June 17, 2007

Indians know climate change

Indians speak forcefully on climate

US tribes join discourse on global warmingThe Mohawk Indian, along with members of five other Native American tribes, was preparing for a sacred ceremony by the river to pray for "Earth Mother." He said the planet was reacting to the overwhelming amount of pollution humans have produced that caused changes around the globe, even in the river at his doorstep.

"Earth Mother is fighting back--not only from the four winds but also from underneath," he said. "Scientists call it global warming. We call it Earth Mother getting angry."

In recent months, some Native American leaders have spoken out more forcefully from New Hampshire to California about the danger of climate change from greenhouse gases, joining a growing national discourse on what to do about the warming planet.

Scientists have documented climate change, but Native Americans speak of it in spiritual terms and remind others that their elders prophesized environmental tragedy many generations ago.

Those who study Native American culture believe their presence in the debate could be influential. They point to "The Crying Indian," one of the country's most influential public-service TV ads.

In the spot, actor Iron Eyes Cody, in a buckskin suit, paddles a canoe up a trash-strewn urban creek, then stands by a busy highway cluttered with litter. The ad ends with a close-up of Cody, shedding a single tear after a passing motorist throws trash at his feet.

The "Keep America Beautiful" public service announcement , which aired in the 1970s and can be seen on YouTube.com, helped usher in landmark environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

"Within the last six months, there's just been a loss of faith in the insistence [by some politicians] that global warming isn't happening, and that we have nothing to do with it," said Shepard Krech III , an anthropology and environmental studies professor at Brown University.

Krech is the author of "The Ecological Indian," which examines the relationship between Native Americans and nature.
Comment:  Krech's comment is ironic considering he spent most of The Ecological Indian denigrating Indians' environmental stewardship. See Dennis Prager and The Ecological Indian for more on the subject.

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