Dear Plenty Friends,
Where to begin? We had just begun to get involved with a couple preliminary relief efforts in Haiti. Plenty volunteer nurse, Elaine Langley, had returned on April 7 from her brief tour working in a makeshift clinic in the town of Cayes Jacmel south of Port-au-Prince.
We had learned that some of the Haitians who were part of the newly formed organization, Louisiana/Haiti Sustainable Village Project, which was our partner for the temporary clinic, were going to be in New Orleans in early May.
(left) Elaine Langley, Plenty volunteer
While we were meeting with some of our Haitian partners, we were also visiting “Books To Kids” schools in Houma and Venice and talking to our Biloxi-Chitimacha friends in Pointe-aux-Chenes and Isle de Jean Charles on the Gulf shore. Everyone we met was coping with a feeling of despair as the oil spread like a dark demon into their still traumatized lives. Soon after we got home, on May 27, the Pacaya volcano erupted just south of Guatemala City raining dust and debris for miles around. Two days later tropical storm Agatha made landfall in Guatemala bringing 14 inches of rain in 24 hours. The rain triggered mudslides resulting in more than 100 deaths and leaving 20,000 people homeless. In Guatemala City a 100-foot diameter sink hole opened up swallowing a three-story building. I could go on and on about famine in West Africa, floods in Ghana, Brazil and China, or the pointless wars in the Middle East and around the globe.
The Indigenous Peoples of the world have been saying for decades that we’re wearing out our welcome on this planet. No activity underscores that view more than our voracious drilling, mining and warring for energy resources. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez dumped eleven million gallons of crude into the waters off the coast of Alaska. The BP disaster has inundated the Gulf with 180 million gallons and counting at 2.4 million per day. Over the past fifty years, more than 560 million gallons of oil have leaked, spilled and oozed into the Niger Delta in West Africa. Katrina was far more catastrophic because the oil industry activities had been so destructive of the protective wetlands and barrier islands. Deep well natural gas extraction is contaminating water supplies across the US. Likewise, uranium mining. Factoring in some of global warming’s by-products such as rising sea levels, coastal erosion and the increased frequency and intensity of storms, sea coast populations around the world face a choice between forced migration and total disaster.
At the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2009, Tomas Alarcon, a descendant of the of the Aymara people of the Andes Mountains in South America talked about the cycles of the earth and how the earth is in a cycle where it needs to rest and heal because it “has become tired of being exploited, having its resources taken, of having its mountains moved.” The World Wildlife Fund is reporting that over the past 20 years, humanity's footprint has overwhelmed earth's regenerative capacity by 25 percent. Our "bio-battery" is running down. Native cultures have always included a vision and awareness of the spiritual and how we, and all things of this life, are connected. You don’t have to be superstitious to believe that the earth is talking to us and we can assume that, until we start listening and responding, our dear Mother Earth can be expected to get a lot louder and more insistent.
Mohawk Nation Chief, Jake Swamp, at the same UN Forum in 2009, talked about the value of nature’s gifts. “There’s many different ways you can use nature to comfort your heart and mind so you can go on in life without too much distraction, not falling into sadness all the time, because we’re really here on earth to be happy and have fun.”
Message received: we had better quit screwing it up.
For more from the 2009 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues see the Link TV documentary
from the Global Spirit series, Earth Wisdom: For a World in Crisis available on-line from LinkTV.org