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their ancestors, and so on. They told the same story, the story of “Indigenous people are troted forward
the beginning of our clans. How we came from stone, from earth.
And hundreds of years later, our children would see them as well as mouthpieces, mined for their wisdom,
(Unless they wouldn’t. Because, you know, climate change). highlighted for their tragedies, and then
Either way, these stones are not just imagined spirits – they are shoved to the back of the line.”
tangible. They are real. They live in the waves and our ancestors
sharpened their spears on their bodies. I was able to tread
slippered feet from the house of my family members, past a grove Indigenous people have been saying this for decades, for centuries.
of bushes and trees, to see her for myself – thousands of years afer And yet only now do we see the same rhetoric being co-opted
my ancestors frst whispered the story over an open fre. by green actvists in the climate movement. Indigenous people
Our islands are full of stories like these. The infusion of magic and are troted forward as mouthpieces, mined for their wisdom,
tangible – stories that to the Western imaginaton might seem highlighted for their tragedies, and then shoved to the back of the
fantastcal. Stories that explain the spirit of a coral, how a lagoon line.
was shaped, how a grove of pandanus trees was born. And yet we’ve seen, over and over again, what happens when
‘The land has eyes’ indigenous people are not included in the conversaton (think
These stories give us insight into the world of our ancestors. They Greenpeace and Peru). And also what happens when they are.
are not unlike the many origin stories from indigenous people all Mauna Kea is a sacred land for the Hawaiian people. Through the
over the world – origin stories that establish a relatonship between treless eforts of organizers, and the support of Hawaiian and
land and people. A relatonship of mutual respect. indigenous people all over the world, the movement has been
There are no stories where the mother, the land, is slaughtered able to postpone the building of a massive telescope that would
so that the people satsfy their greed – at least not without desecrate the sacred mountaintop of Mauna Kea.
punishment. Greed is punishable. Greed is remembered. As the As I write this, I see photographs on my facebook newsfeed of
Rotuman proverb states – the land has eyes. There is a roro, a Hawaiian actvists being arrested for obstructng the constructon
Marshallese chant, about Lidedepju that also demonstrates this: company. Governor Ige has issued a statement that the
Luerkolik ej ño diun ña durieañ | Lidepdepju erbet inij eo. constructon is once again delayed due to the protestors, as well
the large boulders, hindering the constructon equipment. The
Luerkoklik is a reef from Arno atoll. Translated, the chant states, earth, and its champions, have spoken.
“Luerkoklik is destroying me [in my canoe] because of my sin to
Lidepdepju. Is destroying all of us. Lidedepju is destroying the feet Pacifc Islanders and indigenous peoples play an important role
(of canoes.)” in the climate movement as well. This is even acknowledged in
the Pope’s encyclical that was released last week. We are here to
Land has power to destroy us. It has eyes. It remembers. remind others, industrialized natons, leaders, major industries,
Climate scientsts have been warning that catastrophe will that the earth has always been alive – that the land has eyes. It
hit if humans do not make radical changes to our lifestyles of remembers. It will contnue to remember. Long afer we leave it.
consumpton and greed. The world will turn on us. Super storms Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is a poet, journalist and teacher from the
and massive droughts, extncton and rising seas. Mother nature is Marshall Islands. Follow her on twiter @kathykijiner
pissed. Luerkoklik is destroying me… is destroying all of us.

Photo: © Christopher Michel |

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