Dancing the World into Being – a North American indigenous perspective on degrowth

I’ve just read this “interview” of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson by Naomi Klein. If you read anything this week, this should be it. She touches on many of the themes of degrowth from a North American indigenous perspective on “buen vivir”. It is a very moving and powerful piece, longish (12 pages), but I believe well worth the time to read and ponder. Some snippets:

Ultimately we’re not talking about a getting a bigger piece of the pie – we’re talking about a different pie.

There is a huge need to clearly articulate alternative visions of how to build healthy, sustainable, local indigenous economies that benefit indigenous communities and respect our fundamental philosophies and values. The hyper-exploitation of natural resources is not the only approach.

I asked him [an elder] if there was a similar concept in Anishinaabeg philosophy that would be the same as sustainable development. And he thought for a very long time. And he said no. And I was sort of shocked at the “no” because I was expecting there to be something similar. And he said the concept is backwards. You don’t develop as much as Mother Earth can handle. For us it’s the opposite. You think about how much you can give up to promote more life. Every decision that you make is based on: Do you really need to be doing that?

Again, going back to my ancestors, they weren’t consumers. They were producers and they made everything. Everybody had to know how to make everything… people have to be engaged in a higher level – not just consuming it, but producing it and making it. Then that self-sufficiency builds itself into the system.

So when I think of the land as my mother or if I think of it as a familial relationship, I don’t hate my mother because she’s sick, or because she’s been abused. I don’t stop visiting her because she’s been in an abusive relationship and she has scars and bruises. If anything, you need to intensify that relationship because it’s a relationship of nurturing and caring.

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