From OPB.org article by Ken Christensen, August 17, 2015
Honeybees need a healthy diet of pollen, nectar and water. But at a bee laboratory in Eastern Washington, Steve Sheppard fills their feeding tubes with murky brown liquid from the forest.
His bees are getting a healthy dose of mushroom juice.
“If this does what we hope, it will be truly revolutionary,” said Sheppard, who heads the Department of Entomology at Washington State University. “Beekeepers are running out of options.”
Commercial honeybees, which pollinate $15 billion worth of crops in the United States annually, have teetered on the brink of collapse for nearly a decade. A third of all bee colonies have died each year since 2006, on average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Like a pancake ‘feeding on you’
Beekeepers, however, say the honeybee’s single greatest threat is a virus-carrying parasite called the varroa mite. If left untreated, varroa mites typically destroy a colony of honeybees in less than two years.
Sheppard has spent decades breeding western honeybees to better tolerate the mite and its viruses. But he hasn’t had much success, he said.
Varroa mites have devastated U.S. beehives since the late 1980s, when they arrived here from Asia. In 1996, half of colonies east of the Mississippi River died due to mite infestations.
The reddish-brown pests, which are no bigger than the head of a pin, invade colonies and multiply rapidly. They hide among bee larvae developing in the honeycomb, feed on infant bee blood and lay several eggs each.
“It would be like having something the size of pancake feeding on you,” Sheppard said.
Varroa mites feed on honeybees and transmit several viruses to their hosts. -photo Ken Christensen, EarthFix/KCTS 9
Honeybees that emerge from the infected hives typically carry illnesses, like a virus that results in deformed wings that prevent bees from flying.
If beekeepers don’t intervene, the varroa mite can destroy a colony in less than two years. Meanwhile, the pest reproduces so rapidly it builds resistance to chemical pesticides more quickly than solutions can be invented, Sheppard said.
That’s why he decided to try an unconventional approach last year, after local mushroom expert Paul Stamets called him with an idea to help arm the honeybee in its fight against the mite.
Learning the way of the bee
“We’ve gone to the moon, we’ve gone to Mars, but we don’t know the way of the bee?” asked Stamets, who owns the medicinal mushroom company Fungi Perfecti near Olympia, Washington.
The self-taught mycologist said he noticed a relationship between honeybees and mushrooms when he observed bees sipping on sugar-rich fungal roots growing in his backyard.
“I looked down, and they were sucking on my mycelium,” he said.
Now he thinks he knows why.
In recent years, his research has shown that rare fungi found in the old-growth forests of Western Washington can help fight other viruses, including tuberculosis, smallpox and bird flu. He wondered if the honeybee would see similar health benefits from wood-rotting mushrooms.
The red-belted polypore mushroom is among five species of fungi that have been shown to improve the honeybee’s immune system. -photo Katja Schulz, Flickr Commons
“Bees have immune systems, just like we do,” he said. “These mushrooms are like miniature pharmaceutical factories.”
Stamets and Sheppard are feeding liquid extracts of those forest mushrooms to mite-infected honeybees. Initial findings suggest that five species of the wood-rotting fungi can reduce the honeybees’ viruses and increase their lifespans.
In addition, the scientists are trying to fight honeybee viruses by taking aim at the varroa mite itself. Insect-killing fungi have been used as an alternative to synthetic chemical pesticides for years, and previous studies show that one type of entomopathogenic fungus can weaken varroa mites in beehives.
Killing parasites without harming bees
Paul Stamets thinks his version of the fungus will be more effective. So far, the results of the experiments in Sheppard’s lab look promising.
“The product seems to be killing mites without harming bees,” Sheppard said.
Paul Stamets cultures mycelium at his laboratory near Olympia, Washington. -photo Ken Christensen, EarthFix/KCTS 9
This fall, the scientists plan to expand both experiments by partnering with commercial beekeepers like Eric Olson, who runs the largest commercial beekeeping operation in Washington.
Olson said two-thirds of his beehives died five years ago because of a varroa mite infestation. After several years successfully controlling the pest, he arrived this year in California for almond pollination season and nearly half of his bees had died during the winter.
