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Protesters demonstrate against the Dakota Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation
North Dakota – United States – September 9, 2016
Photo Credit: Andrew Cullen / Reuters


My third quote for the ‘Three Quotes for Three Days’ challenge – an invitation from British author and blogger Frank Parker – comes from Tom Goldtooth, a Native American environmental leader and executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) since 1996. It’s an excerpt from his keynote address, “The Sacredness of Mother Earth,” at the Bioneers National Conference held on October 18-20, 2013.

The European concept of the natural world which has become a dominant concept worldwide – where knowledge and culture are property, with the attitude that commodities are to be exploited freely and bought and sold at will – has resulted in disharmony between beings and the natural world, as well as the current environmental crisis threatening all life. This concept is totally incompatible with the traditional indigenous worldview… Our sacred responsibility is to safeguard and protect this world. Human beings are not separate from the natural world but were created to live in an integral relationship with it. That’s what we have to offer.

Born in July 1953 in Farmington, New Mexico, Tom Goldtooth is of Diné and Dakota ancestry, and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He currently resides in northern Minnesota close to the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

As an Indigenous Rights leader and activist within the climate and environmental justice and indigenous movement, Tom Goldtooth promotes building healthy and sustainable Indigenous communities based upon the foundation of Indigenous traditional knowledge. His advocacy extends across Indigenous communities nationwide and beyond our borders as an active member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.


Tom Goldtooth on “Stopping the Privatization of Nature” – Bioneers – August 2014


He is co-producer of the award winning documentary film, Drumbeat for Mother Earth, which has received critical acclaim for its exposure of the effects of bio-accumulative chemicals on Indigenous communities. In 2015, he received the Gandhi Peace Award and, more recently, the Sierra Club’s 2016 John Muir Award for his dedicated work against fossil fuel projects like the Keystone XL pipeline.

Today, Tom Goldtooth is on the front-line among protestors at the Standing Rock North Dakota Access Pipeline. To learn more about what’s happening at Standing Rock watch the special edition of “On Contact: Standing Rock Resistance” by Chris Hedges.

In our quest to build our great cities, we have forgotten what is sacred to human existence on Planet Earth. All that is essential for life on our planet have become commodities to be traded in the marketplace for profit. As I see it here in the USA, the only things that are sacred are our guns, our right to spew hate speech, and the human fetus (the mother doesn’t count).

As Tom Goldtooth reminds us, [h]uman beings are not separate from the natural world but were created to live in an integral relationship with it.