Cities and Industries – Resource Use/Abuse and Urban Sprawl – Using Land that Belongs to Indigenous Peoples
I’m sure you’ve seen protests over oil and gas pipelines, over fishing and hunting rights, and issues that involve Indigenous peoples’ ownership/traditional use of their land. And you may even have thought about it in environmental issues, or maybe you are a vegan or animal rights’ activist and want these practices to be stopped?
But what does it mean to the traditions of the Indigenous peoples?
First, do they have a treaty stating the land is theirs to use as they wish? If so, then they should be free to live in their traditional ways, &/or evolve them in ways that keep their culture, faith/religions and people alive, well and attached to their lands. Their home.
What if their traditional way of life involves migrating? At minimum between a winter and summer home? Or where they follow the fish run? Or the herd they care for? What if the land in between has been encroached on by outsiders? What if the species of plant and/or animal is endangered or extinct? What if the people are in an isolated area and cannot ship in alternate foods at fair prices? How often will they be relocated due to fires erasing their homes and businesses? Are they meant to starve to death? To have no shelter? What do they do when their land changes due to climate issues? Or when their traditional land no longer exists? Like it’s predicted will happen to many coastal areas and islands as the world changes? Within the next 50 years.
Will their rights/status be taken from them? Will they be relocated or left in peril? Will they be put into relocation ‘camps’ and left to die there?
The world has changed drastically with the arrival of settlers. When it was a few forts and some farms, it was one thing. But now there are mines, oil rigs, dams and wind turbines where they intrude on Indigenous lands and their normal life and traditional ways. And the city and it’s smog and light pollution affect the peoples’ cultural attachment to the stars and the earth’s cycles. There are mounds of garbage and our hunger for paper and plastic and consumption due to fads and commercialism has stripped the earth of it’s trees, clean water, and many plants. And more of this will be lost if we lose pollinators like bees, some species of which are in danger of extinction. Our hunger for unsustainable crops like coffee and cocoa, our taste for beef have left the Indigenous peoples scrambling or virtually enslaved to the dominant cultures and corporations.
And that encroachment has also endangered the people; with racists rolling on them, &/or ‘human’ predators raping and murdering the women and children. Their attachment to their traditional lands and need to keep their foot there has also left them in shacks, tents, shoddy housing that often gets their children removed from their care. And engaging in businesses like casinos or cigarette running that run counter to their traditions and invite settlers onto the reserve. Which also exposes them to their viruses/outbreaks.
This is why the Indigenous People have become more and more involved with the environmental movements, land rights’ battles, and are seeking and gaining ground in the cause of self determination. Developing their own police, child protection workers, and band councils. So they don’t become extinct, like many have before. Not just their languages, traditional ways and culture, but the entire tribe. In Canada we have an example(s) of this happening. Have you heard of the Beothuk for eg?
Where the world had many peoples who lived and loved in their own ways, between the roars of empire building, the Indigenous Peoples are as of now approx 5% of the world’s population.
And this is why they seek their own governance and rights. This is why they’ve gone to the United Nations.