Climate Action Collaborative: Indigenous peoples and traditional ecological knowledge
By Gina McCrackin
February 15, 2023
Mitákuye Oyásʼiŋ is a Lakota phrase that roughly translates to “all my relations” or “we are all related.” It is in this phrase, simultaneously brief and full of depth, that we can begin to comprehend the values of interconnectedness and reciprocity that anchor Indigenous worldviews and knowledge.
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has intentionally not adopted a definition for “Indigenous” due to the global diversity of Indigenous cultures. As such, and due to my identity as a non-Native person, I cannot explain what it means to be Indigenous. What I will say, with reference to the U.N., is that Indigenous peoples throughout the world have defining cultural traits, such as unique languages, knowledge systems and beliefs, strong links to territories and surrounding natural resources, and a resolve to maintain and reproduce their ancestral environments and systems as distinctive peoples and communities. Additionally, Indigenous peoples throughout the globe share the somber fact that their history is riddled with acts of survival against colonizing states’ efforts to eradicate them (see: “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States“).