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Native Currents

'Respond to our human responsibility'

Neh-ahtovo! Nah-tose-tohtoxeme tsehe-skese ho'e. Listen to me. I am going to talk about our Mother the Earth.

My name is Henrietta Mann. I am a Cheyenne grandmother.

I am humbled and honored to impart this message from our elders.

The profound teachings and prophecies of our beloved ancestors predict this time. We are taught to love and protect the beauty and holiness of our Mother the Earth. We are also taught to honor the great power of Grandfather Sun. Together, the Sun and Mother Earth make life.

Theirs is a delicate relationship. As dutiful children we must never disturb their elemental ability to nurture us and all the plant and animal nations that give us our food, medicines, clothing and shelter. We must honor the life-giving power of the Sun and Earth.

The natural systems that regulate our climates - the winds, ocean currents and air and water temperatures - are changing.

Our elders instruct us to always walk upon Mother Earth with respect, gentleness and with thankful hearts. We must never deviate from the fundamental precept of stewardship or we will be capable of causing great harm.

Judging from today's concerns, human beings have acted irresponsibly.

Scientists have confirmed increases in global average air and ocean temperatures and widespread melting of polar ice. Arctic temperatures have increased at almost twice the average global rate in the past century. The Cheyenne prophet Sweet Medicine told us that the Earth would burn. Mother Earth has a fever.

Mountain glaciers and snow cover are declining worldwide. Sea levels are rising, and peoples from many island nations and coastal regions are at risk. In Alaska, the Inupiat village of Shishmaref is disappearing into the sea.

We agree with the broad consensus of our most respected international climate scientists that global warming is upon us; and it is destabilizing the natural rhythms of Mother Earth. We also agree with the broad scientific consensus that human activity, including deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, is a primary cause.

For these reasons, we call upon all the peoples of the world to awaken and respond to our collective human responsibility to the seventh generation. Ours is a call to consciousness. Each of us is part of the sacred circle of life.

Ho'e netaome heskenon'e, nah ta-vestahamon'e. Earth is our Mother and we must care for her.

Henrietta Mann, Ph.D., Cheyenne, is professor emerita and special assistant to the president at Montana State University - Bozeman. Mann also serves as interim president of Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.