Author Pennie Opal Plant is of Yaqui, Mexican, English, Choctaw, Cherokee and European ancestry. She’s been an activist for over 30 years on anti-nuclear, environmental and indigenous rights, and has been a lecturer with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. Pennie is also a founding member of Idle No More San Francisco Bay, is involved in promoting the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, and founded Gathering Tribes in 1991.
As I write this, I’ve just returned from seeing my niece’s newborn baby girl. As I gazed into her eyes, I said a silent prayer hoping we can find a way to shift the systems of government and business that have allowed the sacred system of life to become so out of balance that everything is now threatened. I also prayed that when she’s an adult that she’d live in a world that’s healthy, sustainable, vibrantly beautiful…and in balance.
“We are all related.” No doubt you’ve heard this phrase before, especially if you have friends who are Indigenous to North America. It has many meanings to many people, but ultimately it means that all of life on Mother Earth’s belly is related or connected. After more than 500 years of Indigenous People of the Americas sharing this information, it’s finally been proven. It’s past time for the western world to listen to the Indigenous People who are traditional and doing their best to live within the Original Instructions, guidelines given to people at the beginning of time, which dictate how to live in balance with our relations and the intelligent forces of nature. It would be a shame for humans to continue to violate these instructions to such an extent that life, as we know it can no longer be supported.
Pennie is also co-founder of Movement Rights: Shifting culture and law to truly protect people is the civil rights struggle of our time and its already happening in communities across the nation. Changing the rules will require more than tinkering at the margins of the current legal, political and corporate-led economic system; it will require a system change from the grassroots. It all begins with neighbors coming together to change their community. Movement Rights provides organizing and legal support for communities to assert their right to local self governance with our partners; leadership and international movement building for the rights of nature; and connects Indigenous leadership, wisdom and analysis toward living in balance with natural systems.
If you’ve been confused by the conflicting reports of the success COP 21 negotiations, you’re not alone. On the final day of the UN climate talks, President Obama issued a statement boasting words the nation, the ministers from 196 negotiating countries and the world wanted to hear: “We met the moment. We came together around a strong agreement the world needed.” The mainstream media quickly heralded the final agreement as ‘The world’s Greatest Diplomatic Success” and “Big Green” environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Avaaz blogged that while it may not be the war, as far as the battle goes, “WE WON.”
photo links to Movement Rights Blog
Reports of victory (or the whiff of a qualified victory) quickly flooded the internet. Yet standing on the streets of Paris on December 12—lined with over 10,000 people carrying red tulips and unfurling giant red ribbons defying the ban on demonstrations and condemning world leaders failure to put forward a meaningful, binding agreement—we puzzled, and wondered if we were at the same summit. From the red line action on the outside, many justice activists, economists, experts, NGO participants and Indigenous leaders had a very different take on the outcome. Former Bolivian climate negotiator, Pablo Solon told Democracy Now! “The Paris Agreement Will See the Planet Burn.”
So what does the Paris Agreement say that is creating the division of opinions?
Movement Rights co-founders Shannon Biggs and Pennie Opal Plant were in Paris for the COP 21 climate events, and to promote grassroots alternatives to the current UN process including co-producing a report on Rights of Nature, co- hosting a beyond-capacity Rights of Nature tribunal that turned away over 1,000 people, co-leading a ceremony for the signing of an international Indigenous Women’s Treaty for Mother Earth, among many other actions, interventions and activities, very often led by our board member, Indigenous leader and Ponca elder, Casey Camp Horinek (pictured).
The fundamental principles encapsulated by Rights of Nature ─ of Mother Earth ─ are deeply rooted in the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples. The Achuar and Kichwa peoples of the Upper Amazon of Ecuador maintain their ancient traditions living in harmony with their rainforest home. It is no accident that in 2008 Ecuador became the first country in the world to recognize Rights of Nature in its Constitution.
We are extending a special invitation to Rights of Nature, Rights of Mother Earth advocates and individuals who are looking to understand the essence of the movement on a deeper, more personal level. Join us on a rare opportunity to travel with global Rights of Nature leaders: Cormac Cullinan, South African environmental attorney and author of Wild Law, Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network and Robin Milam, Administrative Director for Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, on an intimate rainforest immersion journey. We travel at the invitation of the indigenous peoples of the upper Amazon in partnership with The Pachamama Alliance. This unique journey is an opportunity to experience the Rights of Nature movement at its source while visiting with indigenous peoples in their ancestral rainforest homes.
