On a mainstream news ‘break’ for—how many years?—I’ve tried to find alternative paths to information more likely to hold meaning than the stock market. After recent Apache efforts to protect Oak Flat from copper mining foundered, I sought an indigenous success story to amplify those voices leading the way to a future that can work for all of us.
Witness then, self-described ‘warrior-blood’ Waorani leader, Nemonte Nenquimo of Ecuador. She has kept foreign oil companies out of Waorani homelands using a legal system long rigged against the earth. Success comes from the “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” requirement of the United Nations’ Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In the U.S., requirements for Tribal Consultation are not new, though recent Executive Orders seek to strengthen, or at least reiterate their presence. And the U.S. is a signatory to that U.N. Declaration. Lakota elder Faith Spotted Eagle, at a recent training, insisted that the often meaningless concept of ‘consultation’ gains meaning when understood as consent.
Author David Haskell begins his book The Songs of Trees in the multi-layered arms of a 50-meter tall ceibo tree in Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, a place long stewarded by 4 indigenous groups now gathered as the Alianza Ceibo, an organization Nenquimo co-founded. Haskell describes this location on earth as the “modern apogee of terrestrial biodiversity.” Like the interconnectedness Haskell describes in this one tree, Nenquimo’s eloquence is sourced in sacred ancestral guidance not limited to human DNA. Remembering our endless entanglement within the many permeable networks of the planet is how we move toward thriving.