Tuesday, August 09, 2011


Chief Oren Lyons is one of my guiding prophets. He makes things simple -- "Nature has no mercy; it has laws."

Back in the early 1980s I listened to a speech of Oren's where he spoke of the first time North American Indian leaders went to a UN conference in Geneva to speak for indigenous peoples. They had a long discussion about how to do it, about who or what to give voice to. After lots of talk, they decided that they would not speak for themselves. They decided, instead, to speak for the natural world because it truly was the voiceless one.

It was after hearing his prophetic words that I decided that I would try to be a voice for the forests and I made my stand on Bald Mountain in Oregon (the story is here). Some years after my own work started, I met Oren at an environmental conference and told him of how his words had changed my life. With typically dry Indian humor he said, "If you listen to me you are going to get into a lot of trouble." His prophecy was born out, repeatedly. I am very grateful to Chief Oren Lyons.

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