Saturday, August 29, 2009


An excerpt from ALL OUR RELATIONS, NATIVE STRUGGLES FOR LAND AND LIFE. LaDuke, Winona, South End Press, Cambridge, Mass.; Honor the Earth, Minneapolis, Minn., ISBN 0-89608-599-6, $16. Page 197.

"Somewhere between the teachings of western science and those of the Native community there is some agreement on the state of the world. Ecosystems are collapsing, species are going extinct, the polar icecaps are melting, and nuclear bombings and accidents have contaminated the land.

According to Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, 50,000 species are lost every year. Three-quarters of the world's species of birds are declining, and one-quarter of all mammalian species are endangered. Tropical rainforests, freshwater lakes, and coral reefs are at immediate risk, and global warming and climate change will accelerate the rate of biological decline dramatically.

The writing is on the wall, in bold letters. There is no easy answer, and even scientists themselves seem to recognize the necessity of finding new strategies and understandings. In an unusual gathering in late 1998, for instance, NASA scientist met with Indigenous elders to discuss global warming an to hear the elders' suggestions on possible solutions. The response the scientists received may have been only part of what they had hoped for. As one observer summarized, the elders pretty much responded, 'You did it, you fix it.'

In the final analysis, we humans can say whatever we would like -- rationalize, revise statistical observations, extend deadlines, and make accommodations for a perceived 'common good.' But 'natural law,' as one Yakama fisherman and former director of the Columbia Intertribal Fishing Commission Ted Strong explains, 'is a hard and strict taskmaster.' Dump dioxin into the river, and you will inevitably eat or drink it."

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