The Nome Eskimo elder lamented that nowadays his homeland in
winter is too warm for the life system to sustain itself-only
20 degrees below zero instead of 70 below. His people have learned
to live in balance with the ice and cold. But now the Bering Strait
is sick. Sea ice is forming later, affecting the animals who breed
on it. The sea pups aren't ready to leave when the ice melts,
so they die or are abandoned. The hunters say the walrus are skinny,
and they have to hunt farther into the tundra because the caribou
know the thin ice won't sustain their weight. In the old days,
the elders in Alaska could forecast the weather by watching the
stars. But now, says one Siberian Yupek elder, "The Earth
is so fast now. We can't predict the weather anymore."
Many native prophesies warned of a time when the people would
be confused, and the old and the young would die first. The prophesies
said the trees would die from the tops down and the world would
be in danger.
Using "eyes" from space, NASA officials have seen that
the elders are right. Its officials conclude that the "Earth
is a living system that is distressed." So now, NASA has
turned to native elders for counsel as it examines the effect
of climate change on the U.S. population, environment and economy.
NASA brought together a gathering of several hundred elders for
a five-day climate-change workshop in Albuquerque, N.M., last
fall. NASA is seeking to merge the knowing and wisdom of people
who understand the responsibilities that humans have to the Earth
with the knowledge of non- native scientists.
The elders who attended the conference, called
the Circle of Wisdom Native Peoples/Native Homelands Climate Change
Workshop, stated: "It is this spiritual connection
to Mother Earth, Father Sky and all Creation that is lacking in
the rest of the world. We call upon the people of the world to
hold your leaders accountable."
According to documents issued by the workshop, temperatures will
become warmer in the Northern Hemisphere by 5 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit
within the next 20 years. The primary source of human-induced
climate change is the burning of oil, gas and coal. The melting
of sea ice "affects the exchange of energy continuously taking
place on the Earth's surface," according to NASA. While it
might seem a distant problem to many people in the United States,
all life is interconnected.
We have long said that native prophesies are misunderstood. They
not only are spiritual visions, but often also come from a life-science
observation of the natural world. When people understand that
they are not separate from the natural world, they will seek to
honor and understand it. This is why Chief Joseph said long ago
that the Earth was part of his body and they were of one "mind."
Native people traditionally have understood that the Earth and
universe have a mind and a spirit, a cosmic intelligence that
responds to us, to our intentions. "Earth is a living mother,
an organism. I know none of us would think of abusing our birth
mother. She is a spiritual woman . . . that gives life. Through
our ceremonies, we honor her life-giving power so that she can
continue to nourish us," says Cheyenne elder Henrietta Mann.
When people no longer live and learn from the land, their disconnection
to it leads to the abuse of Mother Earth. Along with the land,
native people's traditions die: their food, their ceremonies,
medicinal plants, their fibers for making sacred baskets. And
much of it has been through the greed of market economies and
the perversions of science and technology that have claimed or
contaminated the land, particularly native lands, through deforestation,
pesticides, industrial waste, radioactive poisoning and mining.
"What good is an economic system if our children die anyway?"
asked a Kanaka Maoli elder from Hawaii. A nearby flip-chart read,
"There is no post-environment economy."
There are myriad things to be done, including requiring companies
to factor the environmental impact of their projects into their
businesses, and demanding that all public projects invest in clean
and renewable forms of energy. But most of all, we must begin
to value life in all its manifestations.
Corbin Harney, a Shoshone elder, says the spirits of the land
and the ancestors are waiting for people to recognize their responsibility
to Mother Earth. "They want to hear us pray so that they
can work with us, so everything can heal."
The Coming Times - http://www.angelfire.com/ny/earthspirit