“Michigan in Books” reviews “Honor the Earth” by Phil Bellfy

Honor the Earth: Indigenous Response to Environmental Degradation in the Great Lakes edited by Phil Bellfy.
Review by Tom Powers, Michigan In Books
This book of updated essays grew out of an environmental conference at MSU on Earth Day, 2007. The essays, as the subtitle suggests, are responses by Native Americans to the miserable record of pollution, overconsumption of natural resources, and the all too evident triumph of greed over maintaining a livable environment in the Great Lakes and the world. Readers should not be put off by what appears, at first glance, to be a book intended for a scholarly audience. Yes, the format, extended bibliographies, and chapter headings such as, “Grassroots Indigenous Epistemologies: Native, Non-Governmental Organizations, and the Environment,” are a little off-putting. Don’t be.

Phil Bellfy

At the heart of most of the essays is the difference between Indigenous Peoples’ attitude to the earth and environment which is best summarized by living in balance with nature as opposed to modern society’s exploitation of the environment.  The essays address a wide range of environmental concerns and the writing is often sharp, critical and outraged. One essay I found especially interesting and biting was on overpopulation and how Japan is so overpopulated many of her people are “literally tumbling into the sea.” Yet they are worried that their declining birthrate means in the future they will have fewer workers to “produce,’ and thus ‘consume’ whatever it is that’s produced.” The author then goes on to say, “Think about it. I suggest that this attitude signifies nothing so much as stark, staring madness. It is insane: suicidally, homicidally, ecocidally, homicidally insane.”

The book is a deep dive into indigenous culture, beliefs, and their close relationship to nature and the environment. It is provocative, disturbing, and to the point. And the point is that humanity is “killing the natural world, and thus itself. It’s no more complicated than that.”
Honor the Earth: Indigenous Response to Environmental Degradation in the Great Lakes edited by Phil Bellfy. Ziibi Press, ISBN 978-1-61599-625-4, $24.95.

U.P. Colony

SKU 978-1-61599-606-3
$11.95
The Story of Resource Exploitation in Upper Michigan -- Focus on Sault Sainte Marie Industries
In stock
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Product Details
UPC: 978-1-61599-606-3
Brand: Modern History Press
Binding: Paperback
Audiobook: Audible, ITunes
Edition: 1st
Author: Phil Bellfy
Pages: 80
Publication Date: 09/01/2020

In the 1980s, Phil Bellfy pondered the question: Why does Sault,Ontario, appear to be so prosperous, while the "Sault" on the American side has fallen into such a deplorable state? Could the answer be that the "American side" was little more than a "resource colony"-or to use the academic jargon of "Conflict and Change" Sociology-an "Internal Colony." In UP Colony, Bellfy revisits his graduate research to update us the state of the Sault.

The ultimate question: why has the U.P.'s vast wealth, nearly unrivaled in the whole of the United States, left the area with poverty nearly unrivaled in the whole of the United States? None of the conventional explanations from "distance to markets," to "too many people," to "disadvantageous production costs," have any credibility. Simply put: "Where did the $1.5 billion earned from copper mining, $1 billion from logging, and nearly $4 billion in iron ore go?"

To get to the bottom of these thorny questions, Bellfy looks at the possible economic pressures imposed by "external colonial powers." The pressure-points examined in this book include presence of a complimentary economy, lopsided investment in one sector, monopoly style management, disparity of living standards, a repressive conflict-resolution system, and the progressive growth of inequality over time.

In UP Colony, Dr. Bellfy has revisited his MA Thesis and brought this analysis up-to-date in conjunction with the Sault's Semisepticentennial-the 350th anniversary of its French founding in 1668.

From Ziibi press www.ZiibiPress.com

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