Rivers & Headwaters Project

Rivers & Headwaters is a regional folklife fieldwork project to identify and document tradition bearers and traditional activities related to rivers, headwaters, and watersheds in western United States.

Our focus has been the Muddy River, which empties into Lake Mead and the Colorado River. In addition to Southern Paiute and historic Mormon settlement, we discovered occupational groups whose work lives revolve around, or are related to, the headwaters and Muddy River watershed.

These include farmers and ranchers, irrigation and hydrology specialists, and various scientists. These two films capture two very different occupations and traditions enabled by the presence of the Muddy River – those of pomegranate farmers and wildlife biologists.

Muddy River Headwaters: Home of the Moapa Dace
At the uppermost part of the Muddy River system water comes out of the ground at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The source of this water is in the mountains in eastern Nevada, the Snake Range and some of the other mountains. The water flows down into the ground up there and surfaces in various places around Lund, and Pahranagat. Some faulting forces most of the water flowing down that pluvial White River system up to the surface at Warm Springs at Moapa. The multiple springs come together and form the Muddy River. These warm gentle waters are the home of several tiny fish species, some of which are endangered. In this video, we join a team of wildlife biologists at work on a fish count.