Indigenous Lands, Colonial Methods

How Literature Exposes Climate Injustices and Indigenous Resilience Through the Lens of Kyle Whyte's 'An Indigenous Allegory of Climate Justice'


  • Ashley Pocrnich


Climate change is not the great equalizer of all peoples, as has been commonly claimed for as long as the science behind it has been discussed. Instead, this essay will use Potawatomi scholar Dr Kyle Whyte’s analogy of peoples as different types of ships in a common body of water as he describes in ‘Way Beyond the Lifeboat: An Indigenous Allegory of Climate Justice’.1 He demonstrates how the effects of climate change and the methods used in attempts to mitigate it have revealed social inequalities and structural racism through literature. Non-fiction books written on the climate activism carried out by Indigenous peoples all over the world show the strength and resilience of these groups in their guardianship of their traditional lands. However, other sources also chronicle their serial discrimination from more general worldwide activism movements. Legal concerns are also revealed as Indigenous peoples struggle on the behalf of the environment, as barriers that protect the interest of a few become clearly labeled as tools of capitalism by authors. Despite challenges posed by the persistent effects of colonialism on social and cultural mechanisms, Indigenous peoples have remained some of the planet’s most stalwart defenders.