Challenge to Civilization: Indigenous Wisdom and the Future

Univ. of Regina. Jan. 2024. 184p. ISBN 9780889779815. pap. $29.95. SOC SCI
Stonechild (Indigenous studies, First Nations Univ. of Canada; Loss of Indigenous Eden and the Fall of Spirituality), a member of the Muscowpetung First Nation in Saskatchewan, makes a forceful and compelling argument for reconsidering the role of civilization in both human history and in future survival. Rather than holding up civilization as the crowning achievement of human endeavors, the book presents it as a destructive process that has prioritized the exploitation of nature over its stewardship. Stonechild contrasts Western civilizations with what he terms “ecolizations,” defined as the Indigenous ways of living that sustained both humanity and the natural world before the rise of agriculture and urban populations. In materialism, rationality, and a disconnection from nature, he sees the root cause of many modern ills, including inequality, political strife, and corrosive public discourse. While some readers may question a few of the book’s conclusions, such as an assertion that borders developed only in the late medieval era, Stonechild’s overall denunciation of civilization’s priorities is easy to accept and appreciate.
VERDICT A thought-provoking work that embraces Indigenous spirituality and wisdom. Ideal for environmentalists and scholars of Indigenous beliefs.
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