Indigenous elders from the Pacific Northwest and environmental justice advocates from rural Appalachia and the Gulf South come together around truly clean energy solutions — solutions that contribute to the regeneration of the air, land, and water, and to the flourishing of communities that have been sacrifice zones for decades and longer.
“We have a warrior right here from Lummi, Jewell James, who has been fighting for decades and decades and decades. He fought with my mother on the same side, and with my oldest sister. Jewell and I work together, so it's this generational effort of protecting our sacred sites."
“The last thing that is wanted for us right now is for us to unify. And that's what we're doing here. We are unifying and we are joining force. They do everything they can to stop that. They've taken children from women. They've abused us. They've killed us. They've murdered us. They've taken everything they possibly could from us, and yet we're still here."
"In the city, we accept that my backyard is a refinery, and that's normal. But it's not normal. That's the land hurting. And we're hurting because the land is hurting. The land shouldn't be hurting. The air shouldn't be hurting you."
"The way I look at it: the elders laid the foundation for the house. And then we can build those walls. And then the next generation can add another floor. And then eventually we can put the roof on the house. It’s a constant building.”
“We were trying to aim at those folks who were interested in questions of ecology and conservation but didn’t know how to deal with these questions about racism and settler colonialism, how to think about what that might mean in terms of place names and parks.”
"The place names you see on a visitor map aren't just meaningless. They hold power and they tell a story. What stories are they telling? Are they stories that represent justice or do they represent oppression?"
"We talk about colonial powers coming in and renaming the world around us. It's like cutting a ribbon. It's an attempt to destroy your relationship with that place, that power that's there. It's part of that genocidal policy, to destroy who we are within. Because who we are inside reflects how we relate to earth outside. And if you have a belief system where the earth deserves to be respected, it structures the way you think and you feel."
"As the totem pole moves, it carries the spirits of the lands it visits. It’s like a battery that charges as it travels. As people touch it they give it power. As it moves on, it shares that power with the next community it visits."
“We embrace science as a critical part of protecting the environment, and we believe that scientists have an obligation to deploy the tools of science in the protection of the environment. Scientists play a role in standing up, speaking truth to power.”
"As Indigenous people, enough is enough. We’re not going to allow you to control our narrative. We’re not going to allow you to define who we are."
“How are our future generations going to look at and analyze the decisions we made that put us in the predicament that we’re going to be in the future? This will represent that we did something. That we stood for something. That we said no to industry and we said no to money and we said yes to earth, air, and water.”
“I am someone who, like many of us, is in the process of making history. My people knew that our great grandchildren would talk about the day that their grandparents went and stood in front of the pipeline that never became. And that is the story I want told in museums.”
“Somebody has to stand up and say ‘no more.’ We need to lock arms. We need to hold hands. It’s not just our battle it’s everybody’s battle. Every child, red, black, white or yellow, all of us have to draw the line and unify.”
“The totem pole journey does not draw a new line as much as it traces over one that already exists, making it visible. This line runs through the rocks, through the trees, through the sky, through the oceans. It is also a line that runs from the past to the present, and into the future.”
"Despite the fact that entire nations have been built atop the idea that objects contained within museums represent dead cultures, there is a spirit that lives on in them that can never be extinguished. And this is what 'Kwel' Hoy: We Draw the Line' is all about."
“In the words of Albert Einstein, a refugee to this country, ‘Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.’ So let’s get organized. Let’s get creative. Let’s experiment. Let’s turn this moment into a movement.”
“Any museum is oriented around a perspective. The Natural History Museum looks at the perspective of other science and natural history museums. Today, we’re exploring the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, digging in to excavate it’s narratives and displays, and how the museum encourages its visitors to take the perspective of its corporate funders from the oil and gas industry.”
"We’re literally in a war zone. Environmentalists across the country refer to us as being on the front lines. Why are the most profitable companies in the history of the world around the most impoverished communities?"
