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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 14:49 EDT

North American Indians Gather to Save the Planet

March 11, 2008

North American Indians assembled in a Mexican jungle in order to search for natural solutions to the ecological disparities which threaten the planet. Over 200 leaders from American Indian nations in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada gathered together at the base of ancient Mayan pyramids in order to discuss how their traditions could save the planet. They were reminded of the fact that even their indigenous Indian cultures have encountered environmental issues and struggled to the point of collapsing.

Elin Miller, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator said, “As we stand here, very near Palenque, I am mindful that some scholars have suggested that environmental stressors contributed to the decline of the Mayan civilization.” Several theories support that it was deforestation which played a major role in the fall of the Mayan Empire. Miller believes that environmental stress may mean that collaboration is essential for the survival of the earth’s population.

According to Raymond Sensmeier, a Tlingit leader from Yakutat, Alaska, “”¦a cleansing is needed.” He says that mother earth is dying due to an alarming rate of pollution. Sensmeier also disagrees with the way scientists compartmentalize things, which he claims “promotes disharmony and imbalance.”

A ceremony before dawn launched the conference, which, according to Mexico’s environment secretary, Juan Elvira Quesada, is meant “to present the teachings of the original peoples of North America.” Fire, chanting, copal incense, and conch shell blasts opened the ceremony which is based on reviving Indian philosophies regarding respect, compensation, ownership, and use.

According to Bill Erasmus, a representative of the indigenous people of Canada’s Northwest Territories, the role of these indigenous people is to “wake up the world.”

Everyone knows that the climate is changing, but it is the assignment of the indigenous communities to become the “natural guides to restoring the world”, Quesada claims.

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