What Land Justice Means to Us
“The liberation of the earth, the liberation of women, the liberation of all humanity is the next step of freedom we need to work for, and it's the next step of peace that we need to create.”
-- Vandana Shiva
For us, land justice means that we ask ourselves the question everyday: Will we rise boldly, all of us, in order to ensure the next generation is free? Land justice for us, means justice for land as well as justice for the people. It means enabling people to have access to land and to be in mutuality with land, to restore the land, to care for the land, to heal the land while allowing the land to facilitate our own healing and our own restoration.
Embodying this level of mutual healing means there must be a return to the belief that we ourselves are not owners of land, and we are not the center of the universe, but simply the custodians of future generations to come. Because indigenous people, Black people, people of color and women have traditionally been barred access to land, in the urgency of now, we have to stand in more than just solidarity, for the sake of future generations. We have to draw closer, not further from each other. It means we struggle for freedom together, arms locked, and come together in a solidarity economy which foregrounds the notion that as one of us rises, we all rise.
As we sit with Haudensaunee women, we are contemplative and we continue to reflect on how land justice, racial justice and gender justice are intertwined. Racial injustice and the stark inequalities in land ownership and wealth reflect the deep greed of our current economies. To create a future centered on solidarity as well as land and body sovereignty, we must begin to transform the structures that frame our current cultures.
For Black and for Indigenous people, spiritual and sacred connection to the land is central to identity and sense of belonging. As Black women connect with their roots and reclaim their legacy of labor, deep care and love for their ancestral lands as well as the lands on which they plant their feet today, we resonate with the prophetic and protective living relationship between Indigenous Peoples of North America and the land. It is prophetic in that the network of mutuality within our humanity speaks to the larger realm of creation, and to our commitment to the care and restoration of the land at Ava, New York.
We believe that land is more than physical property to own, just as we believe that women’s bodies are more than objects of commodification. For over a decade, we have worked to “call out” and “call up” individuals, communities and society toward a higher vision of equity, dignity and sovereignty. Access to land is a human right. To ensure the land is managed for the good of our future generation and for the good of all species of life on the land is our commitment to healing forward for ourselves, for our families and for our communities.