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Ho-Chunk Nation adds “Rights of Nature” to their constitution

Over nineteen hundred Ho-Chunk tribal members gathered on a balmy early afternoon at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin on September 19th, for the annual General Council. Major tribal issues are taken up and voted on by a quorum of the Ho-Chunk population.

The Ho-Chunk tribe has been severely affected by the unregulated effects of frac sand mining, Bakken oil transport, high capacity wells and industrial agriculture to name a few. Near Tomah, sacred ceremony grounds are now surrounded by four frac sand mines which interrupts ancient cultural practices with blowing silica dust,twenty four hour light pollution and truck traffic essentially turning the area into an industrial zone. Historically, the Ho-Chunk people respect the natural world and believe that when nature is viewed as only property it no longer has rights or value.

Tribal member William Greendeer introduced a resolution to amend the Ho-Chunk constitution that would give rights to nature. It passed by a majority. “This is so exciting” says Greendeer, “now maybe we can finally keep our water, air and environment healthy by having a larger say in what activities happen in our communities.”

Juliee de la Terre, adjunct professor at Viterbo University has been working with William for quite a while on this issue. “The Rights of Nature” is more than an legal instrument it is an international movement meant to acknowledge that all natural systems need to be preserved in order for our planet to remain habitable.”

“The Ho-Chunk Nation has always respected the earth, says William, but we were made to adopt a constitution based on roman law that makes humans more important than everything else by passing this resolution we are acknowledging how important nature is. We are just one part of Mother Earth, not the center of it.”

For more information go to www.

Printable Ho-Chunk-Nation-R-of-N-pressrelease-09-2015

Written by Juliee de la Terre MS
10567 Hyw A
Viola, WI 54664
Madison, Wisconsin, September 19, 2015

African Civil Society Challenge Chatham House UK Mining Conference today

From Gaia Foundation

Nnimmo BasseyAs some of you may know, two members of the Yes to Life, No to Mining global movement – Sheila Berry and Nnimmo Bassey – will be handing in a letter at Chatham House’s Extractive Industries in Africa conference to raise the voices of communities and African Civil Society resisting the further expansion of mining.

Here is the online link to the letter Nnimmo Bassey will hand in at Chatham House’s Extractive Industries in Africa’ conference at 130pm UK time today.

Thank you to all those who have contributed to and supported this powerful letter.

Please feel free to re-post this letter on your own websites, send to your networks and share via social media (suggested tweets repeated below). If you could do that at about 1:30pm UK-time that’d be most effective! If you’re stretched for time, please follow @GaiaFoundation and @_YLNM on Twitter to see the letter hand-in in pictures and retweet them.

Many thanks and in solidarity.

Carine and Hal

Nature Is Speaking – Robert Redford is The Redwood | Conservation International (CI)

Published on Oct 5, 2014

Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Kevin Spacey, Edward Norton, Penélope Cruz, Robert Redford and Ian Somerhalder all join forces to give nature a voice. Watch the films and take action at

World’s First Successful ‘Rights of Nature’ Lawsuit

by Norie Huddle

In 2010, Norie Huddle and her husband David suddenly heard dynamite explosions near their beautiful property along the Vilcabamba River of Ecuador. “We ran upstream to investigate, suspecting that the road crew might be blasting massive rock cliffs on the far side of the road across from our farm.”  With a small video camera, they caught construction workers pushing a gigantic boulder into the river.  Further up stream, they filmed the crew pushing freshly dynamited debris into the river.

Hours later, their lawyer Carlos Bravo stared at the photos is shocked silence before finally asking How do you want to sue them.

“There’s that new law in the 2008 Constitution, the one protecting the Rights of Nature,” I said. “We want to use that one.”

Thus began the world’s first case based on the Rights of Nature — in this case the Vilcabamba River — that was to be won in a court of law.

Read Norie’s vivid account of the first successful “Rights of Nature Lawsuit in “Kosmos – The Journal for Global Citizens Creating the New Civilization, Fall/Winter 2013.

Farmland in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Bob Winsett, Corbis

Farmland in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Bob Winsett, Corbis



Sacred Voices


Published on Sep 7, 2012

Gaia FoundationSacred Voices is a short film which shares the messages of eight traditional Sacred Natural Site Custodians from Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda. They share an ancient birthright and duty to protect the Sacred Natural Sites found within their territories. In April 2012 a unique meeting brought them together to share their experiences and concerns relating to their Sacred territories and the threats that they face. Together they drafted a “Statement on Common African Customary Laws for the Protection of Sacred Natural Sites” and created this film.

