The Ojibwe Gichigami (Lake Superior) bioregion is the ancestral and contemporary homeland of the Anishinaabe Ojibwa. Harvesting and consuming fish has sustained people for millennia, but today, toxic risks due to fish contamination contribute to many burdens for both human and more-than-human worlds. For the Ojibwa, nibi gaye nii’kinaaganaa (“water and all my relations”) are the lived experiences of fish-reliant communities and emphasize sustaining good relations with water and relatives. Toxicity disrupts traditional harvest lifeways, violates treaty rights, and problematizes Ojibwa water relations. In this article, I describe diverging values attributed to water and conflicting norms of water quality relations between Ojibwa people and scientific practices of toxicology. Drawn from a study of institutional water decision making, I examine practices associated with water, fish, and risk and how these practices clarify ethics in water policy. The study of toxic substances, albeit invisible in water policy and fish advisories, raises broader issues of Indigenous water justice, particularly for sensitive populations (e.g., developing children, women of childbearing age, and fish-reliant communities). In proposing a broader justice framework for reimagining water lives and livelihoods, I argue for foregrounding Indigenous water justice ethics based on long-term wellbeing, a time period inclusive of seven generations.

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