Spirit In Action

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The Oracle Report -Thursday, March 7, 2013

Third Quarter Moon Phase – Moon in Capricorn/Aquarius

Today Spirit takes over to work with whatever we have developed since the New Moon. So this means we step out and let things take their course. These types of days are always a leap of faith, but we have strong faith here. Our part in this is to let go and place our focus and energy on nature. The message is short and simple today: get grounded.

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Dancing the World into Being: A Conversation with Idle No More’s Leanne Simpson by Naomi Klein – YES! Magazine

Dancing the World into Being: A Conversation with Idle No Mores Leanne Simpson

Naomi Klein speaks with writer, spoken-word artist, and indigenous academic Leanne Betasamosake Simpson about extractivism, why its important to talk about memories of the land, and whats next for Idle No More.
by Naomi Klein

Leanne Simpson collecting wild rice.

In December 2012, the Indigenous protests known as Idle No More exploded onto the Canadian political scene, with huge round dances taking place in shopping malls, busy intersections, and public spaces across North America, as well as solidarity actions as far away as New Zealand and Gaza. Though sparked by a series of legislative attacks on indigenous sovereignty and environmental protections by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, the movement quickly became about much more: Canadas ongoing colonial policies, a transformative vision of decolonization, and the possibilities for a genuine alliance between natives and non-natives, one capable of re-imagining nationhood.

Boy with Crayon photo by ND Strupler
Indigenous Women Take the Lead in Idle No More

Motivated by ancient traditions of female leadership as well as their need for improved legal rights, First Nations women are stepping to the forefront of the Idle No More movement.

Throughout all this, Idle No More had no official leaders or spokespeople. But it did lift up the voices of a few artists and academics whose words and images spoke to the movements deep aspirations. One of those voices belonged to Leanne Simpson, a multi-talented Mississauga Nishnaabeg writer of poetry, essays, spoken-word pieces, short stories, academic papers, and anthologies. Simpsons books, including Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Protection and Resurgence of Indigenous Nations and Dancing on Our Turtles Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence, have influenced a new generation of native activists.

At the height of the protests, her essay, Aambe! Maajaadaa! (What #IdleNoMore Means to Me) spread like wildfire on social media and became one of the movements central texts. In it she writes: I support #idlenomore because I believe that we have to stand up anytime our nations land base is threatenedwhether it is legislation, deforestation, mining prospecting, condo development, pipelines, tar sands or golf courses. I stand up anytime our nations land base in threatened because everything we have of meaning comes from the landour political systems, our intellectual systems, our health care, food security, language and our spiritual sustenance and our moral fortitude.

On February 15, 2013, I sat down with Leanne Simpson in Toronto to talk about decolonization, ecocide, climate change, and how to turn an uprising into a punctuated transformation.

On extractivism

Naomi Klein: Lets start with what has brought so much indigenous resistance to a head in recent months. With the tar sands expansion, and all the pipelines, and the Harper governments race to dig up huge tracts of the north, does it feel like were in some kind of final colonial pillage? Or is this more of a continuation of what Canada has always been about?

Leanne Simpson: Over the past 400 years, there has never been a time when indigenous peoples were not resisting colonialism. Idle No More is the latestvisible to the mainstreamresistance and it is part of an ongoing historical and contemporary push to protect our lands, our cultures, our nationhoods, and our languages. To me, it feels like there has been an intensification of colonial pillage, or thats what the Harper government is preparing forthe hyper-extraction of natural resources on indigenous lands. But really, every single Canadian government has placed that kind of thinking at its core when it comes to indigenous peoples.

Indigenous peoples have lived through environmental collapse on local and regional levels since the beginning of colonialismthe construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the extermination of the buffalo in Cree and Blackfoot territories and the extinction of salmon in Lake Ontariothese were unnecessary and devastating. At the same time, I know there are a lot of people within the indigenous community that are giving the economy, this system, 10 more years, 20 more years, that are saying Yeah, were going to see the collapse of this in our lifetimes.

Extracting is stealing. It is taking without consent, without thought, care or even knowledge of the impacts on the other living things in that environment.

Our elders have been warning us about this for generations nowthey saw the unsustainability of settler society immediately. Societies based on conquest cannot be sustained, so yes, I do think were getting closer to that breaking point for sure. Were running out of time. Were losing the opportunity to turn this thing around. We dont have time for this massive slow transformation into something thats sustainable and alternative. I do feel like Im getting pushed up against the wall. Maybe my ancestors felt that 200 years ago or 400 years ago. But I dont think it matters. I think that the impetus to act and to change and to transform, for me, exists whether or not this is the end of the world. If a river is threatened, its the end of the world for those fish. Its been the end of the world for somebody all along. And I think the sadness and the trauma of that is reason enough for me to act.

Naomi: Lets talk about extraction because it strikes me that if there is one word that encapsulates the dominant economic vision, that is it. The Harper government sees its role as facilitating the extraction of natural wealth from the ground and into the market. They are not interested in added value. Theyve decimated the manufacturing sector because of the high dollar. They dont care, because they look north and they see lots more pristine territory that they can rip up.

And of course thats why theyre so frantic about both the environmental movement and First Nations rights because those are the barriers to their economic vision. But extraction isnt just about mining and drilling, its a mindsetits an approach to nature, to ideas, to people. What does it mean to you?

Leanne: Extraction and assimilation go together. Colonialism and capitalism are based on extracting and assimilating. My land is seen as a resource. My relatives in the plant and animal worlds are seen as resources. My culture and knowledge is a resource. My body is a resource and my children are a resource because they are the potential to grow, maintain, and uphold the extraction-assimilation system. The act of extraction removes all of the relationships that give whatever is being extracted meaning. Extracting is taking. Actually, extracting is stealingit is taking without consent, without thought, care or even knowledge of the impacts that extraction has on the other living things in that environment. Thats always been a part of colonialism and conquest. Colonialism has always extracted the indigenousextraction of indigenous knowledge, indigenous women, indigenous peoples.

Naomi: Children from parents.

