Economic development, more than any single issue, is the battle line between two
competing world views. Tribal people's fundamental value was sustainability, and
they conducted their livelihoods in ways that sustained resources and limited
inequalities in their society. What made traditional economies so radically different
and so very fundamentally dangerous to Western economies were the traditional
principles of prosperity of Creation versus scarcity of resources, of sharing
and distribution versus accumulation and greed, of kinship usage rights versus
individual exclusive ownership rights, and of sustainability versus growth.
the field of economic development, economists like to think Western economics
is value-neutral, but in truth, it is not. Success is defined according to production
units or monetary worth. The contrast with successful indigenous development is
stark. For example, since they understand the environment to be a living being,
the Northern Cheyenne have opposed coal strip mining on their reservation because
it kills the water beings. There are no cost measurements of pollution, production,
or other elements that can capture this kind of impact. There is an emerging recognition
of the need for a spiritual base, not only in our individual lives, but also in
our work and in our communities.
For Indigenous people, the goal for our land is definitely about protection, but
itís also about use. We see ourselves as so integrated with our territory that
our protection is tied to our use and our use is tied to our protection. We use
the resources on our territory to live.
every Indigenous community Iíve been in, they absolutely do want community infrastructure
and they do want development, but they want it on their own terms. They want to
be able to use their national resources and their assets in a way that protects
and sustains them. Our territories are our wealth, the major assets we have. And
Indigenous people use and steward this property so that they can achieve and maintain
a livelihood, and achieve and maintain that same livelihood for future generations.í
country, we should probably insist, first off, that our ancestors have never gotten
the credit they deserve from this country for surviving. Survival wasn't as easy
then as it seems now, and they never would have made it if they'd spent centuries
wandering in a daze until they came across a dead buffalo beside a cold spring,
with a lightning strike for fire somewhere in the background. To the contrary,
tribes cooperated with and among each other on everything from buffalo hunts to
the fish catch and crop harvests, none of which could have happened if our tribes
had not known all about self-governance.
The interdependency of humankind, the relevance of relationship, the sacredness
of creation is ancient, ancient wisdom.
indigenous understanding has its basis of spirituality in a recognition of the
interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things, a holistic and balanced
view of the world. All things are bound together. All things connect. What happens
to the Earth happens to the children of the earth. Humankind has not woven the
web of life; we are but one thread. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
society where all are related, simple decisions require the approval of nearly
everyone in that society. It is society as a whole, not merely a part of it, that
must survive. This is the indigenous understanding. It is the understanding in
a global sense. We are all indigenous people on this planet, and we have to reorganize
to get along.
It takes four generations to recover from every act of violence.
CAN CREATE A BETTER WORLD
It's crucial to understand that as a society,
we can reorganize. We can reorganize socially, politically, and economically,
and we can reorganize according to our values.