The Dystopia In front of us

The words “Climate Change” evokes mental images of a dystopian future for many people; however, Indigenous People have been subjugated and genocided by colonizers since the arrival of Europeans on the American continent and have been living out their own dystopian reality. For centuries Native Americans have faced a dystopia that many, myself included, had no idea was real. Until the reading and especially the video featuring Kyle Whyte I hadn’t considered that Native Americans are living in a dystopia. In the past year, I’ve tried to learn more about the injustice that Natives, and other groups, have faced and in that time I’ve come to learn about the many sad realities that oppressed groups have faced in America. Yet when I heard the fact that for Natives, they are living in a dystopian reality, I found it unsurprising that Native Americans would describe their treatment as dystopian, but I was surprised that this was the first time I was hearing this sort of description.

Hearing how natives, before contact with Europeans, were very knowledgeable about the environment and the impact they had on it was really fascinating. Numerous modern ideas and technologies were invented or innovated by Native Americans, and the fact that Natives were conscious of environmental impact is a testament to this. However, much of the history of Native Americans has been whitewashed, and this is why I think the message that Kyle Whyte had for climate scientists is so important. My interpretation of Kyle Whyte’s message was that if Native Americans are going to be a part of the climate conversation, which they very much should be, then they need to be the ones doing the talking. Instead of being talked to, which for centuries has led to little, Natives should be the ones directing the conversation. 

Native Americans have known about, and understood the effects humans can have on the environment for centuries, they also have been the most impacted by climate change than any other group in America. The knowledge that Native Americans can bring to the table regarding climate change cannot and should not be ignored. To show that we are truly committed to correcting the injustices that Natives have faced, the minimum we can do is to start listening to them, rather than the other way around. 

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