Rachel's Democracy & Health News #862  [Printer-friendly version]
July 6, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: This important document is being published
for the first time. The Bemidji Statement on Seventh Generation
Guardianship was released July 6 during the 14th Protecting Mother
Earth Conference, convened by the Indigenous Environmental Network in
Bemidji, Minnesota.]

The Bemidji Statement combines the ancient wisdom of the Haudenosaunee
(Iroquois) -- "The first mandate.... is to ensure that our decision-
making is guided by consideration of the welfare and well being of the
seventh generation to come." -- with the precautionary principle.

The Statement calls for new guardians and new guardian institutions to
protect the future of us all. The Statement evolved from a
conversation that began in Alaska in December 2005 between Alaska
Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), the Indigenous Environmental
Network (IEN), and the Science and Environmental Health Network

Here is an introduction to the Bemidji Statement provided by the
Indigenous Environmental Network:

During the winter months of 2005-2006, several handfuls of people from
numerous places throughout North America came together at two
different locations to create The Bemidji Statement on Seventh
Generation Guardianship (Bemidji Statement). While much has been
written in the past about the Seventh Generation Principle, the
Bemidji Statement is different in a couple of ways. First, it
accommodates some elements from the protection of the Commons and
the Precautionary Principle. Second, it goes beyond most other
principles by explicitly assigning guardianship and responsibility for
protecting the Seventh Generation of humanity that is yet to be born.
But equally important, it assigns the same guardianship and
responsibility to the current generations to protect and restore the
intricate web of life that sustains us all, for the Seventh Generation
to come.

The Statement is written with the intent of being able to adopt it at
all levels of our society. It is also written to change the way we
think about our future. From the family unit, through community, and
institutions on community, the Statement can be adopted and applied.
It is intended for individuals or small groups of individuals to take
guardianship responsibility for one piece of the web of life and
protect or restore that one piece for this and future generations.
Examples of these web pieces could be as broad as the water or the
birds or as specific as a certain pond or a certain type of fish. A
family may choose to assume guardianship for the area immediately
their home, a community may watch over a much larger area, a
government or institution may stand guard over all within their
jurisdiction. The important thing is that guardians who assume this
responsibility learn everything they can about that which they have
chosen, they assess and monitor the chosen piece of the web of life,
restore it when necessary, and report the status of their
responsibilities to other guardians.

From the smallest unit of society to the largest unit of government,
we can protect, enhance, and restore the inheritance of the Seventh
Generation to come. Consider becoming a Guardian in your community.
[End of introduction.]



"The first mandate.... is to ensure that our decision-making is guided
by consideration of the welfare and well being of the seventh
generation to come."


Indigenous Peoples have learned over thousands of years to live in
harmony with the land and the waters. It is our intent to survive and
thrive on this planet for this and many generations to come. This
survival depends on a living web of relationships in our communities
and lands, among humans, and others. The many Indigenous Peoples and
cultures from throughout the world are threatened by the disruption of
these relationships.

The exploitation and industrialization of the land and water have
altered the relationships that have sustained our Indigenous
communities. These changes have accelerated in recent years. We are
now experiencing the consequences of these actions with increased
cancer and asthma rates, suicides, and reproductive disorders in
humans, as well as increased hardships of hunting and of whaling.
Places that we hold to be sacred have been repeatedly disturbed and
destroyed. In animals and in nature we see changing migratory
patterns, diseased fish, climate change, extinction of species, and
much more.

Government agencies and others in charge of protecting the
relationships between our people, the land, air, and water have
repeatedly broken treaties and promises. In doing so, they have failed
in their duty to uphold the tribal and the public trust. The many
changes in these relationships have been well documented, but science
remains inadequate for fully understanding their origins and essence.
This scientific uncertainty has been misused to carry out economic,
cultural, and political exploitation of the land and resources.
Failure to recognize the complexity of these relationships will
further impair the future health of our people and function of the

We value our culture, knowledge, and skills. They are valuable and
irreplaceable assets to all of humanity, and help to safe guard the
world. The health and well being of our grandchildren are worth more
than all the wealth that can be taken from these lands.

By returning to the collective empowerment and decision making that is
part of our history, we are able to envision a future that will
restore and protect the inheritance of this, and future generations.
Therefore, we will designate Guardians for the Seventh Generation.


Who guards this web of life that nurtures and sustains us all?

Who watches out for the land, the sky, the fire, and the water?

Who watches out for our relatives that swim, fly, walk, or crawl?

Who watches out for the plants that are rooted in our Mother Earth?

Who watches out for the life-giving spirits that reside in the

Who tends the languages of the people and the land?

Who tends the children and the families?

Who tends the peacekeepers in our communities?


We tend the relationships.

We work to prevent harm.

We create the conditions for health and wholeness.

We teach the culture and we tell the stories.

We have the sacred right and obligation to protect the common wealth
of our lands and the common health of our people and all our relations
for this generation and seven generations to come. We are the
Guardians for the Seventh Generation.


"As guardians of the wards over which they were appointed, the
manitous [spirits] could withhold from hunters permission or
opportunity to kill." --Basil Johnston, The Manitous



Shawna Larson, Environmental Justice Coordinator, IEN/Alaska Community
Action on Toxics, Anchorage, AK 99503 USA, Tel: 907.222.1714, Email:
shawna@akaction.org, Web: www.akaction.org and

Bob Shimek, Mining Campaign Organizer, Indigenous Environmental
Network, PO Box 485, Bemidji, Minnesota 56619 USA, Tel: 218.751.4867,
Email: ienmining@igc.org Web: www.ienearth.org