It is exhausting by the second day. By the end of the week, most of us are walking from panel to meeting to the bar with glazed eyes. Our zombie bodies are on automatic control, even as our pocketbooks shrink from hotel charges.
On the train, on the way home, the landscape was white with snow as twilight fell. I was in a trance of intellectual exhaustion. I alternated between the book I was reading, gazing out the window and dozing.
Two of the most moving panels I attended were from North Eastern Native Americans. The first was of contemporary practitioners. The second was artists continuing to work in traditional modes. In both cases, they emphasized that they are present, alive and vital. Too often, the public pigeonholes Native American artists in sentimental or outdated frames.
Whether individual artists were working in the mainstream of ideas or adapting the old to present times, the context of connection to Native American culture in our times was apparent and profoundly moving to me. Globally, Indigenous Peoples are suffering disproportionately from global warming. Indigenous Peoples are tied to particular geographical and ecological experiences spiritually and practically.
But land is being transformed and lost. Remaining Indigenous lands are used as toxic dump sites, where cancer rates are astronomical. Keystone species of animals and plants are going extinct, diseased, scarce.
A particular smoke effect essential to creating an artifact depends on the availability of herring for example. Once one could walk across the water on the backs of herring. Now, herring are bought frozen, caught by others.
As I write, NPR is interviewing an administration spokesperson. That expert tells us THEY have no understanding of how they are responsible to do anything about global warming. Who then does? At a conference for the Society for Ecological Restoration last year, speaking to scientists from several European countries, I asked them if every country in the world did all possible to cut back on emissions that cause global warming, would that offset how the USA contributes to the problem. After a very brief reflection, they said, no.
So my question today is, what alternatives are available when power over a situation is held absolutely?