"The time is late, you're right. But this is urgent, but we have to heal our relationship with the Earth, if we are to heal the Earth. and one of the easiest ways to do that is to pay attention to the land again."
Just how do we as a society renew the now severed bond that once connected us to our planet, the Mother that sustains us all ? Especially when the knowledge we need to restore that rift is fading along with the Native people that bear it.
Robin Wall Kimmerer is Director Of The Center For Native Peoples And The Environment at SUNY College Of Environmental Science and Forestry. She believes that Native American knowledge of Nature and Western scientific knowledge must walk the same path,for the sake of all on the planet. "The philosophical frameworks of indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge are very different, and there's plenty of places where they're going to be in conflict with one another. But the place they meet is in the land. Both Indigenous knowledge and science are really a seeking of what the land understands, so that's our common ground, it's literally our common ground."
For most that renewal may seem a tall order, something out of reach in this day and age. But it could be that our fast paced, high tech lives cloud our vision. Perhaps the older knowledge has never left us, but waits to be rediscovered. "My thinking on this and the teaching from my Elders is that knowledge is actually not lost." Explains Kimmerer . "It's lost to humans for now, but that knowledge is resident in the land, and if we know how to listen to the land, if we know how to learn from the land, that knowledge is there for us, it's that we have forgotten but the land remembers."
One of the main divisions is cultural, in that Western science and Native knowledge view other living creatures in a much different way. Kimmerer says that plants and animals have vastly disparate roles in each. "In Western science we think of them as objects, as elements of an ecosystem.But in Native philosophy, all those plants and animals, every other being of the world we consider as our relatives. So we look at the plants and animals as teachers, not so much what can we learn about them, but what can we learn from them ? And that's an important difference."
Reconnection with our Mother takes little, the spark can be rekindled with something as simple as a hike in the woods.Kimmerer reminds us that it's also important to remember to return the favor, to give back to that which nurtures. "In return for everything that the Earth gives to us, we are called to give our gift in return for the Earth. That could be the gift of a garden, it could be the gift of a story, of raising your children in Nature, it could be the gift of a well placed ballot. Whatever our gift, we are called to give it on behalf of the Earth."
This reconnection is not only our challenge, but our responsibility. We need this planet to survive, and as much as we pollute her, as much as we neglect her , our Mother will always take care of us. "I think there's absolutely hope, and one of those hopes for me is rooted in the fact that Mother Earth has not given up on us.We look at all of the wounds we have inflicted on Her, and she's not giving up on us, and we can't either."