Another Round of Climate Change

The material presented by Kyle Whyte in the first chapter of “Our Ancestors’ Dystopia Now: Indigenous Conservation and the Anthropocene” [1]  along with his video interview [2] was illuminating for me. I had previously never considered the idea that indigenous populations have already experienced widespread change to their environments as a result of colonization. Indigenous peoples present a great example of how a population has dealt with and combated a rapid change to their local environment and there is no doubt that global society can learn a lot from their experiences. 

At this point in time, it is clear that we will (and currently are) seeing changes to our environment as a direct result of large scale fossil fuel emissions. Even if we were to stop emitting greenhouse gases right now, we would still have these impacts to deal with. While it is still key that we work towards a rapid shift to a carbon neutral world, we now have to come to the reality that we will inevitably have to deal with a changing environment. Whyte’s brings up the idea that indigenous peoples hold key insights into how to deal with these changes. The premise that indigenous people are living in their “ancestors’ dystopia” is very powerful and paints striking images of what our children and future generations will need to deal with. 

The Anishinaabek of the Great Lakes region have positive, modern day traditions that not only support the preservation of the resources that remain, but also provide an insight into the importance of the pre-colonial environment to the people of the past. As our environment changes, traditions like these could provide powerful frameworks for the preservation of diminishing natural resources and for the remembrance of the environment that once existed. Society as a whole could benefit greatly from looking towards how indigenous populations, like the Anishinaabek, have dealt with massive changes to their environment. Indigenous populations have already experienced their own, regional form, of climate change, and we can look to their example on how to deal with the next round of climate change, but this time on a global scale. 

[1] Whyte, Kyle. Our Ancestors’ Dystopia Now: Indigenous Conservation and the Anthropocene. Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities. <>

[2] Croakey, director. Talking #JustClimate and Decolonising Climate Science with Professor Kyle Whyte. YouTube, YouTube, 24 Feb. 2017 <>

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