Unfortunately, American Indians often do not have the political clout necessary to help the environment. They believe in the sacredness of the planet, so they tend to keep their land in good shape, but often they have no choice in the matter and are tricked into doing things such as storing nuclear waste on their land. Due to the fact that many of them live in low-income communities and have received minimal levels of education, they have difficulty organizing and being a force of change.
South American indigenous peoples who have been exploited by oil and logging companies have recently been taking a stance against such companies and the environmental destruction they cause. They are demanding justice for the destruction of the Amazon and in turn, their lifestyle, which is being ravaged by water contamination, the burning of the rainforest, and high cancer levels due to the pollution. Indigenous leaders have traveled to the United States to deliver their messages and petitions, creating publicity and fighting for environmental restoration. For example, Emergildo Criollo, an Ecuadorian, traveled to the U.S. to personally visit the home of Chevron’s CEO John Watson as well as the Chevron World Headquarters.
Yes, Native Americans are helping the environment in many ways. Since Native American Tribes are federally-recognized they have a legal relationship with the government and each Department of government works with tribes. The Department of Energy (DOE) has intiatives aimed at the youth. Santa Fe Indian School, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Environmental Management program of the DOE,
in a community-based approach give students a hands-on approach
for environmental monitoring and analytical skills. They work with the local Pueblo
tribes in water and wildlife monitoring as well as cultural resource
protection. What is taught in the classroom is applied in the field. The DOE values
the importance of education and supports initiatives to help educate and train
tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. The URL lists 3 other programs in the
country aimed at educating Native American Youth and helping them take care of
their land and heritage.
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