It is clear that Indigenous people around the world are, and always have been, the most important leaders when it comes to protecting the Earth. They are the knowledge bearers. They are the most deeply connected. They have lived in right-relation with their ecosystems.
Before we can take the necessary actions to serve and protect the Earth, we must first fully understand and embody the interconnectedness of all things.
Paty Gualinga of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku, an Indigenous community based in the Ecuadorian Amazon, spoke directly to this.
My father was a shaman. And he was always saying that we have different parts, different ways. But there is one spirit that connects everybody. All the spirituality is just one. But we can arrive from different parts, different religions, different things, different beliefs, but we are connected in the big thing together. The Sarayaku people recognize that the forest, the jungle, the Amazonia, it’s alive. The Amazonia it’s alive. And we need to respect that the Amazonia feels. You know, the trees, the animals that it’s something that it’s alive. And there are these protectors, like they’re not like real persons, but they are just like these energies that protect the forests. They recognize that they have these protectors around. It’s connected to the earth. And it’s what they believe. And it’s what they protect. It’s just like they’re protecting people because Amazonia it’s still alive. It’s just like it’s different. No it’s not that they are trees, their stones they’re not. It’s protecting life together with that, and it’s about what they believe and they have this Cosmo-vision to protect the Earth.
Paty discusses the recent vote to stop oil drilling in the Amazon as evidence of the ancient prophecies of her ancestors that are coming true today, the legacy of the Kichwa people, how a victory for the protection of the Amazon is a victory for all of us, and what these times are asking and requiring of us.
Paty Gualinga is an Indigenous rights defender and foreign relations leader of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku, an Indigenous community based in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Recently, following a decade-long fight led by Paty, other Indigenous activists, and environmental leaders, Ecuadorians voted decisively to end oil drilling in the Amazon in their country.