Respect for vs Rape of The Earth

History in the Making at Standing Rock


The following was originally published on Awaken the Dream.

Every now and then an event happens in our world that captures my imagination, touching something really deep within me. The Native American protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at Standing Rock, North Dakota is just such an event. This has the feeling of a truly seminal, historic event in which we are all invited to participate. The peaceful protests by what are known as the “water protectors” against a multi-billion dollar corporation putting an oil pipeline through what the Native Americans consider sacred land, endangering the source of their water—i.e., of life itself—is a deeply symbolic event with real life consequences. In a very real sense, the protest is itself a sacred ceremony being performed on the world stage, being done on behalf of all of humanity – which is to say, all of us.

As if a formless archetypal process is taking on form and materializing in front of our eyes, a deeper universal conflict that exists within the unconscious psyche of humanity is becoming visible at Standing Rock. At these protests there is a meeting—a confrontation—of two opposite edges of the universe, an encounter of two completely polarized world-views and ways of life. On the one hand, there is the indigenous perspective that honors all life, living in conscious relationship with the earth. On the other hand is industrial civilization, which sees the earth as some “thing”—an inanimate object—to be used for profit, a perspective which is actually destroying the biosphere, the very life support system of the planet. Two more opposed world-views are hard to imagine.

At Standing Rock, a dissociation and fragmentation that exists deep within the soul of humanity is, both literally and symbolically, playing out on the world stage. Seen symbolically, the image of this primordial conflict is quite striking: The “weapons” of the indigenous perspective are love, compassion, prayer, ceremony and truth. The weapons of industrial civilization are guns, clubs, pepper spray, mace, tear gas, tasers, attack dogs and the like. By viewing what is taking place in this conflict symbolically, something profoundly important is being revealed to us that has to do with all of us. Symbols are the language of dreams, which is to say that symbols reflect something within the dreamer, which in this case is us. Once we recognize—as if looking in a mirror—the reflective nature of what is symbolically playing out, a potential doorway opens in our minds. What is playing out at Standing Rock is all of our business.

The conflict at Standing Rock is an iteration of a seemingly endless fractal that is happening in different guises not only all over the world, but all throughout history as well. It is the current re-creation of the countless scenarios where those in power abuse their power over the less powerful (often taking their land and resources).The pipeline was originally going to be close to the city of Bismarck, until there was pushback from the city’s (mostly white) population, who were understandably scared of the inevitable leakage from the pipeline contaminating their water; it was then re-routed to its present location.For the Native American people, it is a modern-day repetition of the original trauma of when the Europeans came over and not only forcibly took over their land, but committed racial and cultural genocide.

In bulldozing the Native American’s sacred burial grounds, it is as if the indigenous blood that was spilled across this continent by the US Cavalry—cloaked under the charade of “discovery”—is awakening the spirits of the native ancestors, who were slaughtered mercilessly in the name of  “Manifest Destiny.” Animated by this sacred spirit, at Standing Rock the Native Americans are courageously fighting the same demonic force that has for centuries ravaged their people, lands, and sacred heritage.

How we look at things determines what we see. How we view the conflict at Standing Rock depends upon how far back we go in time, i.e., where we start in the story. The argument of Big Oil is that the protesters are trespassing on private property, i.e., breaking the law. But way back when, this land was the Native Americans’ land (it didn’t “belong” to them, any more than the sun and the sky belonged to them – they simply lived there). Their land was then forcibly—violently—taken from them by our European ancestors. At a certain point the US Government gave back to the Native Americans the very land that’s in question in a treaty. Later, whenever many of these treaties became “inconvenient” (i.e., stood in the way of private profiteering), the government broke their promises (illegally, I might add) by simply ignoring them, pretending as if they never existed. And now Big Oil, backed by a militarized response from both our government and private contractors, is fabricating a false collective narrative that the Native Americans—who, let us not forget, are living on land stolen from them—are the ones who are breaking the law. This is totally upside-down crazy – a reflection of a madness that afflicts industrial civilization world-wide. To say that this madness borders on being criminal is an understatement – it IS nothing other than criminal.

