Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Green lessons from Native Americans

by Marguerite Granat on November 6, 2011

Do you believe that every living thing and non living thing is equally important on this planet?

We are part of everything that is beneath us, above us, around us.

Winoma La Duke, Ojibwe

Regardless of whether you agree with this or not, this belief has been the foundation of most Native American Nations. Most tribes believe that we on earth are equal partners and responsible for each other. They call this spirit power or “medicine”.  They believe that this spirit resides in all things including plants, animals and soil. I sure felt that way when hiking recently in the deep forests of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (named by Spanish conquistadors meaning the blood of Christ-picture above) located along the historical San Luis Valley in Colorado. I was grateful that there are still places in America that are protected where we can connect with “medicine” and enjoy what has been left intact for our generation to enjoy.

One of the most sustainable traditions that the elders practiced was to ensure that the earth was left behind in good condition for future generations. In their councils, the Iroquois and other Native American groups required that each decision be evaluated by asking “What impact will this have on the seventh generation from today?

Today, Native American Nations are continuing to lead in sustainable practices. They are keeping these traditions alive. If there is one lesson to be learned it is to think about how our actions are affecting at least the next generation. Every small step we make with a spirit of awareness-with a spirit of “medicine” is in the right direction.

So next time you are about to hit print on your keyboard, or the next time you walk out a room without turning the light switch off, or the next time you’re about to turn the heat up…ask yourself what is the impact this action will have on the seventh generation from today?

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