[Scpg] Indigenous Permaculture Convergence/ 08/13/2010- Sun, 08/15/2010 /Sedalia, CO

Wesley Roe and Santa Barbara Permaculture Network lakinroe at silcom.com
Thu Jun 10 07:27:13 PDT 2010

Indigenous Permaculture Convergence


Indigenous Permaculture Convergence
Date: Fri, 08/13/2010 - 4:00pm - Sun, 08/15/2010 - 3:00pm

Join us for the first Indigenous Permaculture Convergence. Learn about
indigenous permaculture principles and practice. Network with other
indigenous people, permaculturists, and community activists. Connect
with ongoing and planned indigenous permaculture classes, projects, and
events. Attend workshops on traditional ecological knowledge, land
struggles, decolonization, and eco-cultural restoration.

Cost: $350 by May 31, 2010. $400 after June 1, 2010. Cost includes meals
and lodging. Limited scholarship and work exchange opportunities available.

Contact: info at woodbinecenter.org
Phone: 303.380.7984


Indigenous Permaculture: An operational framework

Woodbine Ecology Center was created to address a basic question: How 
do we learn to live together in this place? It doesn't take very 
protracted observation to figure out that, as a society, we have 
focused much of our energy in teaching our children how to fear each 
other and how to exploit the natural world. The combined, and 
related, social and ecological crisis that we are facing is simply 
the product of that design. If we are to find new ways to be with 
each other and with the natural world, then it makes a lot of sense 
to start looking at how people and cultures have lived, and continue 
to live, in this place since time immemorial. To truly re-create 
sustainable communities, we must look at the sustainable communities 
that were here before us as well as the reasons and process through 
which many of those communities have been severely damaged or 
outrightly destroyed.

For us, indigenous peoples and cultures and their values that many 
still hold, are not only a historical curiosity but a living part of 
our everyday work. Indigenous peoples have been an active part of the 
formation and operation of Woodbine since day one. Woodbine has also 
actively included people whose ancestry and cultural upbringing 
originates from other lands. The Woodbine community hails from many 
different places. We are indigenous peoples, descendants of slaves, 
indentured servants, gentry, refugees, and voluntary immigrants. 
Regardless of how we, or our ancestors, came to this place, we find 
ourselves-people of all colors and nations-here to stay. This is now 
our home and the home of our children and great-great grandchildren. 
What brings us together is our common vision of a better place for 
our children and future generations, our desire to build a world 
where we are, again, a part of the natural world.

One of the prisms through which Woodbine strives to address this 
vision, is permaculture. As the "cutting edge of a 10,000 year old 
idea" permaculture offers one of the most exciting possibilities for 
re-learning how to become native to our places and how to integrate 
traditional ecological knowledge with modern science.

At Woodbine we explicitly use the term indigenous permaculture to 
define and describe our practice and application of permaculture. We 
are neither the first, nor the only, to use this term and in our 
research and interactions with others who practice indigenous 
permaculture we have found that there is no clear, single definition 
of the term. Given that permaculture itself often defies a single 
definition, this should not be very surprising. However, we believe 
that words have meaning, that they are sacred and that when we use 
them we give birth to our reality. As such, we provide here a brief 
synopsis of our own, constantly evolving, understanding of indigenous 
permaculture and what it means to us. This is not meant to be an 
authoritative or exclusive definition of the term. Rather, we humbly 
offer our own framework to the larger indigenous and permaculture 
communities, hoping that it can foster some greater discussion, 
clarity, and understanding of our practices.

Our understanding of indigenous permaculture revolves around five 
basic principles:
	1.	The recollection and recognition of, and respect for, 
indigenous contributions.
For us this means more than giving lip service to generic indigenous 
contributions. We strive for active, respectful and reciprocal 
contact and collaboration with indigenous communities in our places 
and work to learn about traditional ways of being, always careful to 
not engage, consciously and unconsciously, in cultural appropriation. 
We recognize and cultivate leadership of indigenous peoples in their 
communities as well as our diverse organizations. We commit to share 
our own knowledge and to give back to indigenous communities.
	2.	Traditional Ecological Knowledge has always been 
specific to a place and culture.
All indigenous and traditional ecological knowledge systems have been 
specific to a place and have been transmitted across generations 
through cultural mechanisms, including storytelling and ceremonies 
which are specific to the places they originated from. While it is 
useful to understand some of the general principles common to most 
systems of indigenous knowledge, it is also important to develop a 
strong understanding of and appreciation of the specific cultures 
within which these systems come alive.
	3.	Decolonization of our minds, our language, our work, 
and our communities.
We live in a colonial society and are the products of historical 
colonial processes. This is not simply something that occurred in the 
past and we can now all happily move on with our lives. These 
processes are very much alive today and indigenous communities 
continue to be under direct and indirect attack. Much of the mining 
of fossil fuels as well as of the rare metals such as lithium and 
neodymium which are supposed to fuel the new green revolution takes 
place in indigenous territories. In order to come together as 
indigenous and non-indigenous people and build a better world for the 
next seven generations, we must recognize this history and commit to 
transforming its legacy. For us, this means an explicit commitment to 
stand with communities under attack, and to work with them to defend 
and restore their culture and traditions, as well as help them assess 
and incorporate new technologies and skills in a culturally 
appropriate way. It also requires a commitment to become aware of our 
full history and decolonize our language, our work, our processes and 
to challenge eurocentrism and white privilege in our organizations, 
communities, and permaculture at large.
	4.	Being and becoming native to this place.
Permaculturists are fond of saying that we are all indigenous, or 
that we all come from indigenous roots, but the reality is that being 
native to a place does not happen overnight. To quote Luther Standing 
Bear, "[m]en must be born and reborn to belong. Their bodies must be 
formed of the dust of their forefathers' bones." We recognize that 
there are significant differences between being native by having been 
raised in a culture and community that is part of this place since 
time immemorial, and striving to become native by learning how to 
live in a place as part of it. We also recognize that permaculture 
and its call for "protracted and thoughtful observation" offers an 
excellent set of tools and practices that we can use in our journey 
to become truly native to our places.
	5.	Eco-cultural restoration.
The preservation and restoration of natural places requires the 
preservation and restoration of the cultures that have lived in those 
places since time immemorial. It is not accidental that some of the 
places in the world where bio-diversity is the most threatened are 
also places where indigenous languages are endangered. We are also 
working towards the reintegration of  humans and nature by 
challenging many of the distinctions so prevalent in the West, 
between the domesticated and the wild. This is where we disagree with 
one of the permaculture aphorisms, "stay out of the bush, it is 
already in good order." Indigenous cultures have often not only lived 
in the "bush" but have also played an active role in maintaining and 
enhancing its "good order."
It is not possible to articulate all permeations of these principles 
in such a short space, but we do hope that we can inspire some 
thought and discussion around them. In the future we will present in 
more detail some of the indigenous permaculture projects that we are 
involved in and share the lessons and experiences that we are gaining 
from our application of these principles. We are also organizing an 
Indigenous Permaculture Convergence at Woodbine, August 13-15, 2010. 
We are bringing together indigenous community activists and leaders, 
permaculturists and anyone who is practicing or interested in 
indigenous permaculture, to learn from each other and share our 
experiences as we continue to create a better future for all of our 
children. We invite you to join us at the Convergence as well as 
participate in our ongoing development of these principles.
For more information please contact us.
* A version of this article has been published in Issue 75 (Spring 
2010) of Permaculture Activist. Read 188 times)
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