The Native American Way of Caring for Land

The Native American Way of Caring for Land October 2022

Restoring the Homeland – Muwekma Ohlone Tribe

Climate change and the need to protect nature is a matter of serious concern and there is growing pressure ongovernments across the world to take action to stop the degradation of our planet. New initiatives to protect nature are cropping up almost daily and it is hoped that some of them will work and help bring balance back to the natural world. There is one way of protecting nature and caring for the land that is not new but has been proven over the centuries to be among the best ways to protect Earth. That is the Native American way of caring for the land.

Returning Stolen Land

Although far too slow, there is now a movement to return land to the Native American Tribes, the original andrightful owners. This is a positive development not just in terms of helping to restore American Indian culture and property, but because it also signals that these lands will be managed in an ecologically sensitive manner. It is not that the Tribes will adopt new conservation measures in the land returned to their control, although that too will happen. The first step will be to go back to the traditional relationship the Tribes had with the land they lived on.

The Native American attitude towards land isbased on a close personal relationship with it. It is an almost familial relationship between the earth and the animals that provide the sustenance that the Tribes survive on. Native Americans respect the land they possess and live on which means that they care for it, not just in terms of protecting it from damage and degradation but by nurturing it because the more the land prospers, the more the people who live on it will benefit. The indigenous style of land management has evolved over thousands of years and is known as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Conservationists see TEK as the future of land management, not just in America, but globally.Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest conservation organization has institutionalized the transfer of ecologically sensitive land to the indigenous people, both in America and globally.

A report prepared by researchers atthe U.S. Forest Service says Native American culture “regards animals and features of the landscape as possessing characteristics that Western minds typically ascribe only to humans, e.g., having points of view, exhibiting agency and engaging in reciprocal communication.”

The Way Ahead

It is not easy for those who are not of Native American origin to understand how American Indians perceive land, animals and resources, but there is no denying that the Tribes are closely linked to the natural world in ways that others cannot understand. TheMuwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area is among the smaller Native American tribes, but they are fighting for their rights and for having their lands restored to their care and stewardship so that both humans and nature may thrive on it. To learn more about restoring the homeland for the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, visit the Tribe’s website. You will also find information about restoring federal recognition back to Muwekma Ohlone Tribe.