Leanne: Children from parents. Children from families. Children from the land. Children from our political system and our system of governance. Childrenour most precious gift. In this kind of thinking, every part of our culture that is seemingly useful to the extractivist mindset gets extracted. The canoe, the kayak, any technology that we had that was useful was extracted and assimilated into the culture of the settlers without regard for the people and the knowledge that created it.

The alternative to extractivism is deep reciprocity. Its respect, its relationship, its responsibility, and its local.

When there was a push to bring traditional knowledge into environmental thinking after Our Common Future, [a report issued by the United Nations World
Commission on Environment and Development] in the late 1980s, it was a very extractivist approach: Lets take whatever teachings you might have that would help us right out of your context, right away from your knowledge holders, right out of your language, and integrate them into this assimilatory mindset. Its the idea that traditional knowledge and indigenous peoples have some sort of secret of how to live on the land in an non-exploitive way that broader society needs to appropriate. But the extractivist mindset isnt about having a conversation and having a dialogue and bringing in indigenous knowledge on the terms of indigenous peoples. It is very much about extracting whatever ideas scientists or environmentalists thought were good and assimilating it.

Naomi: Like Ill just take the idea of the seventh generation and

Leanne: put it onto toilet paper and sell it to people. Theres an intellectual extraction, a cognitive extraction, as well as a physical one. The machine around promoting extractivism is huge in terms of TV, movies, and popular culture.

Naomi: If extractivism is a mindset, a way of looking at the world, what is the alternative?

Leanne: Responsibility. Because I think when people extract things, theyre taking and theyre running and theyre using it for just their own good. Whats missing is the responsibility. If youre not developing relationships with the people, youre not giving back, youre not sticking around to see the impact of the extraction. Youre moving to someplace else.

The alternative is deep reciprocity. Its respect, its relationship, its responsibility, and its local. If youre forced to stay in your 50-mile radius, then you very much are going to experience the impacts of extractivist behavior. The only way you can shield yourself from that is when you get your food from around the world or from someplace else. So the more distance and the more globalization then the more shielded I am from the negative impacts of extractivist behavior.

On Idle No More

Naomi: With Idle No More, there was this moment in December and January where there was the beginning of an attempt to articulate an alternative agenda for the country that was rooted in a different relationship with nature. And I think of lot of people were drawn to it because it did seem to provide that possibility of a vision for the land that is not just digging holes and polluting rivers and laying pipelines.

But I think that may have been lost a little when we starting hearing some chiefs casting it all as a fight over resources sharing: OK, Harper wants to extract $650 billion worth of resources, and how are we going to have a fair share of that? Thats a fair question given the enormous poverty and the fact that these resources are on indigenous lands. But its not questioning the underlying imperative of tearing up the land for wealth.

Leanne: No, its not, and that is exactly what our traditional leaders, elders, and many grassroots people are saying as well. Part of the issue is about leadership. Indian Act chiefs and councilswhile there are some very good people involved doing some good workthey are ultimately accountable to the Canadian government and not to our people. The Indian Act system is an imposed systemit is not our political system based on our values or ways of governing.

Putting people in the position of having to chose between feeding their kids and destroying their land is simply wrong.

Indigenous communities, particularly in places where there is significant pressure to develop natural resources, face tremendous imposed economic poverty. Billions of dollars of natural resources have been extracted from their territories, without their permission and without compensation. Thats the reality. We have not had the right to say no to development, because ultimately those communities are not seen as people, they are seen as resources.

Rather than interacting with indigenous peoples through our treaties, successive federal governments chose to control us through the Indian Act, precisely so they can continue to build the Canadian economy on the exploitation of natural resources without regard for indigenous peoples or the environment. This is deliberate. This is also where the real fight will be, because these are the most pristine indigenous homelands. There are communities standing up and saying no to the idea of tearing up the land for wealth. What I think these communities want is our solidarity and a large network of mobilized people willing to stand with them when they say no.

These same communities are also continually shamed in the mainstream media and by state governments and by Canadian society for being poor. Shaming the victim is part of that extractivist thinking. We need to understand why these communities are economically poor in the first placeand they are poor so that Canadians can enjoy the standard of living they do. I say economically poor because while these communities have less material wealth, they are rich in other waysthey have their homelands, their languages, their cultures, and relationships with each other that make their communities strong and resilient.

I always get asked, Why do your communities partner with these multinationals to exploit their land? It is because it is presented as the only way out of crushing economic poverty. Industry and government are very invested in the jobs versus the environment discussion. These communities are under tremendous pressure from provincial governments, federal governments, and industry to partner in the destruction of natural resources. Industry and government have no problem with presenting large-scale environmental destruction by corporations as the only way out of poverty because it is in their best interest to do so.

We have not had the right to say no to development, because indigenous communities are not seen as people. They are seen as resources.

There is a huge need to clearly articulate alternative visions of how to build healthy, sustainable, local indigenous economies that benefit indigenous communities and respect our fundamental philosophies and values. The hyper-exploitation of natural resources is not the only approach. The first step to that is to stop seeing indigenous peoples and our homelands as free resources to be used at will however colonial society sees fit.

If Canada is not interested in dismantling the system that forces poverty onto indigenous peoples, then Im not sure Canadians, who directly benefit from indigenous poverty, get to judge the decisions indigenous peoples make, particularly when very few alternatives are present. Indigenous peoples do not have control over our homelands. We do not have the ability to say no to development on our homelands. At the same time, I think that partnering with large resource extraction industries for the destruction of our homelands does not bring about the kinds of changes and solutions our people are looking for, and putting people in the position of having to chose between feeding their kids and destroying their land is simply wrong.

Ultimately were not talking about a getting a bigger piece of the pieas Winona LaDuke sayswere talking about a different pie. People within the Idle No More movement who are talking about indigenous nationhood are talking about a massive transformation, a massive decolonization. A resurgence of indigenous political thought that is very, very much land-based and very, very much tied to that intimate and close relationship to the land, which to me means a revitalization of sustainable local indigenous economies that benefit local people. So I think theres a pretty broad agreement around that, but there are a lot of different views around strategy because we have tremendous poverty in our communities.

