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AMERICAN INDIANS: ‘EARTH MOTHER GETTING ANGRY’

TAKING STEPS: IN CALIFORNIA, MINNESOTA, NEW MEXICO, AND ELSEWHERE, TRIBES HAVE USED SOME OF THEIR CASINO PROFITS TO START ALTERNATIVE OR RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS, INCLUDING BIOMASS-FUELED POWER PLANTS

CryingIndian.jpg From New Hampshire to California, American Indian leaders are speaking out more forcefully about the danger of climate change.

Members of six tribes recently gathered near the Baker River in the White Mountains for a sacred ceremony honoring “Earth Mother.” Talking Hawk, a Mohawk Indian who asked to be identified by his Indian name, pointed to the river’s tea-colored water as proof that the overwhelming amount of pollution humans have produced has caused changes around the globe.

“It’s August color. It’s not normal,” he said.

“Earth Mother is fighting back – not only from the four winds, but also from underneath,” he said. “Scientists call it global warming. We call it Earth Mother getting angry.”

At a United Nations meeting last month, several American Indian leaders spoke at a session called “Indigenous Perspectives on Climate Change.” Also in May, tribal representatives from Alaska and northern Canada – where pack ice has vanished earlier and earlier each spring – traveled to Washington to press their case.

Those who study American Indian culture believe their presence in the debate could be influential. They point to “The Crying Indian,” (View Commercial) one of the country’s most influential public-service TV ads.

In the spot, actor Iron Eyes Cody, in a buckskin suit, paddles a canoe up a trash-strewn urban creek and then stands by a busy highway cluttered with litter. The ad, which aired in the 1970s, ends with a close-up of Cody, shedding a single tear after a passing motorist throws trash at his feet.

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