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National Catholic Review: Authors take the environmental movement to task

By Eric Anglada
National Catholic Review

As We Have Always Done (Leanne Betasamosake Simpson)Given the trajectory of recent human history, it would seem wise to seek alternate voices, not only to help us understand how we got to the present moment, but also to inspire us in how to move forward.

One obvious choice is Leanne Betasamosake Simpson's blistering new manifesto, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance. An academic, activist and member of the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg tribe on the north shore of Lake Ontario, Canada, Simpson places the environmental crisis within a broader context of what she calls "settler colonialism": violence toward indigenous peoples and dispossession of indigenous land.

Simpson writes of her ancestral lands, the impact of European settlement and ecocide, mandatory residential schools for Indian children, gender violence and four centuries of removal. "Our most sacred places have been made into provincial parks for tourists," she says.

In contrast to the devastation wrought by industrial capitalism, Simpson's proposed alternative takes the form of her culture. Her Nishnaabeg community systems, she notes, are "designed to generate life — not just human life, but the life of all living things."

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As We Have Always Done