Here's why we need Indigenous land stewardship to save our planet.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Instead of throwing coins into fountains for empty wishes, we as a society are creating real change. One example is the increasing momentum of the #LandBack movement.
Land back, aka land restitution, aka secure land tenure, aka a million other terms, is the movement to return land to its original stewards. Colonialism has displaced Indigenous people around the world; people who were not only maintaining the Earth but perhaps improving it. #LandBack is a climate justice solution that pays back what colonizers stole while giving all living creatures better, more experienced caretakers. Kiddos, move out of the way.
Here’s what we’ll cover step-by-step:
In hindsight, we need Indigenous land stewardship to save our planet.
🎯 Action step 1 of 4: READ — Let's start by looking at a few articles together.
If your lineage has never been colonized, it might be hard to grasp why #LandBack matters so much. Some people might see it long overdue; some might see it as unfair. So, let's start with climate-related evidence: Native land stewardship can outdo nature. Climate change is exponentially worsening, and if we know that Indigenous people are much better at managing land than colonizers have been for the past couple centuries, well... there's only one logical conclusion.
Here are some key takeaways from a National Geographic article about forest gardens that explain and why LandBack is necessary:
You'll learn that:
We have to stop waiting for Western scientists to catch up with what Indigenous people have been saying for decades. Native land stewards have been watching out for the Earth before the scientific method was even a thing. It's time for #LandBack.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 1 of 4: READ.
🎯 Action step 2 of 4: LISTEN — we'll watch a short video or listen to a podcast to further expand on our topic.
(Editor's note: this article was published in 2021 before Queen Elizabeth's death.)
Curious about why Land Back matters? This 4 min video explaining why dropped such shocking knowledge and it's helping us understand the extent of the problem that #LANDBACK is trying to solve. This video focuses on Canada and we have a global readership, but I chose it because it's a solid, historically-based explanation for how big of an issue land theft is.
You'll learn that:
Canada is owned by the queen basically and land theft is still ongoing. What a world we live in! But, less cynically, Soapbox community member, Sara Calvosa Olson, who's a Native food writer in California, said the #LANDBACK movement is the biggest source of hope and optimism for her.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 2 of 4: LISTEN.
🎯 Action step 3 of 4: ACT — Now it's time to do something. Let's go!
There are only 3 easy homeworks for you for this module, and the 2nd one has brought us a lot of joy already.
1. Find out whose land you're on (& pay "rent").
You can use Native-Land.Ca and/or Whose.Land to find out how to support land restitution efforts where you live, including paying "rent". These maps are global but not perfect. Knowing whose land you're on can help you contact local tribal leaders who will tell you how best to use your time/resources for change. If you don't see your area on the map, look at action #3 for a way to contribute regardless of where you live.
2. Download the iNaturalist app.
In our recent fireside chat with Native food writer Sara Calvosa Olson, she said a fundamental cultural shift we have to make is our relationship with nature. Our neighbors include the plants and animals that live outside, and often, we don't even know their names! If you saw a person every day if your life and didn't know who they were, wouldn't that be weird? Get the iNaturalist app, which can help you identify nature in your area. If you're not an app person, just spend some time with a new plant neighbor.
3. Donate $25 to the First Nations Development Institute.
Your donation will help return Indigenous lands to Indigenous hands and promote land stewardship. Remember - to heal our planet, we need to ensure it's in the care of the right people.
The solution isn't to erase the history of our past—it's to embrace the nature and beauty of our planet, while acknowledging the Indigenous communities who have cared for it.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 3 of 4: ACT.
Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable. Pledge here!
🎯 Action step 4 of 4: REFLECT — what can you commit to? What fresh perspectives can we look at?
How can we continue supporting the Land Back movement?
Here are three places to start:
Moving forward, we can continue thinking about how to make land stewardship and restitution a meaningful, ongoing part of our lives.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 4 of 4: REFLECT.
Check out our membership community for more resources like free weekly events with social justice experts, sustainable product discounts, pre-written email templates, a social impact job board, and in-person hangouts with new friends. Thanks for taking action with Soapbox Project!
Get our free bite-sized climate action plans before you go!