As people around the globe mark this “earth day” with awareness of our shared planet and the many climate change-induced challenges to its preservation, we at SGF are reflecting on Indigenous Peoples’ unwavering commitment and connection to our Mother Earth. While many credit this white colonial day of observance, which only began in 1960, with advancing environmental activism, we know that Indigenous Peoples have been stewarding and protecting our Sacred Lands since time immemorial—in spite of the obstacles put in our way by our colonizers. SGF president Chris Peters recently joined Indigenous activists on KMUD’s Monday Morning Magazine show for a conversation on Indigenous efforts to protect our Mother Earth and how modern land development is threatening Native ways of life and culture. A summary of their conversation is included below.

For generations our native ancestors have been pushing back as the unrestricted forces of “manifest destiny” have stolen and desecrated our lands. Governments and corporations continue to believe that they know best while ignoring or even reversing centuries of Indigenous efforts on climate mitigation, water security, cultural preservation and countless other issues in the name of commerce. A recently unveiled proposal for the ‘Great Redwood Trail’ highlights these issues as a proposed 307-mile railway threatens countless ecological systems and ancestral village sites. Whether it be logging, road or railway construction or any other work which impacts our lands, tribal leaders and our communities demand a seat at the table when such projects are greenlit at our expense and without our consultation. It is evident by the way in which industry has treated our lands across the globe that profit is the only motivator, even when it comes at the expense of our culture and our planet’s future.

Some of these issues have been ongoing since before the time of our grandparents, and will likely continue past our grandchildren’s generation, however it does not have to be this way. Thankfully cultural momentum is not set in stone, and the power to change the course of history rests in our hands. We can shape a better future for the generations yet to come. Small acts like having these hard conversations with our neighbors or local representatives can be the catalyst for action. We are also seeing promising advancements, such as tribal co-management of Lands, pledge drives that supply funding for resistance efforts and the creation of land trust organizations for long term protections. 

You can learn more about our work supporting Indigenous Peoples’ traditional relationships and responsibilities to land, community, and spirit on our Land, Water, and Climate page.

Listen to Chris’ full interview here: