Indigenous Religions & Ecology


At first glance the fields of religion and ecology may seem and unlikely pairing, but a deeper consideration reveals the two have a great deal to contribute to one another and are indeed inextricably linked. Religions recognize the unity and interdependence of humans with nature. Ecological sciences affirm this deep interconnection with the natural world. This partnership can inspire work for the wellbeing of the Earth community

There is a need for broader literacy and deeper knowledge of the world’s religions and their ecological contributions. This specialization, “Religions and Ecology: Restoring the Earth Community”, contributes such a perspective. Each course celebrates the vitality of religiously-informed action for the Earth and recognizes the longstanding contributions of Indigenous peoples in offering visions and practices for ecological flourishing.
This is course 2 of 5 in the “Religions and Ecology: Restoring the Earth Community” specialization that focuses on the ecological dimensions of religious traditions throughout the world.
The course is designed as a gateway to the significant contributions of Indigenous peoples of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Pacific Regions for environmental understanding. The diversity of Indigenous communities around the planet makes selective coverage necessary, but shared patterns of resilience manifest themselves worldwide. So much has emerged in the last several decades in understanding traditional environmental knowledge, as you will see.
This course is for lifelong learners curious to know more about world religions and ecology, environmental professionals eager to deepen the discourse of environmental protection and conservation, those working with non-profit organizations and NGOs on issues of ecological justice, and religion leaders and laity who wish to know how they can contribute to interreligious dialogue on environmental projects.

What you will learn

MODULE 1: Course Introduction
MODULE 2: Introduction to the Study of Indigenous Religions and Ecology

We explore terms and themes in the study of Indigenous religions and ecology. Terms such as Indigeneity, sovereignty, lifeway, cosmovision and cosmopolitics are examined. Underlying themes such as responsibilities, rights and reciprocities with the Earth are highlighted by Native spokespersons. There is an inherent call for interweaving environmental and social justice often referred to as integral ecology.

MODULE 3: From Decolonization to Restoration in Indigenous Communities

Settlers and nation-states have used stereotypes to demean, subjugate, and exploit Indigenous peoples, communities, and lands. “Decolonization” is the recognition of this historical distortion and the racism that continues into the present. In light of this reality, “Indigeneity” may be seen as a call to self-discovery necessary for restoring Indigenous voices and sovereignty in decision-making.

MODULE 4: Native North Americans

Native worldviews and cultural values were undermined by dominant societies. Yet these losses did not fully erase the resilience that has led to recovery of lifeways and traditional knowledge, as described by a Hopi elder. Native peoples in North America have restored relationships with land and seeds, lakes and rivers, animals and biodiversity. This is expressed in ritual revivals among the Crow and Salish peoples as well as ecosystem restoration by Pacific Northwest peoples. We see resilience among Arctic Inuit peoples struggling with climate emergencies, and Gwich’in peoples resisting oil development in caribou calving grounds.

What’s included