Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
March 25, 2000 - Issue 06

Tom Goldtooth
by Vicki from various sources

Tom Goldtooth (Dine') is the national spokesperson for the Indigenous Environmental Network (lEN). lEN is a national, grassroots, environmental organization involved with stopping toxic and nuclear dumping on or near Indigenous lands and with leading the struggle to reform national environmental, economic and energy policies that are genocidal to Indigenous people.

He is involved with local, state, national and international issues directly related to the environmental justice movement. He advises various science and historical museums on the repatriation, deassessment and reburial of human remains and return of cultural items. He is dedicated to the empowerment of grassroots communities, maintaining Indigenous traditional values, and the protection of Indigenous rights and self-determination. He believes that to work for the struggle of protecting the earth, one has to respect the sacredness of the creative principle of women that is rooted in Mother Earth.

Tom's message and motivation can be explained by his words, "There are certain teachings that we are not in the position to change…. Within these certain teachings are values that define who we are as Indigenous Peoples." He believes that knowing who we are has to do with our connection to our heritage. It is important for us to understand the teachings of our tribes.

"Understanding these teachings helps us understand our relationship to ourselves, our family, our clan, our community, our band, our greater tribal Nation and as Indigenous Peoples worldwide." says Goldtooth.

"Not incidentally, this understanding and awareness of who we are brings with it particular responsibilities -- responsibilities based on our relationships with: the four elements of water, air, earth, and fire; plants, animals, fish, birds, insects and the smallest living organisms the earth (mother) and the sky (father) the fundamental principles of creation. And it is the maintenance of this knowledge, the acknowledgement of these responsibilities to our indigenous heritage that is essential."

"Our values define who we are as Indigenous Peoples," explains Goldtooth. "Our future generation must develop a strong sense of who we are, our foundation, and how we relate to all these things." Only then, he says, will we be able to make good career choices.

One concern that Tom has is that it is difficult to follow these principals while living in "white" societies. He cautions,
"We must be very careful and critical of each step we take in our education programs and employment options. We must stand fast in holding true to those certain values that sustained our ancestors for millennia."

Related Link:

Indigenous Environmental Network
"An alliance of Indigenous Peoples protecting the sacredness of Mother Earth and building sustainable communities."

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