Land: Responses and Resistance
Aiy-ye-kwee, Nek-new Shannon Albers. Ser-per mey’-woh-mech-ok.
by Shannon Albers, member of the Yurok Tribe
Hello! My name is Shannon Albers. I come from the Yurok Village of Ser-per. I am an enrolled member of the Yurok Tribe of Northern California, US. I am twenty years old and I am also an expectant father-to-be of a beautiful Yurok girl.
I stand in opposition to the carbon markets. I stand in opposition of The Yurok Tribe’s decision to sign a carbon market contract. Carbon markets are a way to steal sovereignty, declare war on today’s youth and steal land from Indigenous Peoples. Carbon markets are a way to decimate traditional and ancestral knowledge. Carbon markets are dividing tribes, instigating and creating intertribal war.
The Yurok Tribe signed a “limited waiver of sovereignty” as a part of their contract. The Yurok Tribe signed away my sovereignty without my consent and without over 6,000 tribal members’ consent. The United Nations declared Indigenous people the rights of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). As a Yurok Tribal member, I can say that we did not receive the rights of FPIC in this carbon trading contract. The Yurok membership were not informed whether their sovereignty will be sold. The Yurok membership did not get the right to vote or to consent before the contract was signed.
My family and my relatives that are also members of the Yurok Tribe, are aggravated and distressed with the Yurok Tribal Council’s decision. The majority of the membership is upset with this. The majority of the people are upset with the Yurok Tribal Council’s input and relationship with the carbon markets. Being a large tribe, a miniscule amount of the membership believes in the carbon markets and believes that this dirty money will save them from the impoverished life they live. The Council believes this dirty money will protect them, their families, loved ones and the future. They believe that the world has already passed the point of no return so why not benefit from it? They have lived their whole lives in poverty and trauma. They believe this dirty money will save them. This has caused families to fight between each other. This has ended long term friendships. This has separated a strong tribe into political war. A war between what will save us now and what will save the future. While we fight against one another, Big Corporations sit back and reap the financial benefits of our sovereignty molestation.
This impacts nobody of today but everybody of tomorrow. These carbon market contracts are leaving our youth without hope. The youth understand the carbon markets and stand against them. We stand against these corrupt ways of capitalizing on our mother… our Mother Earth. As you all know, Native American youth suffer with extremely high statistics of suicide. These contracts leave them with no hope, the youth question their very own existence. “What’s the point in living today if there’s no tomorrow?” Carbon markets and offsets are a new form of suicide. It strips our youth’s hope and leaves them with nothing but feelings of great depression for our earth and our Trees. These Trees have been sequestering for thousands of years; they don’t just start because of a contract. They don’t sequester for money but they do it so we can breathe.
These markets threaten our ancestral knowledge. If we can only practice what the contract allows then how is the ancestral knowledge expected to last more than two generations? What if a natural fire strikes up and burns the offsets the tribe has signed over on behalf of the uninformed members? Then we have to give them our ancestral lands as offsets. They will take our children’s land right out from under our noses.
“These markets threaten our ancestral knowledge.”
We are Indigenous People. We have been stewards of Mother Earth for over thousands of years without any motivation from money. Why do we need money now? We need to protect what our ancestors died for. We need to protect our ancestral knowledge, our land, our sovereignty and our youth. Selling our resources and our sovereignty is not ancestral knowledge. Listen to your instincts, protect our youth and say no to carbon markets and offsets. It is not our way.