“We need to dutifully follow our ‘original instructions’ everyday as if our life depended on them, because they do.” – Melissa K. Nelson
Standing before the Sunday morning audience at Bioneers, Melissa K. Nelson, “cultural ecologist, social activist, writer, and media-maker”, president of The Cultural Conservancy, and professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State, introduces herself as a “mixed race person”. A descendent of several Native American tribes and European countries, she knows too well the challenge of trying to reconcile the differences between cultures, but those “edges”, both biological and cultural, hold the richest of possibilities, biodiversity, and the “native” story that is always present.
“There’s a deeper story living in the lands and waters,” she says. Additionally, physicists have concluded we don’t know about 95% of the universe, what’s referred to as “dark matter”. Melissa and her colleagues encourage us, the descendants, to embrace edges, of cultures and of ecosystems, and foster a “healthy respect for what’s unknown and even potentially unknowable”.
Melissa emphasizes that human beings, in seeking the answer to everything, have found that knowledge has the potential to be incredibly dangerous. Finding the balance between knowing and not knowing, and using indigenous awareness and traditional ecological knowledge to “strengthen our science”, can help us cultivate reverence, respect, creativity, and compassion for the land and others on it.
Via The National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian: