Our life givers, creative and sustaining forces of the world are under relentless attack. There is a deep sense that there is something missing, that we are not living to our fullest potential. There is a dualism that pits masculine vs feminine. A dualism that seeks to diminish the feminine. A dualism that denies us of embracing our whole beings and perpetuates the lie that humans should separate themselves from nature.
Using gender as a lens, ecofeminism provides the frame work for us to make the link between women and mother nature. It may also be used to provide guidance for creating new societies. Capitalism and the patriarchy seek to put into subordination our creators, life givers and sustainers, women and mother earth. We are experiencing rising sea levels, relentless pollution and record-breaking temperatures. Income inequality is also on the rise. Women around the globe, who take on most of the low-paid and agricultural work, are suffering the most. The stress is being turned up on women who are forced to work more for less pay. Conservative, climate deniers are on television shrugging off the violence that’s being committed against our planet. Real life trauma and experiences of women are often never believed or given the press they deserve. As our planet is treated merely as a commodity, the youth of women and their divine beauty is objectified and commodified until it dries up. These horrendous correlations go on and on.
Capitalism and the patriarchy make us comfortable with treating the feminine as merely something to possess, penetrate and to take as one's own. This cultural absurdity is even written into our language. Not to mention, we exploit mother earth, cut down virgin trees and plow fertile soil. The true ethical catastrophe is that all this is done in the interest of the patriarchy to satiate bottomless greed and a need for power. Ultimately, the dollar sign has been made more important than the divine. Flesh and blood are treated like mud. Earth, wind and rain have no place in the patriarchy’s brain.
But domination is neither justified or inevitable. We can begin to deconstruct the systems of oppression if we begin to look more deeply into the ways in which we are all connected to the feminine. “There is no alternative” is a concept that’s been rammed down our throats, choking out our ability to thrive. Many of us have not consented to the ways in which we are taught to interact with the feminine. We can create more wholistic systems that elevate and honor these creative forces that are inherent in our world. We are complex, with the divine masculine and the divine feminine able to interact in harmony. Against soulless capitalism and patriarchy, our beating heart is where the revolution starts.
Pretty Nose & The Wind River That Carries The Truth
Little information is available on Pretty Nose of the Arapaho Tribe. As a great war chief, she fought alongside her warriors in the Battle of Little Bighorn of 1876, which is commonly referred to as “Custer's Last Stand” from the Great Sioux War of 1876 took place. Combined with the forces of the Lakota and Cheyenne tribes against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, Pretty Nose led her people to victory and fought valiantly with Crazy Horse and Chief Gall.
Coming home from the Korean War in 1952 at approximately 101 years old, Pretty Nose greeted her grandson, who was soon to become the elder of their tribe. As a war hero, Mark Soldier Wolf returned as a veteran and met the veteran eyes of his grandmother on their land that she had fought so bravely to protect; to protect her people; to protect their futures. As he approached her, she began to sing a war song to commemorate his return. He is quoted having said the song did not “sadden me, just put more strength into me” (Ahtone). To come home as a war hero, Soldier Wolf did not receive the benefits that most veterans should receive: job placement, home loans, or even security in keeping his peoples' land.
Today on the Wind River Reservation of Wyoming, the former grounds where he met his grandmother are polluted with the remnants of a past uranium mill that the federal government requires monitoring. His home and livestock are gone. And the land is now dominated by a white water tower with a the title “Chemtrade” printed on its surface.
When so much of our world currently churns turmoil over turmoil, the memory of Pretty Nose remains and stands as a symbol, as a beacon of honor and respect not only to the women who raised and fought to keep us alive, but to the Native Americans as well for standing their ground in the name of the sacred and freedom of all those who dwelt here and abroad. We have gone too long being too quiet and dishonoring our ancestors. Although many have fought and fallen to bring the truth to the surface in order to atone for wroth, we must seek a new way in which to voice and change the tides of time; to bring about a revolution that honors, respects and joins the power of every color into one voice of peace, love, truth and positive action. Only from learning and reflecting on the past, may we know, remember and build presently into the future with an armament of virtue and steadfastness to never repeat our mistakes.
Ahtone, Tristan. "The Story of Soldier Wolf." Aljazeera America. Aljazeera America, 28 Sept. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2017. <http://projects.aljazeera.com/2014/native-veterans/soldier-wolf/>.
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a physicist, farmer, culture worker, and visionary world leader. In 1982 she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, working with local communities and social movements.
In 1991 she founded Navdanya, a national movement to promote organic farming and fair trade in India. Navdanya has worked with over 1,000 communities and supported over 500,000 farmers. Navdanya’s efforts have resulted in the conservation of more than 3000 rice varieties across India, and established 60 seed banks across the country.