The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network supported the making of this film in order that their voices are heard and shared, their opinions listened to and their requests supported. The film is being shown at conferences and film festivals around the world and we ask you to support this by sharing it amongst your own colleagues, peers, friends and family.

Thanks to partners The Mupo Foundation, MELCA Ethiopia, the Institute for Culture & Ecology, RIDEP and NAPE for their unending commitment to supporting Sacred Sites Custodians and for helping to bring about this important meeting and film. Find out more at and

Cormac Cullinan SAB Environmentalist of the Year (2012)

Cormac Cullinan - SAB Environmentalist of the Year 2012Founding member of the Global Alliance and Executive Committee Cormac Cullinan has been awarded the  prestigious Nick Steele Memorial Award for Environmentalist of the Year (2012) at the 24th annual SAB Environmental Awards in Johannesburg. As an environmental and green business attorney, author, speaker, and climate justice advocate, Cormac has been an influential leader in the global Rights of Nature movement.  His book Wild Law. A manifesto for Earth Justice first published in 2002 presents the framework for transforming legal systems to align with the laws of Nature and recognize Rights of Nature.  In 2010, President Evo Morales invited Cormac to be a lead author of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.  Just in the last year, Cormac has been a keynote speaker for Rights of Nature events at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change COP17 in Durban, South Africa, the UN Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro,  the WildLaw Conference 2012 in Brisbane, Australia, and the Environmental Law Conference in Oslo, Norway. Cormac also prepared a draft People’s Charter for Africa.

The following is a Press Release announcing Cormac’s prestigious award.


Cormac Cullinan has been awarded the prestigious Nick Steele Memorial Award for Environmentalist of the Year (2012) at the 24th annual SAB Environmental Awards in Johannesburg.  Cormac is an author and practising environmental and green business attorney based in Cape Town. He is a director of the leading South African environmental law firm; Cullinan & Associates Inc. and of the governance consultancy EnAct International, and is a research associate of the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town.

Cormac is an author and practising environmental and green business attorney based in Cape Town. He is a director of the leading South African environmental law firm; Cullinan & Associates Inc. and of the governance consultancy EnAct International, and is a research associate of the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town.

Cormac has practised, taught and written about environmental law and policy since 1992 and has worked on environmental issues in more than 20 countries.   In 2008 he was listed among the world’s most extraordinary environmental champions in Planet Savers: 301 Extraordinary Environmentalists; which lists 301 people in history to be commended for their important role in saving and conserving the environment and promoting sustainable governance ranging from St Francis of Assisi to Al Gore.

Cormac’s ground-breaking book Wild Law. A manifesto for Earth Justice was published in 2002 by Siberink and has since been republished in the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy.  Wild Law recognises that humans are an integral part of a living system (Earth) and advocates transforming legal systems to align them with the laws of Nature, including by recognising legally enforceable rights for Nature.  These ideas have become increasingly influential globally with organisations dedicated to promoting wild law and Earth jurisprudence now well established in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and Italy.  Cormac is also a founder and executive committee member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and led the drafting of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth that was adopted on 22 April 2010 by a World People’s Conference of 35,000 people in Bolivia.  He is frequently invited to address international audiences in many countries and has addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York (April 2011), the C40 Cities meeting in Hong Kong, and most recently, the 2012 “Festival of Dangerous Ideas” at the Sydney Opera House.

Cullinan and Associates Inc is the only South African law firm to be independently certified as having offset its carbon emission.  The firm actively promotes environmental protection by assisting companies to establish green businesses and to comply with environmental laws, and by taking important environmental cases.  Recently the firm successfully represented the City of Cape Town in securing an important Constitutional Court judgement that confirms that mining activities may not commence without land use planning approvals (the Maccsand case). Currently the firm is representing the Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) opposing fracking in the Karoo, the Thyspunt Alliance opposing the construction of a nuclear power at near Jeffries Bay and the amaMpondo communities fighting to prevent the construction of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road through their ancestral lands.

Over the past 15 years EnAct has played an important role in developing the legal and policy framework for environmental protection in South Africa and neighbouring countries.  Cormac’s work has included leading the drafting of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, the Forests Protocol to the SADC Treaty and the Agreement between South Africa, Namibia and Angola that established the Benguela Current Commission to enable co-operative management of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem.

