Bioneers Indigeneity Program works to promote indigenous leaders and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) as a critical path to support all people in learning to honor bio-cultural landscapes and reconnect to place-based ways. Native peoples are keepers of the earth's "old growth" cultures, living in harmony with their Native environments for thousands of years. This indigenous science offers a different way of knowing that provides a crucial complement to the tools of western science.
Over the last decade, Bioneers commitment to indigenous peoples' social and ecological issues has brought together some of the greatest indigenous leaders of our time in one place. The Indigeneity Essentials set offers a compilation of 12 plenary session speeches by world-famous native activists and 4, hour-long radio shows highlighting the most pressing issues facing Indian Country then and now.
This set contains both DVDs and CDs.
Tom Goldtooth – Indigenous Environmental Justice
Tom B.K. Goldtooth (Lakota/Dine) is the Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), headquartered at Bemidji, Minnesota. A social change activist within the Native American community for over 30 years, he has become an environmental and economic justice leader, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Tom co-produced an award winning documentary film, Drumbeat For Mother Earth, which addresses the affects of bio-accumulative chemicals on indigenous peoples, and is active with many environmental and social justice organizations besides IEN.
Dr. Tieraona Low Dog - Greening Medicine: Botanicals in the Changing Mainstream Medical Model
Dr. Tieraona Low Dog is among the most dynamic and eloquent advocates today for plant medicine. She’s a member of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medical Policy and is one of the country’s leading experts on botanical medicine and integrative approaches to health. She grew up on the Lakota Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. She can rap biochemistry with the best of them, but what makes her even more impressive is that she began her work as the herb lady of Las Cruces in New Mexico with a three-week waiting list.
“I am grateful for antibiotics. I’m grateful for emergency surgery. I’m grateful for all of the gifts that Western medicine has brought, but it is not the only game in town, and it is not the best game in town for many of the problems that we’re trying to deal with today.”
Jeanette Armstrong - Human Relationship as Land Ethic
Jeannette Armstrong is an Okanogan Indian who was born on the Pentikan Indian reservation in British Columbia, where she has lived most of her life. She has studied traditional teachings under the direction of the Okanogan elders. To the Okanogan people, understanding that the whole community must be engaged to attain sustainability is a given. Her understanding of how a community can functionally become fully engaged with each member contributing their individual best within the context of their family, their broader community and the land they inhabit, offers a model that has profound implications for the reweaving of our relational cloth. “One of the strongest and most powerful capacities we have as human beings is the ability to create understanding. When you create understanding you lay waste all conflict.”
Oren Lyons - The Roots of American Democracy
One of the most prominent and deeply respected Native American spiritual leaders in the land, Oren Lyons is a member of the Onondaga Council of Chiefs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan. He has been a leading figure in the struggles for indigenous rights and environmental justice for more than 35 years. Here he speaks about the Iroquois concept of making all decisions based on the health and welfare of the next seven generations, and the role of leadership and community in accomplishing that mission. “We believe in the creation, we believe in a higher power, we believe in the way that we’re intertwined, the way that we live with one another, all of this one being. And so that’s what we’ve been gauging all of our agreements on down through the centuries.”
John Mohawk – Survive and Thrive: Traditional Societies’ Lessons
From scholar to farmer to citizen diplomat, John Mohawk brings a discerning overview of history to bridging the post-modern Western world with the traditional worldview of native peoples in this keynote address. “Native American studies as a discipline anticipates that there is an intelligence in the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and that intelligence can be discovered.” He offers invaluable insight into how the lessons learned over thousands of years can be incorporated into survival techniques for both plants and humans.
Ohki Simine Forest – Return of the Ancient Council Ways: Indigenous Survival in Chiapas
A Canadian Wolf Clan Mohawk, Ohki Simine Forest went to study with Mongolian shamans and ultimately moved to Chiapas, Mexico, where she was initiated into the world of Mayan healers. In 1994, she created a spiritual center in Chiapas and a nonprofit aimed at helping Mayan Indigenous communities. She explains the vital importance of the Mayan resistance and the applicability of their ancient council ways as a model for all humanity. “One of the main characteristics of the Council Ways is its inclusiveness. All is included, even the bad, and all has its place in the larger wheel. What makes a council a true council is its system of democracy and collectiveness at the same time. So to achieve this, the people must participate and always be consulted in the decision making process.”
Clayton Thomas-Müller - Stopping the Energy Colonization of Sacred Native Lands
The brilliant young activist from the exemplary Indigenous Environmental Network depicts how relentless organizing and alliances on the front lines of resistance are stemming industrial society’s juggernaut to exploit unsustainable energy extraction from Native homelands and sacred lands of Turtle Island.
“What I’ve been telling folks is that climate change is the civil rights issue of my generation. It impacts virtually every segment of society, including those that cannot speak for themselves. As a seventh generation warrior, or a practitioner of what many of you heard as the precautionary principle – what many of us native folk call the 'duh' principle – failure to act on these issues, and to really look at the big picture is like committing a passive act of violence against future generations.” 2006
Winona LaDuke - Seeds The Creator Gave Us
This renowned indigenous rights leader and two-time Green Party U.S. Vice Presidential candidate highlights the struggles of indigenous peoples to protect their food sovereignty, restore their food systems and protect their cultures and foods from genetic modification. (introduction by Clayton Thomas-Müller, chair of the IEN’s Native Energy Campaign Advisory Committee)
“I wanted to talk to you about our relatives who have roots, and a relationship to those relatives and our covenant we have with the creation, to carry on our responsibilities as those who have two legs in relationship to our relatives that have fins, wings, hooves and roots, because at this time, in this millennium, in this new time that we are in, that is a major responsibility, and a major privilege that we have.”
