The Burden of Guilt

Relating back to previous readings, Kyle Whyte writes on indigenous people and their relationship to the current ecological dystopia that has been created. The Anishinaabek is the focal point of Kyle Whyte’s essay “Our Ancestors’ Dystopia Now: Indigenous Conservation and the Anthropocene” along with conservation of various aspects of their culture important to them. He discusses conservation efforts surrounding the nmé (the lake sturgeon), manoomin (wild rice), and nibi (water), and how the Anishinaabek are taking major steps to protect these resources. Whyte utilizes the term “the ancestors’ dystopia” in relation to how arguably the three most important resources to the nation’s predecessors are being threatened, and to bring attention to the effects of colonization on the resources, and the effects of the ecological crisis from the perspective of those that managed the land before us; those that were better able to manage the landscape in the effort of sustainability. Whyte brings attention to the fact that before we as a global society can tackle our environmental issues, we need to reconcile our issues between cultures, and recognize that other cultures can and have been disproportionately affected by the actions of one or two dominant groups. 

The Lynn White reading relates to this reading by refining the thought process that this is not the indigenous people’s fault, the burden of guilt is placed onto those who conquered and pillaged the land that was already being gracefully and effectively managed: the Christian, predominantly white, invaders. Whyte and White create an effective dichotomy in inspiring action in the dominant group of North America, showing that not only are the indigenous people working harder to protect their land, but clearly placing the blame onto the majority religion, combining the guilt of inaction with the guilt of action. Whyte and Pope Francis from the same reading set also agree in some capacity; Francis agrees that reconciliation between different cultural groups is also important to tackling conservation. 

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