We will visit the iconic Kichwa community of Sarayaku and Achuar communities around the remote Kapawi Lodge. These communities have taken bold, internationally acclaimed stands to protect their rainforest home and preserve their ability to live in harmony with nature. Throughout our journey, we will engage in a multi-faceted examination of our relationship with the natural world, the recognition of Rights of Nature, and what it means personally, as a society, and globally to restore our natural balance with Mother Earth, Pachamama and all life.
Each of us has unique gifts that are indispensable to the success of humanity at this time of unprecedented challenge and opportunity. You’ll return from your Journey with greater awareness of these very gifts and how to use them to make a difference, having been freshly recalibrated to the rhythms of the natural world. Join us on what is surely to be a life altering journey.
The Pachamama Alliance and its sister organization, Fundación Pachamama supported the inclusion of Rights of Nature in Ecuador’s Constitution and are founding members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.
Journey Leader, Robin Milam first journeyed to the rainforest with Pachamama in 1997 and has been leading Pachamama Journeys for many years. Participants have claimed “this is a journey of many lifetimes“.
Interested? Contact Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org or thePachamama Journeys team and explore what this journey could be for you.
September 20, 2013 the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit brought some 100 women leaders representing the broad diversity across continents – Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America, ethnicity, race, politics, religion, and culture. These women leaders include grassroots activists, economists, scientists, businesswomen, Indigenous leaders, policy-makers, faith leaders, culture shapers gathering to help further a women’s climate action agenda. Together they set forth and ratified A Declaration of a world call for urgent action on climate change and sustainability solutions.
You are invited to stand with these global leaders and other women, and men, from ALL walks of life in a this global call for action.
Women of the World Call for Urgent Action on Climate Change & Sustainability Solutions
September 20, 2013
We are the mothers and the grandmothers, sisters and daughters, nieces and aunts, who stand together to care for all generations across our professions, affiliations and national identities.
We are teachers and scientists, farmers and fishers, healers and helpers, workers and business peoples, writers and artists, decision-makers and activists, leaders and thinkers. We work in the halls of power, the halls of faith and the halls of our homes.
We are gathering to raise our voices to advocate for an Earth-respecting cultural narrative, one of “restore, respect, replenish” and to replace the narrative of “domination, depletion and destruction” of nature.
We are committed to a transition from a future of peril to a future of promise, to rally the women around the world to join together in action at all levels until the climate crisis is solved.
Key anchoring points of the Declaration is the recognition that
We must act now for ourselves, for future generations, for all living things on Mother Earth.
and the call to
Respect and implement the Rights of Women, the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Rights of Nature and the Rights of Future Generations;
TheInternational Women’s Earth & Climate Summitbrought together women leaders from around the world September 20 – 23, 2013 in New York. The 100 global women leaders include grassroots activists, economists, scientists, businesswomen, Indigenous leaders, policy-makers, faith leaders, culture shapers committed to furthering a women’s climate action agenda. A reoccurring tenet of the Summit and the focus of Plenary 6 was the call for the recognition of the rights of all beings on our planet.
Plenary 6. How We Live: Rights of Nature, Community Rights, Earth Community Economy, Our Relationship to the Earth
Organizing visionary Osprey Orielle Lake, Founder and Co-Director of International Women’s Earth and Climate Initiative, moderated an interactive, engaging panel discussion on Rights of Nature as it relates to how we live in community and in relationship to earth. The panel included Global Alliance members Natalia Greene, Shannon Biggs of Global Exchange, and Patricia Gualinda of Sarayaku with translation by Atossa Soltani of Amazon Watch.
The Rights of Nature Plenary begins at 1:27:00.
Advance to the starting point by moving the round button along the red timeline.
Shannon Biggs, Global Exchange, frames the justification for recognizing Rights of Nature by opening with:
“What we are talking about is aligning our human laws with natural law. Not to be, as humans, owners of nature but really to recognize our rightful place in the ecosystem and in the biosphere and in relationship with every other living being.
I want to say, first of all, what is problem isn’t. … I am going to say that Climate Change is Not the problem. Even though we are gathered here to say that. Fracking is Not the problem. Corporate power is NOT the problem. These are symptoms actually of the prevailing relationship that we as humans have with the rest of the species. It is empowered by law, by human law. That effectively creates the space for things like mountain top removal. Blowing the tops of mountains IS LEGAL. Tar sands IS LEGAL…”
She continues by addressing “What is our power as women? …” but noting, “It is women, primarily, who step forward to say, ‘What are we going to do to change this? How am I going to change this … Fracking is legal …’ So do we just throw our hands up and say the law is the law? No, There is a sense of a higher law. We cannot continue to create sacrifice zones of our communities whether it is indigenous communities, any human communities, or our ecosystem, not for profit.