Dr. Shiva combines sharp intellectual enquiry with courageous activism, and her work spans teaching at universities worldwide to working with peasants in rural India. Time Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as an environmental ‘hero’ in 2003, and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators in Asia. In November 2010, Forbes Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as one of the Seven Most Powerful Women on the Globe.
Dr. Shiva’s contributions to gender issues are also internationally recognized. She founded the gender unit at the International Centre for Mountain Development in Kathmandu, and was a founding Board Member of the Women Environment and Development Organization (WEDO).
“They are afraid of us because we are not afraid of them.” -Berta Caceres
We continue to mourn the assassination of Berta Caceres.
Berta Caceres was a Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader. She
won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her successful grassroots campaign to
pressure ghf , the world’s largest dam builder, to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam at
the Rio Gualcarque. She was born into the Lenca people of Honduras and grew up
during a period of contentious civil unrest in Honduras and Latin America. Her
mother, a midwife and activist, cared for refugees form El Salvador.
In 1993, Caceres cofounded the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations
of Honduras (COPINH), while she was still a student. She protested illegal logging,
land owners, and the presence of U.S. military bases in Honduras, while also
supporting feminism, LGBT rights, and indigenous issues. In 2006, a group of
indigenous Lenca people from Rio Blanco approached Caceres with concerns
about the arrival of construction equipment near their homes. She investigated
and found that a joint venture between Sinohydro (China), the World’s Bank
International Finance Corporation, and Desarrollos Energeticos (Honduras) were
planning to build a series of 4 hyrdroelctric dams on the Gualcarque River. The
companies had breached international law because they had not consulted with
the local Lenca people who were concerned the dams would compromise their
access to water and threaten their traditional ways of life. They mounted a protest
campaign and too the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
In 2013/2014, members of COPINH who were protecting the river were attacked,
shot at, and arrested. Three people were killed during this time. The two
international companies pulled out of the project but the Honduran corporation
remained, moving locations in order to continue working. During this period, the
Honduran people experienced a military coup by Mel Zelaya (who had been
president), even though general elections were planned. This coup was supported
by Hillary Clinton, even though Zelaya had a record of numerous human rights
Berta was assassinated in her home on March 3, 2016 after years of threats
against her life. Three of the eight people arrested in connection to her
assassination are linked to United States trained special forces. Two of those
connected to her assassination were trained at the School of the Americas in Fort
Benning, Georgia, which has been linked to thousands of murders and human
Sacred Stone was the first resistance camp founded by LaDonna Brave Bull Allard of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe on her private property. LaDonna has made history in her efforts to fight against the Black Snake also known as the Dakota Access Pipeline that threatens the livelihood of the Missouri River. She started the largest Native American mobilization in 150 years where more than 200 First Nations tribes signed statements of solidarity and over 100 social movements and organizations from all over the world joined in to show support. For the first time in history dozens of tribe leaders joined together in a symbolic unification. Both bison buffalo and a golden eagle brought medicine within their presence there. LaDonna Brave Bull Allard is a water protector and water is life. Now is the time for renewable energy.
“In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.”
- Wangari Maathai (1940 - 2011)
That time is always now. Humanity is a group of individuals - one and one and one... This shift to reach a higher moral ground requires that each one of us comes to that calling to shift our consciousness. Everyday we can see with clear eyes the place and moment in which we live, and to continually keep our eyes clear of fear-based thoughts. We wash the jealousy and doubt from our eyes that leads to hatred, violence and destruction. As we each - one and one and one - clear our eyes of fear, we look for other clear-eyed individuals - one and one and one... Sometimes there is One, who shares their hope and leads other individuals to that higher moral ground. Dr. Wangari Maathai was One.
Dr. Maathai was the first woman from the African continent to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for what the Nobel committee called “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” On Earth Day in 1977, she started the Green Belt Movement, with the goal to reforest the country of Kenya and employ and empower Kenyan women to do so. The United Nations reports that the Green Belt Movement has planted more than 300 million trees and has helped 900,000 women in the process.
Dr. Maathai was lauded worldwide for her environmental and social justice work to encourage farmers (most of whom were women in Kenya) to plant trees to create food, lumber and firewood, and to avoid soil erosion and desertification in Kenya and in other parts of Africa. However, back home she faced dangerous resentment from then Kenyan President, Daniel Arap Moi. When Moi wanted to take the land of the largest park in Nairobi to build a skyscraper, graced by a four-story statue of Moi (a Moi Tower), Wangari led the fight to stop it - all the way to the World Bank. She prevailed although she suffered ferocious threats from the President Moi and a brutal beating by the president's thugs. Dr. Maathai eventually became a member of the Kenyan Parliament after Moi left office.
Wangari Maathai shed her fear and gave hope to others. In the process, hundreds of millions of trees were planted on our planet. One and one and one...