Cormac also prepared a draft People’s Charter for Africa that was taken around South Africa by the Climate Change Train prior to the COP17 climate change meeting in Durban.  He is committed to supporting the emergence of an Earth Democracy movement in South Africa that will enable all South Africans who love Africa to work together to create ecologically sustainable and socially just communities.

Cormac Cullinan was born and grew up in Pietermaritzburg, educated at the University of KwaZulu Natal and at Kings College, London and now lives with his wife Mary Ann Cullinan in Kenilworth Cape Town.  He has two sons, a step-son and two step-daughters.

A call for Earth Revolution from the heart of our youth!

We all have a voice, we all have a gift to share… don’t miss Ta’Kaiya Blaney

Over 1400 Aboriginal Youth attended Gathering Our Voices 2012 held in Nanaimo, BC. Spoken words by 11 year old Ta’Kaiya Blaney along with her memorable performance “Earth Revolution” was emotional and motivating.

Diritti della Natura Italia – Rights of Nature in Italy

Submitted by Davide Sapienza, Diritti della Natura Italia

Diritti della Natura Italia - Rights of Nature banner

On our newly launched website we introduce ourselves with the statement “we feel part of The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature”. In the next line we declare, “we underwrite the Universal Declaration for the rights of Mother Earth”.

This, because in the first line of the written body you see a date: March 30, 2012. This day, a Friday, it is not just another date. Yes, there was already a “first” in 2011 when I was invited, as a writer, to conduct a conference at the Bergamo Scienza festival at my own choice. It was 6 October 2011 and I called it “Forests: The Future of Nature”, inspired both to the famous Orion Magazine book of 2007 and an essay I wrote in 2008 and published in a couple of books (including my own literary manifesto of 2004, “I Diari di Rubha Hunish” in the new 2011 edition). But that “first” was a stage in the long walk of five years, mostly alone, that helped me to focus and elaborate the whole thing.

In the last couple of years I realized a friend like Paolo Locatelli, formerly provincial head of Legambiente Bergamo for 10 years, could be the one who could go “the other way”, in regard to the “environmental groups” that to me seemed not to comprehend fully the real paradigm shift that we needed and that we were proposing. Paolo got the “spirit” before he got the “tools”. It had happened to me, as well. Of course: this is all new to our society, but we both had the feeling that something was missing and that to turn in the other direction, we had to go back to the fundamental truths of Indigenous peoples.

In the smalltown of Alzano Lombardo, just on the outskirts of Bergamo, I had the chance to set up a major event and invite Mari Margil. Little I knew that her “partner” was none other than Thomas Linzey. I found out when they got to Bergamo’s train station who the “partner” was. By then, also our lawyer Francesca Mancini was in the party. She got in touch with me from Australia, a week before the October 2011 conference: she was exactly attending conferences with people such as Cormac Cullinan and Alessandro Pellizon to discover more about “rights of nature”. Being Italian, she wondered if someone had worked on the issue. She found me. I had written something in our media – who mostly turned down proposals of stories – and found many many obstacles in the major media I wrote for between 2005 and 2009. Of course. That was their teaching: still, this is lingering in some of the less sleepy ones who are in the media and it eventually become “news”. I know that for sure. Don’t ask me “evidence”. I am Tao. I Live. I do not measure. And then, in December 2011, one of the three founding members of small company dedicated to renewable energies, INNTEA (, from the same Mountain area where I live since 1990, called me and said: “we want to work with ethics. We work with biomasess and small hydro plants, and we need to know we are doing the right things. Because we work with the Sun (solar energy), we want to know that if we cut trees or work in a creek, we are doing something sustainable, something we can account for with our children”. They hired me to “think” and “imagine” for them. When I said “Rights of Nature”, they said: we want this. We want to make a conference. We have a budget for this: we have a budget for a new culture to be nurtured. I also want to do something I can account for my little one of 3 years old. When he wakes up, and sees our beautiful Presolana range from the kitchen balcony, he says to me “daddy write the book of mother Earth”. So, I have to be consistent.

Therefore I made up my mind: to hell with the media, enslaved by their owners (corporations and big publishing groups) and their fake interest in the “environment”. The first thing I did for INNTEA was to remove the word “ambiente”, “environment” from their website and ads. Let us call it for what it is: Mother Earth, Madre Terra. Nature. Natural resources. LIFE. COMMUNITY OF BEINGS. The second thing I did, was to write to Mari Margil, to me, the lighthouse in the distance all along these last five years. But more was to come. Mari said yes, Francesca said yes, we established March 30 as The Day.

