"Indigenous Peoples are the environment and the environment is Indigenous Peoples - we are one and the same with the air, water, and the soil of our Mother Earth. We are connected to every living species and every living species is spiritually and culturally connected to us." 

Tom Goldtooth, National Coordinator, Indigenous Environmental Network 


Whether as Native Americans or First Nations, we are "indigenous" to these lands called Canada and United States. We are "peoples" that have collective rights within the hundreds of tribes that still exist today. We are "Indigenous Peoples" who have inherent rights to our traditional lands and we still maintain our culture and spiritual beliefs. Over 1,000 distinct Indigenous communities, reserves, villages and reservations or territories exist in both Canada and United States. These territories sustain us and when they are contaminated with chemical pollutants, our communities often suffer the most - because when the environment is polluted, Indigenous Peoples are polluted. Indigenous knowledge teaches us how to walk upon our Earth Mother and to respect the sacredness of her creation. We use every part of our Earth Mother to sustain us in ceremony and in everyday life. We use the water for ceremony to purify and nourish our spirit and bodies. We depend on traditional foods and plants for ceremony and to nourish our communities. When our water, soil and air are poisoned with toxic chemicals, our rights to practice our traditional lifestyles and heritage and to live in a clean and safe environment are violated.


Indigenous knowledge also teaches us our sacred relationship to the Ones-That-Swim, Ones-That-Fly, Ones-that-Crawl, and The-Four-Legged-Ones. These sacred relationships with plants and animals are embodied in our clan identities through our many traditions. Some of these species are endangered and some are polluted with high levels of toxic pollutants in their bodies. If these species are compromised, our clan identification could be endangered as well.

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Native Village Gina Boltz