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  • American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program
Photograph of a large group of people holding one fist up in the air and holding a large red banner that reads Indigenous justice is climate justice.

Indigeneity means something different to each one of us as an Indigenous person. Our communities are diverse in practice, protocol, language, and the way we know the world around us. However, working on a global scale I've observed a common characteristic held by Indigenous Peoples: an emphasis on using relationships to understand the world. Everything is connected. In Diné, we call this kinship k'é. This is true as we understand the impacts of climate change as well. Our Arctic relatives experience the most intense global warming and loss of their permafrost habitats and hunting grounds. The same ice that melts is the sea level rise experienced by our Island relatives and threatens their coasts and sacred lands. While water will overwhelm some communities, others will experience unprecedented droughts. For all of these communities, their relationship with water will need to strengthen to re-understand her in this new state of climate change. The relationships that Indigenous Peoples have formed with the world around them is what leaves them most vulnerable to climate change. We rely on the land for our safety, our economies, our practices, and our identities. The understanding and worldviews we have built over generations and millennia may no longer accurately teach us about the world around us.

But the story does not end here. What makes us vulnerable also makes us powerful. We have the knowledge to learn from an ever-changing natural world and rebuild relationships that can help humanity adapt, survive, and reconnect in an era of climate crisis. The solutions are within our stories, our languages, our songs, our ceremonies, and our spirits. Yet, we continue to struggle to bring Indigenous voices to the tables of decision-making. We are often forgotten, ignored, or undermined. Despite the barriers we face to be heard, we still act. Indigenous Peoples have proven themselves as stewards of this planet, protecting 80% of global biodiversity. It is time for Indigenous Peoples to be given the microphone and the spotlight to protect the lands that we have fought for since contact and colonialism. During this event, the following topics will be presented: the vulnerability of Indigenous Peoples in the face of climate change, the barriers Indigenous advocates face and have faced in protecting their people and lands (one in the same), and the power we are witnessing in reclaiming Indigenous practices as sustainable solutions. The focus will not only be on the hardships and losses, but also on the progress and the wins. It is important for us to celebrate our people and our successes while also understanding everything at stake. Indigenous resilience is responsible for my existence and my prayer is that it can serve the same for this world.

Date & Time

December 2, 2022
12:25 pm - 1:30 pm

More information about this event.

Contact Information

  • aiisp [at] cornell.edu

Speaker

Dr. Michael Charles

Departments

American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program

Website

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