On promoting life

Naomi: One of the reasons I wanted to speak with you is that in your writing and speaking, I feel like you are articulating a clear alternative. In a speech you gave recently at the University of Victoria, you said: Our systems are designed to promote more life and you talked about achieving this through resisting, renewing, and regenerationall themes in Dancing on Our Turtles Back.

I want to explore the idea of life-promoting systems with you because it seems to me that they are the antithesis of the extractivist mindset, which is ultimately about exhausting and extinguishing life without renewing or replenishing.

Leanne: I first started to think about that probably 20 years ago, and it was through some of Winona LaDukes work and through working with elders out on the land that I started to really think about this. Winona took a concept thats very fundamental to Anishinaabeg society, called mino bimaadiziwin. It often gets translated as the good life, but the deeper kind of cultural, conceptual meaning is something that she really brought into my mind, and she translated it as continuous rebirth. So, the purpose of life then is this continuous rebirth, its to promote more life. In Anishinaabeg society, our economic systems, our education systems, our systems of governance, and our political systems were designed with that basic tenet at their core.

I think that sort of fundamental teaching gives direction to individuals on how to interact with each other and family, how to interact with your children, how to interact with the land. And then as communities of people form, it gives direction on how those communities and how those nations should also interact. In terms of the economy, it meant a very, very localized economy where there was a tremendous amount of accountability and reciprocity. And so those kinds of things start with individuals and families and communities and then they sort of spiral outwards into how communities and how nations interact with each other.

It was the quality of their relationshipsnot how much they had, not how much they consumedthat was the basis of my ancestors’ happiness.

I also think its about the fertility of ideas and its the fertility of alternatives. One of the things birds do in our creation stories is they plant seeds and they bring forth new ideas and they grow those ideas. Seeds are the encapsulation of wisdom and potential and the birds carry those seeds around the earth and grew this earth. And I think we all have that responsibility to find those seeds, to plant those seeds, to give birth to these new ideas. Because people think up an idea but then dont articulate it, or dont tell anybody about it, and dont build a community around it, and dont do it.

So in Anishinaabeg philosophy, if you have a dream, if you have a vision, you share that with your community, and then you have a responsibility for bringing that dream forth, or that vision forth into a reality. Thats the process of regeneration. Thats the process of bringing forth more lifegetting the seed and planting and nurturing it. It can be a physical seed, it can be a child, or it can be an idea. But if youre not continually engaged in that process then it doesnt happen.

Naomi: What has the principle of regeneration meant in your own life?

Leanne: In my own life, I try to foster that with my own children and in my own family, because I have a lot of control over what happens in my own family and I dont have a lot of control over what happens in the broader nation and broader society. But, enabling them, giving them opportunities to develop a meaningful relationship with our land, with the water, with the plants and animals. Giving them opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with elders and with people in our community so that theyre growing up in a very, very strong community with a number of different adults that they can go to when they have problems.

One of the stories I tell in my book is of working with an elder whos passed on now, Robin Greene from Shoal Lake in Winnipeg, in an environmental education program with First Nations youth. And we were talking about sustainable development, and I was explaining that term from the Western perspective to the students. And I asked him if there was a similar concept in Anishinaabeg philosophy that would be the same as sustainable development. And he thought for a very long time. And he said no. And I was sort of shocked at the no because I was expecting there to be something similar. And he said the concept is backwards. You dont develop as much as Mother Earth can handle. For us its the opposite. You think about how much you can give up to promote more life. Every decision that you make is based on: Do you really need to be doing that?

The purpose of life is this continuous rebirth, its to promote more life.

If I look at how my ancestors even 200 years ago, they didnt spend a lot of time banking capital, they didnt rely on material wealth for their well-being and economic stability. They put energy into meaningful and authentic relationships. So their food security and economic security was based on how good and how resilient their relationships weretheir relationships with clans that lived nearby, with communities that lived nearby, so that in hard times they would rely on people, not the money they saved in the bank. I think that extended to how they found meaning in life. It was the quality of those relationshipsnot how much they had, not how much they consumedthat was the basis of their happiness. So I think that thats very oppositional to colonial society and settler society and how were taught to live in that.

Naomi: One system takes things out of their relationships; the other continuously builds relationships.

Leanne: Right. Again, going back to my ancestors, they werent consumers. They were producers and they made everything. Everybody had to know how to make everything. Even if I look at my moms generation, which is not 200 years ago, she knew how to make and create the basic necessities that we needed. So even that generation, my grandmothers generation, they knew how to make clothes, they knew how to make shelter, they knew how to make the same food that they would grow in their own gardens or harvest from the land in the summer through the winter to a much greater degree than my generation does. When you have really localized food systems and localized political systems, people have to be engaged in a higher levelnot just consuming it, but producing it and making it. Then that self-sufficiency builds itself into the system.

My ancestors tended to look very far into the future in terms of planning, look at that seven generations forward. So I think they foresaw that there were going to be some big problems. I think through those original treaties and our diplomatic traditions, thats really what they were trying to reconcile. They were trying to protect large tracts of land where indigenous peoples could continue their way of life and continue our own economies and continue our own political systems, I think with the hope that the settler society would sort of modify their way into something that was more parallel or more congruent to indigenous societies.

On loving the wounded

Naomi: You often start your public presentations by describing what your territory used to look like. And it strikes me that what you are saying is very different from traditional green environmental discourse, which usually focuses on imminent ecological collapse, the collapse that will happen if we dont do X and Y. But you are basically saying that the collapse has already happened.

Simpson speaking at an Idle No More protest in Peterborough, Ontario.

Leanne: Im not sure focusing on imminent ecological collapse is motivating Canadians to change if you look at the spectrum of climate change denial across society. It is spawning a lot of apocalypse movies, but I think it is so overwhelming and traumatic to think about, that perhaps people shut down to cope. Thats why clearly articulated visions of alternatives are so important.