If we are to continue, we MUST bring that relationship between humans and the ecosystem NOT as one of a power dynamic, of ownership, but one that is in balance.”
We have forgotten Nature
Natalia Greene describes how Rights of Nature has changed the context of the discussion in Ecuador
“In Ecuador some communities do not even have “rights” in their dictionary… What is very interesting about the Rights of Nature approach is that Western society uses the concepts of rights and it is very powerful. We have been able to change culture because of that.
When you introduce Rights of Nature in a society that has forgotten nature, it is very, very powerful. Our goal and the goal to use a Rights of Nature approach, is that at one point we will be talking about Rights of Nature in general, where human rights are included in that, where indigenous rights are a part of that, because we are ALL nature. But the thing is that we have forgotten nature. That is why we have been using it and raping it and extracting it and using it as an object. So when we change that, that is very powerful.
We shouldn’t be expecting the government to give us those rights. Those rights are ours. We are not asking for them. We are just having them and demanding them to respect those rights.” …
“Rights of Nature, for example, for us in Ecuador is a very interesting tool. We have been able to demand and portray what is going on with open pit mining, showing that that is an activity that shouldn’t happen Ecuador with such a biodiversity, because it violates Rights of Nature, because it also complements Indigenous rights. So that is very powerful.
We have been able right now to say, well if Ecuador recognizes Rights of Nature, then what are we doing with Yasuni? We should not exploit that.
So the context of the discussion is much different in Ecuador because we have Rights of Nature. Because we can say it is not that we can only say what are the environmental assessments, or how can we impact the least. We can actually say we should not do that because we have rights of nature.
Having a Rights of Nature approach can really start shifting things…
All Life is Sacred – under that everything is included
Patricia Gualinga reaffirms the sacredness of all life. “Rights are one thing but really for Indigenous peoples it is the sacred that matters. Nature is sacred. Under this concept of sacred, everything else is subservient to this construct. The central message when you believe in the sacred, then the rights for humans, for animals, for everything else is included.
We applaud Ecuador efforts to recognize these rights but we don’t think it goes far enough. But ultimately to get at the core you have to put forward the concept of the sacred.”
The Global Peace Initiative of Women announces the recent release of Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, a collection of essays edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and presented as a spiritual response to our present ecological crisis.
“Our present ecological crisis is the greatest man-made disaster this planet has ever faced. Its accelerating climate change, species depletion, pollution and acidification of the oceans. A central but rarely addressed aspect of this crisis is our forgetfulness of the sacred nature of creation, and how this affects our relationship to the environment. There is a pressing need to articulate a spiritual response to this ecological crisis. This is vital and necessary if we are to help bring the world as a living whole back into balance.” – from Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth
Today, at a time of multiple crises, we need to move away from thinking of nature as dead matter to valuing her biodiversity, clean water, and seeds. For this, nature herself will be the best teacher. When nature is a teacher, we co-create with her—we recognize her agency and her rights. Dr Vandana Shiva, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Forest
Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth is edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, with contributions from many individuals GPIW has had the honor to work with over the years — contributions from Chief Oren Lyons, Vandana Shiva, Thomas Berry, Thich Nhat Hanh,Chief Tamale Bwoya, John Stanley, David R. Loy, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Brian Swimme, Sister Miriam MacGillis, Wendell Berry, Winona LaDuke, Dr. Susan Murphy Roshi, Satish Kumar, Joanna Macy, Geneen Marie Haugen, Jules Cashford, Bill Plotkin, Sandra Ingerman, Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, Fr. Richard Rohr, and Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.
The book is available through the Spiritual Ecology website where you will also find additional articles, magnificent photos of our natural world and fascinating video interviews on this important theme. We have found this website to be a tremendous learning resource and encourage everyone to visit and share the link, particularly with young people who are feeling deep concern for our planet and for their future – these wise voices provide a welcome insight.
Driven and driven by the creative breath, and realizing our sovereignty to activate a survival strategy for the Earth and future generations, a group of people – organizations and networks – have decided to do a global call for the
Universal Proclamation of Land Rights in order that each citizen of the world, the Colombian state and world governments on Earth recognize a subject of rights life itself, of which our existence depends.This event will be held simultaneously on October 12, 2012 at 12:00 am, Dignity Day, in various parts of Metro: Cuzco, Urubamba, Peru, Bogota, Cali, Medellin-Manizales-Pasto-Santa Marta-Bucaramanga-Colombia, Barcelona Spain, Berlin, Germany, India, Mexico, Cochabamba, Bolivia, Sao Paulo, Brazil and Caracas, Venezuela among others, are already confirmed.
