Culture & Knowledge: Crucial for a Sustainable Future

At the 37th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures four featured panelists will assemble after Winona LaDuke’s keynote to discuss a variety of topics ranging from land reform, stewarding the commons, solidarity between grassroots movements, to the question of how to transition toward local, living economies.

The theme of the event is "Choosing the Path that is Green". In their own way, each panelist has chosen this path by empowering their communities through training leaders, strengthening cultural identity, and promoting direct action.

One of these panelists is Robert Hawk Storm Birch, hereditary Sachem (Chief) of the Schaghticoke First Nations, whose reservation is bordered by Connecticut and New York.In 2014, Hawk Storm worked with a group of indigenous advisors to have the the United Nations Declaration of the Right of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) adopted the all heads of state of all signatory countries. and is currently undertaking the work of advancing those rights in a practical way on a local level in his community.

“Yes, it was a success,” Hawk Storm said in regard to the UN Declaration, “and yet still there is a lot of work to be done. Not just with the states, with which we have no means of implementation, but also with indigenous communities to adopt these ideals into their own constitutions… If [indigenous communities] have the information to work with, then they'll be able to move forward in a more sustainable way with their own local communities.”

And it is for precisely this reason that Hawk Storm is now leading the effort to build a cultural center for the Schaghticoke First Nations.

He said that this cultural center will provide a solid foundation for future generations to grow and build upon— by training the youth in peer leadership skills, teaching them to understand holistic as well as sustainable ways of living, and allowing them to remain connected with their language and their culture.

“I believe that bringing people back culturally and bringing language back to our own people helps give them a greater sense of worth and purpose in the community.” Hawk Storm told us, “I believe that through building cultural centers, which gives a platform for teaching these things in Indigenous communities, not only allows the communities themselves to regain access to their own cultural knowledge, but also [provides] a platform to work with local communities on sustainability projects.”

Looking towards the future, Hawk Storm said that on behalf of the Schaghticoke he is working to create a world that is in alignment with 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including work on “clean energy reform, bringing the knowledge of alternatives to the local community [and] passing the knowledge on to the children, who will of course be on the forefront of what needs to happen right now.”

He also said that in order to choose the correct path for the future, it is necessary to start from within and “with our children— reintroducing culture, re-indigenizing people, and decolonization of the Mind”

Don’t miss the chance to hear Hawk Storm speak with Karissa Lewis and Gopal Dayaneni on the panel hosted by Nwamaka Agbo on November 4th at the 37Th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures If you are in the area, we would love to see you there—just make sure to book your tickets soon.

If you are unable to attend, the keynote lecture and panel discussion will be available on our YouTube Channel and we will notify you when we have printed pamphlet versions of their conversation available for purchase.