He spent $770,000 to buy replacement hives, he said.
“I was lucky that I had the cash and the connections to recover from that,” he said.
Olson recently donated about $50,000 to Sheppard’s department to help find a solution to the mite. Looking at the bees in one of his hives, he said, “I’m really concerned about whether these little girls will survive.”
Is Custodianship a possible way forward in creating reconciliation between settlers and indigenous people?
The colonisation of indigenous lands worldwide has created many conflicts and frustrations about the use and abuse of traditional lands. The consequences of this have also been that much traditional knowledge for the management and maintenance of lands has been ignored, or dismissed. On the other side of the equation, many settlers are suffering from a sense of disconnection and increasing unease at the dominant culture’s treatment of both the land they inhabit, as well as the original inhabitants. Is a sense of shared custodianship potentially a way forward?
Jarmbi Githabul is a Ngarakwal / Githabul man living in the Byron Bay area of New South Wales. A community activist, traditional ceremonialist and land custodian, he is one of the founders of the R.E.A.C.H. project ‘Radical Empowerment of Australia’s Cultural Heart’. One of the principle goals of R.E.A.C.H. and its Rise Up Wise Up program is ‘to awaken the birth right role of Custodianship in all indigenous peoples, connecting them to Source and Country, recognising ceremony and connection, standing tall and proud in heritage and honouring our ancestors, to create a better, abundant world for all.’
What is your perspective on how custodianship works in the R.E.A.C.H. Model?
‘In the Reach ‘business model’ – I suppose it is, we bring in the understanding of custodianship as not just being board members to a company but being responsible for everything that company does; being responsible for everything your people do; for everything that comes out of your tribe. That’s how it works for us in the real world. When you’re responsible for something you take care of it. We’re responsible for our country even. Like the elders say in Uluru, if you fall off that mountain they feel bad, because their country is them, and they’re responsible; as if they did it themselves. As if it doesn’t matter that someone was silly and made an error in judgement and hurt themselves. The fact is that someone died on their country.
Then you should be responsible for your own actions, but not responsible to the point where it gets handed onto a government or a legal system to sort out your matters. It’s up to you. It’s too easy to lay blame or pass the buck. In today’s society there’s always someone else who can fix it up, there’s insurance companies that can patch up your accidents or whatever, you don’t have to take it personally. Anything that you do you can lay it down to the corporate structure and don’t have any personal hardship out of it.’
The real law of the land is that you are responsible for yourself and when you are recognised as being someone that is responsible it means something.
Jarmbi looking towards Uluru
What do you think about the role of custodianship in creating some reconciliation between the settlers of Australia and the Original Peoples?
‘We have that understanding that the Spirit of the Earth is being born into our youth, into everybody’s youth, everybody here today. Everyone who’s born in this country inherently comes with a bit of that spirit. The only thing I feel that gets in the way of them making something of it, or taking responsibility for it, is that they’re not supported to think that way. They’re supported to dig it up, to put it quite bluntly. They’re not supported to think of it as something that we should be taking care of. It basically comes down to people seeing indigenous people and the understandings and wisdom, and connection to spirit is not just something they go and watch a little show on – ‘someone’s playing a didgeridoo, let’s go and have a look’, like a little bit of entertainment.
Our culture is the key to the future; without it – everything is going to shit. It’s going right along the track that it’s going and everybody that stops and looks can tell it’s going to shit. But we’re sitting here, we’re waiting for people to come and talk. People like the climate council, (when) the government booted the climate council, the climate council shoulda went straight to the indigenous elders and said ‘right, let’s start linking up’. Let’s put the wisdom behind the science and we’ll start showing the world exactly what’s going on. There’s all the stories, all the star lore and all that sort of stuff that comes into the climate and everything to do with everything. We engender all parts of life.’
That sort of understanding needs to come in. Let’s have a look underneath our feet for the answers. There’s plenty of answers there, it’s all there. We’ve just gotta look. People have got to be supported to look.
A Welcome to Country ceremony at Limmen National Park in Western Australia
What is the relationship between sovereignty and custodianship?
