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Changing of the Seasons

One native's perspective



It has been a cold winter with what used to be normal amounts of rain. Floods have taken lives locally and we even had snow down to the sand dunes. Earth Day, like spring, is just around the corner, descending upon us on April 22. For many Native peoples, every day is Earth Day. We struggle to keep our world balanced as part of our religion.

The rivers are dying. The dams will come down but will it be too little, too late? Creator has yet to send his message if he will keep fish in the river or let his people go without this staple. Will it be the Yurok Salmon Festival or the Yurok Indian Taco Festival? We wait with each season, hoping that the rivers will be abundant with the fleshy fish that gives us life. We dance and pray that the world returns to its natural order so the environment is rehabilitated.

Fire seasons are nearly year-long now. The smoky sunsets that veil California in a cough-causing golden brilliance is becoming the norm. It envelops entire towns in the deathly arms of yet another maelstrom. It is mind-numbing to see our neighboring cities reduced to cinders. We cannot outrun the wind-whipped flames that turn towns into embers.

The ice pack is melting, coral reefs are decaying like so many decrepit teeth, the rain forest is disappearing and hey, where are the bees? We have become the masters of our own destruction. In all our salacious efforts to dominate everything that exists we have forgotten that we need a biosphere that can occlude the toxins and detritus of our existence.

That fraudulent Native who cried about pollution and litter that befalls our nation was prescient. Our entire planet is being consumed by plastics and un-recycled goods. Our modern society is use it and lose it in its capacity to retain the broken technology that surrounds us daily.

Live lightly on this world. Turn lights off that you are not using, dial down the heater or air conditioning, carpool, buy a more fuel-efficient car, hook up your electronics to power strips that you can turn off to discourage vampire energy sucking. Buy organic and local, use compact fluorescent lights or LED bulbs. Take any opportunity to mediate the effect you have on the intricate system that keeps us alive.

The mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle must become our refrain if we are to help restore our world to a state that is livable. Refuse Styrofoam containers, don't use straws, only allow reusable chopsticks to touch your sushi, go paperless on your bills, ride your bike more. Do what you can to minimize your carbon footprint.

Spring is here. This is the time of renewal and healing. We can bring ourselves back from the brink of destruction. All you have to do is be mindful of our presence in this pristine nature. Think about your bearing on the world.

Just my two dentalias worth.

André Cramblit is an enrolled member of the Karuk tribe. He is happy to help out the environment by hypermiling and watching TV in the dark with a blanket on his lap.

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