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About this Project

From December 2001 through July 2002, seven western humanities councils from seven states that share the Colorado River (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming) presented Moving Waters: The Colorado River and the West . The aim of the project was to generate regional consciousness of the river.

This project addresses three themes:

-the geological, historical, environmental and technological forces that shape the land of the Colorado watershed;

-the law of the river that determines the rights to river water; and

-the literary arts and lore inspired by the dynamic connections and attachments that people feel for and express about the river.

Proposed bridge across the Colorado River at Yuma, Arizona c. 1910 collection o fJeremy Rowe

Proposed bridge across the Colorado River at Yuma, Arizona c. 1910 collection of Jeremy Rowe
©2001 jrowe@vintagephoto.com


A Hard Working River

The river runs free. Courtesy of the photographer, Kathleen Jo Ryan
The river runs free. Courtesy of the photographer, Kathleen Jo Ryan


The Colorado River is one of the hardest-working rivers in the world. More than 25 million people in seven western states and Mexico depend on the river water, which flows 1,700 miles from Wyoming’s melting glaciers and Colorado’s snow run-off, then falls 14,000 feet before reaching the Gulf of California.

Along the way the river water is captured by 20 hydroelectric plants, 10 major dams, and 80 diversion channels. At the same time, the river carves out magnificent canyons – including the grand Canyon – and supports six national parks and numerous recreational areas. Without it, major cities like Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles would not exist as they do today.
But the Colorado River is more than a list of facts and figures. Most importantly, it binds and defines the west. It is impossible to tell the history of the West without referring to water, and it is equally impossible to talk about western water without referring to the Colorado.

Think about any issue in the West and you can trace it to the Colorado River – agriculture, mining, housing, recreation, ranching, Native American rights, environmental debates, tourism, border issues. All of these and more connect to the Colorado, just as the river connects al of us, whether we line in Pinedale, Wyoming, or Yuma, Arizona.


A Hard Working Project
Moving Waters is the story of the river’s influence and meaning. By focusing on the river, we can see much that is distinctive about western history as well as much that is shaping the future of the West.

Hundreds of Moving Waters programs took place in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Most activities occurred in 22 communities, although many other towns participated. Here are a few of the major components that engaged communities in the project.

Lecture exchange: emissaries went from the source to the delta and from the delta to the source.

Exhibit: a 16-panel, freestanding traveling exhibit.

Radio Documentary: six one-half hour programs broadcast throughout the West.

Water Wars: lectures explaining the “Law of the River.”

Reading the River: reading and discussion programs about the river.

Community self-portraits.

And a culminating conference.

Moving Waters begins in late 2001 and continues through summer 2002. The culminating regional conference was held in Flagstaff September 25 - 28, 2002.

The 22 communities and months of programming were:

Arizona (Yuma, Parker, Page, Phoenix)
December 2001-April 2002

California (Needles, Imperial, San Diego)
January – April 2002

Colorado (Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Denver)
January – April 2002

Nevada (Laughlin, Boulder city, Las Vegas)
February – April 2002

New Mexico (Silver City, Farmington, Santa Fe)
February – May 2002

Utah (Moab, Vernal, Salt Lake City)
April – July 2002

Wyoming (Pinedale, Green River, Rock Springs)
April – July 2002

Culminating Conference
Flagstaff, September 2002


Participating State Humanities Councils

ARIZONA HUMANITIES COUNCIL logo

ARIZONA HUMANITIES COUNCIL
602 257-0335
www.azhumanities.org

CALIFORNIA COUNCIL FOR THE HUMANITIES logo

CALIFORNIA COUNCIL FOR THE HUMANITIES
415 391-1474
www.calhum.org

COLORADO ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES logo

COLORADO ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES
303 894-7951
www.ceh.org

NEVADA HUMANITIES COMMITTEE logo

NEVADA HUMANITIES COMMITTEE
775 784-6587
www.unr.edu/nhc

NEW MEXICO ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES logo

NEW MEXICO ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES
505 277-3705
www.nmeh.org

UTAH HUMANITIES COUNCIL logo

UTAH HUMANITIES COUNCIL
801 359-9670
www.utahhumanities.org

WYOMING COUNCIL FOR THE HUMANITIES logo

WYOMING COUNCIL FOR THE HUMANITIES
307 721-9243
www.uwyo.edu/wch

 

 

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