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SOSTENGA

ON GREGORY CAJETE’S NATIVE SCIENCE:


NATURAL LAWS OF INTERDEPENDENCE
C B

T here are many opportunities for hu-


man activity to integrate more syn-
ergistically with the delicate balances of
a school campus for buildings in a region
of rolling green golf courses where water
availability for future generations is in
to consider how our deepest roots re-
side in our ability to work in tandem,
as part of the natural systems of which
self a student of sustainability. As issues
of climate change and protection of local
food and water systems abound, Native
nature. Over many centuries most of the question, there remains an opportunity we are included. Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence
human race has somehow been taught to be reminded that we exist in an in- offers the traditional perspective neces-
and subscribes to the concept that exis- terrelated system where our actions have In this book Dr. Cajete evaluates and sary in a formula that requires that tradi-
tence and nature are possessions, e.g. “it’s long term ripple effects. explains the sciences of astronomy, bo- tion and innovation are crucial in dealing
your life” and “our water.” Over time, and tanical medicine, psychology, agricul- with such complex issues. It provides the
in the interest of survival, many of our “Healthy environment, healthy culture, ture, and cosmology from the Native reader an opportunity to reflect on one’s
daily activities involve “fighting the ele- healthy people,” is the defining premise perspective of various tribal groups. own traditions, culture and relationship
ments,” especially when there is seasonal of sustainability as described in A People’s The perspective is grounded in the un- to nature.
change. As human beings we seek to Ecology: Explorations in Sustainable Liv- derstanding that the notion of “place”
learn more about the world in which we ing (Clear Light, 1999), edited by Dr. has much deeper meaning than basic In these times as Northern New Mex-
live, and for better or worse, name it and Gregory Cajete, a Santa Clara Pueblo location. Cajete provides his perspec- ico continues to build on a special but
master it. Sustainability, in the interest Native and Associate Professor at the tive as both a studied scholar and one not unique relationship to China by
of preservation of the environment and University of New Mexico. The book who is indigenous to the information utilizing consumer goods that may
resources for future generations, requires is a compilation of essays revealing tra- that he provides. continue to redefine our landscape
that we reflect on the temporary nature dition as sustainability in the area of as waste, Cajete reminds us that the
of our time on Earth and acknowledge diet and health of the Native peoples As Dr. Cajete’s explanation and analysis traditional Native perspective is that
that our actions and behaviors are inte- of the United States and Mexico. It is illustrates that traditional Native science “place” is comprised of interconnected
gral to an overall system upon which we upon the premise of “Healthy environ- starts with intrinsic recognition of the elements that establish the whole of
rely for our existence and for that of fu- ment, healthy culture, healthy people,” law of interconnectedness, he also pro- community – where humanity is part
ture generations. that Northern New Mexico College vides a perspective that observes human- of the whole of a community ecosys-
established a baccalaureate degree in ity “as part of ” versus “in opposition to” tem. He describes a relationship be-
On each extreme there are those who Environmental Science in 2006, and the nature, and illuminates opportunities to tween sacred and science, where un-
believe that the natural systems should ¡Sostenga! Center for Sustainable Food, engineer from the premise of intercon- derstanding does not mean to conquer
have no human interface in order to be Agriculture, and Environment in 2007. nected systems, rather than control and or possess, but to exist synergistically.
healthy; and on the other side are those manipulation. Cajete states that modern
who hold solely an instrumental value, Though the book is now ten years old, society would likely not be facing such C a m i l l a
that nature is to be used and manipulat- questions of sustainability if the tradi- Bustamante,
I recently read Native Science: Natural
PhD, MPH is
ed for human purpose. The good news is Laws of Interdependence (Clear Light, tional Native science of interconnect- Chair of Math
that typical of any normal statistical dis- 1999) written by Dr. Gregory Cajete. edness had not run in conflict with the and Sciences at
tribution, the majority of the population This book is relevant in reminding us need to control. Northern NM
seeks to find the balance for our role in that we are all part of this intrinsi- College. Email
c b u s ta m a n te @
the natural environment. As hills are lev- cally interrelated system. And though Though this book lends itself to most
nnmc.edu.
eled and trees are cleared for the Super based on the sciences as viewed by audiences interested in traditional Na-
WalMart that was approved in 2005 in indigenous tribes in the Americas, it tive culture, it is a good reference for ¥ 3ETH 2OFFMAN
south Santa Fe, and trees are cleared on provides an opportunity for the reader anyone who might consider him or her-

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