Preserving and Protecting Mother Earth
Communities around the world have celebrated Earth Day on April 22 for more than 50 years. The Earth symbolizes many things in Native American cultures, much more than a land to use or a place to be. Today, we’re sharing just how significant the Earth is for Indigenous people.
Many Native Americans, such as the Hopi and Sioux Tribes, have long considered themselves children of Mother Earth, inseparable – ‘we are the land and the land is us’ sums it up.
Indigenous people pay tribute to her through stewardship, traditional song, dance and other ceremonies rooted in the belief that the universe is alive and all living things should be respected. Paula Gunn Allen, a Native American poet and novelist, famously wrote the words, “the Earth is the mind of the people as we are the mind of the earth. The land is not really the place where we act out the drama of our isolate destinies. It is not a means of survival, a setting for our affairs. It is rather a part of our being, dynamic, significant, real. It is our self.”
Many Native American cultures also believe in relying on the Earth’s resources to strengthen their communities. Known as Indigenous food systems, Tribal communities incorporate the elements of land, air, water and soil to sustain their people, as they have for thousands of years. And in turn, they thank Mother Earth and bring good stewardship to the land and all its resources, using only as much as they need. Truth be told, Indigenous people have celebrated ‘Earth Day’ every day since time immemorial.
For many years, PWNA has supported programs in the Northern Plains and Southwest that champion the return to Indigenous food systems and Ancestral knowledge. Our Train-The-Trainer capacity building service focuses on food as medicine, healthy cooking and nutrition with traditional foods, and our Project Grow service helps establish and enhance community gardens. In remote communities, these projects often lead to other initiatives such as farmer’s markets and food preservation.
Earth Day is a global environmental movement, essentially to save ourselves, and more than one billion people have taken action to drive positive change for our planet. By supporting PWNA in its programs that help sustain Indigenous food systems, you can help to preserve Mother Earth as the precious resource it is… essential for our existence and for generations to come.