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Sustainability Events

How Traditional Knowledge Can Help Save the Planet

Simon Ortiz

  • Regents' Professor of English and American Indian Studies, Arizona State University

Ed Dee

  • Doctoral Student, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Chris Rainier, Moderator

  • Director, Global Program for Traditional Knowledge and Sustainability, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
  • Walton Sustainability Fellow, Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, Arizona State University

What does traditional ecological knowledge mean? What role can it play in today’s world? Can local traditional knowledge solutions be scaled to a global platform? How do traditional knowledge stories play a role in teaching future generations to treat the planet and all of its elements in a different way? These are a few of the questions that will be explored in this conversation, moderated by Chris Rainier, director of the Global Program for Traditional Knowledge and Sustainability.

Simon J. Ortiz, an Acoma tribal member, poet, writer, scholar, activist thinker, father and grandfather, former Acoma tribal leader, Program Manager and Managing Editor of RED INK: International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, & Humanities, is author and editor of over 20 books, including Woven Stone, After and Before the Lightning, Out There Somewhere, Beyond the Reach of Time and Change, and The Good Rainbow Road. While Ortiz has always spoken from within the Indigenous world view of Acoma and other Indigenous peoples of the Americas in his prose and poetry, he has turned his attention to Indigenous traditional sustainability since sustainability is at the heart, soul, and mind of Indigenous peoples. Without the Indigenous principle of sustainability that is essentially at the core of the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the natural environment and the world around them, there is no Existence.

Ed Dee’s perspective on sustainability is grounded in Diné Life, the sacred invocation Sa’ah Naghai Bik’eh Hozho, translated as journeying in to old age by way of beauty and regeneration. As explained in Navajo, Sa’ah Naghai is the male principle, and Bik’eh Hozho is the female counterpart tutelary. This concept places major emphasis on powers of vitality, invoked for their strength and all-encompassing importance in Navajo sand painting as sources for renewal. Dee's proposed whole system approach in renewable energy development attempts to follow a similar “horizontal” model that offers renewal and balance. The crux of his research focuses on Navajo Fundamental Law based on Diné philosophy, in the context of examining innovative and solution-driven sustainable energy development from an all-encompassing Diné world view.

Chris Rainier has been involved with documenting and assisting Indigenous communities around the globe to maintain and amplify their traditional language and knowledge using the power of social media technology. Rainier is a National Geographic Society Explorer and documentary photographer who is highly respected for his documentation of endangered cultures and languages around the globe. In 2002, he was awarded the Lowell Thomas Award by the Explorers Club for his efforts on cultural preservation, and he is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society of London, specializing in Cultural Studies.

Lunch will be provided.

Here is to the Traditional Knowledge Conversation recording :

TKC with Simon Ortiz and Edward Dee

TKC with Stephanie Rupp

Friday, September 11, 2015
12:00 - 1:30 p.m.