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#INDG2015 2021, Fall Term, Week 4: Indigenous Ecological Ways of Knowing in North America (Part 2)

Z
Zoe Todd

October 4: Introduction to environmental knowledges, North America, continued • Wretched of the Earth “II. Grandeur and Weakness of Spontaneity” (pp. 63 -96) • Manuel, George. 2019 [1974]. “Mutual dependence”. In Fourth World: An Indian Reality. University of Minnesota Press. • Little Bear, Leroy. 2000. “Jagged Worldviews Colliding”. http://blogs.sd62.bc.ca/danddtech/ wp-content/blogs.dir/24/files/2014/02/LittleBear1.pdf • Ebron, Paulla. 1998. “Enchanted Memories of Regional Difference in African American Culture”. American Anthropologist 100 (1):94-105. https://www.jstor.org/stable/682811?seq=1

1 of 37
Download to read offline
INDG 2015
Week 4
Indigenous ecological ways of knowing,
North America (part 2)
Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
Week 3 Recap
• Enrique Salmón:
kincentric ecology
• Vanessa Watts:
ecological ways of
knowing, relationality
• Ontology vs
epistemology vs
Indigenous Place-
Thought
Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
Objectives for
Today’s Class
• Leroy Little Bear: relationships, Indigenous
vs Western worldviews
• George Manuel, “Mutual Dependence” and
the ‘Fourth World’
• Paulla Ebron: “Enchanted memories of
regional difference in African American
culture”
Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
Western (Euro-American) notions of
‘environment’
Image 2: Source
The ‘sublime’ environment, void of humans
– an environment that is separate from
culture and/or the social (ie: humans
should be kept out of nature, nature is
‘pristine’)
- The basis of white/settler North American
environmentalism (Thoreau, Muir etc)
For further reading: William Cronon, The Trouble With Nature
https://williamcronon.net/writing/Trouble_with_Wilderness_Main.html
Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
The western ‘nature/culture’ split
• ‘wild’ vs ‘domesticated’
(Cronon 1996)
• ‘nature’ vs ‘culture’
(Descola 2009)
• Western perspectives tend
to place humans outside of
nature as opposed to co-
constituents of their
environment
Photo credit: Zoe Todd
Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
Indigenous
worldviews and
cosmologies
• We will not be able to discuss all Indigenous
worldviews in this course. However, we can
discuss some major discourses in Indigenous
environmental studies in Canada.
• However, a general perspective for many
Indigenous nations/societies in North America
is that humans are deeply enmeshed in the
environment (lands/waters/atmospheres)
through relationships of reciprocity. Humans
are dependent on nonhuman beings for
survival. There is no separation between
‘nature’ and ‘culture’ or society. They are all
integral, connected. Interdependent.
Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021

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#INDG2015 2021, Fall Term, Week 4: Indigenous Ecological Ways of Knowing in North America (Part 2)

