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How Ancestor Intelligence, Indigenous Technologies, and ...Will Help Us Survive Climate Change Where Modern Science Fails?

There is growing recognition that Indigenous perspectives should be front and center in climate change responses. The risks posed by climate change, and in particular climate’s impact on marginalized communities, have further exposed the linkages between climate change, environmental degradation, racism, and social injustice. Often missing from conversations focused on these injustices, however, is an awareness of the agency and knowledge that Indigenous communities bring to climate response. The Wilson Center hosted a discussion with leaders who are working to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into climate decision-making.(Wilson Center Blog 2022)

“Tribal People have learned to take care of the land because our land took care of us,It’s important for tribal people to be at the table. We have a lot of knowledge, we have a lot of experience on how to protect and restore natural resources, This is part of our culture, our history, and our future.”

(Kat Brigham, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).The creation belief of the CTUIR has shaped their approach to managing resources in ways that “align human values and management goals with ecosystem resilience.” Stemming from the reciprocal relationship between ecosystems and people, the First Food management approach puts forth that Indigenous people have a moral obligation to safeguard First Foods—berries, roots, big game, salmon, water—the same way these resources nourish and nurture them. “It’s the circle of life,”

Indigenous peoples are often seen as stewards and custodians of the environment. With an estimated worldwide population of 370 million across 70 countries, each group possesses different histories, cultures, and traditions.Indigenous communities have developed through centuries of interaction with their surrounding environments. And that knowledge can be a hugely beneficial when it comes to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

For instance, the Dulabed and Malanbarra Yidinji peoples, who reside in Australia, refer to the river nearby the community as “him” rather than “it.” Because the river gives life to the people, plants, and animals that live beside him, community members believe that the river system has rights and humans are obliged to treat him with honor and respect. African Indigenous knowledge, is experiential knowledge based on a worldview and many cultures that are basically relational. The spirit of the majority of Indigenous Africans worldview includes wholeness, community and harmony which are deeply embedded in their cultural values.

Similar beliefs are held by various Indigenous peoples across the globe.

For centuries, indigenous and local communities in Africa have utilized their knowledge systems to respond to changing climatic conditions, and Africa governments are obligated under the Paris Agreement to tap into this knowledge systems in the design and implementation of their climate response strategies. In short the world needs ancient African knowledge and that of other indigenous peoples to survive into the next century, and time is running out.

Though differences in beliefs exist, Native Americans generally view the environment as inseparable from human development and wellbeing. The role Indigenous peoples play in preventing deforestation and land degradation has long been ignored by greedy industrialists. Studies have also shown that deforestation rates are lower in forests that Indigenous peoples manage and control than in protected areas where strict conservation is enforced. In fact, protected areas can be harmful to Indigenous communities, as they’ve historically pushed Indigenous peoples off of their land. The same land that they depend on for their food, livelihoods, and cultural identities.

While Indigenous rights have been increasingly recognized at the international level, they’re not always respected on the national level. To successfully combat climate change and achieve climate justice, Indigenous peoples must be part of the conversation and the action at all levels. Ironically itis the west that is seemingly going to suffer the most according to climatologists as they have no significant infrastructure for climate extremes in opposition to the norm.

Climate-related extremes are becoming more common as time goes on, and their impacts are increasingly evident in the form of heatwaves, floods, droughts and storms. It isn’t easy to estimate the evolving economic impact that these events are having, But, in total, climate extremes cost the EU more than €145 billion in the last decade and an estimated €487 billion between 1980 and 2020 across the 27 member states.


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