Re: Indigenous folks protect environment?

Janet Gillis (jgillis@NOVA.UMD.EDU)
Mon, 19 Sep 1994 09:19:57 -0400

On Sat, 17 Sep 1994, Rob Quinlan wrote:

> In the last week or so I've seen several postings which seem to take as a
> foregone conclusion that indigenous people know how to take care of their
> environment. To me this notion sounds like Rousseauean, hogwash. If
> indigenous peoples environments are less messed-up than our own, then I suggest
> it's because there are just less of them.
> Since when has swiddening been an environmentally sensitive approach?
> Is anyone interested in talking about this?
> RQ

I agree with your statement (and Rousseau makes me shiver). I believe
a people dependent on their immediate environment have to be more
*aware* of their immediate environment, because they function within its
confines. But if this same group of people lives off the resources of a
specific area without taking major steps to replenish those resources
(or to allow the resources to replenish themselves), how can they help but
deplete their life-support system? Then is it not just "a matter of time"?

Has anyone done research on the mortality rate of an indigenous people as
related to the rate of destruction of their homeland (specifically in
the Americas and Asia)? It seems obvious to me that a longer lifespan would
be more destructive to the environment, but maybe I'm off here.

Also, it seems that true "environmentalists" would, as their population
increased, take greater steps to preserve/enhance their support system.
Has any native people been known to do this? (And belated steps don't
count -- for instance, Americans growing vegetables in space!);)

Thanks for any information.