We envision a ceremony of 8000 drums for our mother nature, this would be the beginning of a series of activities that will take place from 12 October to 21 December 2012.We are writing to you especially since we know that this product serves to disseminate the work for the rights of nature and consider it important to coordinate our efforts to fulfill the purpose of defending our territory. So we invite you to actively participate in this process, thereby strengthening its leadership for the benefit of culture, art and life of all beings on the planet that represents the existence of our community.
We know that for years have worked at for communicative structured as a major global communications network that is why we come to you with admiration and respect, hoping to join together in the flower heart to see the new world that our ancestors dreamed and our future generations deserve, so we see as an example to follow, as older brothers. We decided present our unconditional support for this event and those who are coming and you know well that they have a family extended throughout the world.
The 8000 Drums is a spontaneous event of Peoples and Nations Originating Worldwide.
Receive this message of brotherhood and support from ancestral knowledge of the Network, Community, Water Song, Youth for the original identity and Respect Tawantinsuyu, Astronomical Global Network, Conscious Global Compact, the Spoon Revolution, Fungi Experimental Community, Redviva and many other organizations worldwide that we will carry out activities in the framework of this festival.
Impulsados e impulsadas por el aliento creador, y conscientes de nuestra soberanía para activar una estrategia de supervivencia para La Tierra y las generaciones venideras, un grupo de personas, colectivos, organizaciones y redes, hemos decidido hacer un llamado mundial a La Proclamación Universal de los Derechos de la Tierra con el fin de que cada ciudadano y ciudadana del mundo, el estado colombiano y los gobiernos mundiales, reconozcan en la Tierra un sujeto de derechos con vida propia, del cual depende nuestra existencia.
Este acto se realizará simultáneamente el 12 de octubre de 2012 a las 12:00 am, día de la Dignidad, en diversos lugares del Planeta: Cuzco-Urubamba Perú, Bogotá-Cali-Pasto- Medellin- Manizales- Santa Marta- Bucaramanga-Colombia.
,Barcelona España, Berlin, Alemania, la India, México, Cochabamba, Bolivia, Sao paulo, Brasil y Caracas, Venezuela entre otros, ya están confirmados. Es una ceremonia que visiona 8.000 tambores por nuestra madre naturaleza, esta sería el comienzo de una serie de actividades que se llevaran a cabo desde el 12 de octubre hasta el 21 de diciembre de 2012.
Nos dirigimos especialmente a ustedes ya que tenemos claro que esta pagina sirve para difundir el trabajo por los derechos de la naturaleza y consideramos importante articular nuestros esfuerzos para cumplir con el propósito de defender nuestro territorio. Por lo tanto los invitamos a PARTICIPAR ACTIVAMENTE en este proceso, fortaleciendo así su liderazgo, en beneficio de la cultura, el arte y la vida de todos los seres del planeta que representa la existencia de nuestra comunidad.
Sabemos que durante años han trabajado a nivel comunicativo para estructurarse como una gran red de comunicaciones global por esa razón nos acercamos a ustedes con admiración y respeto, con la esperanza de hermanarnos en el
corazón para ver florecer el mundo nuevo que nuestros antepasados soñaban y nuestras generaciones futuras merecen, por ello los vemos como un ejemplo a seguir, como hermanos mayores. Hemos decidido presentar nuestro apoyo incondicional para este evento y aquellos que sean venideros y sepan así ustedes que cuentan con una familia extendida a lo largo y ancho del mundo.
8000 Tambores es un evento espontáneo de los Pueblos y Naciones Originarias de Todo el Mundo.
Reciba este mensaje de hermandad y de apoyo de parte de Red de saberes ancestrales xie, de la Comunidad, Canto al Agua, Juventud por la Identidad Originaria y el Respeto a Tawantinsuyu, Red Astronómica Global, Pacto Mundial Consciente, la Revolución de la Cuchara, Comunidad Fungi Experimental, REDVIVA y muchas otras organizaciones que a nivel mundial vamos a realizar actividades en el marco de este festival.
“We, the peoples and nations of Earth: considering that we are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny…” -Click to sign the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth
“Every component of the Earth Community has three rights: —The Right To Be,
—The Right to Habitat,
—The Right to fulfill its role in the ever-renewing processes of the earth community.”