• As Long as Grass Grows

  • The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock
  • By: Dina Gilio-Whitaker
  • Narrated by: Kyla Garcia
  • Length: 7 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (139 ratings)

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As Long as Grass Grows

By: Dina Gilio-Whitaker
Narrated by: Kyla Garcia
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Publisher's Summary

The story of Native peoples’ resistance to environmental injustice and land incursions and a call for environmentalists to learn from the indigenous community’s rich history of activism.

Through the unique lens of “Indigenized environmental justice”, indigenous researcher and activist Dina Gilio-Whitaker explores the fraught history of treaty violations, struggles for food and water security, and protection of sacred sites, while highlighting the important leadership of indigenous women in this centuries-long struggle. As Long as Grass Grows gives listeners an accessible history of indigenous resistance to government and corporate incursions on their lands and offers new approaches to environmental justice activism and policy.

Throughout 2016, the Standing Rock protest put a national spotlight on indigenous activists, but it also underscored how little Americans know about the longtime historical tensions between native peoples and the mainstream environmental movement. Ultimately, she argues, modern environmentalists must look to the history of indigenous resistance for wisdom and inspiration in our common fight for a just and sustainable future.

©2019 Dina Gilio-Whitaker (P)2019 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Gilio-Whitaker takes the reader on a historical journey that, had it been penned about the Jewish Holocaust or the ‘ethnic cleansing’ conducted at the behest of any number of 20th-century despots, would be well known. Yet when it comes to the United States’ continuing campaign to wipe tribal communities from the map, most Americans are in a state of denial that such a thing could happen.” (Los Angeles Review of Books)

“The process of genocide, which began five centuries ago with the colonization of the Americas and the extermination of indigenous people, has now spread to the planetary level, pushing two hundred species per day to extinction and threatening the entire human species. Dina Gilio-Whitaker’s As Long as Grass Grows makes these connections, holding the seeds of resistance, the seeds of freedom, and the promise of a future.” (Vandana Shiva, author of Earth Democracy

“An important and accessible work recommended for students and scholars of political ecology from the undergraduate level up. Gilio-Whitaker’s far-reaching work creates a compelling foundation upon which to add specific examples of the ongoing struggle for environmental justice and Indigenous rights during times of anthropogenic climate change. By connecting Native American history with the environmental justice movement in a clear and comprehensive manner, Gilio-Whitaker clarifies the depth of the wrong-doings of the past, while also opening the door to a wide range of opportunities for positive change in the future.” (Journal of Political Ecology)

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Extremely informative and eye opening

This book touches on so many individual cases of indigenous peoples' struggles, historical and current, at the same time as it paints the larger picture of Native Americans and environmental issues, putting the marginalized ideals into a global context which is at the forefront of today's debate questioning neo liberal rhetoric and its complete disregard for community and nature. Highly recommended read!

3 people found this helpful

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Required reading

I think this is a must read for anyone interested in protecting the Earth. I've not read anything as incisive and clear about the need to center Environmental Justice work in Indigenous priorities, cultural history, and politics.

2 people found this helpful

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Powerful Book

I thought this book was excellent. Provides a good (as good as possible in one short book) overall background to contextualize the Indigenous experience with and in relation to nature and environmental injustice. Though the subject matter is obviously and necessarily “heavy” I love that the author ends on a relatively hopeful note and with several suggestions of concrete things the reader can do to be a part of the solution instead of the problem.

2 people found this helpful

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Engaging non-fiction with an important message

Important lessons for non-Native environmentalists on the long history of inequality in the US and environmental justice for tribal communities.

1 person found this helpful

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Should be required reading

Structural genocide, environmental injustice, ecocide, Christian dominance over indigenous peoples... I felt like a sponge listening to this book. So much of what we spoon feed our kids about the history of our country is wrong. Everyone should read (or listen) to this well-researched masterpiece.

