We are Nature Defending Itself

Indigenous communities like the Maya K’iche people represent the alternatives to the Anthropocene. Their knowledge and culture can allow the rest of us to imagine a new future.

Andrea Ixchíu Hernández writes in Culture Hack Labs about how the Maya K’iche are responding to the challenges of the Anthropocene – a manifesto, if you like.

Now more than ever, in this time of systemic crisis, connecting the past and the future becomes urgent. As we stand before one of the greatest challenges that we have ever faced as a species, we must now reimagine and reconstruct the ways we inhabit this planet so we can prevent rendering all life unsustainable. And while this task may seem unachievable, it really is not: all we need to do is allow ourselves to learn from the ways indigenous communities have inhabited this world.

More than five centuries of dispossession and violence have driven ancestral knowledge and many indigenous communities to a point of near annihilation. Life has been infected with a virus that places the imaginary value of money above the concrete and tangible value of mere existence.

The development model brought upon us by the Western civilization measures the value of our lives based on our ability to produce wealth and therefore deems the cultivation of our gifts and the transmission of ancestral knowledge in our families as archaic or obsolete. Their institutions demonize our practices, strip us from our languages, unroot us from our ways of life while at the same time they are appropriating, exoticizing and profiting from our sciences, arts and culture.
Nevertheless, throughout the centuries we have resisted by developing multiple strategies to defend our ways of life both out of self-preservation and because the effects of the extermination of cultural and biological diversity present in our territories as extreme droughts, hurricanes, famines and pandemics. As the centuries go by, our communities have continued to take the brunt of the devastation left behind by the storm of progress.

You can read the full piece here, We are Nature Defending Itself.

The article appeared in a new publication, from Culture Hack Labs, and you can find out more here, Culture and the Anthropocene.

Andrea Ixchíu Hernández is a Maya K’iche’ woman, journalist, filmmaker, land protector and a self-professed geek.

Categories: Culture, Environment, Gender, Genocide, Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Resource Extraction

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