Saturday, October 24, 2009

Climate Change, Miskito Style

Yesterday, I attended an all-day workshop on climate change with the other teachers of Escuela Maureen Courtney. It focused on the climate change and the rights of indigenous peoples. In Nicaragua and in other places, the government has used "environmental protection" as a reason for appropriating indigenous lands for activities like reforestation. Primary focal points for countries like Nicaragua are adapting to the realities of climate change, which have already greatly damaged the people's livelihoods, and recognizing that they are not the primary cause of this damage. They are looking to foster sustainable development while holding developed countries like the US accountable for their role in climate change.

During the second half of the day, four women who are working in rural communities to help them understand climate change discussed how the Miskito and Sumu women have merged the science of climate change with their own religious beliefs. As they explained:

In the past, the Unta Dawanka prohibited us from hunting more than our fair share. The mermaids took care of the river. The gnome, the eyes of the water, took care of the trees. Every tree had its owner, and one had to ask the owner permission before removing branches or cutting down a tree. If we did not obey, the owners of the forest would punish us. We have lost this way of thinking. We have come to believe that Caoba trees are valued only in money. The owners of the forest are angry.

I'm going to talk with the religion teacher about adapting some of these women's thinking and strategies into the religion classroom to teach environmental stewardship. I don't know how open she is to incorporating non-Christian spirituality, and I know I don't have the knowledge base to do so, but there are people in the community who do. It seems like the job of religion class to impart their knowledge, albeit in a Christian context.

Towards the end of the workshop, they showed us this really cool video. It's in Spanish, but it's pretty easy to follow:

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting language! I think all languages have idiosyncracies about how words work and how the grammar works, but it's hard to see these until you look at the language from the outside, from another language.