Earth Mother and multinational corporations: someone rather than something


“Ki ngā mana ki ngā mauri o te whenua i raro iho i ngā tikanga o tātou tūpuna” –

The prestige and life force of the land is enhanced beneath the mantle of our ancestral ways

In a majority of indigenous cultures the Earth is not seen as a pool of capital resource nor a broken world painted with the impact of ontological sin. Rather the Earth is a mother, THE mother who sustains the life of the ecosystem and the wellbeing of humankind. My whakapapa (family tree) includes geographic landmarks particular to my ancestral tribal roots – ko Ngongotaha tōku maunga, ko Rotorua tōku moana. Mountains, lakes, rivers and forests aren’t just constituents of nature; they’re a part of me, my ancestral connection and my identity as someone of the land/tangata whenua (not someone who owns the land). The land and the tikanga of my ancestors cannot be separated (whenua means both land and placenta). Everything is holistically interconnected in a spiritual and cultural manner, and just as one wouldn’t exploit a family member as a commodity, so I ask, why should we view the Earth as anything (anyone) less?

Colonization is alive and well in the 21st century, it may not be under the flags of nation states but it is definitely influenced by the geopolitics of international economics and trade (like the trans-pacific-partnership-agreement). Big multinational corporations are the new colonizers, with plans to extend the riches of capitalist adherents in a far more devastating ethos, than that of the ‘age of discovery.’ For undeniably entangled in the fight for indigenous rights is the protection of the Earth’s ecosystem and non-human inhabitants. Whether it is Monsanto, Perenco, Shell, Chevron or other multinationals; it is clear that the continual disenfranchisement of indigenous people groups from their tribal lands, not only impacts their sustainable ancestral ways but furthers ecological devastation and climate change.

Evidently there is a need for a major existential intervention into Western social norms around consumerism, materialism and capitalism. If this generation neglects their responsibility to social justice and sustainable renewable energy, we will further leap into the abyss of Anthropocene and essential sign humanity’s suicide letter as well as leaving the Earth ravaged from our homicidal attempt upon her life. Anyone seen the movie Wall-E? I’m not trying to pin people groups and beliefs into boxes of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or ‘good’ and ‘bad’, nor am I saying that indigenous knowledge should be the social criterion for the globe. What I am saying is that the manner in which Western geopolitical-economics are interacting with minority groups and the ecosystem needs to be brought into a dialogue over the responsibility to social equity and environmental stewardship.

Imagine if creating social equity/justice and sustainable renewable technology were the two primary pillars of 21st century global economics and geopolitics. It all starts in the worldview perception of the Earth as someone to be cherished, instead of something to be exploited. Maybe I’m just a dreamer…but I’m sure I’m not the only one.

(Global Indigenous Peoples’ Days of Action on Energy are on the 9th and 10th of November 2013) #EarthRights

  • There are more than 370 million self-identified indigenous peoples in some 70 countries around the world. The biggest concentration of indigenous peoples is in Asia and the Pacific – an estimated 70 per cent. (1)
  • The Amazon River Basin is home to about 400 different indigenous groups. While it accounts for just 7% of the world’s surface area, it harbours more than half of the world’s biodiversity. (2)
  • Indigenous peoples constitute about 5% of the world’s population yet account for about 15% of the world’s poor. (3)

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