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Deborah McGregor

Published On


Page Range

pp. 133-140

Print Length

7 pages

Mother Earth

  • Deborah McGregor (author)
The first Earth Day in 1970 represented the awakening of the modern world to the perils faced by the planet. Indigenous communities, however, have long attended to our relationship with the Earth and the absolute necessity of making that relationship sustainable. McGregor notes that it has taken the international community far too long to recognize the deep and comprehensive well-spring of knowledge contained in the collective memories of Indigenous peoples. This is being recognized by scientific establishments under varying terms – from 'folk knowledge' to 'ethnoscience' – encapsulating the diverse history, experiences and knowledge of native groups. McGregor notes the importance of appreciating this valuable Indigenous knowledge as a resource that works in conjunction with establishment (and colonial) notions of science, and goes beyond simply gathering information. The slow awakening of the rest of the world to the value of embracing Indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) reflects the profound devastation, genocide and cultural destruction wrought on Indigenous peoples by colonial societies. Today, tentative steps are being made to incorporate Indigenous perspectives in international accords to fight the loss of biodiversity and climate change. In 1992, the UN Earth summit recognized the 'wealth of traditional ecological knowledge developed over many generations', and this was reinforced at the 2012 Rio +20 conference. Still, Indigenous communities all over the world fight to make their voices heard as more than simply artefacts of an obsolete philosophy. They represent a living tradition, both ancient and innovative – one that has the power to create an expanded dialogue of sustainability underpinned by an understanding of our relationship with, and obligations to, the Earth.


Deborah McGregor