Indigenous Peoples and the Environment

Jane Goodall on indigenous environmental decision-making

My colleague Prakash Kashwan posted this image with the following accompaning text: "Jane Goodal's brand of personality-cult-driven conservation has nothing to do with any kind of indigenous wisdom about conservation." In response I posted the following comment:

"I agree fully. This gives me a flashback to the early 90s. I was teaching a course on human rights and indigenous peoples at Univ. Zurich, and at the end of each spring semester the whole class moved to Geneva to sit in on the ongoing annual meetings of the UN's Working Group on Indigenous Peoples. Fascinating deliberations! But what really fascinated me was how northern indigenous peoples, esp. in North America, had seemingly already then managed to set the agenda for how to talk, argue and behave. They all talked about "mother Earth" and "elders" and "indigenous knowledge", and how indigenous wisdom could and should teach the rest of the world how to manage natural resources in a wise and sustainable way.

"To pinpoint is, and thereby risking that any indigenous peoples reading this will throw a fit and banish me altogether, I will suggest that, in the good old days, when indigenous peoples (and minorities generally) lived in harmony with nature, they did so because they lived at way below carrying capacity. There were simply not enough people around to screw up the environment. The accordingly did not need Jane Goodall type philosophies.

"While this was mostly invented, or else diffused from the more powerful centers of the world's indigenous political activity and consciousness raising, and in turn adopted by indigenous peoples on the margins (certainly geographically), we should ask ourselves if this was still is, and maybe increasingly so a factor that has contributed to building the today near-global network of indigenous peoples. If so, the misunderstanding about traditional peoples' relationship with nature, and the invention of such values, should perhaps not be wholly thrown out?"


Below is a list of some of the more important comments on this post, listed in order of appearance:

1  Sacred Source Medicine This post is to reiterate and support the prophecies of First Nations and Indigenous
    people around the world... it does not matter who says it ... the prophecies are NO LESS or LESS TRUE.... educate
    yourselves before you make comments and ask yourself what is the intention ... stop criticizing and judging who is
    saying what. Jane Goodall has done a LIFE TIME of immense work to protect a species that has/was being killed for
    profit ... she has a greater understanding than most on why we need to being conscious of how and what we do ... and
    especially how it affects every living thing.... she holds NO racist ask yourself... what have you done
    for the world ... the people around you and what gives you the right to sit behind a computer or phone and judge
    ... any further negative comments on this meme you will be deleted and banned!

4  Wish we had done that!

4  Ana Trentini That’s is Jane Goodall for you...most Indigenous Tribes in our continent think of how their actions
    would affect the land and people...our governments only believe in sad.

             3  Sacred Source Medicine Ana there are those that will sit and complain and criticize what others do... those that
                 don’t do should not criticize those that do...

3  Sacred Source Medicine Focus on what we want in the world.. not what we don't want.

5  Dedication of one's life to Self realization and succeeding in this very life time liberates past seven generations!

Lars T. Soeftestad

(1) This article is based on a discussion on Facebook in early April 2018.
(2) Image credit: "Sacred Source Medicine" at: About: Sacred Source Medicine likely borrowed this image from an unknown source, without giving due credit . As of around mid-April 2019, the post had received 25 comments and 19K shares.
(3) Relevant Devblog articles: "Living languages - and dead ones" at:
(4) Other Devblog articles: "Appropriation of indigenous cultural property" at: | "Languages land tenure, and land degradation" at:
(5) Permalink. URL:
(6) This article was published 9 April 2019. It was revised 13 March 2021.

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