We are not Environmentalists.
I read a lot of stuff online. In the boonies it's pretty much where you are going to get all of your news. Sometimes in the morning I will turn on the news on the TV and listen to them in the background as I do my morning abulations. One thing I noticed when it comes to the world of 'Native' News is that most...if not all...of media will automatically lump Native people in the 'Environmentalist' category. This always makes me frown because it is so wrong on so many levels.
I know part of the reason for it is it's so easy to do. You see people in parkas carrying signs at D.C. saying 'NO DRILLING!' and 'SAVE OUR OCEAN!' you will automatically say to yourself....they must be hippies and tree-huggers. Environmentalists.
But we are not Enviromentalists.
We are more selfish than that. More alien than that.
This blog entry sat as a draft for a very long time, because I was trying to think of a word that better captures what we are about. Culturalists. Survivalist. Subsistencists. Simbioticists. Community-ists. A hundred words I could use to describe our relationship with the environment but none seem to fit just right. But we are not environmentalists.
Environmentalists want to save the environment from humans, and we on the other hand want to save the environment to save ourselves. A clean environment for us means a clean body and mind. Environmentalists want to separate man and place, we on the other hand want to tie ourselves closer and make our destinies the same. If you think about it then our way will actually lead to a cleaner and forever world. Because who wants to contaminate and sell the food on your own table? It's like having only one grocery store. Forever. And you knew this store was the only store you would ever be able to use, and the only store future generations would know. Wouldn't you take care of it? Paint it once a year. Fill the potholes in the parking lot. Keep the aisles clean and uncontaminated?
Well that is how we see the natural world. Our one and only forever grocery store. Our only garden.
And that does not make us environmentalists. Instead we become one of the beings that live in that area, not just a visitor taking photos to post on facebook. We make deep trails across the tundra as we travel, exactly like the caribou do. Exactly like the sheep do from mountain to mountain. We drink from the streams and glaciers. Exactly like the wolverines do. We break willow branches to use, exactly like the moose does. We follow the game and wish for them, exactly like the wolves do. We hide from the storms and build appropriate shelters, exactly like the rabbits do. We are part of this world. Not better than this world. Not above this world. Not separate from this world. And this is the message we hope everyone understands.
We are not environmentalists. We are Inclusionists. We are Old-schoolists. Bind-ists. Forever-ists. We see the natural world as a family member, a respected elder, a favorite uncle. Our connection to this world is a relationship that must be tended to and defended and upheld. It is not a dead or temporary thing. And in any after-life, we all believe we will be held accountable for our actions, or our inaction.