In my own work, I started to talk about what the land used to look like because very few people remember. Very early on, where Im from, on the north shore of Lake Ontario, you saw the collapse of the salmon population in Lake Ontario by 1840. They used to migrate all the way up to Stony Lakeit was a huge deal for our nation. And then the eel population crashing with the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Trent-Severn Waterway. So I think again, in a really local way, indigenous peoples have seen and lived through this environmental disaster where entire parts of their world collapsed really early on.

But it cycles, and the collapses are getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Its getting to the point where I describe what my land used to look like because no one knows. No one remembers what southern Ontario looked like 200 years ago, which to me is really scary. How do we envision our way out of this when we dont even remember what this natural environment is supposed to look like?

Naomi: Ive spent the past two years living in British Columbia, where my family is, and Ive been pretty involved in the fights against the tar sands pipelines. And of course the situation is so different there. There is still so much pristine wilderness, and people feel connected and protective of it. And I think for everyone, the fights against the pipelines have really been about falling more deeply in love with the land. Its not an anti movementits not about I hate you. Its about We love this place too much to let you desecrate it. So it has a different feeling than any movement Ive been a part of before. And of course the anti-pipeline movement on the West Coast is indigenous-led, and its also forged amazing coalitions of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. I wonder how much those fights have contributed to the emergence of Idle No Morethe fact of having these incredible coalitions and First Nations saying no to Harper, working together

Leanne: But also because the Yinka Dene Alliance based their resistance on indigenous law. I remember feeling really proud when Yinka Dene Alliance did the train ride to the east. I was actually in Alberta at the time but we need to build on that because if you look in the financial sections of the papers for the last few years, there are these little indications that the pipelines are coming here too. And its becoming more so, with this refinery in Fredericton. So there needs to be a similar movement around pipelines as weve seen in British Columbia. But central Canada is behind.

No one remembers what southern Ontario looked like 200 years ago, which to me is really scary.

Naomi: I think a lot of it has to do with the state the land is in. Because in B.C., that was the outrage over the Northern Gateway routingYou want to build a pipeline through that part of B.C.? Are you nuts? It was almost a gift to movement-building because they werent talking about building it through urban areas, they were talking about building it through some of the most pristine wilderness in the province. But we have such a harder job here, because there needs to be a process not just of protecting the land, but as you were saying, of finding the land in order to protect it. Whereas in B.C., its just so damn pretty.

Leanne: I think for me, its always been a struggle because Ive always wanted to live in B.C. or the north, because the land is pristine. Its easier emotionally for me. But Ive chosen to live in my territory and Ive chosen to be a witness of this. And I think thats where, in the politics of indigenous women, and traditional indigenous politics, it is a politics based on love. That was the difference with Idle No More because there were so many women that were standing up. Because of colonialism, we were excluded for a long time from that Indian Act chief and council governing system. Women initially were not allowed to run for office, and its still a bastion of patriarchy. But that in some ways is a gift because all of our organizing around governance and politics and this continuous rebirth has been outside of that system and been based on that politics of love.

So when I think of the land as my mother or if I think of it as a familial relationship, I dont hate my mother because shes sick, or because shes been abused. I dont stop visiting her because shes been in an abusive relationship and she has scars and bruises. If anything, you need to intensify that relationship because its a relationship of nurturing and caring. And so I think in my own territory I try to have that intimate relationship, that relationship of loveeven though I can see the damageto try to see that there is still beauty there. Theres still a lot of beauty in Lake Ontario. Its one of those threatened lakes and its dying and no one wants to eat the fish. But there is a lot of beauty still in that lake. There is a lot of love still in that lake. And I think that Mother Earth as my first mother. Mothers have a tremendous amount of resilience. They have a tremendous amount of healing power. But I think this idea that you abandon it when something has been damaged is something we cant afford to do in Southern Ontario.

Naomi: Exactly. But its such a different political project, right? Because the first stage is establishing that theres something left to love. My husband talks about how growing up beside a lake you cant swim in shapes your relationship with nature. You think nature is somewhere else. I think a lot of people dont believe this part of the world is worth saving because they think its already destroyed, so you may as well abuse it some more. There arent enough people who are articulating what it means to build an authentic relationship with non-pristine nature. And its a different kind of environmental voice that can speak to the wounded, as opposed to just the perfect and pretty.

Leanne: If you cant swim in it, canoe across it. Find a way to connect to it. When the lake is too ruined to swim or to eat from it, then thats where the healing ceremonies come in, because you can still do ceremonies with it. In Peterborough, I wrote a spoken word piece around salmon in which I imagined myself as being the first salmon back into Lake Ontario and coming back to our territory. The lift-locks were gone. And I learned the route that the salmon would have gone in our language. And so that was one of the ways I was trying to connect my community back to that story and back to that river system, through this performance. People did get more interested in the salmon. The kids did get more interested because they were part of the dance work.

On climate change and transformation

Naomi: In the book Im currently writing Im trying to understand why we are failing so spectacularly to deal with the climate crisis. And there are lots of reasonsideological, material, and so on. But there are also powerful psychological and cultural reasons where weand Im talking in the settler we, I supposehave been colonized by the logic of capitalism, and that has left us uniquely ill-equipped to deal with this particular crisis.

Leanne: In order to make these changes, in order to make this punctuated transformation, it means lower standards of living, for that 1 percent and for the middle class. At the end of the day, thats what it means. And I think in the absence of having a meaningful life outside of capital and outside of material wealth, thats really scary.

If we are not, as peoples of the earth, willing to counter colonialism, we have no hope of surviving climate change.

Naomi: Essentially, its saying: your life is going to end because consumerism is how we construct our identities in this culture. The role of consumption has changed in our lives just in the past 30 years. Its so much more entwined in the creation of self. So when someone says, To fight climate change you have to shop less, it is heard as, You have to be less. The reaction is often one of pure panic.

On the other hand, if you have a rich community life, if your relationships feed you, if you have a meaningful relationship with the natural world, then I think contraction isnt as terrifying. But if your life is almost exclusively consumption, which I think is what it is for a great many people in this culture, then we need to understand the depth of the threat this crisis represents. Thats why the transformation that we have to make is so profoundwe have to relearn how to derive happiness and satisfaction from other things than shopping, or were all screwed.

