.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Diana Dalbotten. Bookmark the permalink.

About Diana Dalbotten

Diana Dalbotten is the Director of Diversity and Broader Impacts for the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics and the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota; and for the Geoscience Alliance, a national alliance for broadening participation of Native Americans in the Geosciences.

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