1 person found this helpful

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Required Reading

If you want access to the perspective of Indigenous Americans, Dina Gilio-Whitaker’s book is an excellent start. Deep dive into the legal, political, cultural framework forced upon Native Peoples by Settler Colonialism and the historical and continuing damage it inflicts on them.

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Unbalanced Information

I wish that this author had presented more balanced perspectives of both the green energy sector and the oil/coal/nuclear energy sector. She demonizes the oil, coal and nuclear energy sectors and fails to mention or acknowledge the indigenous land, populations and communities around the world that are currently being impacted by the United States’ demand for green/clean energy products.

It is not difficult to find information regarding the destruction of indigenous people‘s land in countries like Peru or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). And it is happening right now. We have a severe problem in United States where if we don’t see energy production happening in our own cities or our backyards then it doesn’t impact us at all or affect our livelihood. The reality remains that even though California is not burning coal they are still using it for more than 50% of their electricity. They are still draining the Colorado river despite all of the laws and bills to stop damning water flow into the ocean. Just because it is not happening in your own state does not mean that it isn’t happening in someone else’s state or in another country.

In the US’s fight to stop climate change, they’re pushing ever greater amounts of green energy technologies, which are built on human misery and literally mountains of toxic waste.

Amnesty International and numerous media outlets have conducted research and reported stories showing most of the cobalt required for the batteries needed for US’s big electric vehicle push comes from small mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Cobalt is a necessary metal in the rechargeable batteries that power almost every electronic device in the world today, including cellphones, laptop computers, tablets, electric vehicles, and the magnets used in wind turbines.

The DRC produces more than half of the cobalt used today—more than all the other countries in the world combined.

The government of the DRC has a terrible record of human rights abuses. Many of the workers in the country’s cobalt mines are enslaved or virtually enslaved tribe children. UNICEF estimated more than 40,000 children work in mines in the DRC, where hundreds, if not thousands, die in cave-ins and other mine accidents and from mining-related illnesses every year. Most of this cobalt is produced for, or purchased by, Chinese conglomerates operating in the DRC. Often, the cobalt is shipped to China, where it’s refined and put into all manner of electronic gadgets from cell phones to fighter jet display systems.

And it’s not just batteries for electric cars and battery backup for solar and wind industrial facilities that are built on slavery and human misery. Research from Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom reports that a single province in China produces 45 percent of the polysilicon that makes up solar panels, the majority of which are assembled in China. The polysilicon and solar panels are produced by Uyghur Muslims under a huge forced-labor regime.

Solar panels are in huge demand because of climate change,” reports the BBC, discussing the study. “The global production of solar panels is using forced labour from China’s Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. … The [polysilicon] is obtained under a massive system of coercion.”

Cobalt and polysilicon are just two of the myriad minerals, metals, and composites underpinning all modern electronics for which the world depends on China and other oppressive regimes. Unless the Biden-Harris administration, other U.S. Democratic Party leaders, and the heads of other developed countries change course, child and slave labor will become even more prevalent, because each and every green energy technology they’re pushing for depends on these minerals and elements.

Huge amounts of earth must be mined to extract the sparsely spaced minerals and elements needed to create the batteries powering electric cars, as well as providing supplementary power when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun not shining. The refining of these minerals produces a toxic sludge that poisons adjacent and downstream peoples and environments.

Lithium is the lighter of all metals, and it is a crucial component in the production of batteries for laptops, smartphones, and the growing market of electric cars. According to "The United States Geological Survey in recent years, the global demand of lithium has skyrocketed, and its production tripled from 2015 to 85,000 tons by 2018" (BBC, 2019). Also, in 2018, the global market price of this mineral per one metric ton was 17 000 USD on average. This land in Peru was taken away by the government after the United States approached the Peruvian government for access to use their land for lithium production. Which poisons the ground water and the earth making it unusable for thousands of years. The United States did this knowingly because the Peruvian government could produce lithium at a lower cost and with less interference from the EPA.

Then there’s the huge waste problem being created by the push for green energy.

