Indigenous Environmental Network
What is the Indigenous Environmental Network? Here’s an overview in their own words:
“Established in 1990 within the United States, IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues (EJ). IEN’s activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.IEN accomplishes this by maintaining an informational clearinghouse, organizing campaigns, direct actions and public awareness, building the capacity of community and tribes to address EJ issues, development of initiatives to impact policy, and building alliances among Indigenous communities, tribes, inter-tribal and Indigenous organizations, people-of-color/ethnic organizations, faith-based and women groups, youth, labor, environmental organizations and others. IEN convenes local, regional and national meetings on environmental and economic justice issues, and provides support, resources and referral to Indigenous communities and youth throughout primarily North America – and in recent years – globally.”Indigenous Environmental Network (About Page)
Why are we supporting an indigenous group rather than some other group with “climate” or “climate justice” in the name?
One of the most important aspects of climate justice work is recognizing who is causing the climate crisis, who is most affected by the climate crisis, and who is doing the most to respond to the climate crisis in a just way. Indigenous peoples in general, and the Indigenous Environmental Network in particular, are an important part of the answer to all three of these key climate justice questions.
We believe the climate crisis is caused by the interrelated institutions of colonialism and capitalism. Colonialism invades indigenous lands and seizes control of them for the benefit of the colonial power and colonial settlers. Capitalism sees all living beings and the lands we call home as “natural capital” to be exploited for profit. The Indigenous Environmental Network addresses these harms by advocating for indigenous rights and protecting indigenous communities and lands, thereby addressing the root causes of the climate crisis.
Indigenous peoples, communities, and lands are also among the most affected by the climate crisis. Over the past several hundred years, indigenous peoples have experienced what some would call a colonial apocalypse. The majority of indigenous peoples, communities, and lands have been lost. What remains is often fragmented and located on the front lines of the impacts of both for-profit extraction and catastrophic climate changes such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and rising sea levels. The principles of climate justice call on all who have benefitted from this land grab and resource extraction to direct support to the frontline communities most affected by it.
Finally, indigenous peoples in general and the Indigenous Environmental Network in particular have done and continue to do tremendous work in the service of climate justice. Indigenous peoples make up less than 5% of the world’s population, yet protect an estimated 80% of the Earth’s remaining biodiversity on their traditional lands. The Indigenous Environmental Network is an excellent example of how that conscious connection with the land translates directly into environmental justice and climate justice benefits, both within indigenous communities and for the rest of the world. Many recent Indigenous Environmental Network campaigns have had direct or indirect connections to climate justice, including their Keep It In The Ground and Just Transition campaigns.
For these reasons and many others, we are making a donation to the Indigenous Environmental Network.
We are a small website with a limited budget. Our donation feels very small relative to the very big work they do. If you’re inspired by the work of the Indigenous Environmental Network, we encourage you to do whatever you can to support that work, whether it may involve a donation, volunteering, spreading the word, or all of the above.
In the meantime, thank you for reading books about climate change, and thank you for reading about the good work of the Indigenous Environmental Network.