What Indigenous people can teach us about fighting climate change
Julian Brave Noisecat
Photo credit to Emily Kassie
Julian Brave NoiseCatHe is an advocate and writer for Indigenous people. He himself is a member of the Secwepemc First Nation and a descendant of the Líl‘British Columbia’s Nation of Mount Currie
NoiseCat suggests that climate change should prompt humans to examine their relationships with the outside world.
NoiseCat has been a strategist and political operator, as well as his advocacy for Indigenous peoples. His achievements include: spearheading the campaignFor President Biden’s nomination Deb HaalandTo be Secretary of Interior. first Native American to lead a cabinet-level agency.
NoiseCat can also be used Vice President of Policy & Strategy at Data for Progress, a progressive think tank. For his political leadership and writing skills, he was elected to the prestigious “TIME 100 Next” list of emerging leaders.
Noisecat, in the latest edition of CNBC’s series on climate anxiety shares why indigenous peoples’ framework for dealing with nature is so valuable, and how it can be used to help us respond to climate change.
This is Noisecat’s interview with CNBC. The conversation has been edited lightly and condensed for speed.
Western political philosophy has been dominated by the notion of human and natural environments as independent.
In my view, that separation of these two things — humans and the world we live in — make it possible to exploit and extract from nature because we are seen as a separate from it.
That’s quite a different epistemology system from the one you might find in an Indigenous context.
In relation to certain places we see ourselves, and in some cases, those places may even be viewed as possessing a spirit or a conscience.
A number of times I took to the water for fishing in August. With Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars and Esk’et hereditary leader Francis Johnson Jr., I spent the day dip-netting salmon in Farwell Canyon on Chilcotin River. We pray before we go fishing and give thanks to God for the fish that we will bring home.
Darryl Sellars (L) and Julian Brave NoiseCat, fishing for salmon at Farwell Canyon along the Chilcotin River.
Photo credit to Emily Kassie
Honoring your origins and acknowledging them is a powerful way to have agency and power. It’s an important, but fundamental point. This is where strength lies.
A strong attachment to place, respect for the place, and a desire to preserve and defend those places, is a key component to preserving the environment.
This is what Indigenous movements and peoples are doing around the globe. In the broadest possible sense, this is what everyone should do now to preserve and protect our planet.
We don’t realize how connected we are to the natural world in our fast-paced world.
There is no notion in our heads that we should give thanks to the natural world for what it provides.
This sounds very basic and hokey. You can make profound changes in your life if only you put effort into it.
It isn’t enough to stop climate change, I don’t think so.
The grid must increase its share of renewables. Some of the industrial processes such as cement and steel production need to be changed to low carbon manufacturing. The agricultural sector must be cleaned up.
However, I believe that we must also find a way to be more respectful and equitable with those resources and natural environments that support us.
Right now, we’re way out of balance. We are far from balanced.
It was possible to find other methods that worked. In some cases, however, it’s ironic that we are already looking for better ways to conduct ourselves and do things.
California is currently having a serious discussion about marijuana. controlled burns and forestry managementThis would be a lot closer to how Indigenous people managed forests than the colonial economy. This is the way that we manage fisheriesThe fisheries have actually been managed in a way closer to what it was back when Indigenous peoples were managing them before colonization. This is in contrast to the overexploitation relationship that has brought us here to the point of near collapse.
There are also places around the globe like Canada and Amazon that can be used as carbon sinks. One strategy and policy is to do this is the like Indigenous conservation of the landProtecting the lands so that carbon is not lost to the soil or in the forests.
It is important to remember that in Indigenous settings, we all have a lot of family members.
Although it may initially extend to relatives of your own blood, there are also biological connections that allow us to understand that our relationships also include natural parts.
For example, my family considers the black bear a close relative. My family from a particular part of British Columbia — our land relative is the black bear.
That idea that people should be kind to each other, and that they need to show love, empathy, and compassion because at the end we are all connected, I believe that this is an important principle.
To love, to have compassion, and to feel that there is a responsibility to save the world around us.
Humans have difficulty having compassion even for their fellow humans. This goes for fish, for wildlife, for water, and for forests .
Maybe we ought to. Perhaps we ought to care about those things, because they are our relatives. It’s a very different way to engage with the world. To me, it is compelling.
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