Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Indigenous communities recognize the whole Earth as sacred. We are born from her and depend on her well-being for our well-being. Our identity is intimately woven out of the land in which we are born. Land or territory is more than the sum of its parts – rivers, soils, plants, mountains, birds, insects – are all imbued with life force, meaning, memories, all webbed into our lives.

Indigenous knowledge is generated through an intimate relationship with the Earth; an intimacy which can only be acquired over time and which is passed on from one generation to the next. This knowledge comes from the relationship with, participation in, and observation of place – its cycles, rhythms and seasons. A profound understanding arises through dialoguing and learning from and with Nature, through experience.

Common to all indigenous people is the understanding that Nature is our source of life and wisdom. Nature is lawful and ordered, and humans need to learn her laws to live a healthy and balanced life that does not violate others, including Nature herself. When we destabilize this dynamic equilibrium we become sick and dis-eased. For indigenous communities, all species and elements of the Earth are imbued with the same life force and intelligence; each carrying wisdom and history within them. Humans are recognized as being intimately related to, and part of, this great web of life.

Indigenous knowledge systems are founded in respect, reciprocity and working with Natures’ laws. This knowledge is transmitted through practical learning, oral teaching, stories and cultural rituals. Knowledge comes through all of our senses, emotions, intuition and dreams; all of which come through and from lived experiences. Living in accordance with Nature’s laws and passing this knowledge on to the next generation is a vital and inherent part indigenous govenance, education and health.

— above sections were sourced from The GAIA Foundation

There are two great intellectual traditions regarding stewardship of the earth: Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of indigenous people and Scientific Ecological Knowledge (SEK). The mission is to draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge in support of our shared goals of environmental sustainability.

Ecological restoration, which can help restore our relationship to the land, has much to gain from TEK. The indigenous world view of reciprocity and responsibility and active participation in the well-being of the land is important. One of the things that is so often lost in discussions about conservation is that all flourishing is mutual. When people and their cultures are vibrant and have longevity, so does the land. What’s good for the land is usually good for people.

Western Science has a knowledge system based on SEK. It’s essential that relationships between knowledge systems maintain the integrity and sovereignty of that knowledge. An important goal is to maintain and increasingly co-generate knowledge about the land through a mutally beneficial symbiosis between TEK and SEK.

The integration between these two knowledge systems should grow together, but not become each other. They should maintain their strengths and identities. In fact, their identities are strengthened through their partnership. They are complementarity.

Western Science is great at answering true-false questions, but science can’t tell us what we ought to do. Because TEK has a spiritual and moral responsibility component, it has the capacity to also offer guidance about our relationship to place.

TEK is the intellectual equivalent to science, but in a holistic world view which takes into account more than just the intellect. In indigenous ways of knowing, it is said that one doesn’t really understand a thing until one understands it with mind, body, emotion, and spirit. All of this comes into play in TEK.


RESOURCES

A New Story for the Earth: De-mystifying Earth Jurisprudence

EARTH JURISPRUDENCE PRINCIPLES AND STORY OF ORIGIN


QUOTES

“The Wisdom of the Past is the Seed of the Future”
Sacred Fire Foundation

“We are at this point, known in prophecies as the time of the 7th fire, where we have a choice. This a choice between a well-worn, scorched path and a new, green path.  It is time to make the right choice and develop economics that support the new, green path.”
Winnona LaDuke

“When we stand up for the land and the climate we are criminalized. When the perpetrators of some of the worst abuses against both humanity and the planet break laws they are applauded under the helm of capitalism.  In order for us to find true justice we have to rethink colonial law and order. We must return to the sacred order of natural law – to live in line with the natural world and think of the seven generations before us and the seven generations that will come after us.”
– Indigenous Climate Action

“The entire planet is suffering a massive ecological collapse. Its not right that the majority of our super educated leaders pretend that nothing is happening and carry on with business as usual. Our young people are woke though, so thats where I put my energy. The crabby adults can go live in their policies and lame ass excuses on why they cant protect the sacred. The kids got this.”
– Isaac Murdoch,
Indigenous artist, environmentalist, story teller, traditional knowledge holder

“Ecological prosperity is what makes us rich. The Indian Act and the globalization of western education were designed to make us believe that a capitalistic economy is success. It is not. It is a man made creation that goes against our natural laws. Participating in these foreign structures bring serious consequences to future generations. This is our time to Rise to Protect the Sacred.”
– Isaac Murdoch,
Indigenous artist, environmentalist, story teller, traditional knowledge holder

“…Imagine, if, they had listened…
we’d all be sitting together around the sacred fire today, listening to the old stories, respecting the waters, honouring the land, honouring one another…”
– Anthony Melting Tallow

“As much as I live in both worlds, I know its not right. The only way of life that ever worked for humans was the way of earth. There is no balance between the two or ways around it. I foresee great change coming and one day everything will be restored. Ill never underestimate the great power of Mother Earth and its helpers.”
– Isaac Murdoch,
Indigenous artist, environmentalist, story teller, traditional knowledge holder


TEK VIDEOS

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RECOMMENDED FILMS ON TEK

 

 

“Red Power Energy” film told from the Native American perspective

Native Americans talk about pollution and dangers to mother earth.

redenergyfilm


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03/29/18 – Daniel Quinn: a Return to Tribalism?

01/23/14 – The Great Forgetting: You Probably Haven’t Heard about It But It Completely Affects Your Life

11/12/11 – Russell Means July 1980 Speech – Revolution and American Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Culture as Capitalism

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