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Editorial Reflections

Indigenous knowledges help fight climate change


In fighting climate change, we need to incorporate indigenous knowledges.

As we continue to struggle with the issue of climate change, some scientific research has been working to provide critical information on how climate change affects our world. In addition, scientists have attempted to provide us with knowledge of how to resist and fight this disaster.

In order for us to fight this disaster, we must open up and include the knowledge, practices and wisdom of indigenous people in these discussions at the global level. This knowledge has been suppressed, subjugated and ignored for too long.

For Pacific Islanders, fighting climate change is fighting for our life. That fight cannot be won with scientific knowledge alone. This knowledge helps us prepare for the future.

Being suppressed and ignored, indigenous knowledges have not been well collected or documented. We have to work together to retrieve, preserve and put them to good use before they are washed away and lost.

(Note the use of "knowledges" here is an expression in a multicultural context. Knowledge is not static everywhere but there are many indigenous knowledges or indigenous ways of understanding that people have acquired by long-term observation and experience in one place, necessary for their survival and long-term planning.)

These indigenous knowledges have been passed on from generation to generation. They have already proven effective not only through scientific experiments but also through real life experiences over many generations.

Indigenous people, through exposure and direct constant contact with a wide range of ever-changing environments, continue to acquire knowledge that helps them minimize the risks in more natural ways that are not harmful to the environment and humanity.

I remember growing up on our small Islands in Tonga, where we rely on the traditional weather cycles for many years. Although it is harder now because of climate change, it has proven effective in our way of living.

One of the traditional Tongan knowledges is that the breadfruit season comes at the beginning of every year. When the breadfruit produces heavy fruit, it indicates that there will be a cyclone coming that year.

If we allow some time to learn more about such traditional knowledges from different indigenous communities, we may be surprised to discover that there are close connections and relations between indigenous knowledges and some scientific knowledges.

Their co-existence will provide us with more resources to fight the coming natural disasters. This is a good time not only to continue collecting and storing these understandings but also to be sure to teach them to current and future generations, for they are the keepers of this earth now and in the future.

Ikani Fakasiieiki – Guest Editorial

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, June, 2022