Return to Your Roots

Three years ago, the National Congress of American Indians adopted a resolution “Supporting a National Mandatory Program to Reduce Climate Change Pollution and Promote Renewable Energy.”

Global warming is already affecting native communities in Alaska, and rising temperatures will bring drought to many in the central and western United States.  Pollution-related damage to “weather, food sources, and local landscapes undermine the social identity and cultural survival of American Indians and Alaska Natives,” and “create new challenges for community health systems, rural infrastructure and economies.”

Acknowledging our dependence on the natural world, NCAI members urged the federal government to act while we still have time to prevent “irreversible harm to public health, the economy and the environment.”  The resolution was approved by the General Assembly on June 21, 2006, the summer solstice and a day when native people across North America were praying for the earth.

Unfortunately, this important statement was never reported in the mainstream press—or even the national native press, for that matter.

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Fortunately, there are some in Mvskoke country who are rising to the challenges of climate change.

One of the most encouraging signs of this movement is the recent “Return to Your Roots” symposium held at the Mound Building on March 20-21, the spring equinox.  More than a dozen presenters from native communities near and far discussed traditional foods, community gardening, youth projects, childhood memories, family farming, tribal agriculture, nutritional cooking, and much more.

This landmark event was cosponsored by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and all three branches of tribal government were represented among those who addressed the audience.

The symposium was organized by the Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative (MFSI), which has an office in downtown Okmulgee.  According to their mission statement, MFSI is “dedicated to enabling the Mvskoke people and their neighbors to provide for their food and health needs, now and in the future, through sustainable agriculture, economic development, community involvement, cultural and educational programs.”  You can get a free subscription to their monthly newsletter by emailing mvskokefood@gmail.com or calling (918) 756-5915.

Although I wasn’t able to attend, just hearing about the MFSI symposium makes me hungry and reminds me of my favorite Mvskoke expression:  Hompaks cē!

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A few years back, during a break from the busyness of teaching, I wrote a series of book reviews on Mvskoke history and culture for the Muscogee Nation News.

Now that I’m due for another sabbatical, I’ll be contributing a column on current issues affecting Mvskoke people.  I’m especially concerned about what is happening to our home, the earth, and I hope you are too.

My family’s allotments were in the Oktaha area, south of Muskogee.  I was born in Anadarko and taught for five years at OU in Norman.  I’ve also lived several other places across this great land, from the West Coast to east central Illinois, where I now work.

I’ve learned that every spot on this planet is beautiful in its own way—and that all are threatened by the toxic substances accumulating in our atmosphere.

I welcome your comments on anything I write, as well as your suggestions for things I should be writing about.  You can reach me by email at treaty@illinois.edu or on the web at http://www.illinois.edu/~treaty

Muscogee Nation News, June 2009

Sources:

Resolution #EWS-06-004, National Congress of American Indians

Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative Newsletter, February 2009

Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative Newsletter, March 2009

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