Native American Culture and The Environment

On Friday the 18th of November, Ms. Sirin’s  SUNY ESF Global Environment and The Evolution of Human Culture class had two fantastic guest speakers, Mr. & Mrs. Levitt. As November is Native American Heritage Month and our students study the effects of the environment, our guest speakers could not have been more perfect for our students.

Mr. & Mrs. Levitt are both Native American, descendants of the Seneca Mohawk, Algonquin, and Sioux tribes. Their culture places tremendous value on the environment, land and nature, and the matriarchal traditions of family. Mrs. Levitt spoke about the importance of passing down their traditions and culture to younger generations. She showed the students a bracelet she made for her husband using the traditional craft techniques she had learned from her family.

 Our guest speakers expressed their concerns for the environment today, describing how abundant plants, fish, and animals once were. It is not that way anymore.  Mr. Levitt shared with our students a Native American prophecy from 1720, saying, “There will come a time when the trees will die from the tops down, when the water will be unfit to drink, where the air will be unfit to breathe.”

“We don’t own the land, we are just caretakers,” declared Mr. Levitt.  The earth is dying because of mankind. Our guest speakers called our students to action, to fix and stop the current abuses on our planet, and to help the next generation to save our Earth. Our students will have to clean up the environmental contamination mess and find better solutions for a healthier world.

Mr. Levitt taught our students about the dangerous  drilling technique for natural gas and oil called fracking. He asked our students if they knew the current struggle happening in this country over land/water and an oil pipeline. Although this conflict is not in Rochester NY, Mr. Levitt showed our students how the decisions that are being made will, in fact, affect them too. For more information and history of the Standing Rock Pipeline, please visit here.

We want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Levitt for taking time out of their day to speak with us and share their culture and passion with us!