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A Tribute to Indigenous Wisdom

Meghan Oh



Earlier this month on October 9th, we celebrated Indigenous People’s day, to recognize the heritage, resilience, and history of Indigenous people. Indigenous communities have provided invaluable contributions to the land we live on today through and continue to preserve and care for the earth as the true stewards of nature. 

With great reverence for nature and an ancient understanding and appreciation of harmony, Indigenous people are truly the guardians of the environment. The culture, tradition, practices and values of indigenous people provides invaluable knowledge of conservation and are a testament to their profound respect of the earth. This valuable traditional ecological knowledge demonstrates that it is completely feasible to live off the land while preserving the sanctity of the Earth and should be well implemented into climate change mitigation.


Sustainability has always been deeply intertwined within indigenous culture. Guided by timeless wisdom passed down throughout generations, paired with a deep sense of responsibility to the earth, indigenous people have always recognized the interdependence and interconnectedness of all life forms. Sustainability has been ingrained through their practices to ensure whatever is taken, is replenished. Indigenous cultures recognize nature as an extension of themselves, intertwined with both spiritual beliefs and cultural heritage. Their efforts extend beyond their own communities as their voices resonate across global platforms, urging for conservation to respect and protect the Earth.


Some examples of sustainable indigenous practices include native tree plantation, community-managed natural forests, and restoration practices. According to United Nations Climate Change,” indigenous people safeguard 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity” (2022). This is achieved through traditional eco-knowledge, practices, community education to properly exercise sovereignty. Indigenous agricultural practices has ensured sustainable food production and can greatly benefit agricultural maintenance and management. A study focusing on the Chuktia Bhunjia tribe in India focus their agricultural practices on “intercropping, agroforestry, crop rotation, crop diversity, rain water harvesting and management of soil fertility” (2022). All of these being factors implemented in organic farming.


Indigenous people have always been the guardians of the earth and the stewards of nature, and continue to be the world’s leaders in conserving biodiversity and maintaining the health of the land. As we celebrate Indigenous people this month, it is important to recognize them for their contributions and heritage that built the foundation for the land we live on today. It is also crucial to recognize the effects of climate change on indigenous people. In Winowa Laduke’s book, “All Our Relations” the author describes in several case studies how the loss of biodiversity is directly connected to the loss of cultural diversity. 



Projects built on indigenous land destroy their homes, worship grounds, sacred land and expose indigenous communities to carcinogens from air, water, and noise pollution. To conclude, it is crucial to tribute and honor indigenous communities for their resilience, values, and wisdom to implement their lessons into our sustainable practices and conserve our natural world. May this serve as a tribute to Indigenous contributions and a reminder to fight against environmental injustice suffered by indigenous people who have cared for the land for so long. 


Citations


1. Berberian, A. G., Gonzalez, D. J. X., & Cushing, L. J. (2022). Racial Disparities in Climate Change-Related Health Effects in the United States. Current Environmental Health Reports, 9(3), 451–464. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40572...

2. Johnson, J. T., Howitt, R., Cajete, G., Berkes, F., Louis, R. P., & Kliskey, A. (2015). Weaving Indigenous and sustainability sciences to diversify our methods. Sustainability Science, 11(1), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625...

3. Sahar, B., & Midya, D. K. (2022). Intersecting Knowledge With Landscape: Indigenous Agriculture, Sustainable Food Production and Response to Climate Change – A Case Study of Chuktia Bhunjia Tribe of Odisha, India. Journal of Asian and African Studies, 002190962210996. https://doi.org/10.1177/002190...

4. United Nations Climate CHange. (2023). How Indigenous People Enrich Climate Action. Unfccc.int. https://unfccc.int/news/how-in...

5. (2023). Unfccc.int. https://lcipp.unfccc.int/homep...


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