Leanne: I see the transformation as: Your life isnt going to be worse, its not going to be over. Your life is going to be better. The transition is going to be hard, but from my perspective, from our perspective, having a rich community life and deriving happiness out of authentic relationships with the land and people around you is wonderful. I think where Idle No More did pick up on it is with the round dances and with the expression of the joy. Lets make this fun. It was women that brought that joy.

Naomi: Another barrier to really facing up to the climate crisis has to do with another one of your strong themes, which is the importance of having a relationship to the land. Because climate change is playing out on the land, and in order to see those early signs, you have to be in some kind of communication with it. Because the changes are subtleuntil theyre not.

Leanne: I always take my kids to the sugar bush in March and we make maple syrup with them. And whats happened over the last 20 years is every year our season is shorter. Last year was a near disaster because we had that week of summer weather in the middle of March. You need a very specific temperature range for making maple sugar. So it sort of dawned on me last year: Im spending all of this time with my kids in the sugar bush and in 20 years, when its their term to run it, theyre going to have to move. Who knows? Its not going to be in my territory anymore. Thats something that my generation, my family, is going to witness the death of. And that is tremendously sad and painful for us.

Individual choices arent going to get us out of this mess. We need a systemic change.

Its things like the sugar bush that are the stories, the teachings, thats really our system of governance, where children learn about that. Its another piece of the puzzle that were trying to put back together thats about to go missing. Its happening at an incredibly fast rate, its changing. Indigenous peoples have always been able to adapt, and weve had a resilience. But the speed of thisour stories and our culture and our oral tradition doesnt keep up, cant keep up.

Naomi: One of the things thats so difficult, when one immerses oneself in the climate science and comes to grips with just how little time we have left to turn things around, is that we know that real hard political work takes time. You cant rush it. And a sense of urgency can even be dangerous, it can be used to say, We dont have time to deal with those complicated issues like colonialism and racism and inequality. There is a history in the environmental movement of doing that, of using urgency to belittle all issues besides human survival. But on the other hand, we really are in this moment where small steps wont do. We need a leap.

Leanne: This is one of the ways the environmental movement has to change. Colonial thought brought us climate change. We need a new approach because the environmental movement has been fighting climate change for more than two decades and were not seeing the change we need. I think groups like Defenders of the Land and the Indigenous Environmental Network hold a lot of answers for the mainstream environmental movement because they are talking about large-scale transformation. If we are not, as peoples of the earth, willing to counter colonialism, we have no hope of surviving climate change. Individual choices arent going to get us out of this mess. We need a systemic change. Manulani Aluli Meyer was just in Peterboroughshes a Hawaiian scholar and activistand she was talking about punctuated transformation. A punctuated transformation [means] we dont have time to do the whole steps and time shift, its got to be much quicker than that.

Thats the hopefulness and inspiration for me thats coming out of Idle No More. It was small groups of women around a kitchen table that got together and said, Were not going to sit here and plan this and analyze this, were going to do something. And then three more women, and then two more women, and a whole bunch of people and then men got together and did it, and it wasnt like there was a whole lot of planning and strategy and analyzing. It was people standing up and saying Enough is enough, and Im going to use my voice and Im going to speak out and Im going to see what happens. And I think because it was still emergent and there were no single leaders and there was no institution or organization it became this very powerful thing.

On next steps

Naomi: What do you think the next phase will be?

Leanne: I think within the movement, were in the next phase. Theres a lot of teaching thats happening right now in our community and with public teach-ins, theres a lot of that internal work, a lot of educating and planning happening right now. There is a lot of internal nation-building work. Its difficult to say where the movement will go because it is so beautifully diverse. I see perhaps a second phase that is going to be on the land. Its going to be local and its going to be people standing up and opposing these large-scale industrial development projects that threaten our existence as indigenous peoplesin the Ring of Fire [region in Northern Ontario], tar sands, fracking, mining, deforestation But where they might have done that through policy or through the Environmental Assessment Act or through legal means in the past, now it may be through direct action. Time will tell.

Naomi: I want to come back to what you said earlier about knowledge extraction. How do we balance the dangers of cultural appropriation with the fact that the dominant culture really does need to learn these lessons about reciprocity and interdependence? Some people say its a question of everybody finding their own inner indigenousness. Is that it, or is there a way of recognizing indigenous knowledge and leadership that avoids the hit-and-run approach?

Leanne: I think Idle No More is an example because I think there is an opportunity for the environmental movement, for social-justice groups, and for mainstream Canadians to stand with us. There was a segment of Canadian society, once they had the information, that was willing to stand with us. And that was helpful and inspiring to me as well. So I think its a shift in mindset from seeing indigenous people as a resource to extract to seeing us as intelligent, articulate, relevant, living, breathing peoples and nations. I think that requires individuals and communities and people to develop fair and meaningful and authentic relationships with us.

We have a lot of ideas about how to live gently within our territory in a way where we have separate jurisdictions and separate nations but over a shared territory. I think theres a responsibility on the part of mainstream community and society to figure out a way of living more sustainably and extracting themselves from extractivist thinking. And taking on their own work and own responsibility to figure out how to live responsibly and be accountable to the next seven generations of people. To me, thats a shift that Canadian society needs to take on, thats their responsibility. Our responsibility is to continue to recover that knowledge, recover those practices, recover the stories and philosophies, and rebuild our nations from the inside out. If each group was doing their work in a responsible way then I think we wouldnt be stuck in these boxes.

There are lots of opportunities for Canadians, especially in urban areas, to develop relationships with indigenous people. Now more than ever, there are opportunities for Canadians to learn. Just in the last 10 years, theres been an explosion of indigenous writing. Thats why me coming into the city today is important, because these are the kinds of conversations where you see ways out of the box, where you get those little glimmers, those threads that you follow and you nurture, and the more you nurture them, the bigger they grow.

Idle No More is a shift in mindset to seeing us as intelligent, articulate, relevant, living, breathing peoples and nations.