"Is the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences a museum, or a PR front for the fossil fuel industry? That's the central question of 'Mining the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences: An Investigation by The Natural History Museum'."
"We’re at the annual American Alliance of Museums convention, here with a ton of other museums, including natural history museums that we’re urging to cut all ties to the fossil fuel industry.”
"Museums should tell the stories we need to learn from: not only the story of the downfall of great societies, the destruction of societies created around greed, but also the story of our culture, our language, our identity—who we are, and the teachings we’ve been governing by for thousands of years."
“If I were able to design and run a museum of natural history, it wouldn’t just be about history and how it was. It would highlight the lessons that we need to learn, the mistakes that we have made, the mistakes that we have made as political citizens, that we have allowed, the kind of damage we have allowed to see and happen. It would also be an agent of change that can reflect what the future can be.”
"A natural history museum of today would need to tell the story of who brought us to the brink, what are the processes, what is the destruction, as well as what are the pathways to the future."
“The museum of the future should be a genuinely multidisciplinary space. If we’re talking about climate change, it wouldn’t just be talking about climate change as a problem of too much carbon in the atmosphere. It would be telling us why it’s there and who the interests are behind it, and what the real, structural barriers are to progress.”
"Where is the credible institution that gives me credible information by which I can take action? We need institutions with legal standing, financial backing, and some persistence in time - that’s how you make change."
"The museum of the future, if it were to do the job that it should do, would be doing much more to get at the root of the problems, even if it steps on some toes. They’ve got to be showing the whole story, not just a piece of the story.”
"Museums are full of opportunity in the way that they confer legitimacy on certain ways of seeing the world, on certain ways of acting. They normalize them. They take on unpopular ideas and make them seem normal. They take ways of behaving that seem strange, and make them seem like that’s how everyone now behaves. A museum can be a really powerful point of doing that - that’s the reason that corporations are interested in museums and…
"The struggle is not only the fight of people like us. The struggle has to take place at every level and in all places. The ideal museum would really speak the truth, educate reality, and support our struggles."
"It's well known that David Koch and his brother have spent tens of millions of dollars on climate science disinformation. For a museum to accept funding from them undermines its educational purpose, causes the museum great harm, and confuses the public, which is the greatest harm of all. The museum of the future, as the museum of the present, has the responsibility to present the best science and to describe efforts that science, especially by…
To build a global climate movement, we have to address the asymmetries in the burden of responsibility and the burden of impact. This requires that we acknowledge the ways inequalities are deeply embedded in the systems that continue to produce and deny climate change, hindering our abilities to mobilize against it. In the wake of the People’s Climate March, climate justice activists are shifting the discourse and building a movement.
This panel considers the violent legacies of capitalism’s exploitation and appropriation of nature. It inquires into how views of natural systems as separate from human systems–political, social, and economic– may be part of the problem we face in confronting climate change.
Against a backdrop of economic and environmental disruption, what kind of communicative, visual, and discursive habitats are disappearing, and what kinds are appearing in its place? This panel looks at the ways the media environment—exhibitions, design and communication systems—influences how we see what is natural in the autopoietic habitats of the contemporary.
Shifting strategies–from denialism to obfuscation, advertising, and public relations–mislead the public. People become cynical and uncertain, mistrusting of any and all efforts to confront the changing climate. With science under attack, what is to be done? How might we break through the propaganda fog and into collective action?
Corporate sponsorship of museums and science education can compromise the basic idea of museums as reliable sources of common knowledge. By considering historical as well as contemporary examples of museum funding, we look at the ways in which power structures and marketing logic are embedded in practices of collecting and display.
The panel looks at ways artists and activists borrow the vocabulary of the museum and in so doing extend the political potential already dividing the institution from within.As they raise the question of who speaks on behalf of the institution, they activate a split, suggesting ways to work within as well as against—affirming the value of the institution as a resource for the production of culture, collectivity and solidarity.
“The NHM represents a different perspective on nature—a perspective that includes man, the social, and the political, and one that takes a position on nature as a commons.”