Written by Alexandrea Flanders
"Within the last few centuries, humanity has evolved, and the earth has changed with it. From the purest form of water to the wasteland on our planet, this is our unfortunate reality. If we aren't able to step up and protect our land and natural resources, then we shouldn't be allowed to harvest from it either. The Rights of Nature is something that Indigenous peoples have always stood by, and it's time that the rest of the world wakes up and does the same. The Invisible Hand provides excellent stories and experiences of people coming together to protect their surroundings."
Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ - You may have heard this at a ceremony, a pow wow, or even a family gathering. I’ve grown up with this time-honored teaching and concept that we are all related. Whether it is a small seedling to the big, vast oceans - we are all connected. If we look at the medicine wheel, the circle defines and shows it being together. The colors and meanings behind it - everything is connected. I began to wonder what fell under the category of “everything” and its extent. After deep thought, I came to the conclusion that everything meant literally anything. I came to the realization that it’s in these moments where we realize that we as humans aren’t the only beings on this planet and that everything holds meaning behind its existence.
Throughout history, the land has provided us with sustenance. From the oxygen from trees to the clean water sources to drink from to the animals fur to clothe us. Mother Earth gives and gives, but now we selfishly take - even demand. The Rights of Nature means that ecosystems would be given the same rights as a human being. There have been other places in the world where Rights of Nature is amended into their constitution. Rivers have been giving rights. Ecosystems as living, breathing entities that help us survive and vice versa. By giving rights to nature, we could make sure that the injustices done on our land won’t happen again without grave consequences.
Today, many Indigenous people are trying to revert back to the ways our ancestors did things. Some would term this as traditional ecological knowledge. Others would say this is the way of life that has always been. I have many mentors who have a strong knowledge of the land. They are teachers, herbalists, and activists. Individuals who take their relationship with the Earth and honor that connection by caring for and protecting the land, water, and air. I appreciate each one of them for taking the time and holding these teachings and passing it on to those who wish to learn. The current climate crisis is alarmingly accelerating due to gas emissions from human activity over the past 40 years - 2016 and 2020 being the warmest years (NASA). Our ecosystem depends on us - just as much as we depend on the ecosystem. We are currently destroying our ecosystems and the damage being done is irreversible. My hope is to see more traditional ecological knowledge being taught and replace destructive “critical infrastructure” projects such as pipelines, Big-Ag, and CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feed Operations).
I belong to the generation known as the seventh generation. The seventh-generation is known throughout Indigenous tribes as the generation that will provide hope and healing for Indigenous peoples. We are the generation that will bring change and ambition to not just our communities but the world as well. I see the power among many of my peers who continuously stand up for themselves and bring awareness to their people. This is what truly inspires me.
Since President Biden has come into office, the United States joined the Paris Agreement and Keystone XL has been canceled - a welcoming sight to witness. However, we still must hold President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the rest of their administration accountable for the things they’ve promised to make happen. President Biden has made it known that he will invest in small businesses that are BIPOC-owned. I would encourage our Indigenous youth to create local gardens and utilize the knowledge that our ancestors handed down to us. We could defeat the capitalistic system as well as combat climate change by coming together with other people of color who experience environmental racism.
At the beginning of this year, I was offered an extraordinary opportunity to participate on an international panel with Mark Ruffalo on March 13th from 1-4 PM EST, and I gladly accepted it. At the start of the event, we will watch INVISIBLE HAND and then follow up with a discussion surrounding the movie and the Rights of Nature movement. People from all over the globe will be participating and giving their perspectives on the Rights of Nature. Although it’s only weeks away, I’m super excited about it! For the last few weeks I’ve been meeting with these people and hearing their stories and words, it’s one of the things that I will advise you not to miss. Please join in and help us create better solutions for the next generations.
#YIS#biodiversity#ecocide#timeisup#climateaction#environmentaljustice#youthleadership#youthled#rightsofnature#rightsfornature#INVISIBLEHAND#documentary#markruffalo#investigativejournalism#youthclimateaction#protectnature#rights4nature#savetheplanet#climateactivist #POTUS #presidentjoebiden #vicepresidentkamalaharris #vp #first100days #greatplainsactionsociety #RNVP