Original Instructions
Melissa K. Nelson
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Buy *Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future* by Melissa K. Nelson online

Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future
Melissa K. Nelson
Bear & Company
384 pages
January 2008
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Original Instructions is a compilation of several presentations, speeches and writings by leaders in various genres for the indigenous peoples of the planet. According to the book, there are 500 million known indigenous people on the planet, which is approximately eight percent of the population worldwide. Original Instructions has representatives for peoples across Canada, the U.S., Ethiopia, Mexio, Africa and more.

As in many textbooks, the intro is a little long and tiresome; I had lost interest early on but began to find interest again from page 14 on. The intro is very important to read, however, as it defines terms such as Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Indigenous Knowledge Systems. The contributors study the role of indigenous peoples have played in medical, health, science, society and the role they have yet to play in the future.

The direct relationship with indigenous plant life, its evolution and sustainability was demonstrated multiple ways in this book. We are shown that with the loss of traditional life there is also the loss and depletion of these plant species that have evolved to depend on man. Interestingly, the authors also discuss the concept that along with the loss of genetic diversity in agriculture and native food crops, we are also losing the knowledge to grow, prepare and store them.

Surprising facts such as the legal endorsement of allowing the hunt of certain human tribes was happening as early as 1963 – will have readers feeling appalled. I know I was shocked. Issues with pollution and destruction of life are well known in modern society and continue to be mishandled. Original Instructions discusses all of this, and more – such as the vital feminine role in the cycles of life.

I found the book to have a very positive feel to it that showed that intelligent thought, conscious action, and adaptability are the keys to the issues we face today. Examples of how communities are working together to preserve and protect delicate area will inspire some readers to pick up a shovel and begin their own rehabilitation projects locally. The authors show us that individual, businesses and organizations are also jumping on board and creating positive changes every day.

Readers will find that it is neatly segmented into four parts and that there are 14 pages of resources listed at the end. This is followed by five pages of notes and a four-page bibliography. The book concludes with bios for the 32 contributors and a list of recommended reading. As such, this book would be a wonderful resource for colleges, university and high school libraries.

I enjoyed every aspect of this 384-page paperback book, but I was most moved by the fact that proceeds are going “to the Hacienda Rio Cote Project, reforesting and protecting lands adjacent to the rain forest in Costa Rica.”

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Lillian Brummet, 2008

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