Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sustainable Agriculture in Native America

By Christopher-Joseph Ravnopolski-Dean

I have a profound interest in agriculture, and more precisely sustainable agriculture, which uses an ecological approach towards nature – instead of fighting nature, it follows it.
    It’s a modern concept – oddly enough, the “merciless Indian savages” were doing sustainable agriculture in America long before European settlers came on the continent, and their practices have been rediscovered by contemporary agroecologists. For example, Indians had forest gardens – mimicries of forests – that provided them food, timber, and fiber. Europeans couldn’t understand at all that this was agriculture! They were used to their fields with row crops and it didn’t occur to them that one could grow food in a forest. Yet today agroforestry and edible forest gardens are pointed out as useful strategies for combatting erosion and climate change, increasing the water-holding capacity of soils, and using land more economically.
    In relation to my interest in sustainable agriculture, I wanted to watch a documentary about Native American philosophy. I accidentally came upon the film “The Native Americans: Testimonials of the Forefathers” (an OBZURV documentary that can be viewed on YouTube). I had previously read about the atrocities and the wrongs settlers did to locals, but I never suspected that discrimination against Indians was still a reality. I knew that alcoholism was a huge problem among contemporary Indians, but I never thought it could be associated with the uncontrolled supply of alcohol and with higher officials pretending not to see what was happening. I didn’t suspect that elders were fed horrible food.
    I thought that the authors of the film were exaggerating, but I did a Google search. Let’s see what is happening to Native American Civil Rights today. Guess what? The last thing I expected to find was that somebody wanted to install a pipeline through the Sioux reservation, the “Dakota Access Pipeline.”
    Locals are demanding that the presidential candidates express their position on the issue (“Hillary Clinton needs to take a stand on the Dakota Access Pipeline” [Bill McKibben, LA Times, September 7]).
Bill Left Hand protesting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline
    I think the US has wronged Native Americans enough, and it is quite time to leave those people in peace. The US took their land and built a powerful country, and now, after everything, I think we can only win by treating Indians as human beings.

Copyright © 2016 by Christopher-Joseph Ravnopolski-Dean


  1. Christopher-Joseph Ravnopolski-Dean reminds Americans that somebody was here before us - in more than one sense: "Sustainable Agriculture in Native America."

  2. Relaying a comment from Betty Gabbert Williams, made on Facebook:

    Eye opener from Christopher. I believe too, that we have wronged the Native Americans again by wanting to put the pipeline through the very land they were given by the United States government. They buried their loved ones on that land. White, or any color Americans would be outraged if anyone wanted to dig up our families or any land we hand been granted or earned. This was the Native Americans consolation prize for being pushed off the land the "whites" thought was valuable. The land and heritage they want to maintain was/is land NO ONE wanted at the time. I say there must be a better solution to the need for oil. I disagree with the pipeline going through THIER land and even more about ti being placed under/through a water source that all people need to survive This is 'big oil ' taking what they want to become more wealthy and powerful. IT IS WRONG AND NEEDS TO BE RE-EXAMINED.

  3. Bury my heart at wounded knee by Russell Means is a good book to read. Russell was the leader of the the American Indian Movement (AIM) back it the sixties.

    1. Thanks, Ed. I'll make sure Christopher sees your comment. I remember the name Russell Means (and his book) from the times.

  4. Another comment relayed from Facebook, this one from Sharon Stoner:

    When have whites ever been fair to my ancestors and family? Welcomed to this land by people who[m they] pushed off the lands [they] hunted. A Native would never contaminate the water, the air or the Earth! Does anyone know the biggest genocide in the world was the murder of millions of Aboriginal people of North America? Yes, deliberate MURDER! We should go to white cemeteries, dig up their dead in the name of discovering whites past! My ancestors were and are treated like non humans. If you believe what goes around comes around, then people should be terrified for their lives, for their souls!

  5. Thank you for writing this article and for being patient this year since I haven't written much. I recently found flagstone on my property and am having to deal with it, commercial product, and get the business up and running so I can sell it very soon. Has been one thing after another this year. Christopher, if you are on facebook, you are welcome to find me under Franklin Hill Farm.