10. The Cave.
This is the hub of all things Quapaw – part office, River gear storage, library, art studio, museum – basically a repository for all things cool. The first time I went in I feel in love immediately with the organized chaos. There was so much to look at: books, gear, paintings, fossils, driftwood and the mystery of all the things I couldn’t see that had been layered over.
9. The Location.
Sitting along the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Quapaw headquarters allows you to have nature out your window and Clarksdale’s vibrant art and music out the front door. The town recently named Quapaw the small business of the year and everywhere we went I could sense the towns respect and appreciation for their work. From Red’s Lounge – the most authentic juke joint you could hope for, to Cat Head Music, to the quirky Delta Bohemian travel guide and guest house, Clarksdale’s got style and is a destination in itself.
8. The Photos (and paintings).
Art, frame, perspective, joy, reverence are all expressed in the photos John and the Quapaws take of the River and their community. Be transported to the Quapaw world through their Facebook photos or their new Instagram account.
7. The Food.
Out on the water after paddling all day, you will eat just about anything; the Quapaw’s make sure it is tasty though! With the perfect balance of simplicity, nutrition and culinary flare, they have got it down, not easy when you have to pack it all in a few coolers! If you need a second opinion ask Anthony Bourdain; he did a whole show on the Delta and the Quapaws enter in at about the 11 minute mark.
6. The Canoes.
Craftsmanship is evident in their handmade canoes, the Junebug and the Grasshopper. The granddaughter of a woodworker, the smell of sawdust made me feel at home. The art of canoe building is an important skill Quapaw keeps alive and teaches future generations.
5. The Lower Mississippi River Foundation (LMRF).
The non-profit arm of Quapaw focuses on environmental education, stewardship and outdoor survival training for disadvantaged local youth. Knowledge is temporary unless it is shared and the programs at LMRF will ensure there will be people to continue to carry the torch.
4. The People.
My trip was full of interesting people from diverse backgrounds on and off the River, some who danced in the rain and others who would identify fossils. A can-do attitude, willingness to take responsibility to “be the change in the world” and community spirit permeates the Quapaw’s work. It’s beautiful to see how the Quapaws are lit from the inside from their connection to the River and their ability to make space for your light shine brighter.
As the Rivergator website shows, the Quapaws really know the River. They also have wisdom to know they don’t know everything and are themselves constantly open to learning. Ingenuity and adaptation make them problem solvers and allow you to trust them even if unexpected challenges come up. If there is a zombie apocalypse, I’m heading to the Cave.
2. The Respect.
The rules at Quapaw: respect yourselves, respect others and respect the River.
1. The Connection.
Sprinkled throughout their work is perspective, love and appreciation, all important ingredients to helps us connect with the River, our environment, each other and our true selves.