A manifesto: Salmon Nation Declaration of Interdependence


Richard Moore

From: "Brian Hill" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Salmon Nation Declaration of Interdependence
Date: Sun, 4 May 2003 22:15:17 -0700
Organization: Institute for Cultural Ecology

Declaration of Interdependence
Johnny Sundstrom

We believe that giving, receiving and giving back are
the essence of the laws of nature. That the gift of
life and the privilege of livelihood are at the heart
of the relationship between the Earth and all of its
inhabitants. However, for too long, our people, our
economy and our behavior have been characterized more
by taking than by giving.

As a result the land has been depleted,

the waters have been fouled,

the forests have been over-harvested,

the wild sources of our food have become ever scarcer,

the air has been tainted and the atmosphere damaged,

the freedom of our great rivers has been shackled,

the natural reserves of energy production have been

and our immigrant society has overrun and decimated
indigenous cultures and the sacred places they depend

Those of our citizens who seek their livelihood from
their stewardship of nature's resources are being
priced and regulated off of their holdings and out of
their vocations.

The education of our youth is losing its support, and
its mission to develop complete and knowledgeable
citizens is being compromised by specialization,
reduced funding, and a loss of contact with the
wholeness of the world.

Our society is forgetting its elders, neglecting its
infants and ignoring the basic needs of the ill, the
injured and the disabled.

This nation has given up on trying to be the best in
the world and has settled for being the most powerful.

All of this can be directly attributed to a system
which institutionalizes rewards for greed and its
accumulation of assets, stifles the values of sharing,
penalizes stability and threatens our futures both as
species and as ecosystems.

When a people has failed to become at home in the place
where they live, it is time for change.

When abuse and exploitation of the sources of life and
sustenance have come to dominate the relationship
between a people and their environment, it is time for

When future prospects for the bounty and the beauty of
nature's gifts are in jeopardy, it is time for change.

When an economic system functions without honor, it is
time for change.

When the spiritual relationship between inhabitants and
the landscape has been eroded or lost or simply does
not exist, it is time for change.

And what kind of change is needed? What must we do to
bring about the restoration of sanity, safety,
responsibility, resource security and the simple truths
of community, compassion and charity? What must we do
here in Salmon Nation to save our people and our place
from the extinction of hope and the processes of
degradation that are continuing to encroach on all that
makes life good and enduring?

Above all, we must restore the spirit of the giveaway -
we must replenish Nature's resources so that there is
enough to be perpetually shared by our people and all
those creatures who share our habitat with us. We must
re-create a traditional basis for effort which insures
that both personal satisfaction and social status are
defined by what one can give back rather than by what
one can take. This is not new, this potlatch tradition
is ancient in this place. It has its foundation in the
historic abundance provided by the land and its waters,
and the return of this way will be welcomed by all who
embody these desires for change.

In order to do this we will have to respect, protect,
utilize and preserve the wisdom of our elders and those
who have come before us in this place.

We will need to provide equitable incentives for good
stewardship of our working lands and producing waters.

We must insure that we obligate the present and not the
future for the costs of repair, development and
maintenance of our infrastructure needs.

We must instill and encourage commitment to life-long
learning and the free discussion of ideas, at the same
time as we seek scientific consensus as a basis for
civic decision-making.

We must be prepared to defend what is rightfully ours
without becoming overburdened by the costs of fear and
insecurity. We must seek friendship and community with
all who neighbor and interact with us.

We must revel in our diversity and respect our cultures
as they are revived or invented. Traditional practices
and sacred sites must be protected.

We must rely on the mechanisms of cooperation to
accomplish our greatest goals, and guarantee that those
who do the work have rights to both fair rewards and a
voice in the decisions that design their endeavors.

Above all, we must recognize and esteem the Spirit of
this Salmon Nation as it exists within and because of
all who live, love and pass away here in this homeland
of the Thunder-beings and the birthplace of great

In order to accomplish these ends it will be necessary
to achieve self-reliance as a region with distinct
climates, terrain and culture. It will be necessary to
create our own strategies of survival and sustenance
with or without the involvement of those whose
interests are determined by factors from outside our
northwestern homeland. If, as in an earlier time, we
must sever or transcend political bonds to those who do
not share our values and our desires, then those steps
should be taken. We can no longer afford to risk the
future of our region by leaving it in the hands of
those whose vision is one of global domination at the
expense of local necessities. We can no longer sit
silent while our relationship to nature and its
resources is compromised by the forces of extraction
and profit for the benefit of distant capitals of

We must be free to determine the destiny of our people
and to share that destiny with all that co-habits this
land with us. We will be free and our Salmon Nation
will be built on the spawning grounds of the past and
in the rearing pools of the future. This will be our
gift to the givers and it will be our claim to this


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    For the movement, the relevant question is not, "Can we
    work through the political system?", but rather, "Is
    the political system one of the things that needs to be
    fundamentally transformed?"

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