Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Indigenous People's Day
"Indigenous People’s Day" by CSUF Photos is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Climate Change

How To Celebrate Indigenous People’s Day At This Moment Of Climate Crisis

There are many ways you can immerse yourself in Indigenous People’s Day from your own home or community to secure the important connections we forge with the natural world.

Did you know that last year President Joe Biden issued the first ever presidential proclamation declaring the second Monday in October Indigenous People’s Day? The date, which had formerly been named after Christopher Columbus, is a way to celebrate and honor the invaluable contributions and resilience of Native Americans.

In challenging the founding myth of the US called Manifest Destiny, the new holiday reminds us that indigenous peoples have the knowledge and practices needed for the US and global community to implement and scale up climate action.

Background of Indigenous People’s Day

As of 2021, 15 states and 130 municipalities had proclaimed the second Monday in October Indigenous People’s Day ahead of President Biden’s proclamation. The proclamation was long in coming, the culmination of decades and decades of advocacy by Native Americans to get the US to stop commemorating a sailor who never actually reached North America. Instead, the holiday now honors Indigenous communities and their inherent stewardship over the land. The occasion is significant at this zenith of the climate crisis, as it is a time when we can turn to Native Americans and learn how to adopt more nature based solutions to a warming world.

Columbus’ arrival to the present day Bahamas not only marked the beginning of western European settlement of the continent but also the long running, violent conquest of groups who had lived on the continent for thousands of years.

To unpack that pivotal expression of US identity, the Zinn Education Project has published An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, which relates how today in the US there are more than 500 federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly 3,000,000 people. They’re descendants of the 15,000,000 Native people who once inhabited the land. The book relates the centuries long genocidal program of the US settler/ colonial program that has largely been omitted from US history.

Policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them, according to Native News. And as Dunbar-Ortiz reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture, through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of government and the military.

Today and over the next few days, communities across the country celebrate Indigenous People’s Day with prayer vigils, powwows, symposiums, concerts, lectures, and rallies to acknowledge the sovereignty, cultures, history, and languages of Native peoples. The day also marks an opportunity to move forward together, rife with an acknowledgement of our colonialist history and desire to morph into a kinder, more compassionate, and equitable future.

Indigenous People’s Day & Climate Action

Through generations of close interactions with the environment, indigenous peoples safeguard an estimated 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity. Together, the global community has an opportunity to reorient the way it interacts with nature and build resilience for all through collaborating with and learning from indigenous peoples, the stewards of nature.

An iconic article in Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine reminds us that the problems faced by indigenous peoples have been harbingers of what all peoples will face eventually. These problems dramatically expose the hegemony the rest of us have not been willing to examine: market based solutions for every problem, the tendency to see carbon trading as a means to continue business as usual, the desire to keep our cars at any price, a reluctance to bring renewables into our neighborhoods, and so many more.

Indigenous peoples and local communities gained greater international recognition under the umbrella of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with the establishment of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) in 2015 at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. The LCIPP helps amplify their voices and facilitates their effective participation in the United Nations climate process.

How You Can Celebrate Indigenous People’s Day & Honor the Earth

Ahead of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland hosted a virtual commemoration event and was joined by several tribal representatives. Issues addressed included the climate crisis and how Indigenous knowledge can benefit the department’s efforts to protect communities. Haaland’s event was complemented by a White House “Proclamation on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, 2022,” which was to “honor of our diverse history and the Indigenous peoples who contribute to shaping this Nation.”

Indigenous People’s Day celebrations are sweeping communities across the nation as Native Americans and allies honor the immense contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples. A list of key Indigenous People’s Day activities can be found here, courtesy of Native News. There are many ways you can immerse yourself in Indigenous People’s Day from your home or community, too, to forge deeper connections to the natural world.

Support Indigenous Activism: As the climate crisis escalates, activists fighting to protect what remain of the world’s forests are at risk of being persecuted by their governments — and even at risk of death, as described in an opinion piece in the New York Times. Indigenous peoples and communities, working in the Americas, Indonesia, and Africa joined forces and together became the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities. They work to protect their rights and territories, amounting to nearly 3.5 million square miles of land across the planet. You can support their 5 priorities: land rights, free prior and informed consent before any intervention into their territories, direct access to climate funding, protection of people from violence and prosecution, and the recognition of traditional knowledge in the fight to defend the planet.

Walk in Indigenous Shoes:  Writer and Indigenous rights advocate, Julian Brave NoiseCat asks us to rethink the conceptualization of humanity and the natural environment as separate, which is one of the linchpin theoretical premises in Western political philosophy. NoiseCat argues that separation of these two things — humans and the world we live in — make it possible to exploit and extract from nature. When we step back and try to see that system of epistemology in an Indigenous context, nature looks very different. “An attachment to place and respect of a place and where you are in the environment, in the natural world,” NoiseCat says, “creates an imperative to defend and protect and preserve those places.”

Accept the Inevitability of Adaptation: Indigenous people have dealt with climate change and environmental upheaval for thousands of years; adaptability and resourcefulness are the hallmarks of any indigenous culture. Instead, we can interpret natural processes as cyclical, one that reflects respect for the earth, and, most of all, one that considers all our actions in the context of future generations.

Consider Nature-Based Investments: IPCC scientists also argue that, alongside tech applications to reduce emissions, we should be harnessing the carbon sequestering powers of the planet itself. Nature-based solutions — efforts like reforestation and ecosystem restoration — pay for themselves with a triple dividend, as they sequester carbon, boost biodiversity, and aid in human well-being. Nature-based solutions are estimated to have the potential to lift a billion people out of poverty, create 80 million jobs, add an additional $2.3 trillion of growth to the global economy, and also prevent $3.7 trillion of climate change damages. Now it’s up to investors to acknowledge this potential and direct the funds where they’re needed.

Critique Indigenous Representations in Media & Culture: Indigenous representation is so important, whether it is in media, politics, sports, or education. Watch a film with your friends and have a discussion afterward. There are a plethora of films to choose from like Dances with Wolves (1990), Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015), Indian Horse (2017), or Gather (2020). As you view, you’ll find yourself appreciating Native voices and stories. Keep supporting healthy iconography of Native people, if for no other reason than Indigenous children deserve to have positive opportunities to be seen in mass media texts.

Read Indigenous Literature: Other than Dunbar-Ortiz’ book, you might pick up A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, by Bartolomé de las Casas, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown, or (my favorite) Black Elk Speaks, co-authored by John Gneisenau Neihardt.

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

Carolyn Fortuna (they, them), Ph.D., is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.


You May Also Like

Clean Power

Spain will receive almost €869 million from the Just Transition Fund to kickstart its energy transformation in equitable ways.

Clean Power

The refusal of 9 GW of green hydrogen electrolyzer proposals makes complete sense, and the hydrogen train is just the usual nonsense, but with...


China spent $546 billion of 2022's $1.1 trillion USD global green investment, but China is getting about a trillion USD in value out of...


At the coal face of a conference that involved governmental figures, academics, logistics customers and OEMs, the detailed technical conversations are almost all about...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.