This article, co-authored by Feasta’s Mark Garavan, gives the perspective of Lakota activist Chas Jewitt, who situates the concept of water commons within a wider narrative of oppression, which is both gendered and racist. The article was published in the December 2018 Community Development Journal (OUP).
Abstract: This chapter is structured as a dialogic engagement. Dialogue presents itself as more compatible with the exploratory, flowing character of water and with the preferred rhetorical approach of an indigenous mode of discourse. Speaking from a Lakota perspective, and specifically female perspective, Jewett situates the concept of water commons within a wider narrative of oppression, which is both gendered and racist. The control of water is equated with the drive to control women, indigenous ‘others’, and material and cultural resources more generally. The specific cultural perspective she expresses centres on notions of water as a relative to which/whom we must relate in a mutual engagement of care and responsibility. We are within a living web of beings dependent on each other and intimately connected to each other. Water cannot but be a communal phenomenon connecting the individual to all of life across space and to our ancestors and descendants across time. Water flows in and out of us. This sense of visceral connection with water is exemplified in the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota pipeline. The re-affirmation of indigenous perspectives revived by this engagement is explored and the argument made that the recovery of these primary modes of relating to natural elements is crucial to healing current ecological and social stresses.
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