Events and Newsletters -
Spring 2003 - Issue 19 |
The East-West Indigenous Exchange
Sacred Earth Network is excited about our new project called the East-West Indigenous Exchange which brings together native Siberians with native Americans. This project will build on the success of our October 2001 exchange which united native peoples of these two regions of the world (see SEN Newsletter #17 Winter 2001). In this next phase, SEN will be the liason and coordinator for a native delegation from the U.S. traveling to the Altai region of Siberia this summer, and a native delegation from Siberia traveling to the U.S in October. To date, partial funding has been received for the latter of these exchanges and full funding is currently being sought for both. Several of our members have asked “why this project?” We’ll attempt an answer.
First, and more philosophically, some of the indigenous leaders we have befriended over the past few years pointed out that SEN could be more effective if we added “ to create a sustainable culture” into our mission statement. They said “defending the biosphere” from further destruction was a crucial short term goal, but ultimately, if we did not also work on a cultural level we would not succeed with either. The myth of Industrial Civilization— now responsible for the greatest loss of species in 65 million years— is that somehow we 21st century humans living in the “developed” world are the most important and advanced people who have ever lived. This is a dangerous presumption and does not leave room for other ways of living and other ways of knowing. Despite the many successes of western civilization, this arrogant stance is leading humanity on a collision course with the Earth’s physical limits.
Leaders from both Siberia and North America say that creating something resembling a harmonious relationship with the Earth can be found right “under our feet.” The Earth is oozing with intelligence if we care to listen, and the First Nations carry a huge reservoir of wisdom in their songs, stories, music, language, and world-view. The combination of listening to the land and listening to the elders can tell us of a relationship with the land that would help us live more sustainably.
Secondly, and more practically, many of the indigenous leaders East and West and their allies have said that further bridge-building between these peoples was important. As Tom Dostou, a Massachusetts Abenaki who has led peace walks all over the world put it, “It’s important for all of us to see that our backyard is the whole planet and to do that means cutting through the formalities and really getting to know our brothers and sisters across the ocean. I received some fresh air when SEN brought the Siberian leaders here last year.” Tom went on to explain that the extreme marginalization of traditional peoples worldwide makes it imperative that they organize more effectively among themselves and become part of a larger global movement to secure their rights.
If you would like to know more details about these exchanges please contact Bill Pfeiffer or Cathy Pedevillano at the SEN office.