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Rebecca Adamson: What Modern Society Can Learn from Indigenous Economies

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Cherokee economist and founder of First Peoples Worldwide, Rebecca Adamson is a long-time advocate for indigenous rights who negotiates with the United Nations, Shell and other international corporations to respect indigenous peoples and prioritize sustainability. Here, Adamson explains the importance of values in economic systems, and how we can learn about alternative economic system from indigenous cultures.

Watch the full video ‘Rebecca Adamson: Indigenous Perspectives on Sustainability & Business’ HERE

Rebecca Adamson - GlobalLeadership.TVRebecca Adamson: “I believe every society organizes itself socially, politically, economically according to its values. From their worldview, they have a set of values and they begin organizing their societies, whether it is the political or the social.

And we can look at conservation in the current society and an indigenous society. Over here we’re going to just pollute where we will, and then we’re going to set up some national parks. And if we just set up 20% of the land surface in National Parks then, and we’ll make them pristine and take all the people out, and then we’ve got a balance. Well, I don’t even know if it’s a balance but then we’re ‘okay.’ But, the rest of us don’t have to be responsible then. We don’t have that connection to nature anymore. We can do what we want and we’ll just keep this nature over here by itself being nature.

The indigenous paradigm sees all of this as nature. The paradigm is one of protection and production, production and protection.

The indigenous paradigm sees all of this as nature. The paradigm is one of protection and production, production and protection. You protected your place because it produced for you, and it produced for you because you protected it. So the understanding of how connected you were was one for balance. That the ultimate conservation was wherever you are you live in balance. No matter what your place you are responsible for balance and harmony. If we can get some of these paradigms into our business models today, and our conservation models, it will change the model, but it also addresses the problems we face right now, in such a sophisticated way.

ferns in redwood forest

photo by A. Okawa

We are in a fear-based economy. If we believe the economic paradigm of scarcity of resources and individual insatiable appetites, then you automatically design a system for accumulation.

We are in a fear-based economy. If we believe the economic paradigm of scarcity of resources and individual insatiable appetites, then you automatically design a system for accumulation, because we’re going to run out so you better get yours, and competition because I got to get mine before you get your because we’re going to run out.

Clear-cut Trees

photo by Nilsson Lee

That is so fear based, and yet you’re seeing it does work. We’ve got a few people that have hoarded a lot of stuff, and accumulated a great deal, and a lot of people trying to get there and we are going to run out.

An indigenous paradigm in an economic sense has always been one of prosperity of creation…there’s a prosperity of creation and a kinship sense of ‘enough-ness.’ I’m going to take what I need so that you can have what you need.

An indigenous paradigm in an economic sense has always been one of prosperity of creation. We might run out of fossil fuels, someone’s got to say it, it’s absolutely true, but if you’re looking at energy, there’s wind, there’s solar, there’s energy sources we haven’t even tapped yet. But there’s a prosperity of creation and a kinship sense of ‘enough-ness.’ I’m going to take what I need so that you can have what you need.”

Watch the full video “Rebecca Adamson: Indigenous Perspectives on Sustainability & Business” HERE

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