Naomi: Can you tell me a little bit about the name of your book, Dancing On Our Turtles Back, and what it means in this moment?

Leanne: Ive heard Elder Edna Manitowabi tell one of our creation stories about a muskrat and a turtle for years now. In this story, theres been some sort of environmental crisis. Because within Anishinaabeg cosmology, this isnt the First World, maybe this is the Fourth World that were on. And whenever theres an imbalance and the imbalance isnt addressed, then over time theres a crisis. This time, there was a big flood that covered the entire world. Nanabush, one of our sacred beings, ends up trapped on a log with many of the other animals. They are floating in this vast sea of water with no land in sight. To me, that feels like where we are right now. Im on a very crowded log, the world my ancestors knew and lived in is gone, and me and my community need to come up with a solution even though we are all feeling overwhelmed and irritated. Its an intense situation and no one knows what to do, no one knows how to make a new world.

Idle No More group
Why Canada’s Indigenous Uprising Is About All of Us
When a new law paved the way for tar sands pipelines and other fossil fuel development on native lands, four women swore to be idle no more. The idea took off.

So the animals end up taking turns diving down and searching for a pawful of dirt or earth to use to start to make a new world. The strong animals go first, and when they come up with nothing, the smaller animals take a turn. Finally, muskrat is successful and brings her pawfull of dirt up to the surface. Turtle volunteers to have the earth placed on her back. Nanibush prays and breaths life into that earth. All of the animals sing and dance on the turtles back in a circle, and as they do this, the turtles back grows. It grows and grows until it becomes the world we know. This is why Anishinaabeg call North America Mikinakongthe place of the turtle.

When Edna tells this story, she says that were all that muskrat, and that we all have that responsibility to get off the log and dive down no matter how hard it is and search around for that dirt. And that to me was profound and transformative, because we cant wait for somebody else to come up with the idea. The whole point, the way were going to make this better, is by everybody engaging in their own being, in their own gifts, and embody this movement, embody this transformation.

And so that was a transformative story for me in my life and seemed to me very relevant in terms of climate change, in terms of indigenous resurgence, in terms of rebuilding the Anishinaabeg Nation. And so when people started round dancing all over the turtles back in December and January, it made me insanely happy. Watching the transformative nature of those acts, made me realize that its the embodiment, we have to embody the transformation.

Naomi: What did it feel like to you when it was happening?

Leanne: Love. On an emotional, a physical level, on a spiritual level. Yeah, it was love. It was an intimate, deep love. Like the love that I have for my children or the love that I have for the land. It was that kind of authentic, not romantic kind of fleeting love. It was a grounded love.

Naomi: And it can even be felt in a shopping mall.

Leanne: Even in a shopping mall. And how shocking is that?

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Will Capitalism Destroy Civilization?

Will Capitalism Destroy Civilization?

Dollar burn through Earth

Thursday, 07 March 2013 09:12 By Noam Chomsky, Truthout | Op-Ed

There is capitalism and then there is really existing capitalism.

The term capitalism is commonly used to refer to the U.S. economic system, with substantial state intervention ranging from subsidies for creative innovation to the too-big-to-fail government insurance policy for banks.

The system is highly monopolized, further limiting reliance on the market, and increasingly so: In the past 20 years the share of profits of the 200 largest enterprises has risen sharply, reports scholar Robert W. McChesney in his new book Digital Disconnect.

Capitalism is a term now commonly used to describe systems in which there are no capitalists: for example, the worker-owned Mondragon conglomerate in the Basque region of Spain, or the worker-owned enterprises expanding in northern Ohio, often with conservative support both are discussed in important work by the scholar Gar Alperovitz.

Some might even use the term capitalism to refer to the industrial democracy advocated by John Dewey, Americas leading social philosopher, in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Dewey called for workers to be masters of their own industrial fate and for all institutions to be brought under public control, including the means of production, exchange, publicity, transportation and communication. Short of this, Dewey argued, politics will remain the shadow cast on society by big business.

The truncated democracy that Dewey condemned has been left in tatters in recent years. Now control of government is narrowly concentrated at the peak of the income scale, while the large majority down below has been virtually disenfranchised. The current political-economic system is a form of plutocracy, diverging sharply from democracy, if by that concept we mean political arrangements in which policy is significantly influenced by the public will.

There have been serious debates over the years about whether capitalism is compatible with democracy. If we keep to really existing capitalist democracy RECD for short the question is effectively answered: They are radically incompatible.

It seems to me unlikely that civilization can survive RECD and the sharply attenuated democracy that goes along with it. But could functioning democracy make a difference?

Lets keep to the most critical immediate problem that civilization faces: environmental catastrophe. Policies and public attitudes diverge sharply, as is often the case under RECD. The nature of the gap is examined in several articles in the current issue of Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Researcher Kelly Sims Gallagher finds that One hundred and nine countries have enacted some form of policy regarding renewable power, and 118 countries have set targets for renewable energy. In contrast, the United States has not adopted any consistent and stable set of policies at the national level to foster the use of renewable energy.

It is not public opinion that drives American policy off the international spectrum. Quite the opposite. Opinion is much closer to the global norm than the U.S. governments policies reflect, and much more supportive of actions needed to confront the likely environmental disaster predicted by an overwhelming scientific consensus and one thats not too far off; affecting the lives of our grandchildren, very likely.

As Jon A. Krosnick and Bo MacInnis report in Daedalus: Huge majorities have favored steps by the federal government to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated when utilities produce electricity. In 2006, 86 percent of respondents favored requiring utilities, or encouraging them with tax breaks, to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they emit. Also in that year, 87 percent favored tax breaks for utilities that produce more electricity from water, wind or sunlight. These majorities were maintained between 2006 and 2010 and shrank somewhat after that.

The fact that the public is influenced by science is deeply troubling to those who dominate the economy and state policy.

One current illustration of their concern is the Environmental Literacy Improvement Act proposed to state legislatures by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-funded lobby that designs legislation to serve the needs of the corporate sector and extreme wealth.