‘As sovereign beings we know our connection to the Earth. We know that we are custodians because we are born of the mother and the father. So we know. We know where we are, we know where we stand, we know our responsibility here and we also know our responsibility to each other. So for custodianship to be fully recognised your sovereignty does need to be recognised as well.
Where were you born, you were born in that area, that’s where you’re a custodian from. Where’s your bloodline, where’s your heritage? All of that comes in to making you who you are. There you go, you’re recognised, we receive you. Are you a respectful person, can we have a look? Yes, we see what you do. You do good things, you don’t talk bad about people. If you have an issue with someone you go straight up to them. There’s no need to run anyone down or do anything stupid because you know yourself, you know what you’re about. There’s no need to lash out, no craziness. You’re responsible for yourself and everything around you.
People get that from an understanding of sovereignty, that you are that. When we had our initiation stages, it was recognising that you are a sovereign spirit. That you are respectful, you are someone who looks after their own affairs. We can proudly send you out into the world to go walk-about and know that you can carry our name and you’re not going to dirty our name up. When you walk through someone else’s country you’re not going to do something stupid. You’re not going to do something stupid, you’re not going to steal their women. Or if you do you’re going to take responsibility, you’re not going to lie about. That’s the thing, you stand there and you say ‘yeah I did it, I mucked up – I’m gonna get boondy, I’m gonna get speared in the leg, yeah’. Take responsibility.
If someone’s thinking about custodianship for the first time, what would do you say to them. What’s the first step that you need to take?’
Who are you, or what are you? Sovereign spirit, born between a mother and father. put here on this place to learn and to take care of it as you go through. So taking care of this Earth, sacred sites. You know, doing the ceremonies that it takes in order to put back in. It’s just the basic stuff.
‘Connect in. Figure out who you are first and then walk it. Walk as you, and other people who walk as themselves and have respect in themselves will find it easy to respect you. Otherwise, if people who are giving you respect don’t respect themselves, it’s not true respect. Because true respect can only be given by someone who is respectful.’
You can find out more about R.E.A.C.H. and Jarmbi’s work at their website: R.E.A.C.H.
Cetologists observe, document, and decipher evidence that points to a profound intelligence dwelling in the oceans. It is an intelligence that predates our own evolution as intelligent primates by millions of years. – Paul Watson
I had a profound experience while kayaking in Hawaii this past winter with friends. We were visited by a whale and there is no doubt that this majestic being was coherent, aware of us, and enjoying our company as much as we were enjoying his. We put our snorkeling masks on and jumped in and could easily see the whale gently make eye contact with each of us. With one thrust of his tail he could have left in an instant but he stayed with us for over an hour. A mammal with a brain bigger than ours and complex migration songs that change every year, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of thoughts could be going through his mind. The recent piece by Dawn Agnos on UPLIFT about a conversation with a horse shows that emotional intelligence and empathy are a language that many animals understand. It was only recently that terms like emotional intelligence emerged and it is interesting to consider that there are many different kinds of intelligence. Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd makes a good argument in a recent Facebook post that perhaps humans concept of intelligence is anthropocentric and lacking in breadth.
Watson starts early in his essay with the bold assertion that, “Biological science is provoking us to shatter our image of human superiority.” Though indigenous wisdom has always considered humans a part of the circle of life rather than above it, that sentiment has almost been completely destroyed by generations of colonial indoctrination. The very roots of colonial indoctrination not only conclude that humans are superior to all other life forms, it also considers some humans as superior to others. Social Darwinism, a myth, was an effort to use science to validate the behavior of employing superior weaponry to oppress other humans. Though we owe much respect to western science we must also understand the cultural and religious backdrop from which this discipline emerged. We must also be willing to explore the assumptions within science if we are to evolve it.
