Following my recent posts on relationships to nature, I’ve been looking again at Dennis Martinez’s writings on a “kincentric” perspective. Martinez is chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network, a working group of the Society for Ecologial Restoration International.
In wilderness preservation, in land management, forestry, and resource management of all kinds, Native Peoples offer a kind of model. But it’s not the biocentric model that you’re familiar with from deep ecology or Aldo Leopold’s land ethic. It’s fundamentally different because it is primarily kincentric. That’s the word I have coined to describe a unique Indigenous cosmology and relationship to nature. It’s not in the dictionary. I had to think of something that would work to explain that what this relationship is about in the universe is one of equality. Humans don’t even have the moral authority to extend ethics to the land community, as the Leopold land ethic and deep ecology do.
Traditionally, we work with animals and plants. We are comanagers with animals and plants. We don’t have the right to extend anything. What we have the right to do is to make our case, as human beings, to the natural world. That compact, that kind of contract between animals and human beings, is what has guided Indians’ subsistent livelihoods — hunting and gathering — and Indian agroecology and agriculture in the world for a very, very long time.