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Stephane Wuttunee was first published at 17, Plains Cree and French Canadian author and storyteller Stephane Wuttunee's writing credits include 2 1/2 years as a columnist for a national Native newspaper (THE WINDSPEAKER) and a book of short stories entitled FIRST FLIGHT - Tales Of The Nomad. Besides penning articles for Environment Canada and regional periodicals and newspapers such as The Nation and Alberta Sweetgrass News, he has also spent the better part of fifteen years toiling to create DREAMING THE PYRAMID. His website can be seen at: An experienced public speaker, Stephane has presented in schools and at conferences throughout Canada and the high Arctic, as well as in parts of New Zealand and Australia. Email Stephane.

The Challenge Of Being Native American In The Wake Of Climategate

by Stephane Wuttunee

Posted: 12:00 December 8 2009

For the record, allow me to state that as a mixed blooded individual possessing both Plains Cree and French Canadian blood, that I firmly hope with every fiber of my being that COP15 (the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen) falls flat on its face and that absolutely NOTHING comes of it. I hope the delegates return to their countries feeling despondent and frustrated, and that they refuse to have anything to do with such events in the near future.

I am red, I am white, and in the wake of Climategate, I am feeling blue.

Being opposed to the Copenhagen Summit is somewhat difficult for me because of my heritage. According to stereotypes perpetrated upon my people, being Native American should nearly dictate how I should feel about the Summit. World leaders finally set to act upon the environment? Hallelujah, right?

Sure. Sort of.

Although baptized in the Catholic tradition (as many of my people have been since colonization), Iíve always aligned myself more with my own First Nation teachings and values. Iím a hunter. I shot my first duck at five with a slingshot. Killed my first deer at fourteen. I had a three-mile trapline from the age of twelve to fifteen that I ran twice a day before and after school, Iíve traveled and lived with Aboriginal people most of my life on three continents, and I have done two cross Canada canoe trips totaling over 2,400 miles each. I can live and thrive well in nearly any wilderness or urban survival situation thrown at me as long as I have a knife. In addition, I have spoken on issues relating to the environment and Native culture in schools and at conferences for nearly eleven years. In other words, one could say that I have a vested cultural interest in seeing the Earth do well.

I have also met many people who are in love with Native Americans and our culture. These people often seem to adore us in ways nearly bordering on fanaticism. Perhaps due to Hollywood, we are seen as the leaders of the environmental movement (along with other Indigenous peoples as well of course). But the truth about my people is that although many if not most of our values and traditions are still alive, we have adapted over time to become more westernized and modern. In other words, we have changed. There will never be another true North American Indian in the manner that romanticized versions of us depict. We drive cars. We have normal jobs in offices. We pollute and do crazy things to the environment like everyone else. And as much as I remain in love with my peopleís past and lifestyle, unless time reverses itself, the past will remain the past Ė forever.

One good and decent thing to retain from us in terms of humans relating with the environment is that the Earth and its resources should and must be used. To us, the oxygen we breathe in is as sacred and vital to life as the carbon dioxide we breathe out. You cannot say that one is good and that the other is bad. They are both needed equally in order to sustain life. And to have to pay any sort of tax on what naturally emanates from my own body is ridiculous. It is blasphemy. It should be punishable by the highest court of law.

Ironically, many of the ideas touted by the organizers of the Summit and its delegates are quite good Ė at least from a Native American perspective: the formation of an Earth based religion, the need for businesses and corporations do become kinder and gentler with nature, etc. What I have a problem with is the implementation of these ideas and philosophies. Why force what should naturally come about on its own if people want it? My people have believed for millennia that the Earth is sentient. This realization wasnít dictated to us by anyone else. It just naturally came about on its own.

I also have a real problem with people who say that there are too many people on the planet. No one comes here by accident. Everyone is here on purpose to learn and do something. And to seek to interfere with this plan is to meddle with not only billions of innocent lives, but with each personís destiny and guardian spirit. Damn to hell these discussions of world depopulation!

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