So, it is clear we have hit the 400ppm carbon dioxide mark that we hoped to avoid. The carbon dioxide levels have nearly doubled in my lifetime. I fear the most severe effects of hitting this landmark level of atmospheric carbon will fall upon our grandchildren. We cannot remove carbon that would naturally be sequestered in the earth’s crust for millions of years, release this carbon into the atmosphere in such a short period of time and expect there to be no consequences. Short-term thinking does not serve the future well. Native Americans have an idea called seventh generation- that we should consider seven generations ahead when making decisions for the tribe.
Right now, indigenous peoples are standing their ground up in North Dakota in protest against the pipeline. At the same time this protest is occurring, there have been two pipeline disasters in our country. Sadly, these problems seemed to support the dangers to the environment that dirty fuels pose to our lands. Then I hear that native lands in Utah may be taken back so that the land can be exploited for fossil fuels.
Native peoples have a rich relationship with the land that could set an example for the rest of us. For indigenous people, the land is woven into the fabric of life; reverence for homeland and a mystical connection with place are distinct features of tribal communities. Indigenous community structures and practices can offer guidance toward transforming eco-paradigms through responsible relationship to the environment and to one another. I suggest an integration into contemporary awareness an intense community spirit and structures of belongingness with each other and the land that sustains us. Community is built through connection to place and each other, intergenerational ties, common experience and equity among community members within human-scaled societal structures.
I stand in spirit with my Native American brothers and sisters who are protesting the pipeline and considering land use for the generations to come.