  • 1. INDG 2015 Week 4 Indigenous ecological ways of knowing, North America (part 2) Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 2. Week 3 Recap • Enrique Salmón: kincentric ecology • Vanessa Watts: ecological ways of knowing, relationality • Ontology vs epistemology vs Indigenous Place- Thought Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 3. Objectives for Today’s Class • Leroy Little Bear: relationships, Indigenous vs Western worldviews • George Manuel, “Mutual Dependence” and the ‘Fourth World’ • Paulla Ebron: “Enchanted memories of regional difference in African American culture” Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 4. Western (Euro-American) notions of ‘environment’ Image 2: Source The ‘sublime’ environment, void of humans – an environment that is separate from culture and/or the social (ie: humans should be kept out of nature, nature is ‘pristine’) - The basis of white/settler North American environmentalism (Thoreau, Muir etc) For further reading: William Cronon, The Trouble With Nature https://williamcronon.net/writing/Trouble_with_Wilderness_Main.html Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 5. The western ‘nature/culture’ split • ‘wild’ vs ‘domesticated’ (Cronon 1996) • ‘nature’ vs ‘culture’ (Descola 2009) • Western perspectives tend to place humans outside of nature as opposed to co- constituents of their environment Photo credit: Zoe Todd Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 6. Indigenous worldviews and cosmologies • We will not be able to discuss all Indigenous worldviews in this course. However, we can discuss some major discourses in Indigenous environmental studies in Canada. • However, a general perspective for many Indigenous nations/societies in North America is that humans are deeply enmeshed in the environment (lands/waters/atmospheres) through relationships of reciprocity. Humans are dependent on nonhuman beings for survival. There is no separation between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ or society. They are all integral, connected. Interdependent. Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 7. Indigenous land/water/environmental perspectives Vanessa Watts (2013:23): “habitats and ecosystems are better understood as societies from an Indigenous point of view; meaning that they have ethical structures, inter-species treaties and agreements, and further their ability to interpret, understand and implement. Non-human beings are active members of society.” Photo credit: Zoe Todd Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 8. Leroy Little Bear • From Kainai First Nation • Founding member of Native American Studies Department at Harvard • Professor Emeritus, University of Lethbridge, legal scholar • Indigenous philosopher Source: Wikipedia Image: https://www.alberta.ca/aoe-leroy-little-bear.aspx Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 9. Little Bear “Jagged Worldviews Colliding” (2000) • “One of the problems with colonialism is that it tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. The underlying differences between Aboriginal and Eurocentric worldviews make this a tenuous proposition at best. Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination.” – Little Bear, 2000, p. 1 Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 10. • Writing from his perspective as a Kainai Blackfoot scholar, Little Bear argues: • “In Aboriginal philosophy, existence consists of energy. All things are animate, imbued with spirit, and inconstant motion. In this realm of energy and spirit, interrelationships between all entities are of paramount importance space is a more important referent than time. Although I am referring to the philosophy of the Plains Indians, there is enough similarity among North American Indian philosophies to apply the concepts generally, even though there may be individual differences or differing emphases.” (Little Bear 2000, p. 1) Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 11. Leroy Little Bear • Indigenous worldviews vs Science • Watch this short talk by Dr. Little Bear • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJSJ28eEUjI Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 12. Activity Reflecting on the Leroy Little Bear video, list three examples of Indigenous and European worldviews differing 01 Reflecting on the video, list three examples of Indigenous and European worldviews resonating/being similar 02 Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 13. George Manuel (1921-1989) • Born 1921, Member of the Neskonlith Indian Nation (Secwepemc) • President of the North American Indian Brotherhood of BC (1959) • President of National Indian Brotherhood (1970) • Concept of The Fourth World (1974) • World Council of Indigenous Peoples (1975) Source: https://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/george_manuel/ Source: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia .ca/en/article/george-manuel Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 14. 4th world and Indigeneity • “The term originated in Georgia with a remark by Mbuto Milando, first secretary of the Tanzanian High Commission, in conversation with George Manuel, Chief of the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations). Milando stated that "When Native peoples come into their own, on the basis of their own cultures and traditions, that will be the Fourth World."[2][3]” • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_World Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 15. Manuel and Milando 4th world con’t • “Manuel used the term “Fourth World” to clarify the position of Indigenous Peoples in relation to the layers of dominance and subordination, and centrality and marginalization of peoples within political power structures in their relatively privileged “First” and “Second” worlds and the “Developing” or “Third” world (Manuel and Posluns 1974; Bodley 1999: 77- 85, Dyck 1985). Peoples of the “Fourth World” cannot be confined within national or state borders. For Manuel, language and communication help to engineer and maintain the oppression of Indigenous peoples. In the context of the Fourth World theory, “Nation” refers to a community or group united by common descent and/or language (Murphy 2000). Manuel framed the Fourth World not as a place, but as a global highway. “The Fourth World is not...a destination. It is the right to travel freely, not only on our road but in our own vehicles” (Manuel and Posluns 1974: 217).” (source: Valerie Alia, The New Media Nation, 2012, p. 13-14) Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 16. George Manuel - mutual dependence • “The Indian nations have given more to the world’s technology than they have received from it.” Manuel 1974 (2019) Chapter 1 (Mutual Dependence) Photo credit: Zoe Todd Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 17. George Manuel - mutual dependence • Manuel, writing in 1974, outlines a concept of ‘mutual dependence’, whereby he argues that the first five generations of European-Indigenous contact in north/eastern North America (eastern Canada/US) was a relationship of relative reciprocity (*this is not to erase the genocidal realities of other post-contact geographies/periods in the Americas) Photo credit: Zoe Todd Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 18. Question: • Manuel argues this more reciprocal engagement ended abruptly by the War of 1812 – what is the cause of this shift in relations, according to him? Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 19. Answer: Manuel argues: “Concepts of honour, tradition, law, and order could not prevail against the more purely economic motives of an acquisitive society religiously committed to possessive individualism.”* (emphasis added) In other words: when northeastern nations were no longer useful to the State, the nation-states enforced their own worldviews (‘possessive individualism’) *Manuel, George. 