There is a systemic psycho-spiritual disease—a true madness—that pervades the body politic of humanity, and what is happening at Standing Rock is an acute localized outbreak of this disease. The Native Americans have a word—“wetiko”—which signifies this illness of the soul—a truly demonic force—that informs such acts of unmitigated evil. As stated by one Native American source, “Native tribes, in general, have a story they tell about Wendigo [another name for wetiko], the spirit of cannibalism. This Black Snake [like an oil pipeline] that is being protested by the Standing Rock Sioux is the spirit of Wendigo, and yes the ‘White Man’ does eat everything, including Mother Earth.”

Those aligned with and taken over by the Black Snake – i.e., wendigo/wetiko endlessly “consume,” like an insatiable cannibal, the life force of others—human and nonhuman—for private purpose or profit, without giving back anything of value from their own lives. At the collective level, this perverse inner process is mirrored by the consumer society in which we live, a culture that continually fans the flames of never-ending desires, conditioning us to always want more. As if starving, we are in an endless feeding frenzy, trying to fill a bottomless void. This process of rabid, obsessive-compulsive consumption is a reflection of a deep, inner shared sense of spiritual starvation that is endemic to industrial civilization.

To quote Native American scholar Jack Forbes, “This disease, this wetiko (cannibal) psychosis, is the greatest epidemic sickness known to man.” Wetiko is a collective psychosis that can be likened to a virus of the psyche that deranges our mind, thereby giving us the wrong orientation towards life and what is truly important. A true case of moral insanity, wetiko is the root cause of humanity’s inhumanity to itself, of the self-and-other destruction that our species is acting out all over the world. Wetiko disease is a self-devouring operating system, a living death sentence that, if left unchecked, destroys everything within its dominion, including itself.

It is significant when a deeper, mythic archetypal process becomes embodied and acted out (i.e., “dreamed up”) like it is at Standing Rock, for this is an expression that this heretofore unconscious process is emerging into consciousness so as to be potentially integrated. Seen symbolically, the deeper archetypal—and primordial—process of good vs. evil is getting played out at Standing Rock. To give a sense of the evil we are up against, the company constructing the pipeline—Energy Transfer Partners—exploiting the chaos of the recent Presidential election as a distraction, announced on Election Day that it would defy President Obama’s request to stand down and would begin the drilling of the most contentious portion of the pipeline in just two weeks.

Splitting the world into good and evil (and being identified with the good) is a slippery slope, oftentimes quite dangerous (as many millions of innocent people have been killed as a result of this process), but if there was ever a situation that lends itself to clear-cut good vs. evil, Standing Rock is it. A war between life and death is, both literally and symbolically, playing out at Standing Rock. When the opposites appear in bold relief like this, it is an expression that something “beyond the opposites” is beginning to emerge into view – we should be on the lookout for this. This is to say that encoded in the conflict is a potential blessing, just like hidden within a poison is its own medicine.

On the one hand there is the fossil fuel industry—“Big Oil”—backed by, and in collusion with our legal system, the police and the government. Because of its power, Big Oil has managed to have public funds being used to protect its very private interests (i.e., its profits); this is to say that taxpayers are footing the bill on behalf of the super-wealthy. Add to this mix the mainstream media (the propaganda organ of the prevailing powers-that-be), which, when it is not putting out disinformation about what is taking place, is barely covering what is happening—some independent journalists have been violently brutalized and even arrested as they report on the protests.

Due to the mainstream news blackout, we are being left “in the dark” – which is to say that many people aren’t even aware of what’s taking place at Standing Rock. This is by design, for as more people find out about the evil that is being perpetrated in their name, the more power becomes available to us – the people. Only in coming together can people and communities create the conditions for the regeneration of life and overcome the very powerful forces that would extract the last barrel of oil from the earth. In this case, knowledge is truly power – this is why the powers-that-be, and the mainstream media they control, are heavily invested in keeping us in the dark. The seeming entity that enlivens, sponsors and supplies cover for this sinister project is what the Native American wisdom holders are pointing at when they use the word wetiko.

