Andrew Medichini/Associated Press
Pope Francis has invoked indigenous rights when it comes to combating climate change.

Pope Francis: Indigenous Peoples 'Should Be the Principal Dialogue Partners' on Projects


Pope Francis has released his encyclical on climate change, with Indigenous Peoples’ cultural and land rights as major factors both underlying the issues and in seeking solutions.

Indigenous Peoples’ spiritual connection with the environment makes common sense, the 192-page document implies.

“Many intensive forms of environmental exploitation and degradation not only exhaust the resources which provide local communities with their livelihood, but also undo the social structures which, for a long time, shaped cultural identity and their sense of the meaning of life and community,” the Pope wrote. “The disappearance of a culture can be just as serious, or even more serious, than the disappearance of a species of plant or animal. The imposition of a dominant lifestyle linked to a single form of production can be just as harmful as the altering of ecosystems.”

He goes on to outline something that sounds very much like consultation and prior, informed consent.

“In this sense, it is essential to show special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions,” His Holiness wrote. “They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed. For them, land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values. When they remain on their land, they themselves care for it best. Nevertheless, in various parts of the world, pressure is being put on them to abandon their homelands to make room for agricultural or mining projects which are undertaken without regard for the degradation of nature and culture.”

Moreover, Indigenous Peoples hold one of the keys to a solution for the climate crisis, he said.

“In some places, cooperatives are being developed to exploit renewable sources of energy which ensure local self-sufficiency and even the sale of surplus energy,” the Pope wrote. “This simple example shows that, while the existing world order proves powerless to assume its responsibilities, local individuals and groups can make a real difference. They are able to instill a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land. They are also concerned about what they will eventually leave to their children and grandchildren. These values are deeply rooted in indigenous peoples.”

Pope Francis calls for a partnership between science and religion and suggests that the scriptures may have been misinterpreted when it comes to mastery over stewardship. He also links global warming, climate change and poverty, making social justice an environmental issue, as the Washington Post pointed out.

Read the full report, On Care for Our Common Home.

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bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
Bravo Pope Francis! The US, as we know it today, has this perception that Native Americans have little knowledge of science and its relationship with all that surrounds us. Science is medicine. All tribes have historically used what nature provides for medicinal purposes. The changing seasons are not always the same. Tribes knew this and understood how it effects the animals and plants. Nature can provide only so much, and tribes knew that there will always be a careful balance in giving and taking from her. Today, we see how destruction of our natural world for monetary gain, control and power is effecting all beings, whether they live in the oceans, in the air or upon soil. The BIA (Boss Indians Around) is one of the worse enemies to all tribal nations. Because they have final approval on so much of tribal economic growth and their administrative wheels turn as slow as molasses in winter, the opportunities to provide jobs, better schools and medical services wane in its misery. The Pope called upon developing countries to limit their consumption of non-renewable energies. Yet plans have been laid upon BIA desks to develop natural solar and wind energy on tribal lands. (AP, "BIA hinders tribal energy projects" Felicia Fonseca 6/18/15) The plans collect dust and cause tribal nations to remain the poorest in every county, only to be followed by social ills such as poverty, crime and unmet medical attention. And wouldn't you know it, they are an arm of the U.S. Government whereby trust is non-existent by tribal nations. Pope Francis (choosing his name after St. Francis of Assisi) writes "the earth, our home, is looking more and more like an immense pile of filth." And in Arizona, we know of one of the gravest stories that will unfold with the destruction of the sacred Oak Flats that Apache have been fighting for during the past decade. Look closer and we find that this wreaks, as it has time and again, claiming more non-renewable energy sources and leaving environmental waste like rotting sewer.

NativeAmerican Church OfVirginia
NativeAmerican ...
Submitted by NativeAmerican ... on
We have comments for His Holiness Pope Francis. We believe that removing barriers to reduce the suffering for Indigenous People worldwide is a possibility and that the only barriers that exist are in language -- Native American Church of Virginia