Sep 22, 2021, 10:00 AM, Posted by Aleena M. Kawe
Our health is inextricably connected to the health of land, water, and all living things. The ways in which Indigenous peoples live that connection offer lessons that could benefit all of humanity.
Our nation’s health is intertwined with the health of our rivers. And our rivers are unwell.
Drinking water, food, sanitation, clothing, transportation: almost everything we do involves an interaction with water. Yet many people in America take water for granted, not realizing that pollution, overuse, and climate change are putting a chokehold on the country’s natural water reserves—posing a direct threat to health, equity, and our way of life.
While many may think that new technology and innovation can resolve our water crisis, I believe that the solution lies with Indigenous practices that have fostered a holistic approach to living in relationship with the natural environment for millennia. Let me explain.
Our Relationship with Nature
Indigenous peoples share a common worldview of our relationship with the natural world. One that is guided by Indigenous values and principles of respect, cooperation and responsibility. These principles govern our individual and collective beliefs, behaviors and relationships—as given to us from our ancestors. While our customs may differ, our lived connection with our environment is universal. In sharp contrast, Western mindsets tend to view nature as a commodity, maintaining a relationship that is centered on resource-taking.