Center for World Indigenous Studies
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A Backward State

Published: February 1, 2009, Author: JayTaber

Logic Aside

As one of the three countries in the world that are not signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United States’ hostility toward Indigenous peoples’ participation in UN talks on climate change makes sense. As the only societies that have practiced sustainability as a way of life, Indigenous peoples’ cannot in good conscience be excluded from contributing their traditional knowledge and ecological understanding to the array of tools assembled by humanity to adapt to challenging conditions like climate change. Logic aside, though, that is exactly what the US has attempted to do.

As international law evolves in recognition of the harms caused by such things as racism, colonialism and environmental destruction, the US remains a backward state. As such, the countries of the world have had to meet these challenges despite the ongoing opposition and interference of the US.

As the international community and Indigenous peoples prepare for the convention on climate change in Copenhagen this coming December, the differences between legal systems and other customs will be discussed in world media. How that discussion treats the worldview of Indigenous peoples will depend in part on how the US behaves or misbehaves. After all, when you get right down to it, it’s all about relationships; conservation requires cooperation–and cooperation requires respect.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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