Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Ojibwe Environmentalist Gopher Was Green Before it Was Cool....
His point was that humanity would reach a critical point where decisions would have to be made about whether we wanted to survive. He used to say, "Mother Earth will go on forever, but if we mismanage our place here, we will only hurt ourselves, over a long time, the Earth will heal. We will not be here."
He was against the use of anything nuclear, whether it was energy, and mostly nuclear weapons. He was dedicated to his message so much, he used our traditional round dances to spread his message. He hosted peace conferences to go with his round dances. He trained a crop of native environmental leaders.
He spurred activists to take their message to a broader level. He would never set aside the original culture to appease anyone. Our culture was our universe, it is who we are. He would never abandon his identity, or embrace the models of mainstream society. He insisted our culture provided us the knowledge, and wisdom we needed to survive.
He was always ON, he was worldly for a man beyond what life handed him. He had vision at a time when Native people were re-discovering their identity, and finally embracing their new found self-awareness. He never assimilated, never tried, and never was an apologist for being a traditionalist Ojibwe. His parents rejected Christianity to the point of not allowing symbolism, even crosses, to be brought into their household. There was a complete rejection of Christianity in the Gopher household. They understood colonialism was rooted in the religious-economic dominion ethic of the European.
He was raised in, and lived with the simplicity of his culture. My late Grandfather, Jim Loud Thunder Gopher, was labeled a "Bolshevik" by census workers in the earlier part of the century for his rejection of modern conveniences. He would haul his water the old way, he told census workers, he wouldn't have any of this piped-in-water business. There have been, and still are those that misunderstand the Native view of co-existence on Mother Earth, like these census workers who negatively labeled my late Grandfather. He was not backward, but had a deeper understanding of the delicate balance of creation. It is not something to be tampered with, native people have always understood there are consequences of upsetting this balance.
It is not a coincidence, that uranium mining, and other forms of mining, drilling, etc., often occur on or near native communities. The corporations and complicit government officials will often tout the short term benefits to the community, but will never level with a community about the long term consequences. It is a tried and true model. It has been my experience, in particular in dealing with the Zortman Landusky mine my Father worked on; that only a committed, informed and active community can effectively combat this kind of hard sell. Industry/government complicity is hard to beat, but it can be done. Citizen action is vital, it is the last line of forcing accountability.
We have to decide what we want for a future. The situation in Japan is a chilling reminder, maybe a message from Mother Earth to rethink how we use her valuable resources. People are only now thinking about smart grids for wind energy, but we need to think larger about a broader based grid that parcels out and allocates what is here now, while creating renewables.
As these four damaged reactors seep out their deadly contents and threaten the lives and future generations of those on the Island of Japan and their region; we must acknowledge nuclear energy must be taken out of the mix. This is not safe, and it is foolishly being put on the front burner over other safer and renewable energy sources. We are not lacking for technology and know-how, what is lacking is the will. Something we all need to think about the next time we recharge our cel phone~~where is the energy coming from? Is it safe and sustainable? Is is renewable? We have a responsibility to future generations to ensure they have a healthful environment to live in.