Food for Thought: How Indigenous perspectives are positively impacting our world

Aeta Indigenous People in the mountains and primeval forests of the Philippines planting. Credit: PREDA

By Alliance President Terry Gips

We previously shared the profound, poignant perspectives of Alaska Native (Denaakk’e) Nazune Menka about the significance of an Indigenous worldview for addressing our widespread social and environmental challenges. Because we feel Menka’s perspectives are so compelling, we are sharing the rest of her UUWorld article in her words about how Indigenous perspectives are influencing our approaches to key issues:

“Recognition of the need for a return to, and an uplifting of, Indigenous worldviews is increasing. For example, the 30×30 Initiative plans to conserve 30% of the earth’s land and water by 2030. However, as numerous organizations have pointed out, this initiative must make room for Indigenous-led conservation in order to ensure conservation is equitable, sustainable, and locally led and designed by the original stewards of the land.

“Around the world, Indigenous Peoples represent only 6.2% of the population but manage about 25% of the land, which in turn contains 80% of the global biodiversity. Indigenous-led conservation seems particularly possible in the US with the appointment of Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Indigenous woman at the helm of the Department of the Interior. Haaland (Pueblo Laguna) has created initiatives to restore Tribal homelands, research harms from boarding schools, establish a climate task force, and remove derogatory federal place names.

“Indigenous-led movements worldwide seek to protect water from pollution and land from deforestation and desecration. From Standing Rock to Oak Flat to Mauna Kea, Indigenous Peoples are seeking to return to a right relationship with the earth. It is not a movement based in a moment but a reconciliation to a stewardship that has existed for generations.

“The ask from Indigenous Peoples is simple but comes with a complex answer: Let us steward the land. Let us right the relationship. Assist us in these endeavors. Return to us our stolen land, ancestors, languages, and children so that we can heal ourselves and the earth.

“We need not continue to extract, take, remove, sell, covet, own, profit, or destroy. Another story is possible if we just listen to the past and allow it to take us into the future.”

And please see our Sustainability Tip with practical suggestions on some steps you can take.

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