Posted by: r.m. | December 3, 2008

giving back to the land

Every now and then, there is an idea that surfaces that is beauty to its core, and beauty itself can be inspiring and energizing.

Every now and then, there comes a people that say – we want to do things another way, a good way, a unifying way.

Every now and then, indigenous cultures and communities are heard.

In an article published in the latest issue of Orion magazine, we hear about “the Onondaga Nation of central New York proposing a radical new vision of property rights.

Stop and read it. Here are some excerpts.

“The lawsuit is not a land “claim,” because to the Onondaga land has far greater significance than the notion of property. Sid Hill, the Tadodaho, or spiritual leader, of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, has said that the Onondaga Nation will never seek to evict people from their homes. The Onondaga people know the pain of displacement too well to inflict it on their neighbors. Instead the suit is termed a “land rights action.” When they finally got their day in court last October, members of the Onondaga Nation argued that the land title they’re seeking is not for possession, not to exclude, but for the right to participate in the well-being of the land. Against the backdrop of Euro-American thinking, which treats land as a bundle of property rights, the Onondaga are asking for freedom to exercise their responsibility to the land. This is unheard of in American property law.

“…Above all, the land rights action seeks title for the purpose of ecological restoration. Only with title can they ensure that mines are reclaimed, toxic waste removed, and Onondaga Lake cleaned up. The action strengthens the ability of the Onondaga to exercise their traditional role as stewards of their homelands.

The legal action concerns not only rights to the land, but also the rights of the land, its right to be whole and healthy.

“What would it be like, they ask, to care for and be cared for by the land? Their proposals imagine a future where the interests of great blue herons have equal standing with those of property owners, where urban developments are modeled after the lifestyles of maple trees, powered by solar energy and carbon-neutral. Wounded landscapes would not be abandoned so that new ones could be plundered, but nurtured back to health with the tools of restoration ecology. Communities would cement their relationship to the places that sustain them with ceremony and celebration.

“They don’t ask that we give the land back, but that we give back to the land, to care for it as if it were our home, too.”

Read it

and smile

and be inspired.



  1. this blog becomes my late morning/afternoon tea reading….. 🙂

  2. this is something you don’t usually hear often:”Justice for the waters. Justice for the four-legged and the winged, whose habitats have been taken. We seek justice, not just for ourselves, but justice for the whole of Creation.” These are the wisest,most honest and heartfelt words i have ever hear said about our planet.Humans aren’t the only ones that deserve justice;so does mother earth.If only we could all go by that…

  3. its great to know one actually cares about earth more than luxury, power ,or money. its shocking what people have already done to the planet. but because of some poeple who respect the same planet we have hope that life wont end soon but a little farther than soon!
    i think that our planet cannot be saved even with all these laws that exist and only in very small propotions! so i do like the idea of rights of the land but isnt it too late to think about that? and would this now change anything?

  4. On the contrary, I don’t think this is new at all. People who care about the earth have and will always exist, they just never had a chance to speak up. The Native Americans are known for their love of the land, and the responsibility they feel towards it: take care of to be taken care of. Land was not made to be divided in a sense that would render it untouchable, it is part of us all and whoever has the capacity to help improve should not wait around for the government to grant permission. What drew my attention the most was the way they phrase their words, there is no violence; its a soft elequence mixed with the pain they feel for the world of today.

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