The Bible refers to one aspect of the multi-faceted wetiko pathogen as Mammon(the god, or demon, of the love of money), and it makes the point that we can’t serve two masters; we either serve God (and the good) or Mammon. Those who serve Mammon are driven by nothing other than power, control, greed and money—truly the powers of darkness. As if something is riding them, they are taken over by something other than themselves – they aren’t able to help themselves in the compulsive acting out of their money-lust. The incredible destruction that they cause, be it of the environment, communities or the lives of individual human beings, are considered to be nothing more than collateral damage, merely the price of doing business. Human beings are “objectified,” either seen as pawns, obstacles, commodities or consumers.

One of the ways wetiko takes on corporeal embodied form is by incorporating itself through multinational corporations like Big Oil (which, like a multi-headed hydra, is only one of wetiko’s appendages). These multinational corporations have ever-increasing influence over governments worldwide, which serves to further wetiko’s propagation. Like a Frankenstein monster, as wetiko entrenches itself in our global system of doing business, it practically assumes an autonomous life and will of its own. This sinister life-form feeds on life and the living, as if it is a form of death taking on life. Endlessly draining the earth’s resources, the vampiric wetiko entity is, like an addict, only interested in its next fix. It is solely concerned with short-term profits, having little or no meta-awareness of, or concern for, the deleterious long-term effects of its rapacious actions.

And yet, in its full-bodied incarnation at Standing Rock, the formless entity of wetiko is revealing itself, which is to say that what is playing out at Standing Rock is a symbolic out-picturing—a living flesh and blood revelation of something within us—that is crucially important for us to bring into consciousness. Standing Rock is a looking-glass, helping us to get into focus and see—in a case where the micro mirrors the macro and vice versa—that wetiko is not just a localized phenomenon appearing solely in North Dakota, but is informing the evil that is playing out all over the world. Because wetiko acts itself out through our unconscious blind-spots, the way to dispel wetiko’s pernicious effects is to see it, to bring consciousness to how it operates both out in the world (via our unconscious collusion) as well as within our own mind (please see my book Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil).

On the other hand are the Native American people who have been oppressed for so long and are finally saying “enough, no more,” as they stand up to their oppressors. More than three hundred Native American tribes have come together and are on the ground at Standing Rock standing as one, which itself is unprecedented, as some of these tribes have been enemies from time immemorial. Stepping out of the illusion of being powerless, these tribes are recognizing the incredible power that becomes available when we see through the illusion of our being separate from each other, and in the spirit of peace, come together in solidarity and join forces – this itself can serve as a mirror and inspiration for all the rest of us. Waking up to our intrinsic power as we stand together as one is the powers-that-be’s worst nightmare.

In their sacred activism, the Native American protestors consider themselves to be the guardians and protectors of the water, of the land, of the earth as a whole system. This is a job that we shouldn’t out-source to indigenous people: we are all the custodians of the earth—protectors of life itself—which bears with it a great responsibility. There is no greater honor.

We are all in this together. Let us hear the call of the indigenous soul within us and spread the word about Standing Rock.

 

Standing Rock Sioux Nation website

http://standingrock.org

 

Sacred Stone Camp, to go literally “stand” at SR physically

http://sacredstonecamp.org

 

Red Warrior Camp

https://nodaplsolidarity.org

 

Medical/Healers Council – donate/volunteer

https://medichealercouncil.com

 

The Indigenous Peoples website

http://theindigenouspeoples.com

 

How You Can Support Standing Rock

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/09/24/how-you-can-support-standing-rock

 

How You Can Help

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/help-stop-dakota-acess-pipeline/

from:    http://realitysandwich.com/320972/history-in-the-making-at-standing-rock/

To Honor the Earth

The White Horse and the Humvees—Standing Rock Is Offering Us a Choice

Right here, between the barricades on a North Dakota highway, is a pivotal confrontation between two world views, two futures.
Horse650px.jpg

Two lines, facing each other on a North Dakota highway. On one side, concrete barriers protect a row of armored vehicles and helmeted police with assault rifles. On the other, a young man rides a white horse whose legs are stained with blood. A woman, wearing a scarf to protect her lungs from tear gas, wafts sage smoke over a boy to give him strength, wash away hate, and remind him of his sacred purpose.

