The question is not whether it is important. It is. The question is whether it is important from a business and investment perspective. It is.
Not just here on Turtle Island, but globally, across all communities and cultures. In terms of regenerative practices, there is a deep wisdom indigenous peoples hold that we can only hope to emulate — that there is a system of which we are all a part, and we can use but cannot take and certainly cannot exploit. And, if we do respect and honor the world in which we live, there is a bounty capable of sustaining all and even offers the opportunity for prosperity. This goes for water systems, soil systems, climate systems, and social systems.
Outside of indigenous communities, we are only now understanding that regenerative and biodynamic cultivation is a superior model that is more self-sustaining, more productive, and more supportive of a stable climate and healthy oceans. Similarly, the medical future for cancer therapeutics, pain management, even mental health, lies in what indigenous peoples have known and practiced for thousands of years. If we hope to bring equal access, equal health, and equal opportunity to a world population approaching 8 billion people, and participate in the rewards that can yield, we have to see and hear the indigenous peoples. That means not consuming all of the natural resources under their stewardship. That means not indiscriminately violating their sovereign and sacred spaces with pollution and pipelines, or outright taking those places away. That means extending economic and other opportunities to their communities on their terms, not ours, so they can flourish according to their traditions and aspirations.
Respect for indigenous peoples through investment comes in many forms. The most obvious and least pursued is directing capital, not just monetary but natural, to indigenous communities. It also comes through holding companies to account for businesses, products and practices that disadvantage these communities directly or indirectly. What consequence do dammed rivers and drained aquifers have? Or poorly managed tailings ponds and other forms of pollution? What are the short and long term consequences of deforestation and replacement with monocultures which cause whole ecosystems to collapse? What about lack of access to basic financial services? Companies are responsible for what they do in an affirmative sense to support indigenous communities, what they do in a negative sense that harms them, and what they do to engage with and partner with those communities for mutual benefit.
The responsibility is not only corporate. Governments and other regulatory and sovereign entities are major players through policy and direct action in the help for or harm to indigenous communities. When holding the debt of these entities, consider what role they play in the lives of these people and whether that lending capital may be better committed elsewhere.
There is a just and regenerative relationship to be had with indigenous peoples spanning nutrition, health, science, education, opportunity and prosperity, environment, and overall planetary stewardship, and the journey to that begins with respect and visibility. For the Indigenous Peoples of North America, including those of American and Canadian islands and territories, we honor and observe today and hold it as an offering of gratitude as well as a remembrance of past injustice.