To Aboriginal peoples, native
to the land they live in since time immemorial, the term "environmental
justice" goes beyond the issue of disproportionate toxic and nuclear
contamination and health exposure of our elders, men, women, youth,
children and our traditional food web.
It includes issues of
exploitation, ecological damage, restoration of natural resources,
compensation for victims of exposures and protection and healing of
biological diversity that sustains us and allows us to practice our
culture, language, and spirituality.
It includes the protection of
all areas that are sacred and that are culturally and historically
significant to our peoples.
It addresses economic
development and social justice issues towards building sustainable
communities with safe and sustainable jobs and livelihoods.
Environmental justice means
the de-colonization of our minds and recognition of traditional knowledge
as the foundation of who we are.
It addresses ethical and
policy issues concerning biotechnology, ownership of life, introduction of
genetically modified organisms into the environment and policy issues on
intellectual property rights of Indigenous knowledge.
It means developing and
maintaining education and language programs that teaches adults and the
younger generation what their relationship is to the sacredness of our
It means understanding and
defending our treaties and to exercise our right to self-determination as
It means to claim our inherent
right to protect our traditional land, water, air and our future
It means the right to develop
our own tribal environmental protection programs with our own water and
air quality standards, and seek delegated authority to implement our own
environmental programs - which strengthens our sovereignty.
It means to have the right to
fully protect our environment and all natural resources in our traditional
territories, reserves and reservations by applying, monitoring and
enforcing our own tribal-based environmental, historical, sacred areas,
endangered species and conservation laws.
Environmental justice means to
be active - from the grassroots to tribal government - in all policy
decisions from the local, tribal, state, national and international levels
where policy development is being made that would affect our future
generations and all life that sustains us and our Earth Mother