The ALEC Act mandates balanced teaching of climate science in K-12 classrooms. Balanced teaching is a code phrase that refers to teaching climate-change denial, to balance mainstream climate science. It is analogous to the balanced teaching advocated by creationists to enable the teaching of creation science in public schools. Legislation based on ALEC models has already been introduced in several states.

Of course, all of this is dressed up in rhetoric about teaching critical thinking a fine idea, no doubt, but its easy to think up far better examples than an issue that threatens our survival and has been selected because of its importance in terms of corporate profits.

Media reports commonly present a controversy between two sides on climate change.

One side consists of the overwhelming majority of scientists, the worlds major national academies of science, the professional science journals and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

They agree that global warming is taking place, that there is a substantial human component, that the situation is serious and perhaps dire, and that very soon, maybe within decades, the world might reach a tipping point where the process will escalate sharply and will be irreversible, with severe social and economic effects. It is rare to find such consensus on complex scientific issues.

The other side consists of skeptics, including a few respected scientists who caution that much is unknown which means that things might not be as bad as thought, or they might be worse.

Omitted from the contrived debate is a much larger group of skeptics: highly regarded climate scientists who see the IPCCs regular reports as much too conservative. And these scientists have repeatedly been proven correct, unfortunately.

The propaganda campaign has apparently had some effect on U.S. public opinion, which is more skeptical than the global norm. But the effect is not significant enough to satisfy the masters. That is presumably why sectors of the corporate world are launching their attack on the educational system, in an effort to counter the publics dangerous tendency to pay attention to the conclusions of scientific research.

At the Republican National Committees Winter Meeting a few weeks ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal warned the leadership that We must stop being the stupid party. We must stop insulting the intelligence of voters.

Within the RECD system it is of extreme importance that we become the stupid nation, not misled by science and rationality, in the interests of the short-term gains of the masters of the economy and political system, and damn the consequences.

These commitments are deeply rooted in the fundamentalist market doctrines that are preached within RECD, though observed in a highly selective manner, so as to sustain a powerful state that serves wealth and power.

The official doctrines suffer from a number of familiar market inefficiencies, among them the failure to take into account the effects on others in market transactions. The consequences of these externalities can be substantial. The current financial crisis is an illustration. It is partly traceable to the major banks and investment firms ignoring systemic risk the possibility that the whole system would collapse when they undertook risky transactions.

Environmental catastrophe is far more serious: The externality that is being ignored is the fate of the species. And there is nowhere to run, cap in hand, for a bailout.

In future, historians (if there are any) will look back on this curious spectacle taking shape in the early 21st century. For the first time in human history, humans are facing the significant prospect of severe calamity as a result of their actions actions that are battering our prospects of decent survival.

Those historians will observe that the richest and most powerful country in history, which enjoys incomparable advantages, is leading the effort to intensify the likely disaster. Leading the effort to preserve conditions in which our immediate descendants might have a decent life are the so-called primitive societies: First Nations, tribal, indigenous, aboriginal.

The countries with large and influential indigenous populations are well in the lead in seeking to preserve the planet. The countries that have driven indigenous populations to extinction or extreme marginalization are racing toward destruction.

Thus Ecuador, with its large indigenous population, is seeking aid from the rich countries to allow it to keep its substantial oil reserves underground, where they should be.

Meanwhile the U.S. and Canada are seeking to burn fossil fuels, including the extremely dangerous Canadian tar sands, and to do so as quickly and fully as possible, while they hail the wonders of a century of (largely meaningless) energy independence without a side glance at what the world might look like after this extravagant commitment to self-destruction.

This observation generalizes: Throughout the world, indigenous societies are struggling to protect what they sometimes call the rights of nature, while the civilized and sophisticated scoff at this silliness.

This is all exactly the opposite of what rationality would predict unless it is the skewed form of reason that passes through the filter of RECD.

© 2012 Noam Chomsky

Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate

(Noam Chomsky’s new book is “Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire. Conversations with David Barsamian.” Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.)
Please read the original article with comments at the link below, and support Truthout so they don’t disappear!


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Mars flooding: Ancient mega-flood on Red Planet revealed in 3D

Mars flooding: Ancient mega-flood on Red Planet revealed in 3D

Mars flooding: The discovery shows that a major underground channel generated by an ancient mega-flood is twice as deep as thought, and sheds light on how water shaped the surface of Mars, scientists added.

By Charles Q. Choi, SPACE.com / March 7, 2013

This image provided by NASA and taken by a camera aboard NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the equatorial plains region known as Elysium Planitia on Mars. Using a radar instrument aboard the spacecraft, scientists made a 3-D map of flood channels below the surface of Mars, apparently created by past flooding. The findings were reported online, March 7, in the journal Science.



Radar scans of Mars have revealed the first 3D look at water-carved channels buried beneath the Red Planet’s surface, researchers say.

The discovery shows that a major underground channel generated by an ancient mega-flood is twice as deep as thought, and sheds light on how water shaped the surface of Mars, scientists added.

Mars today is cold and dry, with most of its water locked in polar ice caps, and researchers think its surface has been largely barren for the past 2.5 billion years. However, channels crisscrossing its surface hint that waters once flooded the Red Planet’s surface.

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The largest of the channels engraved into Mars within the past 500 million years belong to the 600-mile-long (1,000 kilometer) Marte Vallis system. Probing Marte Vallis could offer hints on a time otherwise thought of as cold and dry. [The Search for Water on Mars (Photos)]

However, Marte Vallis lies in Elysium Planitia, an expanse of plains along the Martian equator. This area is the youngest volcanic region on Mars, and massive volcanism throughout the past several hundred million years has covered most of its surface with lava, burying evidence of its recent history, including the source and most of the length of Marte Vallis.

Now, using the shallow radar onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have scanned beneath the surface of Elysium Planitia. Their data helped generate a 3D reconstruction of Marte Vallis, revealing many details that lava flows buried long ago.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to see buried flood channels on a planet other than the Earth,” lead study author Gareth Morgan, a geologist at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, told SPACE.com.

The researchers found the channels of Marte Vallis were at least 230 feet (70 meters) deep, making them at least twice as deep as thought.

