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Notes from a Western Life
Ranging Far and Wide on the High Plains and Beyond
Linda M. Hasselstrom's Blog

Cool Water Hula

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I urge everyone to visit this site; the Cool Water Hula exemplifies my favorite kind of political action about difficult topics: it’s filled with good will, humor, and beauty. The Cool Water Hula originated in 2000 to call attention to the biggest superfund site, the Berkeley Pit, filled with contaminated water from one of the nation’s many bouts of energy-related greed. The Cool Water Hula, as our friend Kristi Hager explains, tells a new story.

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Background:
The Berkeley Pit was once part of a huge open pit copper mine near Butte, Montana. When mining shut down in 1982 the pit was allowed to fill with water (groundwater and surface runoff). The water is toxic from leaching through the mined area. In the fall of 1995 a large flock of migrating snow geese landed on the contaminated water of the Berkeley Pit. 342 died.

Butte artist Kristi Hager combined the Hawaiian sacred hula dance with the song "Cool Water" made famous by Sons of the Pioneers (you know the song-- "All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water, cool water . . .”). In July, 2000, and again in July, 2010, she gathered a group of people on the rim of the pit, all wearing white shirts and water-blue fabric sarongs, to sing and dance the Cool Water Hula.

"It's a prayer -- to teach us to care for water," Hager told Marga Lincoln, writer for the Ravalli Republic newspaper in June, 2010.

For more information:
Cool Water Hula blog with YouTube video demonstration
June, 2010 article on the Ravalli Republic website

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