Tara Houska, indigenous resistance for future generations

What does define a civilised society: cutting-edge technologies? Infrastructure development? Capital economies? 

From a westernised way of living, a truly civilised society is one in which the abovementioned achievements flourish. Social interaction is online conceived, infrastructure overcomes nature, and the purpose of the economy is profit. Consequently, what is not in line with this paradigm is considered to be outdated and primitive, not civilised.

Tara Houska is a tribal attorney, and former Native adviser to Bernie Sanders. She challenges the abovementioned paradigm on a daily basis, questioning the extent to which this way of living is sustainable both for humans and the planet as a whole. Her article published 1 January, 2020, on Al-jazeera.com is the manifest of her fight and commitment to it.

She engaged bankers and companies linked to the Line 3 Replacement Project, a new route for Line 3, a pipeline owned by the Canadian energy transportation company Enbridge. The pipeline carries tar sands, which threatens the ancestral territory of the largest Indian group in Minnesota, Anishinaabe, which means “the original people”. The territory is home to one of the richest wild rice bed in the world, which Indian tribes have been harvesting and caring since ages. 

Native American communities, like many other indigenous groups around the world, are often labelled as primitive societies with no understanding of the way the world goes. At the very best, they are associated with idealistic wisdom, and their people romanticised “in a morality framework of inclusion” argues Tara Houska. This is because the value they give to nature and humanity, and the safeguarding role they commit to as human beings towards the two.

The truth is, they are far more than that. They are critical components of the resistance for the protection of land to safeguard the natural environment as well as cultural sites of historic importance. Tara Houska addressing corporate boardroom shows people that indigenous resistance has real consequences. For instance, indigenous-led protests at Standing Rock (South Dakota) against Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) reached global audience in 2016 and 2017, leading many supportes of the struggle to pull “their money out of the banks funding the disaster”. According to Colorado University Boulder’s First People Investment Engagement Program, the opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribes cost DAPL’s constructing and partner companies at least $7.5 billion. 

From a westernised way of living, disconnection is indoctrinated “into our hearts, our minds, our bodies”, human’s constructions no longer welcome nature, and the cost of our benefits and profits is the “destruction of our shared home”. What defines a society are the values guiding its people’s actions. In this matter, Taka Houska’s article unveils the incoherence of a society whose core values and thus its people’s actions threaten the future of its own people.

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