1974. The Fourth World, Chapter 1, University of Minnesota Press. Kindle Edition. “ Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 20. Activity What does this “possessive individualism” that Manuel identifies as a major driver of the US/Canada nation states mean for the environment? Write out a few examples of how ‘possessive individualism’ impacts the environment, based on the last few weeks of reading and/or your own research/studies/experiences Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 21. • Manuel argues that what followed ‘mutual dependence’ in the US/Canada north-east was genocidal: starvation, land theft, weaponization of disease • In the US this fell under the ideology of ‘Manifest Destiny’ • In Canada: a ‘Dominion’ as applied in lieu of Manifest Destiny (Dominion is a biblical concept entrenching human mastery over lands/waters/airs and animals) (Manuel 1974, Chapter 1)b v Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 22. Indigenous-settler histories in British Columbia • Manuel demonstrates that between 1835-1885, Indigenous nations in what is currently known as British Columbia lost 60% of their population (for some nations, this was as high as 90%) (Manuel, 1974, Chapter 1) • Important to consider the impact this has on the environment – colonial genocide disrupts multi- millennia deep relationships between humans and the nonhuman world Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 23. George Manuel • Regarding Indigenous peoples in Canada: • “We were not banished from our land. It is as though the land was moved from under us. The struggle that was to come was for the mind and soul of the Indian people. We had lost our land. Now they would try to convince us it was for our own good.” • Source: Manuel, George. 1974. Chapter 1, The Fourth World . University of Minnesota Press. Kindle Edition. Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 24. Looking at Little Bear and Manuel’s ideas in practice today: Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/ 11/can-indigenous-land-stewardship-protect-biodiversity-/ Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 25. National Geographic, 2019: • “But as our collective understanding of the imperiled state of our planet grows—the 6th extinction, escalating climate change, and exceeding planetary boundaries—the global discourse and actions are shifting toward a greater acknowledgement of the role of indigenous peoples and local communities and their traditional territories in biodiversity conservation and climate change resilience. Recent research demonstrates that while the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples make up less than five percent of the total human population, they manage or hold tenure over 25 percent of the world’s land surface and support about 80 percent of the global biodiversity.” (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/11/can- indigenous-land-stewardship-protect-biodiversity-/#close) Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 28. Schuster et al. 2019 • ...”we argue that recognizing the role of Indigenous lands and leadership in biodiversity conservation, and facilitating voluntary partnerships to ensure the conservation of habitats on Indigenous lands, may provide crucial opportunities for many countries to meet their international commitments to conservation. Ideally, such partnerships will be led or co-led by Indigenous communities to avoid historic mistakes and support Indigenous land management practices that allow us to meet or exceed global conservation goals.” – Schuster et al. 2019, p. 5 • source: https://www.rcinet.ca/en/wp- content/uploads/sites/3/2019/07/Schuster- et-al-Indigenous-lands.pdf Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 29. Paulla Ebron • Ebron (1998) explores the layering of memories and relationships in lands/waters by African-diasporic peoples in the Georgia Sea Islands (using Julie Dash’s film Daughters of the Dust to explore these relationships) • The land is integral to the story that Daughters of the Dust portrays: • “A long shot of the river reveals that it too is marshy: half-land, half-water. Swamps are a necessary part of this natural/mental landscape of uncertainty. Palmetto trees and Spanish moss are a reminder of the tropics, of jungles: those wild and beautiful spaces that both threaten and enhance human awareness.” (Ebron, 1998, p. 100) Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 30. • Important to consider the land/water/environmental histories, knowledges, and experiences of Indigenous peoples from Africa enslaved in the US – who had knowledge of their homelands and developed deep knowledge of the lands they inhabited in the US. Diverse African-diasporic communities in the US and Canada continue to work with their environmental knowledge. Ebron and Dash both present us with one example of embodied environmental knowledge in Sea Islands communities in south- eastern USA. Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 31. • Tiffany King also explores the history of the Sea Islands region and Julie Dash’s work in her book The Black Shoals • Maia Butler explores the concept of ‘floating homelands’, from the work of Edwidge Danticat, in her work here: “The Exigency of the Floating Homeland and Engaging Postnationalisms in the Classroom” (https://www.taylorfrancis.com/book s/e/9780429293023/chapters/10.432 4/9780429293023-14) Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 32. Floating Homelands (Maia Butler, drawing from Edgwidge Danticat) • Butler (2017): “My conception of the floating homeland is an intervention into contemporary critical discourse about home in diaspora studies; it enters critical conversations about the constructed and imaginary nature of origins, and the disruption of the binary between the home and host nations, and seeks to conceptualize a postnational construction of home in which migratory subjects of the African diaspora can belong.” (Butler 2017, p. 5) – source: https://pqdtopen.proquest.com/doc/19430 07053.html?FMT=ABS Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 33. • “The Gullah/Geechee Nation exist from Jacksonville, NC to Jacksonville, FL. It encompasses all of the Sea Islands and thirty to thirty-five miles inland to the St. John’s River. On these islands, people from numerous African ethnic groups linked with indigenous Americans and created the unique Gullah language and traditions from which later came “Geechee.” The Gullah/Geechee people have been considered “a nation within a nation” from the time of chattel enslavement in the United States until they officially became an internationally recognized nation on July 2, 2000.” source: https://gullahgeecheenation.com/ Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 34. Documentary on the Gullah Geechee Nation • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v =SqDTJogdWmA&ab_channel=VICE News Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 35. Gullah Geechee Nation (National Geographic video) • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0DGij YiGQU&ab_channel=NationalGeographic Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 36. Summary • Summarizing all the readings this week: • Indigenous environmental relations and cosmologies (worldviews), broadly, are built around interdependence, inter-relationality • Dominant western (colonial/imperial) views prioritize ownership, possession, capital • A shift towards treating lands/waters/atmospheres/plants/animals/rocks and other beings as relations opens up space to build differently in the face of catastrophic climate change, biodiversity loss Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021
  • 37. Week 4 • Weekly reflection • Explain one way that western science and Indigenous worldviews (broadly) differ and one way they are similar Copyright Prof Zoe Todd, 2021