Our correspondent Eileen Kinley of Carleton Place, Ont., has been transcribing jailed band leader Robert Lovelace’s submission to the inquiry into uranium mining near Sharbot Lake in eastern Ontario. She writes that the Aboriginal connection to the land is enlightening:
“One of the reader comments [published by CMJ] included the thought that ‘Surely the basic problem is how we can all benefit from the stuff God put into the ground for us to find and use.’ Perhaps this illustrates one of the root issues here – different world views.
“I am by no means an expert on Aboriginal spirituality but I believe they traditionally have a more protective relationship with Mother Earth than assuming stuff was put into the ground specifically for our use. There is a difference between assuming the right to take something vs. appreciating “gifts” from the natural world. For example, the 1998 Albuquerque Declaration includes the statement: ‘The Creator has entrusted us a sacred responsibility to protect and care for the land and all of life, as well as to safeguard its well being for future generations to come.’ Hopi Elder Thomas Banyacya made this statement about the Hopi-Navajo situation in a 1971 letter addressed to [then-US] President Nixon, signed by other traditional village elders: ‘The white man, through his insensitivity to the way of Nature, has desecrated the face of Mother Earth. The white man’s advanced technological capacity has occurred as a result of his lack of regard for the spiritual path and for the way of all living things. The white man’s desire for material possessions and power has blinded him to the pain he has caused the Mother Earth by his quest for what he calls natural resources. And the path of the Great Spirit has become difficult to see by almost all men, even by many Indians who have chosen instead to follow the path of the white man …’ and finally, the Assembly of First Nations in 1993 stated ‘Even though we represent many different First Nation cultures and traditions, we all agree on one basic teaching: We were put here by the Creator to care for this land we call Mother Earth. This means we have a responsibility to maintain good relations with all of her creation.’
“More to the point: ‘Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. We do not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.’- Chief Seattle of the West Coast Duwamish, 1854.
“Thank you for continuing this discussion.”