Dune Lankard – Sustainable Solutions over Centuries: A New Business Model
(also en español)
Dune, An Eyak Athabaskan native from the Copper River delta region of Alaska and lifelong commercial fisherman, became a community activist and preservationist when the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill desecrated his homelands and waters. He describes the preservation of ecosystems and the people that inhabit them as the way to maintain healthy, thriving economies for business and communities into the future.
“The Exxon Valdez oil spill changed my life. It took the nation’s worst oil spill to wake me up. To me, that was the day the water died. But it was also the day that something inside of me came to life. I realized I would have to become a formless warrior. That I would have to figure out how to become a defender of my land and my people, and that I would have to be louder than everyone else.”
Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui – Biocultural Conservation in the Amazon: How an Amazon Tribe has Combined Traditional Knowledge with Science and Technology to Save Its Rainforests and Its People
Chief Almir, 32, a tribal chief environmentalist and political activist, portrays his and his people’s struggles to survive by protecting their culture and rainforest since they made First contact with the Western World in 1969. He surveys the history of the Amazon, its situation today and the unusual partnership he forged with Google to use Google Earth’s high-tech tools to help his Surui people tell their story and protect their forests and culture.
Elizabeth Kapu'uwailani Lindsey, Ph.D. - Navigating An Ancient Future
An award-winning filmmaker and anthropologist committed to ethnographic rescue and the conservation of vanishing indigenous knowledge and tradition. Indigenous science and TEK have a key role to play in planetary restoration. The first female National Geographic Fellow and a descendant of Hawaiian chiefs, English seafarers and Chinese merchants, she was raised by Hawaiian elders who prophesied her role as a steward of ancestral wisdom. She will describe her 2010 186-day expedition by amphibian seaplane to access some of the world’s most fragile environmental and cultural regions, and present her findings about the interrelatedness of poverty, education, cultural survival, biodiversity and health.
Melissa K. Nelson, Ph.D. - Revitalizing Indigeneity: Eco-cultural Knowledge and Reciprocity
Melissa K. Nelson, Ph.D. (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) is a Professor of Native American Studies at San Francisco State University and Executive Director of The Cultural Conservancy, a San Francisco based non-profit dedicated to Native American indigenous rights and the revitalization of indigenous cultures and their ancestral lands. Her plenary is total immersion in the sophisticated sciences of indigenous peoples coined “TEK” or Traditional Ecological Knowledge. TEK is the science of indigenous peoples highly specific to place earned of generations of careful observation and collective cultural experience. Native peoples are traditionally the keeper’s of the earth’s “old growth” cultures, living in harmony with our environments for thousands of years. This indigenous science offers a different way of knowing that provides a crucial complement to the tools of western science. TEK and indigenous cultural wisdoms can be the very savior of bio-diversity. It is a worldview that until now has been critically undervalued.
BIONEERS: Revolution From The Heart of Nature
Jeannette Armstrong (Okanagan Syilx Nation, Professor), Leslie Gray (Oneida/Seminole psychologist) and Katsi Cook (wolf clan Mohawk midwife)
There are people who have long been becoming native to a place, seeing how the land wants people to be – here and now – so that tomorrow comes in a good way. They are First Nations peoples. Whereas so many others have come and gone, First Nations are still in their place, still learning from the “holy land” under their feet.
“A basic question I invite students to ask themselves is ‘Where is the holy land?’” – Leslie Gray
“There is a very high cost indeed for failing to acknowledge the whole earth as sacred.” – Leslie Gray
Oren Lyons, Leslie Gray and John Mohawk all come from the northeastern tribes of the Iroquois Six Nations. The influence of Six Nations peoples and ways on the formative ideas underlying the US Constitution are well documented. They are some of the keepers of what they cal the Original Instructions – guidance most helpful in this time of climate change and political upheaval.
“You learn by experience, and you learn by watching, and you learn by experimenting, and you learn by testing somebody else’s premise, you learn by challenging someone else’s idea. That’s what one of our elders said, to be your own leader, that way you’re going to get yourself through. But experience is probably your best teacher, and the ability to listen and not to speak. That’s probably a good way.” – Chief Oren Lyons
Author and activist Winona LaDuke, poet and artist John Trudell and Evon Peter, chairman of Native Movement
Three North American Indigenous leaders look to the roots of the environmental crisis, and to the ancient solutions that are not only within our grasp, but actually within our hearts and minds.
“We have to take care of what’s inside of us to enable us to be in a place to understand what is even happening around us so that our decisions are wise decisions, and that the steps we take have consciousness and awareness supporting them.” – Evon Peter
Dennis Martinez, ecological restorationist; Jeannette Armstrong, indigenous eco-psychologist and Dr. Enrique Salmón, indigenous ethnoecologist.
Native peoples say that intimate connection to the Earth, the land, animals and plants; the “environment” is essential to our health and ultimately to our very survival. They have long known that when we care for the land, the land cares for us. In wilderness preservation, in land management, forestry, and resource management of all kinds, native peoples offer a model that has worked for thousands of years. “What isn’t the environment?” – Enrique Salmon
“We have to talk about things like global warming and climate change not as environmental issues but as human health issues. This is what it’s really about. And when we can start to do that, we can stop separating humans from the environment and place humans smack in the middle of the environment, and not just native peoples, all of us have to be the environment.” - Enrique Salmon
“We need to combine indigenous knowledge and our knowledge of indigenous land practices with Western ecological science, and we need both to work together.” - Enrique Salmon
Melissa Nelson Plenary at Bioneers 2011 from Bioneers on Vimeo.
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