Honoring the Sacred: Indigenous Wisdom on Rights of Mother Earth

The Following piece was written by Shannon Biggs and Osprey Orielle Lake.


‘When we speak of ecosystems as ‘resources’ — it is as if we are saying the Earth is in the business of liquidating itself.”
– Randy Kapashesit of the Cree Nation

The sacred fire was lit as over 100 primarily Indigenous peoples gathered—and hundreds more participated online—for the RIGHTS OF MOTHER EARTH: RESTORING INDIGENOUS LIFE WAYS OF RESPONSIBILITY AND RESPECT International Indigenous Conference APRIL 4 – 6, 2012 at Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence Kansas.

As Renee Gurneau of the Chippewa Nation explained, the fire is an important spiritual tradition acknowledging our relationship with the rest of creation in all things we do, and part of “getting into our ‘right Indigenous mind.’ As she said, “We must always give before we can take, and the fire reminds us of our Original Instructions and helps us wake up to our own knowledge.”

Conference organizers, Tom BK Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network) and Dan Wildcat (Haskell University) stated, “This is the greatest challenge facing humanity in the 21st Century. How do we re-orientate the dominant industrialized societies so that they pursue human well-being in a manner that contributes to the health of our Mother Earth instead of undermining it? In other words – how do we live in harmony with Nature?”

For the complete article visit:

Playlist of videos filmed by IEN at the symposium:

The Global Alliance for Rights of Nature and The Pachamama Alliance were proud collaborating sponsors of the Conference.