Rupert Sheldrake attempted to do this during a TED Talk entitled, The Science Delusion and his presentations was banned. This is not to say that Sheldrake is right and all of science is wrong, that is too simplistic. It is merely an opportunity to open a dialogue about assumptions within science that the scientific community may or may not be willing to consider. I mention it in the context of considering the humble notion that humans may not posses the highest form of intelligence on the planet. If for no other reason than amusement, just open your mind and consider…
Mammals like us, who have been on the planet a whole lot longer than us, who also have larger brains than us, is interesting to reflect on. We humans pride ourselves on technology, on creating tools, gadgets and machines. Of course it is easy to consider that intelligence is based on technology. Then there is the idea of emotional intelligence which acknowledges a form of intelligence which is internal, can not be easily measured empirically but plays a major role in the success of an individual. Intuition, compassion, empathy are usually considered feelings, but these are skills, non-physical tools that we can use to ascend the social ladder. Meditation could also be considered a non-physical tool that changes our biology, reduces stress and opens the mind. We may be at the very beginning of understanding that tools do not need to be physical or easily measurable by traditional science in order to be valuable.
We willingly accept the idea of intelligence in a life-form only if the intelligence displayed is on the same evolutionary wavelength as our own. Technology automatically indicates intelligence. An absence of technology translates into an absence of intelligence.
Dolphins and whales do not display intelligence in a fashion recognizable to this conditioned perception of what intelligence is, and thus for the most part, we are blind to a broader definition of what intelligence can be.
Evolution molds our projection of intelligence. Humans evolved as tool-makers, obsessed with danger and group aggression. This makes it very difficult for us to comprehend intelligent non-manipulative beings whose evolutionary history featured ample food supplies and an absence of fear from external dangers. – Paul Watson
Again it is important to recognize how this attitude has not only been applied to animals, but also to indigenous people historically. How we define intelligence is restricted to our definition of intelligence. Are we willing to broaden our definition of intelligence?
Intelligence can also be measured by the ability to live within the bounds of the laws of ecology — to live in harmony with one’s own ecology and to recognize the limitations placed on each species by the needs of an ecosystem. Is the species that dwells peacefully within its habitat with respect for the rights of other species the one that is inferior? Or is it the species that wages a holy war against its habitat, destroying all species that irritate it? What can be said of a species that reproduces beyond the ability of its habitat to support it? What do we make of a species that destroys the diversity that sustains the ecosystem that nourishes it? How is a species to be judged that fouls its water and poisons its own food? On the other hand, how is a species that has lived harmoniously within the boundaries of its ecology to be judged? – Paul Watson
Watson gets very in-depth and cites the research which compares cranial capacity, and brain complexity between humans and sea mammals. At the very least this information is humbling. Paul Watson has given us a lot to think about, but probably the greatest gift in his essay can be summarized by this quote:
It’s not enough to understand the natural world, the point is to defend and preserve it. – Edward Abbey
Watson is not merely a philosopher, he puts his words and beliefs into action. For 35 years, Captain Paul Watson has been at the helm of the world’s most active marine non-profit organization – the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I highly recommend reading the entire essay which is available here.
To even consider that we are not superior to other species is delightfully humbling. It can restore a child-like sense of awe for life which also inspires a desire to preserve our environment. Our tools are wonderful, our science is also wonderful, but it should be used to celebrate and elevate all of life. We must consider that the unconscious, disrespectful use of our tools and science can create unimaginable destruction for ourselves and other species. A healthy future includes humans who are aware of this and who live within the bounds of their ecosystem. We have the ability to create worlds or destroy ourselves. How do you want to live your life?
A dolphin is lifted via crane into the tanks
at Taiji’s Dolphin Resort
Photo: Sea ShepherdOn this Earth Day 2015, there is major news to report from The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). The organization has today announced that it has suspended the membership of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) because JAZA has refused to prohibit its member aquariums from taking dolphins captured in Taiji, Japan’s brutal drive hunt.
In a statement released today, April 22, 2015, WAZA writes, “The basis for the suspension is a determination that JAZA has violated the WAZA Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare. Moreover, WAZA Council re-affirmed its position that members of WAZA must confirm that they will not acquire dolphins from the Taiji fishery.”
