Tribes And Cities Begin Asserting That “Mother Nature” Has “Rights” And “Legal” Protections

People speak of “mother earth” as though she were a living thing, a concept that in the US is most associated with the American Indians and their animistic beliefs.

But does the Earth- meaning “mother nature” herself -actually have legally defendable or assertable “rights”? That is an issue that is now being discussed by tribes as well as cities in the US, who are saying that she has.

Other tribes and even some cities also are embracing the idea that Mother Nature has legal rights—setting the stage for court battles that could shake governments, businesses and the environmental movement.

Earlier this year, voters in Toledo, Ohio, passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, which declared “irrevocable rights for the Lake Erie Ecosystem to exist, flourish and naturally evolve.” The measure would give the ecosystem legal standing, which means that the lake—with help from a human guardian—could enter the court system as a plaintiff and sue polluters.

Recognizing “rights of nature,” as the concept is known, also would shape city and state permitting and planning decisions. And it might become a powerful tool in fighting climate change and habitat loss.

While it’s still uncertain if any of the forms the movement has taken, which at the current time is oriented towards protecting specific watersheds, habitats and species, will prove most effective as a legal tactic as opposed to an actual “bill of right.” Some critics in business and government are contending that broad declarations about claimed “rights of nature” could paralyze important social development and infrastructure, but supporters are saying that as American law imparts rights to corporations, that nature likewise has “rights” which must be respected.

“Our legal system gives corporations rights, but treats nature as property that can be exploited,” said Tish O”Dell, Ohio organizer with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which helped back the ballot measure. “If we don’t have the right to clean air and clean water in the Constitution, that was because our Founding Fathers couldn’t even fathom that would be something you’d need to write in.”

There are some state attorneys general, agricultural interests and business groups who say that recognizing “rights” of nature would make businesses and governments vulnerable to lawsuits over almost any action with an impact on the environment. Nevertheless, several U.S. tribes already have enacted rights of nature laws, pointing out that indigenous people have long treated nature as a shared resource that must be preserved. One such example is how in 2017, the Ponca Nation became one of the first tribes in the country to enact a “rights of nature law” as an anti-fracking measure. Yet it was not long after that another tribe, the White Earth band of Ojibwe, enacted its own law recognizing the rights of wild rice, as well as its freshwater resources and habitats.

“Wild rice has a right to exist, it has a right to flourish,” Bibeau said. “We have a right to defend it and protect it.”

For the tribe, harvesting wild rice is not just a matter of economic or nutritional importance, but a continuation of cultural and spiritual practices. It also carries strategic value, as the tribe’s treaty guarantees continued access to the resource, and protecting the rice means protecting the water on which it grows.

“Wild rice is the most important cultural aspect of our livelihood,” Bibeau said. “Our migration path took us here to the Great Lakes, where the food grows on the water. If we can protect the water, then we’re probably protecting everything else.”

This is interesting to consider in light of the open overtures towards a sort of “nature worship” taking place among some prelates in the Catholic Church (which is completely in opposition to everything the Faith holds) and other statements made around the world about this.

The future is paganism, but also eugenics as the two are interconnected in addition to other trends currently taking place.

This is more than just an issue of reviving paganism, but to the detriment of Christianity and the establishment of a new order of the human race.

These are shadows of what is to come, and whose conclusion will become more apparent as the future turns into reality.

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