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Stewards of the Rivers and Forests

“The river of life, each curve more beautiful than the last.” The unfolding of beauty and possibility expressed in this Maaori saying was clearly present in an inspiring talk I heard last month by Tukoroirangi Morgan, a Maaori leader. He was at the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NASIA) Conference to share how his tribe was able to successfully become the recognized stewards of the important Waikato River in New Zealand.

Restoring and protecting the health and wellbeing of the Waikato was their goal. They achieved their success, not by fighting for ownership of the river, but by advocating for co-governance of the river. Now, they are able to clear their sacred river from farm and city pollution and contamination, with government and tribal members equally sharing the responsibility.

Tukoroirangi’s story is inspiring because so many indigenous groups around the world are also struggling to preserve and restore the environmental wonders around their communities – and it is a hard, long struggle.

In Kenya, the Ogiek Tribe, northeast of Nairobi is fighting to save the Mau Forest, which is being destroyed by paper companies who are clear-cutting the land. There are about 30,000 Ogiek people in Kenya but the tribe is not officially recognized in Kenya and therefore doesn’t have representation in the Parliament or government, making their goal harder to reach.

A video from an African news website shows about the struggles of the Ogiek and tells about their desire to also become stewards of their environmental wonder. This video reinforces the importance of promoting sustainable agriculture in Kenya.

If video does not work, try this link: Kenya’s Ogiek Tribe & Reforestation

I am proud of the reforestation projects near Eldoret, Kenya that Spirit in Action has supported and this video only makes me more passionate about rebuilding and promoting the health and wellbeing of the forests in Kenya.

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