What is Indigenuity?


Bell Smith Springs Recreational Area

As usual, as I was writing the article about our ingenuity (or lack thereof), I came upon a word that many people might be unfamiliar with. I know that I certainly was unfamiliar with it the first time I came upon it myself. Most of all these articles came into being as a result of my desire to explain in further detail certain words, phrases, scenarios, mental defense mechanisms, logical fallacies, and other topics which help fit all the puzzle pieces of ecological overshoot together.

Indigenuity is "the application of deep-spatial wisdom held by Indigenous Peoples, e.g., American Indians and Alaska Natives, to solve practical problems we face today. Indigenuity is the result of a People’s long intergenerational transmissions of experiential knowledge over millennia resulting from their attentiveness to the inextricable symbiotic nexus of human cultures and the ecosystems/environments that gave tribal Peoples their culture and identity. As such, Indigenuity is a co-creation of humans and plants, animals, and other natural features of the world. 

Indigenuity frames solutions in terms beyond a singular fixation on rights and counterbalances those concerns with a recognition of inalienable responsibilities humankind has to our plant, animal, and other natural relatives with whom we share this planet. Indigenuity, an Earth-based deep spatial knowledge, that suggests the challenges of the Anthropocene might best be met by paying attention to what the Earth and all our relations can still teach humankind about living well in a kin-centric world – a world where human progress does not result in ecosystem degradation and destruction, but in creating systems of biosphere life-enhancement."

One of the biggest myths we suffer from is the myth of human progress. As I described in my last article about our so-called ingenuity, what most people see as progress actually tends to take us backwards with regard to ecological overshoot. This is due to who and what we are as a species and our abilities to extract energy and resources from our environment. It also has to do with wetiko and our sense of human exceptionalism and separation from nature despite the lack of logic in reality with such separation (due to it being completely false). One can easily see how this leads us into false beliefs and denial and forget how we came to this place and time to begin with. Most Indigenous cultures have a world view far different to most of today's Western civilization. They tend to think of themselves as part of the land where we view the land as property of ours. Where we see the land as there for us, they view themselves as there for the land; the land's caretakers. They also have a deep respect for the cycle of life, an extremely important concept to keep in mind.

I noticed the description above containing the same "problem and solution" framing I see as part of so many other ideas surrounding the "solutionista" sphere. However, I see this particular sphere of influence in a different light than I do practically every other set of ideas. To my knowledge, Indigenous cultures are not bent on saving or extending civilization or attempting to "save the planet" with technology. This quote makes it clear that sustainability is the real goal:

"Ultimately, all life of the planet must respect the Land, Air, and Water – the natural L.A.W. The life-systems of the planet are built on the foundation of the land, air, and water. Indigenuity resides in the knowledge and wisdom resulting from the awareness that first, we live in a world populated by relatives not resources; second, inalienable rights are hollow unless linked to inalienable responsibilities; and, finally, in the age of the Anthropocene, it may be time to restore the ancient Indigenous wisdom that definitions of progress must include not only our human comfort, convenience, and capital gains but the promotion of systems of life-enhancement."

I may be wrong here, but in my mind this is a means of working towards long-lasting sustainability and resilience over the long haul. If our species still exists in the next century, I hope that our descendants will be working on these principles. Inevitably, they may have no other choice. 

In conclusion, there is human ingenuity; but what most of us think of as human ingenuity often is based in fantasies, myths, and fairy tales whereas true human ingenuity is Indigenous ingenuity, or Indigenuity. Until next time, Live Now!


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