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National Parks and Environmental Racism Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Lisa Campbell, Canada Jul 27, 2007
Peace & Conflict , Human Rights , Environment   Opinions


National Parks and Environmental Racism
To this day Native people are using their traditional hunting, timber, and fishing rights on so-called Canadian land. While the environmental impact of their actions is small, there have been a myriad of racist attacks from conservationist groups against Native land rights. In addition, the government has continued to forfeit the land rights that indigenous people have on treaty-negotiated land. Currently, in Caledonia, Six Nations protesters have occupied a local housing development in protest of this. In a press release titled "To her Majesty the Queen" the native protesters stated their demands: "Therefore, we the clan mothers command the agents, representatives and officers of the said British corporation to be at peace and refrain from any acts of violence to spill blood or interfere with the rights of the Onkwe'hon:we."

The land on which they have been building the subdivision is a part of the Haldimand tract, which was deeded to the Six Nations in 1784. The tract covers 9.6 kilometers, was never voluntarily transferred to third parties and is still their territory. The Housing Development Company denies all charges of building on stolen land. This is a perfect example of land that is seen as "natural commons", is too easily privatized and then sold off to developers. While the land may appear to be empty and ownerless, the government seems to have little regard to the pacts they made in years past.

All around the world native peoples have faced encroachment on their traditional territory in the name of National Conservation projects. Most often, those declaring the areas to be "protected zones" are foreigners, taking it upon themselves to manage environments, thereby freezing them in time for their own pleasure. While the current landmass of protected areas is now larger than all of the African continent, global biodiversity continues to decline. On top of this, 90% of the world's biodiversity exists beyond these conserved areas.

Contrary to popular belief, humans are a part of ecosystems, and coexisted in harmony with flora and fauna for thousands of years before the industrial revolution. The human/nature divide artificially posited by conservationists is a false one, based on Western environmental narratives such as the “landscape“. While conservationists demand that natives move out of National Parks , they seem to have no objection to having environmentalists, foresters, rangers, and campers come in. European colonial narratives about how humans interact with nature are elitist, and often discriminate against those who work in nature. Nature has been molded into a hobby, therefore destining herders, hunters, scavengers, and others who create their survival through natural landscapes to a second-class, unwelcome status. This racist discourse of what behavior is allowed in National Parks also glazes over important issues around land-use, and land-rights. To this day, many National Parks continue to exist on stolen land.

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Lisa Campbell

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"People of the Earth"
Constanza Schmit | Nov 3rd, 2007
Nice Article.. I will continue the tour to the south... In Argentina, there are some National Parks, such as Lanin, that were created in the frame of a Nationalist governement, in order to protect nature resources, still when a culture (the Mapuche community) was being rooting out of the region to create that "Protected Area".. The question is.. Protected from whom? Protected from the aborigin's bad use of the earth?.. ... Just think this: "Mapu - Che" means "People of the Erath".. There are no people more nature-respectuful than aborigins..

Muir vs Pinchot
Robert Margolis | Oct 28th, 2007
Your excellent article reminds me of the articles I have read on the original debates between US environmental pioneers John Muir and Gilford Pinchot. They argued over the purpose of the environmental movement and how wilderness fits in. It is amazing that this debate continues into our times.

صورة جميلة
Adham Tobail | Oct 29th, 2007
اعجبتنى صديقتى الكاتبة الصورة الجميلة التى وضعيتها هنا شكرا لك واتمنى لك النجاح adham_333@hotmail.com ادهم طبيل فلسطين

R Kahendi | May 17th, 2008
Excellent article!

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