Here, on a highway stretching across trampled prairie grass, the fundamental contest of our time is playing out.

The fundamental contest of our time is playing out.

It’s a confrontation not only between two groups of people, but between two world views. The space between the lines vibrates with tensions of race, historical trauma, broken treaties, money and politics, love and fear. But the underlying issue that charges the air, mixing with the smells of tear gas and sage, is the global contest between two deeply different ideas about the true meaning of land.

On one side is the unquestioned assumption that land is merely a warehouse of lifeless materials that have been given to (some of) us by God or conquest, to use without constraint. On this view, human happiness is best served by whatever economy most efficiently transforms water, soils, minerals, wild lives, and human yearning into corporate wealth. And so it is possible to love the bottom line on a quarterly report so fiercely that you will call out the National Guard to protect it.

On the other side of the concrete barriers is a story that is so ancient it seems revolutionary.  On this view, the land is a great and nourishing gift to all beings. The fertile soil, the fresh water, the clear air, the creatures, swift or rooted: they require gratitude and veneration. These gifts are not commodities, like scrap iron and sneakers. The land is sacred, a living breathing entity, for whom we must care, as she cares for us. And so it is possible to love land and water so fiercely you will live in a tent in a North Dakota winter to protect them.

It may turn out that the cracks in that stretch of two-lane highway mark a giant crack in time, when one set of assumptions about reality snaps and is replaced by another. This, like all times of paradigm shift, is an unsettled time, a time of shouting and police truncheons, as privileged people defend the assumptions that have served them royally.

What are they so afraid of out there in North Dakota, that they arrest journalists, set dogs on women and children, send prayerful protectors to jail and align para-military force against indigenous people on their own homelands?

Everyone can join the people of Standing Rock and say No.

Maybe they are afraid of the truth-telling power of the people at Standing Rock and their busloads of allies, who are making clear that we live in an era of profound error that we mistakenly believe is the only way we can live, an era of insanity that we believe is the only way we can think. But once people accept with heart and mind that land is our teacher, our mother, our garden, our pharmacy, our church, our cradle and our grave, it becomes unthinkable to destroy it. This vision threatens the industrial worldview more than anything else.

Indigenous people are saying, there are honorable and enduring lifeways that beckon to people who are weary of destruction.

Everyone can join the people of Standing Rock and say No. No more wrecked land. No more oil spills. No more poisoned wells. We don’t have to surrender the well-being of communities to the profit of a few. We can say Yes. Yes, we are all in this together. Yes, we can all stand on moral ground. Yes, we can all be protectors of the water and protectors of the silently watching future. The blockade on the highway is an invitation to remember and reclaim who we might be — just and joyous humans on a bountiful Earth. Right here, between the barricades, we are offered a choice.

On the highway, a warrior steps around the concrete barrier, offering a sage bundle that trails white smoke. Approaching a figure in riot gear, he extends the blessing to the officer, letting the smoke wash over him. To give him strength. To wash away hate. To remind him of his purpose.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, citizen Potawatomi Nation, is director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Her most recent book is Braiding Sweetgrass. 
Kathleen Dean Moore, the author of Great Tide Rising: Toward Clarity and Moral Courage in a Time of Planetary Change and co-editor of Moral Ground, is Oregon State University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Emerita.
from:    http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/the-humvees-and-the-white-horse2014two-futures-20161105

Seattle Considers Change to Indigenous Peoples’ Day

City of Seattle May Change “Columbus Day” To “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”

https://i1.wp.com/themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/wiki-1050x794.jpg?resize=584%2C442

John Vibestrueactivist.com | Will Columbus Day soon be a thing of the past?

