Momma, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Tourists! Pt.2
This is the second in a series of blog posts that explores the possibility of transforming the way our current civilization leads us to live upon the earth. Can we change from living as though we are tourists in our own home to becoming the responsible co-evolutionary partners we see historically and within many modern Indigenous cultures?
In the last blog post, we explored the way Indigenous inhabitants have been treated in the name of conservation. In many ways, we can consider this conservation approach to be the other side of the same coin that reveals the exploitation of people and the earth in the name of extraction of resources. Both stem from a cosmological belief that the earth itself is in-animate, a non-living entity that hosts resources (above and below ground) that can be exploited. There is a cause and effect relationship between the way we view our place in the world and the world we help to create.
What becomes possible when we recognize that a people’s relationship to the earth arises from a culture and cosmology that recognizes the sacredness of life, arising from a co-evolutionary journey of millennia between people and place?
The following example demonstrates both our disconnected relationship with nature and a return to those who understand it most deeply. Northern California has experienced extreme drought conditions, which has brought with it historic wild fires. Fire conditions have been made worse by decades of fire suppression tactics, caused by a cosmology of control and domination, which had the effect of limiting smaller fires while unintentionally laying the groundwork for the massive fires we have today. As the realization that this approach has failed has spread over the last few decades, more naturally occurring wildfires were allowed to burn, which has led to limited success.
Now officials in California are turning to the Amah Mutsun and North Fork Mono Tribes amongst others to learn and implement pro-active fire management techniques that build the overall vitality of the ecosystem while changing the conditions that lead to the catastrophic fires of recent years. Native forestry practices such as these, which include clearing meadows that serve as fire-barriers and water repositories, have historic precedent in creating the abundant North-American (as well as other places globally) landscape that settlers marveled at. The myth of a pristine environment, with native people living innocently off of its abundance is just that – a myth. Undoubtedly, the cosmological framework embedded in the culture and practices of these and other peoples gave rise to an improved land – and life for the people.
If we take a moment to reflect upon our current cosmologies and how they play out in our culture and practices, are the effects upon ecologies and people’s evident? What is the opportunity we have to transform the foundations of how we view and relate to the world in order to create a different effect?