To acknowledge something is to admit its truth or existence. Here is a truth that we must acknowledge right now. We are on a path that will end in the destruction or the radical alteration of the systems of support that took millions and millions of years for this planet to develop and we are thereby imperilling our very existence and the existence of billions of other beings that call this planet home. This is the direct result of 500 years of colonial violence, of extractive capitalism, of white supremacy, of patriarchy and the hubris of human exceptionalism. The same forces that sought to sever the Indigenous Peoples of this place, the Anishihaabek, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat, from their cultures and ways of living in nature. We are fortunate that they are cultures rooted in resilience, alive and thriving today to provide us with a model of harmony and balance with and in Nature.
This way of understanding our place on this planet counters this destructive notion that the role of humans on Earth is to hold dominion over Nature. Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee worldview helps us understand that we are the younger brothers in Creation. That there is a powerful ally who is ready to help us undo the mess we’ve made. They are the ones who made the planet liveable and breathable for animals like us, the Photosynthesizers who can make matter from the power of the Sun. They are the world-makers, the oxygen creators, the soil holders, the water purifiers. The Anishinaabek and Haudenosaunee have always understood that we must extend our notions of personhood beyond the Human, to the Plants, to the Insects, to the Waters, to the Rocks, to everything that makes up the natural world wherever you find yourself on Turtle Island. Maybe that’s in another First Nation’s territory, or in the lands of the Metis or perhaps it's in the Arctic where the Inuit will dazzle you with their remarkable adaptability and deep knowledge of their home as they watch it steadily become unrecognizable as the climate changes.
The Native Plants know their duties and responsibilities. They know what their job is in the web of existence of this most beautiful place you and I call home. They can teach us what ours are too. It’s time to restore Indigenous stewardship to stolen lands. Chi migwech, Nai-weh to the Wendat, the Anishinaabek, and the Haudenosaunee on whose lands we live, for the generations of caretaking and love they extend to this land, and for their willingness to keep talking to us and teaching us so we can try to find a pathway forward, Plants and Humans, together in allyship.
At Little Forests Kingston we are striving to live up to our treaty obligations. We look to the treaty known as the Dish With One Spoon for guidance. This wampum belt covenant agreed to by the Haudenosaunne and the Anishinaabek in 1701 at the Great Peace of Montreal, follows a long tradition of similar agreements made amongst Indigneous Peoples on Turtle Island. It includes the lands of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River and guides us to take only what we must from the land ensuring that enough remains for ourselves and all our relations to thrive. It is an agreement of mutual autonomy, much like the Two Row Wampum Covenant. French and English settlers were invited to become part of it and that invitation remains.
We take guidance too from the principles of Natural Law which could also be expressed as treaties between Humans and the Natural World. This set of legal principles come to us from Indigneous legal systems. We acknowledge them and thank them for this crucial framework with which we can reimagine our relationship to the Natural World. These principles include recognition that we are only one species amongst many and that relationships with our non-human kin are reciprocal, requiring us to actively care for and respect that kin. We acknowledge that when we express gratitude to the Natural World, we are deepening our commitment to the lives of all. In this way, we hope to create an ethical space from which we can use Two-Eyed Seeing to make Katarokwi/ Kingston a place where all can thrive.