Measures are currently underway in Seattle, Washington which would abolish the holiday known as “Columbus Day” and replace it with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”.

In the not-so-distant past, such a thing would be unthinkable, as the propagandized version of the founding of America was widely accepted until just a few years ago. In recent years, more people have been questioning the version of history that they were told in school, and have been seeking out alternative viewpoints.Measures are currently underway in Seattle, Washington which would abolish the holiday known as “Columbus Day” and replace it with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”.

This small symbolic change highlights a paradigm shift that is taking place in the hearts and minds of the general population.

On behalf of all our indigenous and non-indigenous ancestors who established the United States of America, it’s a true blessing and about time that all citizens of [the] USA and the City of Seattle support the changing of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day,” Tulalip Tribes Council member Theresa Sheldon said in a statement.

“Columbus fed newborn babies to his dogs. He cut off the hands of the indigenous people if they refused to be his slave[s] … [He] started a sex trade of 10- to 12-year-old girls for men of privilege to rape,” she explained

Seattle is not the first city to make this change, there are actually many others, including Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Sebastopol in California, Minneapolis in Minnesota, and Dane County in Wisconsin.

The states of Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, South Dakota, Iowa, Nevada and Oklahoma no longer publicly observe Columbus Day, and they have not replaced it with another holiday.

“This is the first step in correcting the true history of the United States and recognizing the serious wrongs that were done to a beautiful and loving people, the indigenous people of the [Caribbean],” Sheldon said.

According to Matt Remle, a Hunkpapa Lakota teacher and writer who is pushing for the the name change, the proposal is supported by a number of native organizations, including the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, the Seattle Human Rights Commission, the Northwest Indian Bar Association, the Swinomish Tribe, the Tulalip Tribes, and the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation.

The brutal past can not be undone, but the first step in the healing process is for people to begin being honest about their history.

You can read the full resolution by clicking HERE.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons

from:    http://themindunleashed.org/2014/10/city-seattle-may-change-columbus-day-indigenous-peoples-day.html

Indigenous Uprisings & Planetary Future

For a Future that Won’t Destroy Life on Earth, Look to the Global Indigenous Uprising

Idle No More is the latest incarnation of an age-old movement for life that doesn’t depend on infinite extraction and growth. Now, armed with Twitter and Facebook, once-isolated groups from Canada to South America are exchanging resources and support like never before.
posted May 23, 2013
Melina photo by Jiri Rezac

Melina Laboucan-Massimo stands next to logs from clearcuts at a proposed tar sands site north of Fort McMurray, northern Alberta, Canada. Photo by Jiri Rezac.

There’s a remote part of northern Alberta where the Lubicon Cree have lived, it is said, since time immemorial. The Cree called the vast, pine-covered region niyanan askiy, “our land.” When white settlers first carved up this country, they made treaties with most of its original inhabitants—but for reasons unclear, the Lubicon Cree were left out. Two hundred years later, the Lubicon’s right to their traditional territory is still unrecognized. In the last four decades, industry has tapped the vast resource wealth that lies deep beneath the pines; today, 2,600 oil and gas wells stretch to the horizon. This is tar sands country.

In 2012 testimony before the U.S. Congress, Lubicon Cree organizer Melina Laboucan-Massimo, then 30, described witnessing the devastation of her family’s ancestral land caused by one of the largest oil spills in Alberta’s history. “What I saw was a landscape forever changed by oil that had consumed a vast stretch of the traditional territory where my family had hunted, trapped, and picked berries and medicines for generations.”

“When we’re at home, we feel really isolated,” says Laboucan-Massimo, who has spent her adult life defending her people’s land from an industry that has rendered it increasingly polluted and impoverished. The Lubicon are fighting a hard battle, but their story—of resource extraction, of poverty and isolation, and of enduring resistance—is one that echoes in indigenous communities around the world. Today, Laboucan-Massimo and others like her are vanguards of a network of indigenous movements that is increasingly global, relevant—and powerful.