Each year since 2010, Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians have been on the ground in Taiji daily throughout the six-month drive hunt season – which spans from September 1 until March – documenting and live streaming every capture and slaughter of dolphins and small whales as part of our Operation Infinite Patience campaign, ensuring the eyes of the world remain on Taiji’s infamous killing cove. Our Cove Guardian volunteers have documented time and time again the inextricable link between captivity and the slaughter. In Taiji, dolphin killers and trainers work side-by-side to hand-pick the “prettiest” dolphins (those without visible scars) to be sold for captivity. This occurs simultaneously to the slaughter process, and newly imprisoned captive dolphins must witness the murder of their family members before their very eyes. Those taken captive are transported to Taiji Harbor’s holding pens or are immediately taken to one of three captive facilities in Taiji. Some are ultimately sold to other aquariums in Japan or overseas to end up in China, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
The captive trade is the true reason for the drive hunt in Taiji, the economic fuel that drives the hunting boats each day. Just one captive dolphin can be sold for $100,000 USD or more.
A bottlenose dolphin struggles during
the violent captive selection process
Photo: Sea ShepherdSea Shepherd supports WAZA’s decision to suspend the membership of JAZA for its role in Taiji’s horrific massacre of wild cetaceans. While we are elated to hear this long-overdue announcement, we also stand in firm opposition to the confinement of highly intelligent and socially complex whales and dolphins in captivity at WAZA aquariums, swim-with-dolphin programs and other captive facilities that continue to drive the demand for captive dolphins, and the wild captures still occurring around the world. These highly intelligent, sentient and socially complex marine mammals belong in the open ocean where they can engage in their natural behaviors and live in their natural family groups — not performing tricks for food in concrete bathtubs while being subjected to loud music and noisy crowds.
Still, WAZA’s suspension of JAZA’s membership is a major step toward ending Taiji’s inhumane hunt that so brutally claims the lives of thousands of wild, migrating dolphins and whales each year. Even as an entity that is all about the captivity industry, today WAZA has taken an important step to distance itself from the slaughter that turns the waters of Taiji red with blood – blood that WAZA does not want on its hands. The tide is turning. One day, the cove will be a permanent and peaceful blue and profiting from the suffering of these familial and intelligent beings will be a practice driven into the past.
It’s a heartbreaking yet familiar scene. Oil disasters of catastrophic proportions, seeping and sludging all over marine and coastal habitats; hundreds of dead seabirds and dolphins; sick residents and failing coastal economies. The same irrevocable accidents continue to occur. It’s easy to see history repeating itself, posing the inevitable question: will we ever learn from our mistakes?
As the five-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster approaches on April 20, the effects of this devastating accident are still raw throughout the Gulf of Mexico. The 2010 catastrophe spewed approximately 210 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in America’s worst environmental crisis to date and the second largest oil disaster in world history next to the 1991 Gulf War spill, during which Iraqi forces intentionally released 252-336 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf. British Petroleum (BP) has paid over $28 billion in damage claims and cleanup costs and pleaded guilty to criminal charges, including manslaughter for the 11 men killed when the oil rig exploded. United States District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier found BP to be grossly negligent – a charge that may result in additional fines amounting to $18 billion in new civil penalties (far surpassing the $3.5 billion BP initially reserved) pending a federal investigation by a court in New Orleans. The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) was restructured to separate the agency that oversees safety from the one that oversees revenue collection. Most of the major challenges from this tragedy may appear to be nearly resolved, but that is far from the case.
The ecosystems and communities affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster are far from healed. They are sick and they are struggling. Gulf Coast communities still haven’t received the billions of dollars they were promised. Some of the most distressing effects of Deepwater Horizon are still being discovered, with a new study recently published in the journal PLOS One suggesting that Corexit 9500 – the chemical most widely used to disperse oil in the Gulf of Mexico – likely caused respiratory damage in exposed humans and marine life by degrading cell tissues found in their lungs and gills.
Last month, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) published an annual report titled Five Years and Counting: Gulf wildlife in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which provides a comprehensive analysis of publicly available research on the effects of the disaster on the Gulf ecosystem. The federal government is still building its case against BP for the ongoing trial so not all research findings have been released, but the available evidence underscores how much damage persists in the Gulf today as well as the fact that it may take decades for researchers to properly assess the full scale of the disaster.
