Year 3, Month 8, Day 1: What Do You Mean, “We,” White Man?

The Laramie (WY) Boomerang prints an AP article on the impact of climate change on indigenous populations:

Native American and Alaska Native leaders told of their villages being under water because of coastal erosion, droughts and more on Thursday during a Senate hearing intended to draw attention to how climate change is affecting tribal communities.

The environmental changes being seen in native communities are “a serious and growing issue and Congress needs to address them,” Tex Hall, chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of New Town, N.D., said Wednesday.

Mike Williams, chief of the Yupit Nation in Akiak, Alaska, said in the informational Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing, that villages are literally being wiped out by coastal erosion. Williams said he can cast a net and catch salmon at his childhood home because the home is under water, he said. He also described how the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in which he participates, has been moved because of lack of snowfall and that dogs must run at night to stay cool.

“We’ve always lived off the land and off the waters and continue to do that. But we’re bearing the burden of living with these conditions today,” Williams said.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, committee chairman, acknowledged that environmental changes are widespread, but the Hawaii Democrat said native communities are disproportionately impacted because they depend on nature for traditional food, sacred sites, and for cultural ceremonies. Several tribes already are coming up with plans to adapt to the changes and federal agencies are assisting with resources, Akaka said.

Food doesn’t come from plants. It comes from the Safeway. Sent July 21:

The world’s indigenous people, because of their ancestral closeness to the natural systems upon which their lives depend, are necessarily on the front lines of climate change. These cultures, whether they’re in Hawaii, the American Southwest, the Amazon rainforest, or the highlands of Papua New Guinea, are all at risk from the consequences of industrial civilization’s prodigal consumption of fossil fuels over the past two centuries.

But the loss of tribal societies is only one facet of the crisis. Global heating is already having devastating impacts on world agriculture, whether it’s a failed wheat crop in Russia or acres of dying corn plants in the Midwest. And because half of our political system denies the problem entirely, governmental action to avert catastrophe is all but impossible.

The accomplishments of our high-tech civilization are no protection against the collapse of the planetary ecosystems which allow us to eat, drink and breathe. Native cultures may be first to suffer the consequences of our profligacy, but barring concerted action on a global level, we’re next. Complacency is no longer an option.

Warren Senders

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