Turtle Island is in trouble. From climate change to oil spills and wildfires, the damage can be seen across the country.
Here are 13 quotes from contemporary and historic Native figures about the importance of conserving resources to save Mother Earth.
“Mother Earth is not a resource, she is an heirloom.”
—David Ipina, Yurok
When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.
“The environment is everybody. It’s not strictly tribal.”
—Jesse Urbanic, Lummi
Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
—Ancient Indian Proverb
Together we can end the holocaust against the environment.
—Haida Gwaiil Traditional Circle of Elders
“Everybody is so distracted by things for the self. They don’t care about their relatives anymore. The SUV shows how we feel about the environment. To turn this around, we need to go back to the earth and live with the earth spiritually.”
—Floyd Red Crow Westerman
“We all need the same things: clean air and clean water. We have a lot of work to do, but if we can combine our strengths, we can fight for what’s right.”
—Jake Edwards, Onondaga
“I’m interested in doing conservation work because like the word says I want to conserve the environment around me. And I know that it starts with me—that if I don’t help no one else will either.”
—Teanna Andrews, SCA Urban Youth Corps member
“The Great Spirit is in all things. He is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us. That which we put into the ground she returns to us.”
—Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki, Algonquin
“We are the natural nurturers of the Earth Mother. The Earth Mother needs our help, she needs our prayers. We need to educate the women of the world that prayer works.”
—Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, Takelma
“The relationship between Native nations and their environment is sacred. It is the foundation of their cultures and worldview.”
—U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka
“We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.”
—Qwatsinas (Hereditary Chief Edward Moody), Nuxalk Nation