The Original Green New Dealers

Here is my Latest.

We should have learned long ago of the importance of protecting our environment here in America, since its original inhabitants were already living green as a way of life.

I am currently reading what was always one of my mother’s favorite books, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The book chronicles the push westward of “civilization,” from the perspective of the Native American side of history. It was first published in 1970 during the height of the Vietnam anti-war movement and the growth of Native American advocacy groups. The book struck a chord in that moment of history and I find it equally important now.

It is one of those sad chapters of our history that traces what happens when one people show complete disregard for another’s culture and see some people as less human than others. Also, in reading the book, one finds that Native Americans’ respect for nature permeates throughout their culture. If the United States would have only had the wisdom and foresight to see the inherent positives in living more in harmony with the earth instead of trying to vastly alter it, maybe our climate issues would not be as they are now. I know, wishful thinking.

Wishful thinking or not, it is well worth the effort to better understand a people whose very cultural fabric was woven with the belief that their interconnectedness with nature and the purity of the land was essential to their continued existence. I believe that achieving such an understanding is a prerequisite to the buy-in and success of current and future climate change efforts that we undertake.

It is interesting to learn of the bafflement that Native Americans sometimes had with Europeans’ obsession with gold and other resources that meant nothing of value to those at one with the land itself. I will not get into a debate about the whole issue of property, but suffice it to say, Native Americans were forced off their lands by a people that simply had an endlessly superior numbers and weapons advantage.

Native Americans are an often ignored population today, with sadly notable exceptions like the ridiculous Warren – Trump fight over Warren’s ancestry, or the “PC police” attacking the name of the Washington DC NFL team, like those are somehow the foremost issues on the minds of Native Americans, whose communities suffer from poverty, poor health care, environmental encroachment of energy projects and the general lack of receiving anything that was ever promised in the treaties they signed.

Maybe our relationship with Native Tribes could stand a new deal where we better fulfill our promises made so many years ago and learn something about living in harmony with the earth. It certainly couldn’t hurt to have such a perspective as we struggle with what to do about climate change. John Hallow Horn Bear of the Oglala Lakota is quoted as saying, “Some day the earth will weep, she will beg for her life, she will cry with tears of blood. You will make a choice, if you will help her or let her die, and when she dies, you too will die.” Let us make the right choice.