“First Nations are Canadians’ last best hope at saving the lands, waters, plants and animals for our future generations.” —Dr. Pam Palmater
Robin Wall Kimmerer is Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. She is a member an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
Here is an excerpt of her essay, “Corn Tastes Better on the Honor System, that appears in the latest issue of Emergence Magazine. Read, listen to, and click through the full experience here
“Colonists take what they want and attempt to erase the rest. Conceiving of plants and land as objects, not subjects—as things instead of beings—provides the moral distance that enables exploitation. Valuing the productive potential of the physical body but denying the personhood of the being, reducing a person to a thing for sale—this too is a manifestation of colonialism. . . .
Corn? Maize? Mother of All Things? Renaming is a powerful form of colonialism in which the settler erases original meanings and replaces it with meanings of their own. This practice of linguistic imperialism also diminished corn from its status as Mahiz, the sacred life giver, to an anonymous commodity.
Indigenous languages, lifeways, and relations with the land have all been subject to the violence of colonialism. Maize herself has been a victim, and so have you, when a worldview which cultivated honorable relations with the living earth has been overwritten with an ethic of exploitation, when our plant and animal relatives no longer look at us with honor, but turn their faces away.
But there is a kernel of resurgence, if we are willing to learn. The invitation to decolonize, rematriate, and renew the honorable harvest extends beyond indigenous nations to everyone who eats. Mother Corn claims us all as corn-children under the husk; her teachings of reciprocity are for all.”