The following excerpt from the NWF report summarizes its findings:
Last year, Dr. Barbara Block and her team from Stanford University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that crude oil interferes with fish heart cells, giving fish like tuna in the Gulf heart attacks. National Geographic reports that the oil also killed mangrove trees, causing islands such as Cat Island to wash away at a greater rate and removing nesting habitat for pelicans. BP has claimed in its own study that marine life in the Gulf is recovering and remaining damage is negligible.
Watchdog researchers like Dr. Bonny Schumaker of On Wings of Care – a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wildlife, wild habitat, and natural ecosystems – and Dr. Mandy Joye, an oil spill expert and founder of the Joye Research Group at University of Georgia, are working tirelessly to expose the extent of the Deepwater disaster. On Wings of Care has flown with members of the U.S. Coast Guard, researchers, political leaders and the media over the Gulf to monitor and document oil slicks and marine life. “The scientists that I would take out, they were absolutely changed once I took them out there in the plane and they saw with their own eyes,” Schumaker said in an interview with Oceana. “We were flying over miles and miles and miles of nonstop oil… that’s when they realized that this is really bad.”
While the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster is the largest in American history, it certainly isn’t the only source of oil causing damage to our ocean and coastlines today. Oil leaks and spills from offshore drilling and transport equipment all the time, and oil disasters occur far more frequently than reported. The Department of Interior (DOI) reports that the number of offshore oil-related accidents and injuries has increased per oil producing well since 2010 in American waters. The U.S. government has made changes to its offshore oil drilling policies and safety protocols, including new regulations announced this month for the design, operation and maintenance of oil well blowout preventers. The DOI now requires access to “containment dome technology” – a dome that can cover an exploded well to prevent gushing oil from spreading – for any company performing deep sea drilling in the Gulf, and nearly doubled the number of safety inspectors in the area. The Environmental Protection Agency is also reviewing its policies governing the use of dispersants and other chemical and biological products on oil spills in U.S. waters, and is accepting public comments through April 22. However, the Obama Administration recently approved an expansion of oil exploration along the Atlantic coast and the DOI is now reviewing a proposal to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea off the Alaskan coast.
If the United States is to move into an era of foreign oil independence and protect its natural environment from the atrocious and avoidable effects of deepwater drilling accidents (not to mention climate change and ocean acidification), we must prioritize renewable energy solutions and wean ourselves from oil. It’s that simple. As Dr. Sylvia Earle says, “Just as we have the power to harm the ocean, we have the power to put in place policies and modify our own behavior in ways that would be an insurance policy for the future of the sea, for the creatures there, and for us, protecting special critical areas in the ocean.”
Submit comments on the EPA’s proposed new rules governing the use of dispersants and other chemical and biological products on oil spills in U.S. waters through Wednesday, April 22 (Earth Day) HERE.
A new film by Margaret Brown explores the fallout from Deepwater Horizon in the lives of Americans in the southern U.S. The Great Invisible premieres Monday, April 20, at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Pivot TV.
An urgent message from representatives of the original people of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Having people visit here, like these elders – they don’t do this sort of trip for nothing. They get their directions straight from the Mother.
– Jarmbi, Githabul/Ngarakwal tribe
In late 2014, representatives of the original people of La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta came down from their sacred mountain in Columbia to deliver an urgent message and sacred invitation to Humanity on behalf of Mother Earth. The following shares a glimpse into the origin of their mission and the vital essence of their journey to bring us back into alignment with Life Originating Principles.
Just 42km from Columbia’s Caribbean coastline and rising up to 5,700m above sea level (nearly 19,000 feet), La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is an isolated coastal mountain range with rich volcanic soil and a diverse ecosystem. To the four indigenous tribes who live there, La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the beating heart of the world.
When the Spanish first arrived in Colombia in the 16th century, they found an advanced civilization practicing sustainable farming and producing extraordinary gold and pottery work. When these people were driven into the mountain by conquistadors in the 16th century, they chose to stay there in isolation in order to protect their culture and maintain the ecological and spiritual equilibrium of the mountain.
