Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

Monday, October 11th was Indigenous Peoples Day. In the introduction of Laudato Si, Pope Francis shares:

We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”. All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.

Solidarity is a virtuous noun. The dictionary defines it as “unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest“. We are called to be in solidarity with those most affected by climate change, including indigenous peoples. A good place to start would be to understand which indigenous peoples lived in our community before us. At St. John the Evangelist, our community inhabits the traditional land of the First People of Seattle, the Duwamish people. In fact, I would like to acknowledge the Duwamish people past and present, and honor with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish Tribe

If you live outside of Seattle, you can use the website to help you determine the indigenous peoples that came before you where you live. After acknowledging those peoples, we can look for ways to show solidarity with them. One way to show your solidarity is to lend your voice in opposing the LNG fracked gas facility being constructed by Puget Sound Energy in Tacoma on the ancestral land of the Puyallup Tribe. The construction of this facility would be terrible for many reasons, not the least is for its long-term effect on climate change, but will have an especially deleterious effect on the safety, air and water quality of the Puyallup tribal members. Read more at Earth Ministry’s Tacoma LNG page at

We can learn how to be better stewards of the land and water by looking to and learning from our brothers and sisters of Duwamish, Puyallup, and other indigenous peoples. Professors at Cornell University are leading a project that “brings together Indigenous and rural communities and scholars from across the globe to develop ecological calendars that integrate local cultural systems with seasonal indicators.” You can read more about this collaboration at

Working together, we can help take care of our common home. 

Paul Litwin

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