‘WE TRIED TO TELL YOU THAT!’ INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES AND CLIMATE CHANGE

in southern Vanuatu tell about the origins of the black
(Melanesian) and white (European) peoples. In one
variant of one of these, the spiritual ancestor of the
Tannese Melanesians emerged from the island’s volcano
holding a bunch of sacred and agricultural leaves in his
hand, indicating knowledge of and mastery over nature.
Shortly afterwards, a light-skinned ancestor emerged
from the volcano and disappeared overseas. This ancestral
White Man held in his hand a hammer (in other versions,
a steel axe or chisel) indicating knowledge of and mastery
over technology.
Certain Tannese people today may still refer to this
story to explain their relative lack of interest in modern
technology – and the modern world’s renowned
long-term lack of interest in, and respect for, our
natural environment.
 

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