Living by a deeply ecological philosophy (which they call the ‘Law of Origin’) that guides their relationship to nature, animals and the movements of the planets and stars, the original people of La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta have continued to live much in the way they have always lived from the very beginning. Through daily meditations, sacred ritual and spiritual discipline, they maintain a deep connection to Mother Earth and a commitment to preserving and restoring her vitality in the region and the world.
Known to many as Guardians of the Earth, the four tribes of the region believe that La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a barometer for the rest of the planet… If rivers run dry or animal species disappear in La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, so too will rivers run dry and animals disappear in the rest of the world. In recent decades, the encroachment of modern civilization – including land development, deforestation, mining, drug crop cultivation and civil war (to name a few) – has called the people to come back into the World with an urgent message.
Mamo Miguel Arroyo and leader of the Iku Nation Ñankwa Chaparro
Late in 2014, Elders of Munvwameke and Numaka, Nabusimake sent representatives (including spiritual leader or ‘Mamo’ Miguel Arroyo – Iku and leader of the Iku Nation, Ñankwa Chaparro) to join with elders and wisdom keepers of other tribes and lands to initiate a ‘Unification Process for the awareness in collective consciousness of Life Originating Principles’. They came with the focus of activating healing in key sacred sites and to call forth humanity to realize that it is time to reclaim our connection to the Original Constitution of Mother Earth. The Earth is calling for our help and it is time for us all to answer.
Many of us are working for human rights and the rights of nature within legal frameworks locally and nationally. Yet even before any of these legal frameworks were created, Mother Earth was birthed with her rights to her natural constitution… Just like when the human being is born we are born with rites… So the mission statement would be to return the original rites of mother earth back to her natural constitution. Understanding too that we are part of this natural constitution of Mother Earth.
– Nelson Caraballo, in function of the Mother as well as the Spiritual Authority of Munvwameke.
Joined by representatives from the Otomi and Mexica in Central America and Diné from North America, the Mamos journeyed to sacred sites in Durango, Colorado in the US; Mt. Fuji, Japan; and Uluru, Australia. There were two fundamental aims: to bring healing and activation to these key energetic centers of the planet and to raise human consciousness toward the need for unification; calling forth humanity to join them in a deep personal commitment to heal and restore Mother Earth.
Uncle Bob Randall
The whole aim of both our cultures is to let the world see that they too belong to the same family and to start caring for the land, for the environment, for the waterways, the mountains, trees and every other living thing on the land as their brothers and sisters and other family members… That’s the way our people teach us when we are growing up. You are not owners of anything. Mother Earth owns you and you look after her just the same way that you would look after your mother here.
– Uncle Bob Randall, Yankunytjatjara Elder and a traditional caretaker of Uluru
During their time in Uluru, the group (including representatives of the original peoples of La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in conjunction with representatives of the Otomi and Mexica from Central America and Diné from North America) together wrote a formal invocation to humanity which has been titled The Declaration to Restore Mother Earth.
From Uluru, the group journeyed to the easterly most point of Australia in Byron Bay, where they were greeted by members of local and regional indigenous tribes and welcomed to UPLIFT 2014. On Sunday the 14th of December, the festival participants and webcast audience around the world paused in profound silence, joining hands in a great circle as The Declaration to Restore Mother Earth was read aloud. Each person was invited to listen deeply to their own unique calling and to recognize the critical role we each play in bringing about the healing and restoration of our planet.
Joining hands during The Declaration to Restore Mother Earth at UPLIFT
As a first step, the representatives of the people of the Earth of La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta invite us to join them in signing the Declaration to Restore Mother Earth. As a second vital step, we must each be willing to examine our own relationship to Mother Earth and discover the simple yet profound steps we can each take to contribute to the healing and vitality of our planet on a daily basis.
If you knew that that your thoughts and actions, energy and intentions played a critical role in the vitality of our planet, what simple action could you take today to honor your relationship and the sacred rites of Mother Earth?