Indigenous Elder Casey Camp-Horinek Addresses the Climate Assembly
Casey Camp-Horinek addressed the Climate Action I Assembly at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.
August 14, 2023 (Transcript) – First of all, I want to ask you for your prayers. Brought my best friend with me and yours. Her name in your language is Water, asking her for her help, and she is sustained as for all these millennia.
Judy is my true name. Casey Camp-Horinek is my colonized name from the occupiers of the territory that we are presently living in, in Oklahoma. My grandfather was six years old when we were forcibly removed there as a people. My mama was kidnapped into the boarding schools.
At this time, my people suffer from environmental gender genocide. But being born a Ponca meant that I was born into a world that you now call environmentalism.
With the duty, with the honor, with the responsibility of moving into matriarchy as an elder, I began to understand that these things that this generation is experiencing and that my great-grandchildren are experiencing are part of the spiritual reality of the people of Turtle Island or North America.
So first, I will acknowledge the spirit of the Elini and those other indigenous peoples who occupied this territory by the choice of the great spirit Spirit and of the Earth Mother and who were all killed by colonizers so that they could occupy this territory and build riches.
And I want to remind you through a beautiful song that was given to our people by music herself. And it’s so simple. It says, “My mother, you’re good.” Because in our terminology and our understanding as Ponca people, we consider the Mother, the Earth, not something that we call our Earth, but a place that we call our Mother. For in truth, we are born to her. She is the one who nurtures us. She is the one that built us cell by cell within the wombs of the sacred water of our mothers, of humankind. She is the one who fed us of the corn, of the plants, of the forelegs, of the wings. She is the one who gave us the water that we all are part of, just like we’re part of the Mother Ocean. It’s very simple.
When we come together at times like this, we must remind ourselves that even the words that we speak are terribly valuable. We cannot consider the natural laws to be broken by laws of humankind. We cannot consider that the freedom of human beings supersedes the freedom of those that give us life. Those are the ones that the Creator put into place when you and I had the fortune to put this robe over our spirit that we call bodies and come into this place that we call Earth.
So that when we were born from that rush of the sacred water, what happened to us? We went this way, and the sacred air came into us, that same air that we pollute, and that we allow the mass murderers of the oil and gas people to continue to pollute so that we may have our creature comforts.
When we were born, we took on the honor of caretaking our mothers in true life as much as we do our mother, the Earth, and remember always, she is not a dying planet. Mother Earth will endure. The question comes now, do humans endure with her? Are we another species choosing to rush off a cliff like lemmings? Because we close our eyes.
What is there that sustains life? What happens to the human body when the spirit leaves it, for instance? The body grows cold. The warmth of the earth and the father’s son have disappeared from it. The breath leaves and the lungs lie still. The water leaves the body and we dehydrate, but the spirit lives. So today, at this sacred moment, we have to unite our spirits and our will and align human law with natural law.
We must remember that we are not just water protectors and land defenders, but if we look out and we try to say, “What is nature? Why, it’s that plant over there. You mean that one we ate? It’s that water over there. You mean that water we drink? It’s the fire itself. You mean that warmth that lives within me? You mean that wind that blows? That’s my breath.
So we have to internalize that we are not protecting nature. We are nature protecting itself.