“That shows previous ideas of erosion, of how much water have gone through Marte Vallis, have been underestimated,” Morgan said. “There was more significant flooding than before thought, and it’s interesting to think of where this water might have come from during this relatively dry period.”

By mapping the buried channels, researchers discovered the ancient gigantic floods that probably created Marte Vallis apparently originated deep underground from a now-buried portion of fissures known as Cerberus Fossae.

“The source of the floodwaters suggests they originated from a deep groundwater reservoir and may have been released by local tectonic or volcanic activity,” Morgan said.

Marte Vallis is similar to more ancient systems of channels on Mars. The gargantuan floods that generated these channels may also have briefly radically changed the Red Planet’s climate just as giant floods of Arctic water have on Earth. Learning more about Martian floods could provide information on key parts of that world’s history, researchers said.

“There’s also evidence of channels buried by lava or other sorts of materials in other areas on Mars, and we’d like to apply the same sort of radar studies to those,” Morgan said.

The scientists detailed their findings online today (March 7) in the journal Science.

Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.

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Interview with Laura Eisenhower and Dr Dream – Free access

I got this from Inelia in email and thought some of you might also want to see it.~O

A really quick note to send you the link to the fabulous interview with Laura Eisenhower and Dr Dream which was aired yesterday on their radio show “Awake in the Dream”:


It is filled with great information on many topics which are very relevant for what we are going through today.

As you may remember, the three of us will be at the Cosmic Reunion Conference at the end of the month (March 2013). I am very much looking forward to meeting Laura and Dr Dream in person, and I hope to meet you there too 🙂

Enjoy the interview!


I published a PressTV report on this yesterday, but this one is more thorough. The very legitimacy of our form of government is based on things like due process and the right of the accused to a trial with a jury of his/her peers as he/she is “presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty”. These are not fluffy, lighthearted asides to our legal system-they are its very foundation.

While I personally believe that the man Barack Obama IS a good person with morals and compunction, it is fairly obvious that if my belief is factual then he is categorically NOT the person in charge of the direction our government is headed.

That the direction has not appreciably changed since John F Kennedy was murdered by a coalition of the corrupt, the 1% and their minions, and has only increased in speed and obviousness over the last 3 presidents, leads me to believe the coup in the early 1960’s was complete and no head of state since then has been much more than an icon or a diversion.

If this theory is correct, and the many channelings telling us that the Galactics and Earth Allies have everything under control and change is coming “soon” are not correct then it very much stands to reason that the cabal would use the first African American to hold that office, a democrat and champion of the poor to solidify and culminate their plans as it would *delay appropriate response* by the people.

We need now to get past political divisions, and all other divisions and come together across all boundaries to stand as One People against this march toward tyranny.

From Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin to JFK, MLK, RFK, Hugo Chavez and other political leaders, they have shown there is NO ONE they are unwilling to murder in pursuit of their plans, no matter how “powerful” or high, or in the case of musicians-no matter how seemingly peripheral to politics.

“Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, this you do unto me”- Jesus of Nazareth. This may not seem related but it is. We are all One-whatever is done to Chavez, to Afghan and Pakistani children, to Iraqi, Egyptian, Palestinian, or Shoshone-it is done to ALL of us.

And as Gandalf once said to a particularly nasty Balrog, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!” ; we now have to say no more.
Like Gandalf we are likely to be subject to a trial by fire and ice, to extremes we may feel unlikely to survive, but in the end we, and our planet, will be transformed by the power of our collective refusal to allow any more violence and horror.

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HILARION MESSAGE by Marlene Swetlishoff~March 3-10, 2013


by Marlene Swetlishoff~March 3-10

Beloved Ones,

You are experiencing another energetic download and are being upgraded yet again. As you know, this process will continue until all is cleansed and purified in your four body system. It is a time to spend going within as much as is possible for you and for allowing your heart chakra to open more fully so that any areas that still need purging can be worked on. If this process feels very intense for you, go out into nature and simply connect. This will ground you and remind you that you are a part of All That Is and that these feelings too, shall pass.

Each layer that is cleared connects you more deeply with your authentic self that lies at the core of your being and this is important in order for you to move forward and the fastest and most accelerated way to accomplish this is to practice looking at each situation in your life and forgiving everyone and everything throughout this lifetime and most especially, yourself. Your human operating system has absorbed many false messages and signals throughout your journey in the physical and these each need to be recognized as such and released. It is important to discern between what is actually your energy and that of the collective consciousness. Sometimes, this can be a difficult process and many of you spend needless hours getting caught up in the dramas that are being enacted all over the Earth.

It is of utmost importance for all of you Dear Ones to remain calm and detached from the dramas that are being played out upon the world stage. Do not add energy to these events, instead, focus on all that you would like to experience in your reality. It takes effort each day to maintain a focus of Light in these times and persistence is the key. As you do this work, know that you serve a greater purpose than is readily apparent in your current reality. The process of Ascension for the Earth and all her inhabitants is ongoing and it is good to see the changes and transformations that are taking place. Although it appears to the contrary, there is evidence everywhere of the evolution that is taking place.

Again we stress that cultivating an attitude of gratitude and feeling joy in your being for the opportunities you are being given is crucial. As you move towards the vernal equinox in March the energies flooding this planet will be the greatest and most intense ever experienced. Allow yourselves to blossom into the fullness of your being and remember that you have chosen the path you are currently on and also, that it is during this year, year one of the new Earth reality, that you begin to come into your own. Take the time necessary to discover what it is that you want to create in your life and in the new reality.

It is your energy and your vision that is creating the new reality. It is a new day and a new play. You can create what you choose upon this new template and only that which empowers and nourishes the greatest good for all will imprint upon it. Your creative powers are coming to the fore in the days ahead and many hidden talents and abilities will begin to unfold. The very atmosphere is alive and ripe with the highest potentialities. Believe in yourselves!

Until next week

I AM Hilarion

©2013 Marlene Swetlishoff/Tsu-tana (Soo-tam-ah) Keeper of the Symphonies of Grace

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