Wise words from Dartmouth student Kevin Patterson relating his personal connection with Navajo culture and the issues surrounding awareness of climate change. Check out the Indigenous Youth Forum on Climate Changefor more words from Native youth on this topic.
“I thought it was interesting with the thunderstorms that happened. I was talking with a friend, who is also from the same area and tribe that I’m from, about how both our parents would gather everyone when thunderstorms happened. We would have to sit down in the middle of the house on the floor — and thunderstorms in the Southwest are intense — and we’d have to be quiet and stay away from all the windows while the thunderstorm was passing. For awhile we’d just do it without question, until we got older and asked why. It has a lot to do with our cultural upbringing. My mom would tell us that we were doing this in respect to natural forces that were happening, and in respect to nature itself — to observe and be aware of the thunderstorm. This all falls under a larger teaching within Navajo culture, called ‘K’é.’ This refers to our kinship, how we as Navajos relate to other people within our tribe. In the same way, it also refers to how we live with respect to nature and other people. I carry that into my perspective on climate change. I think there is a lot of ignorance when it comes to things like climate change. I think people aren’t aware of it, of the overwhelming amount of data and evidence that climate change exists and is happening right now. It has always been something that I have never really known growing up, but I have always been aware of it…like when a thunderstorm happens.”