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What Other Americans Can and Cannot Learn from Native American Environmental Ethics

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Since the 1960s, many have sought the solutions to North America's ecological crisis in the environmental teachings of Native American peoples. However, for the most part, Native American environmental values have not been investigated in light of the cultural contexts within which they arose. This paper draws on previously published ethnographic work among the Koyukon of interior Alaska and the Hopi of the desert Southwest to elucidate the specific environmental ethics that these two peoples have developed. Based on this contextualized evidence, augmented with teachings from the environmental ethics of other Native American peoples, I then discuss what other Americans can and cannot learn from Native American environmental ethics. Finally, I suggest alternate sources upon which non-indigenous Americans might draw to develop their own traditions of caring about and for the lands they now share with Native peoples.


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