Indigenous Traditions

Indigenous Traditions and Ecology

November 13-16, 1997


  • Plenary Address/Opening Session
  • Africa
  • North America
  • Siberia/South Asia
  • Southeast Asia
  • Circum Polar/Eurasia
  • Meso America
  • South America
  • Pacific Region
  • Australia
  • Overviews: Understanding Exploitation and Advocacy



Plenary Address

Introduction - Lawrence Sullivan, Director, CSWR

Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee, Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy

Spirituality, Reality, and the Dynamics of the Natural World


Opening Session

Opening welcome - Russell Peters, Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council

Opening remarks - Lawrence Sullivan, Harvard University and John Grim, Bucknell University, Co-convenors



Moderator - Jacob Olupona, University of California/Davis

Ogbu Kalu, Nigeria, Visiting Professor, University of Toronto - The Sacred Egg: Worldview, Ecology and Development in West Africa

Teresia Hinga, DePaul University - African Indigenous Religions and the Search for Global Healing: The Gikuyu Case

Respondent - Pashington Obeng, Wellesley College and Harvard University


North America

Moderator - Joel Martin, Franklin and Marshall College

Donna House, Dineh, and Gregory Cajete, Tewa, Santa Clara Pueblo - New Mexico Indigenous Environmental Knowledge: Science Orientations and Community Inclusivity: Indigenous Ethics, Education, and Environmental Philosophy: A Pueblo Perspective

Ines Talamantez, Apache, University of California/Santa Barbara - Native American Paradigms for Sustainable Community


Siberia/South Asia

Moderator - Mary Des Chene, editor, Studies in Nepali History and Society

Piers Vitebsky, University of Cambridge

Smitu Kothari, Lokayan, India - Adivasi Autonomy and Dominant Religion: Some Reflections

Pradip Prabhu, President, National Forum for Self Rule, India - Ecological Sensibilities and Culture among the Warlis

Pramod Parajuli, Syracuse University - Rituals of Resistance, Ecology, and Adivasi Identity in India

Suresh Ale Magar, Janajatis, Nepal Federation of Nationalites - Autonomy, Ecology and the Janajati Movement in Nepal.

Respondent and Presenter - William Fisher, Harvard University - The Politicization of “Indigenous” Identity and Knowledge in South Asia


Southeast Asia

Moderator - Leslie Sponsel, University of Hawaii

Peter Brosius, University of Georgia - Local Knowledges, Global Claims: On the Significance of Indigenous Ecologies in Sarawak, East Malaysia

Mutang Urud, Sarawak, Victoria, Canada - Kelabit Ecological Lifeways

Stephanie Fried, Environmental Defense Fund - God Squads, Believers, and Backsliders: Religion and Forest Politics in Outer Island Indonesia

Respondent - Mary Steedly, Harvard University


Circum Polar/Eurasia

Moderator - Mary Evelyn Tucker, Bucknell University

Ann Fienup-Riordan, Anthropologist of Yup'ik peoples, Alaska - A Guest on the Table: Ecology from the Yup'ik Eskimo Point of View

Harvey Feit, McMaster University - Everyday Rituals and Hunting Metaphors: James Bay Cree Defense of Environments, Community and Inter-cultural Dialogue  

Jiger Janabel, Kazakstan - The Popular Belief Versus Ecology in Medieval Kazakstan


Meso America

Moderator - Maria Elena Bernal-Garcia, Doctorado en Historia, Universidad Autonoma de Zacatecas-Instituto Nacional de Anthropologia e Historia

Javier Galicia Silva, Nahuatl, Mexico - Religion, Ceremony, and Agriculture Among the Contemporary Nahuatl Communities of Mesoamerica

Angel Garcia-Zambrano, Doctorado en Historia, Universidad Autonoma de Zacatecas-Instituto Nacional de Anthropologia e Historia - Cucurbits and Cacti in the Indigenous Ritual Selection of Environments for Settlement in Colonial Mesoamerica  

Victor Montejo, Jakaltek-Maya, University of California/Davis - The Road to Heaven: Jakaltek-Maya Beliefs, Religion and the Ecology

Respondent - Maria Elena Bernal-Garcia


South America

Moderator - Kenneth Kensinger, Bennington College, Emeritus

Theodore MacDonald, Program on Nonviolent Sanctions and Cultural Survival, Center for International Affairs, Harvard University - Political Mobilization and Traditional Environmental Knowledge (TEK) in Indigenous Amazonia: Where's the Link?

Julio Valladolid, Huanca, Peru, PRATEC, and Frederique Apffel-Marglin, Smith College

Andean Cosmovision, Biodiversity and Regeneration  

Respondent and Presenter - Nelly Arvelo-Jimenez, Emeritus, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas - On the Origin of the Earth: the Basis of Ye'kuana Political Mobilization


Pacific Region

Moderator - Rex Mansmann, Partnership for First Peoples

Manuka Henare, Maori/University of Auckland - Tapu, mauri, hau, mana: A  Maori Philosophy of Vitalism and the Cosmos

Mary MacDonald, LeMoyne College, and Simeon Namunu, The Melanesian Institute, Papua New Guinea - Toward an Ethic of Interdependence: Give and Take in Melanesia

Respondent and presenter - Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Igorot, Philippines



Moderator - Victor Yellow Hawk White, Keetowah, American Indian Program of the American Friends Service Committee of the Pacific Mountain Region

Diane Bell, College of the Holy Cross - Environmental Dreamings: Of Religion, Romance, Reconciliation, and Resource

Tom Treverrow, Ngarrindjeri, Australia - A Ngarrindjeri View of Local Ecological Issues

Respondent - Ellen Treverrow, Ngarrindjeri, Australia


Overviews: Understanding Exploitation and Advocacy

Moderator - Werner Wilbert, Instituto Caribe de Antropologia y Sociologia, Fundacion La Salle, Caracas, Venezuela

Darrell Posey, Mansfield College, University of Oxford, and Thomas Greaves, Bucknell University - Knowledge, Innovation and Practice of Indigenous and Local Communities: Traditional Technologies in the International Political Context

David Maybury-Lewis, Harvard University - Indigenous Movements in Global Perspective: An Overview.


Screening of the documentary “Power”

Power,” a film by Magnus Isacsson and Glen Salzman, follows the inside story of the Cree’s battle to stop the Great Whale project. With unprecedented access to sensitive strategy meetings, confidential talks between leaders and private moments among the Cree, the filmmakers offer a compelling, behind-the-scenes account of one of the most important environmental and human rights battles of our times. The film follows the Cree campaign through good times and bad, documenting internal dissension and conflicts among the Cree as well as their successes in the fight against Hydro.