In that same December 2011 something else happened. I found a sensitive publisher to translate Cormac Cullinan’s WILD LAW. The book was suggested to me by Mari Margil (of course!). Mari, is the first person of the Global Alliance I got in contact with in September 2008, while ready to fly to Canada to write about the problems with forests. Ecuador was ready to vote the revolution of Law, we started to correspond. During that summer I had tried to explain what I then knew about rights of nature to some big heads of Legambiente.  It was useless. Maybe I was not that good at explaining but they said the usual “but with our laws this is impossible”. Of course! They had the answer inbuilt in their denial!

But here I have to say something about the very first human being that started to make me focus both as an Author and and as a person on what I already felt so strongly (even through my work for poets like Cheyenne Lance Henson and Sioux-Santee John Trudell in the early ’90s) was Barry Lopez. A friend, a maestro, the greatest living writer. All his Work is “rights of nature” turned into poetic truths. “Of Wolves and Men” is IT and since then I was “in”.

But this is now. March 30, 2012.

For this conference I invited Mari Margil and Francesca Mancini. The idea was to explain the very basic and simple truth about rights of Nature. Over 120 people attended that afternoon and Mari, Thomas and Francesca were hosted by me translating what Mari and Thomas were explaining and linking that to the speech Francesca had so thoughtfully and carefully set up, a run through of our Italian Constitution history since 1947 and why we do not even consider “Nature” in our foundation as post-WWII nation. This is why our press office for INNTEA, e.20, had the great idea of writing a letter to our President that Francesca had written out so well.

The conference was really something. I even saw a few representatives of “environmental groups”. Not one from WWF or Legambiente. They are too”big” and they work with the same paradigm as the politicians they ostensibly oppose. I had the same feeling when traveling across the Arctic and writing about Seal Hunt in Newfoundland and other “hot issues”: I had the feeling that for them (at the headquarters level) it was not about the rights of nature, but the rights of human beings to decide a new hierarchy in the Natural world. This, I said on the March 30th conference. And this I said on the October 2011 conference. In that first public appearance in Italy of “rights of Nature”, I remember that I asked to distribute photocopies of the Universal Declaration to the People. I also remember very well how people reacted in seeing that paper: “what? We already have a document? Great!”. It was a turning point. Because People just need tools to act with, People do not need more “politics” from our actions. They expect “actions”, like the Global Alliance is doing. In the same week of our Rights of Nature conference a wonderful Junghian synchronicity made it possible that, in Bergamo, Vandana Shiva was meeting people at a conference and in a local school, here in the mountains, 2 miles away from my home. Amazing? Amazing. But not really. Just right.

At the conference the emotional swell of the People, really urged me to announce, “today we declare the birth of Diritti della Natura Italia”. It was not planned. It just so was. It had to be. In two weeks, we have set up a website, we are meeting other associations and getting in touch with “situations” which we hope can turn into something important, because we need a first “case” in Italy to make it clear that we are NOT an environmental association. A friend has started work to put “rights of Nature” at work in the Dolomites, the world famous Italian mountain range that was declared World Heritage a couple of years ago. We want to go beyond that. Our friend is working on it and on August 20th, in Corvara (Bolzano), in the Badia Valley we will make a conference to present Cormac Cullinan’s book, the “manual” to our work. The book will be launched on May 1st in Bergamo at the Bookshops Fair, and I am very proud I was able to translate and edit the book for the Italian version so quickly. When I spoke to Cormac he was quite stunned for how quickly we did the job. It was necessary, though, because to me it was all intertwined: the conference in October 2011, the work for the conference in Alzano Lombardo and the future.

We are a group that is a part of a network, an “open source” to be enriched by outside ideas and actions, and the other way around. I am NOT an “environmentalist”. I am a male, from the Human Species. I am part of the Earth. I am writer and I am what I write. Because what I write is the way I convey what my Community, the Earth, is telling me to do. In Alzano Lombardo Mari and Thomas really explained “what is Rights of Nature” and showed the way to go, in practical terms. Francesca Mancini and Paolo Locatelli are the ones, for the practical way to go. I spread the word: I am good at what I am good, and that is what I am doing. I work on the subtle, spiritual, intimate part of this. I work for the Poetic Justice, like my friend John Trudell calls his strong tie to Mother Earth: and it so happens, this is what rights of nature is also part of.

Davide Sapienza, father of Leonardo, husband of Cristina.