An Indigenous Economic Model
The existing economic system in most countries is a kind of state capitalism. It produces enormous inequalities. Its extraction practices are environmentally destructive. Perhaps indigenous models provide a viable alternative. Chief Seattle was a Susquamish chief in what is now Washington State. He reportedly made these observations in an 1854 letter to U.S. President Pierce: “How can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect.” And he warned: “Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.”
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. She has been active in the indigenous movement for more than four decades and is known for her commitment to social justice issues. She is an award-winning scholar and author of such books as An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, All the Real Indians Died Off and Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment. She is the recipient of the Cultural Freedom Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Lannan Foundation.