This power manifests in movements like Idle No More, which swept Canada last December and ignited a wave of solidarity on nearly every continent. Laboucan-Massimo was amazed—and hopeful. Triggered initially by legislation that eroded treaty rights and removed protection for almost all of Canada’s rivers—clearing the way for unprecedented fossil fuel extraction—Idle No More drew thousands into the streets. In a curious blend of ancient and high-tech, images of indigenous protesters in traditional regalia popped up on news feeds all over the world.

A history of resistance

To outsiders, it might seem that Idle No More materialized spontaneously, that it sprang into being fully formed. It builds, however, on a long history of resistance to colonialism that began when Europeans first washed up on these shores. Now, armed with Twitter and Facebook, once-isolated movements from Canada to South America are exchanging knowledge, resources, and support like never before.

“When you destroy the earth, you destroy yourself,” says Melina Laboucan-Massimo. This is “the common thread in indigenous people all over the world.”

Idle No More is one of what Subcomandante Marcos, the masked prophet of the Mexican Zapatistas, called “pockets of resistance,” which are “as numerous as the forms of resistance themselves.” The Zapatistas are part of a wave of indigenous organizing that crested in South America in the 1990s, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of European conquest—most effectively in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Mexico. Certain threads connect what might otherwise be isolated uprisings: They’re largely nonviolent, structurally decentralized, they seek common cause with non-natives, and they are deeply, spiritually rooted in the land.

The connections among indigenous organizers have strengthened through both a shared colonial history and a shared threat—namely, the neoliberal economic policies of deregulation, privatization, and social spending cuts exemplified by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization. Indigenous organizers see these agreements as nothing more than the old colonial scramble for wealth at the expense of the natives. In a 1997 piece in Le Monde Diplomatique, Marcos called neoliberalism “the totalitarian extension of the logic of the finance markets to all aspects of life,” resulting in “the exclusion of all persons who are of no use to the new economy.” Many indigenous leaders charge that the policies implemented through organizations like the World Bank and the IMF prioritize corporations over communities and further concentrate power in the hands of a few.

Uprising in Ecuador

The mid-1990s saw a massive expansion of such policies—and with it, an expansion of resistance, particularly in countries with significant indigenous populations. In 1990, CONAIE, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, staged a massive, nonviolent levantamiento—an uprising—flooding the streets of Quito, blocking roads and effectively shutting down the country. Entire families walked for days to reach the capital to demand land rights, fair prices for agrarian goods, and recognition of Ecuador as a plurinational state, made up of multiple, equally legitimate nations. In the end it forced renegotiation of policy and created unprecedented indigenous representation in government; many hailed CONAIE’s success as a model for organizing everywhere.

CONAIE’s slogan, “Nothing just for Indians,” invited participation from non-indigenous allies around larger questions of inequality and political representation, creating a political space that was big and inclusive enough for everyone. Dr. Maria Elena Garcia, who studies these movements at the University of Washington, says that non-indigenous support has been “crucial” for success across the board. In the case of CONAIE, she says, there came a tipping point when “most Ecuadorians … said, ‘Enough. This organization is speaking for us.’”

Zapatistas photo by Tim Russo

Idle No More clearly exists in the Zapatista tradition, but it goes further in incorporating the language of climate justice. In December as many as 50,000 masked Mayan Zapatistas marched into cities across Chiapas. Differing from the 1994 armed indigenous uprising, this one was done in complete silence.

The Zapatista Army

Meanwhile, in Mexico, the Zapatista movement was busy building a different kind of revolution. On January 1, 1994, the Zapatista Army took its place on the international stage. It was day one of NAFTA, which Subcomandante Marcos called “a death sentence to the indigenous ethnicities of Mexico.” More than any other movement, they linked local issues of cultural marginalization, racism, and inequality to global economic systems and prophesied a new movement of resistance. The media-savvy revolutionaries used their most potent weapon—words—and the still-new Internet to advocate a new world built on diversity as the basis for ecological and political survival. Transnational from the beginning, the Zapatistas made common cause with “pockets of resistance” everywhere.

