When humanity fails

A hopeful reminder

  • Elizabeth Sumida Huaman University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Keywords: nature, Indigenous peoples, decoloniality


This essay offers a reflection on the cultural significance of breath for Indigenous peoples and the ways in which breath serves not only as a biophysical process but as an Indigenous metaphor for the power of life. The link between humanity and breath of life imbued in all living creatures—animal, plant, and other species—reconfigures notions of hierarchy that threaten interspecies harmony and sustainability. Drawing from cultural stories, scholarly research, and poetry, the essay challenges readers to consider institutional and policy failures in relation to Indigenous struggles and triumphs and in order to reclaim decolonial notions of individual and collective agency.


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