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PAGE 52 ASSERTING NATIVE RESILIENCE: PACIFIC RIM INDIGENOUS NATIONS FACE THE CLIMATE CRISIS changes we’ve been going through in becoming wage earners and institutionalized. We are trying to maintain our way of life that has sustained us for millennia. We have never yet depleted one species of an animal in that millennia, so we know a little bit about sustainability…. Adaptation, as we know, has its limitations, and what are we to do as a people if one of the most powerful countries in the world who is emitting the largest amount of greenhouse gases is not going to look at these issues? We have to be able to stand up for our human rights. We are Inuit who live and thrive on ice and snow. We thrive on it being frozen. That is what our culture depends upon. In essence we are fighting for our right to be cold. T he effects of the climate crisis are now being felt around the world. In the media, we hear about disastrous effects in remote, unknown corners of the globe, such as Greenland or Tuvalu. We also read of dire predictions about the future, of warming temperatures, rising sea levels, and increasing frequency of extreme weather. But the climate crisis is no longer a far-off concept in time and place. It is here and it is now, a reality being felt today in our local communities and ecosystems along the Pacific Rim. The climate crisis is not merely another environmental issue. It is an unprecedented challenge to the economies, cultures, and social fabric of both Native and non-Native peoples, and particularly of Indigenous communities on the front lines of the crisis. They are using every tool at their disposal to understand the changes taking place and how these changes are beginning to shape our everyday lives. As Gregory Cajete observes, tribes, First Nations, and other Indigenous peoples draw on the “Native science” of traditional ecological knowledge, but Indigenous peoples also employ Western scientists to document the effects of the climate crisis. Western scientific researchers gather data and attempt to motivate decision makers to pay attention to the crisis, but they also are beginning to learn from Native science, which has an intimate and detailed relationship with local natural processes. Indigenous nations cannot avoid or evade the impacts of climate change. Non-Natives can move away to a safer distant place with little thought or effort, but Native peoples will not abandon ancestral burial sites or leave behind clan-identified species without taking a stand. With nowhere else to go, Indigenous communities are generally less willing than most non-Native communities to compromise in the defense of Mother Earth. The former chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, said in a February 2005 interview in Satya: We have been witnessing an awful lot of change in our environment. It’s so unpredictable these days—the weather patterns and climate and so on…. It goes way beyond environmental concerns for us. It is health first and foremost…. My hope is that we can have the world understand through our story and our challenges that the planet and its people are one…. Our cultural survival is at stake as well…. We have never lost that strong, strong connection to our way of life even in terms of all the EFFECTS OF THE CLIMATE CRISIS The January 2012 ice storm wreaked havoc throughout the Pacific Northwest, by downing trees and transmission lines, and causing power blackouts that lasted for many days. ...

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