By Charlie Amáyá Scott
This is a cute culture sharing trend that I wanted to be a part of while also highlighting some key information on this annual Earth Day about Indigenous Peoples. In the TikTok, I shared that Indigenous Peoples represent about 5% of the world’s population, manage (or are in relations) with 25% of the world’s land mass, and protect or are responsible for about 80% of the world’s biodiversity.
With this ongoing pandemic, many individuals on the internet have mentioned how there has been less pollution and that animals have been thriving or living their life without the worries of human interference. With all of this praise, there is a popular sentiment that COVID-19 is a cleanse made by the world and that humans are the virus. We are not.
Indigenous Peoples have been able to co-exist and have intentional relationships with the Earth that span over a millenia. To this day, many Indigenous communities protect and defend the world no matter the consequences. Yet, centuries of exploitation and extraction of resources and pollution of water and food sources are intimately connected to systems of capitalism and colonialism.
On this Earth Day, environmental protection requires calling out these systems and supporting the sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples and their relationship to all of creation. It is not Indigenous Peoples, or humans overall, who are the virus. It is systems of capitalism and colonialism who are.
Charlie A. Scott (Diné) is a non-binary Indigenous femme who is a doctoral student at the University of Denver studying higher education.