Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Life Lessons from Alaskan Native Women

This is a cross post from the wonderful Brenda Norrell's blog, Censored News. You can click on the title below, under the date, to link back to her blog.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bolivia: Voices of the Raven and Caribou Peoples

Bolivia: Life lessons from Alaskan Native Women
Alaskan Native Women describe what is happening to Alaska and what must be done for the future Seven Generations

By Brenda Norrell/Censored News http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2010/04/bolivia-voices-of-raven-and-caribou.html

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia – When the ducks first saw the vapors rising from the highway, the ducks that could not distinguish between the heat waves rising from the pavement, and the heat waves rising from the rivers and ponds, perished.

In a similar way, it is unknown what lies within each of us that someday may result in our own survival. As with the ducks, being able to distinguish between the rising vapors of the man-made world and the world of natural creation, ensures survival of the fittest.

This is one of the stories shared by Kay Wallis, Athabascan and Gwich’in elder, during the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. During an interview recorded live by Earthcycles, Wallis shares the beauty and majesty of her Yukon homeland.

Wallis said she appreciated being given the opportunity to speak for the animals and Mother Earth. She said her name “Arrow Carrier,” means, “I carry messages between people.” Her father is from Fort Yukon in Alaska and her mother from across the border in Canada at Old Crow.

Wallis described how the ground shakes and vibrates when the caribou arrive at the calving grounds in Alaska. She tells how the ocean breezes greet them across the plains. In the mountains, too, the wolves, their predators, are giving birth, in the cycle of life.

“We love the land, and the land loves us, otherwise it would not give us our nutrients." But, she said, things are changing.

“When the ducks used to come in my grandpa's day, they would block out the sun, there would be so many of them.”

Other creatures have vanished altogether. “We don’t hear swallows anymore.”

Glacier water moves fast in her homeland, where the people hunt and fish, living off the moose, caribou, birds, fish and salmon. In this land where a frozen chicken can cost $50 in a store, the people are taught to hunt, hunting in a manner where the animals give themselves to them.

It is life on a grand scale, and life that is a harbinger of things to come. “Some parts of the Yukon River you can’t see across. It is one of the largest rivers in North America.”

It is in this land, of the far north, that the people see what is coming. As temperatures rise, the salmon can not survive in high temperatures without sufficient oxygen.

“The world is going through change. We can’t go back. We are going to be called upon to make great sacrifices and great changes.”

Wallis said people have a natural tendency to go into denial mode, but humanity must act now to ensure the gifts of Mother Earth for Seven Generations.
Mary Ann Mills, Kenaitze Indian Nation, said the world needs to understand that the Arctic must remain frozen because it acts as an air conditioner for the earth. The Arctic cools the earth’s temperature. Climate change goes beyond all racial boundaries, she said, asking: "What happens to the spirit of the people when the foods they have been eating are no longer available."

What most people do not know is that 75 to 80 percent of the population of Native Alaskans was lost after first contact with those who came to their land, Mills said during the interviews.
Mills warned that 31 villages face immediate threats and 200 villages are impacted by floods and erosion. Ice is coming down the rivers.
Ice is melting now that has never melted before.
“We are the first people to be effected,” she said. The sensitive areas of the north are being compromised by emissions and oil drilling. Alaskan Native villages will have to be relocated because of the melting ice, or the people will perish, she said.

Mills said in the prophecy, it is told that there will be those who will attempt to destroy the land.
It is the Raven People who will protect the land. If others destroy the land, then the Creator will destroy these people, according to the prophecy.

“We have a chance, but we have to show respect.”

Alaska is the land of the Native people, but today there are few jobs and fuel sells from $10 to $14 a gallon. While trillions of dollars in resources have been taken out of Alaska, little has been returned to help Alaskan Natives.
While the United States and corporations have been taking with little given back, it was President Hugo Chavez and the country of Venezuela that brought heating oil to help Alaskan Natives.
Meanwhile, she said the result of the US Congress deceptively making Alaskan Natives into corporations has brought division, as it was designed to do, in this method of divide and conquer.

“The intent was to take our land,” she said of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. “It was to get the land for the big corporations.”

She said the United States does not own the land in Alaska, Alaskan Natives do.

“In my heart I am not a corporation. The truth is so powerful. Our people would like to have their freedom and like to have their land,” she said, adding that no one knows the land better than the Native people of Alaska.
Wallis and Mills thanked the people of Bolivia for their kindness during the World Climate Conference, President Evo Morales for calling for the conference and President Chavez for bringing heating oil to Alaskan Natives.
Watch the video interviews, recorded live by Earthcycles in Bolivia:http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/6340428
More information: Gwich'in Steering Committeehttp://www.gwichinsteeringcommittee.org/index.html


Katlego Matsila said...


This is an important message. I would like to talk about it in the aspect of identity and destruction.

The people we have all discriminated against the most, were the most loving to the earth; while we - those who significantly participate in industrialized society and its consumption-by-destruction economy - have hated the earth the most.

Copenhagen was relevant only in terms of understanding how power now seeks to consume and destroy the earth. Nothing else. But it is important to know what the plans of power are. Cochabamba is in my view, the best insight into (1) knowing democratically what most people of this earth want in their relationship to the earth; and (2)the best ideas out there on how we can have a repairing,loving, and sustaining relationship to the earth. Plain and simple.

The whole idea is not really to look at white males with fancy european names, and glasses, and fancy ideas about environmentalism or whatever (like being "carbon neutral", or "cap and trade"). Those ideas definitely have relevance, no doubt, but KEY to ending this Armageddon is to learn from Indigenous people. Yes, those people we have regarded has subhuman, inferior, backwards, alcoholic or whatever painful colonial ideas we have fucking internalized.

In fact there is a relationship between us viewing them as inferior, and us being tremendously destructive towards this earth. Its the same fucking complex of the most fucked up ideas (shit). This shit needs to feed of each other to perpetuate. We need to break this network of shit. Enough is fucking enough.

Start respecting, loving, caring, feelings, connecting.


Julian Real said...

I completely agree with you, my friend. Thank you so much for your comment.