"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
"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
"In an unusual gathering in late
1998, for instance, NASA scientists met with Indigenous elders to discuss
global warming and 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
the perceived 'common good.' But 'natural law,' as Yakima 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. Assent to
acceptable levels of radioactive emissions, and sooner or later, those
sensitive cells in the human body will likely respond.
"The challenge is to transform
human laws to match natural laws, not vice versa. And to
correspondingly transform wasteful production and voracious consumption.
America and industrial society must move from a society based on conquest
to one steeped in the practice of survival.
"In order to do that, we must
close the circle. The linear nature of industrial production itself,
in which labor and technology turn natural wealth into consumer products
and waste, must be transformed into a cyclical system. In the best
scenario, natural resources must be reused or not used at all, and waste
production cut to a mere trickle. Those who watch carefully know
that this will require a technological, cultural and legal
- Winona LaDuke
Executive Director, Honor the Earth
Quoted from: LaDuke W (1999) All Our Relations: Native
Struggles for Land and Life. Honor the Earth, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, and South End Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.