Then, a curious change occurred: for nearly 10 years following their initial insurgency, the Zapatistas maintained a self-imposed silence. The world heard little from Marcos, but the autonomous communities in Chiapas were very much alive. They had turned inward, building independent governments, schools, and clinics. As journalist and author Naomi Klein observed, “These free spaces, born of reclaimed land, communal agriculture, resistance to privatization, will eventually create counter-powers to the state simply by existing as alternatives.” Embodying, here and now, the society they seek to create is a powerful manifesto; for those who cared to listen, their silence spoke volumes.

Victory in Bolivia

Most of these movements have used nonviolent tactics, including blockades, occupations of public space, and mass marches—combined with traditional political work—to varying degrees of success. In Bolivia these tactics yielded an extraordinary outcome: the election of Evo Morales, in 2005, as Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state.

Five years later, Morales convened 30,000 international delegates for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. A response to the repeated failure of international climate negotiations, the gathering was rooted in an indigenous worldview that recognized Mother Earth as a living being, entitled to her own inalienable rights.

The resulting declaration placed blame unequivocally on the capitalist system that has “imposed on us a logic of competition, progress, and limitless growth.” This unrestrained growth, the declaration says, transforms “everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.” Significantly, the declaration also extended the analysis of colonialism to include climate change—calling for “decolonization of the atmosphere”—but it rejected market-based solutions like carbon trading. It’s a holistic analysis that links colonialism, climate change, and capital, a manifesto for what has come to be called “climate justice.”

Idle No More

Fast forward to December 2012, and two things happened: The Zapatistas staged simultaneous marches in five cities, marking a resurgence of their public activism. Anywhere from 10,000–50,000 masked marchers filled the streets in complete silence. The march was timed to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar—and the beginning of a new, more hopeful era—and demonstrated the Zapatistas’ commitment to the indigenous cosmology of their ancestors.

That same month, a continent away, Idle No More emerged on the scene. While it began as a reaction to two specific bills in Parliament, it has gained strength and momentum in opposition to the network of proposed pipelines that will crisscross North America, pumping tar sands oil from Alberta to refineries and ports in Canada and the U.S. These pipelines will cross national, tribal, state, and ethnic boundaries and raise a multitude of issues—including water quality, land rights, and climate change. The campaign to stop their construction is already unifying natives and non-natives in unprecedented ways.

Dr. Garcia, whose own ancestors are indigenous, believes that indigenous movements offer something vital: hope, and what she calls “the importance of the imaginary. Of imagining a different world—imagining a different way of being in the world.”

“We’re a land-based people, but it goes further than that. It’s a worldview. When you destroy the earth, you destroy yourself,” says Melina Laboucan-Massimo. This is “the common thread in indigenous people all over the world.”

The climate crisis is spinning out of control, and the gap between the rich and poor continues grow unabated. It’s time to let the radical uncertainty of this moment enlarge our sense of possibility.

It is this thread that goes to the heart of our global ecological crisis. While indigenous cultures differ widely from one another, what they collectively present is an alternative relationship—to the earth, to its resources, and to each other—a relationship based not on domination but on reciprocity. Any movement that seeks to create deep, lasting social change—to address not only climate change but endemic racism and social inequality—must confront our colonial identity and, by extension, this broken relationship.

Laboucan-Massimo has spent a great deal of time abroad, studying indigenous movements from Latin America to New Zealand and Australia, feeling the full weight of their shared history under colonialism. These days, though, she’s more likely to be on the road, educating, organizing, and building solidarity among natives and non-natives. It was understanding the connections between movements, she says, that gave her “all the more fervor to come back and continue to do the work here.”

Recently, she traveled from Alberta  to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where she and her elders stood at the forefront of the largest climate change rally in history. And she’ll keep organizing, armed with a smartphone, supported by a growing network of allies from Idle No More and beyond, connected in every possible way to the rest of the world.

from:    http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/love-and-the-apocalypse/mother-earth-at-the-heart-of-it