November 24, 2020
By Alexa Roccanova
Amidst a convergence of contemporary crises, private and public actors alike have championed sustainability as the ultimate goal for an environmentally, socially, and economically sound future. We’ve witnessed an inundation of seemingly “sustainable” alternatives for products, technologies, lifestyles, and systems that pose only slightly better versions of the status-quo — alternatives that by themselves, without a significant shift in the dynamic of our dominant systems, will not be enough to effectively mitigate climate change.
But there exist generations of people who have already been living sustainably for centuries. Indigenous peoples all over the world have been tending to the Earth, conserving local ecosystems, preserving biodiversity, and maintaining their ancestral cosmovisions, knowledges, and practices, despite incessant efforts by colonizer nations and institutions to displace, assimilate, and terminate them. The survival of their communities and lifeways is itself a testament to the sustainability of their culturally and spiritually guided relations with the environment.
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”– Chief Seattle, Duwamish