A Thousand Suns

Our new problems might require paying attention to old wisdom. A new documentary looks to indigenous leadership for answers—and throws our way of life into sharp relief.
Gamo in NYC2

You won't see Mazge Gazeto in an "I Love New York" t-shirt anytime soon. When Gazeto, a native of the Gamo Highlands in Africa’s Rift Valley, soaked in a view of midtown Manhattan for the first time, he had some critical things to say: “I can’t see any land or fields. There is nothing. These people just live on concrete surfaces.”

In 2008, Gazeto was part of a delegation invited to New York City by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. There, they shared their culture's insights about governing resources and relating to nature—wisdom fundamentally tied to a worldview in which humans are deeply interconnected with a larger universe.

The Western cosmology is very different, says Yale Divinity School professor Mary Evelyn Tucker. Here, "removing God from nature ... has de-sacrilized the world, and therefore opened it up for consumption, and our abuse, and for exploitation."

"We can say it is just two different worlds," says Gamo elder Kapo Kansa, "and we are depending on nature here, and there people are depending on scientific facts."

The documentary follows the Gamo delegation's trip to New York, exploring the impact that different worldviews have on agricultural practices, religious traditions, and our relationship to the environment.


Indigenous peoples have learned a few things about making it through hard times. Rebecca Adamson discusses what traditional economies did to foster abundance, sharing, and harmony with Mother Earth.

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