Even more energy-intensive mining and manufacturing are necessary to create the composite materials of which wind turbine blades and towers are formed. Massive amounts of energy are used to create and transport the tens of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide-intensive concrete necessary to anchor each wind turbine. Vast amounts of land, most often prime view areas, wildlife habitat, and migratory corridors, are transformed into energy-producing industrial parks when wind “farms” and vast solar arrays are erected.

And the results are huge piles of toxic trash when batteries, wind turbines, and solar panels fail prematurely or simply cease working at the end of their anticipated useful lives, which are difficult to process, recycle, or dispose of. Because of the way they’re assembled and the materials they’re made with, lithium-ion batteries are difficult to recycle. Attempting to disassemble a battery for recycling can result in a short-circuit, explosion, and fire that releases toxic fumes.

Yet, absent recycling, the millions of electric vehicle batteries that manufacturers expect to produce over the next few decades will wind up in landfills, taking up huge amounts of space in conditions that can result in the release of toxins, including heavy metals.

Even before US (Biden Administration) began its big push to expand the use of electric vehicles and wind and solar industrial energy facilities, cities and states were already struggling to deal with the mounting waste from disabled wind turbines and solar panels.

Municipalities running certified landfills are increasingly rejecting wind turbine blades, even when they can charge double the amount per ton for accepting them, because they take up tremendous amounts of space, must be crushed at considerable expense, require hundreds of years to break down, and often release methane and volatile organic compounds into the environment. Nor can they be recycled, because they’re made of a composite of resin, fiberglass, and other materials.

The sheer waste of human lives specifically indigenous people’s lives, freedom, and resources for the left’s climate obsession is appalling. Exploiting the most vulnerable people and environments of the world in the vain hope of preventing a minuscule sea level rise and slightly warmer temperatures in the world 100 years from now is unwise and morally bankrupt.

Or how San Francisco based water developing company, Bechtel bought up Bolivia’s indigenous land to outsource water. And privatize the water to the point where indigenous people couldn’t afford to drink the water from their land. In 1997, the World Bank made privatization of the public water system of Bolivia's third largest city, Cochabamba, a condition of the country receiving further aid for water development. Within weeks of taking over the city's water, Bechtel's Bolivian company, Aguas del Tunari, raised rates by more than 50 percent and in some cases even higher. Fortunately, in April 2000, Bechtel was forced to leave the country and the water company was returned to public ownership. Here we have another American (Californian) based company destroying indigenous land outside of the California. Just because California has made it virtually impossible to dam up rain water that flows into the Pacific doesn’t mean that it stops needed water or isn’t using it. That water comes from somewhere. And guess what? It’s destroying another indigenous group.

This author pushes for green energy and makes an argument in favor of green energy production but somewhere in the world (maybe not the US) an indigenous community or under represented community is suffering at the hand of the United States.

Oil, nuclear, coal, wind, solar, etc…they’re all negativity impacting communities all over the world.

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Well done

I will be listening to this audio book again. It was well written. Once you start you won’t want to take breaks, and if you do you’re excited to get back to it.

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Should be required reading in schools

The depth and breadth of this book blazes a trail for a post-colonial world. Those who have even minor criticisms of the colonizing paradigm should expand their understanding of their own position by listening. I know it certainly has me wanting to learn more about indigenous world views and how such frameworks can help us in the environmental movement.

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An important TEXT book.

As journalistic investigation I give this book 5 stars. As audiobook I rate it 1 star. --- The Content is scholarly. The delivery adds to that, but reduces it to a litany of justified complaints, suitable for a text book. I listened to “As long as Grass Grows” after “Braiding Sweet Grass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The latter is a poet. She reads her book. Therefore content and listening experience are a poetic ONE no matter how serious the message in a passage. --- Dina Gillo-Whitakre’s book is read by a professional who renders each sentence with predictable speed and cadence, from higher to lower pitch - without reprieve. This adds cool distance, where introspection is asked for. English is my second language. I in-toned sentences, realizing how engaging this audio book could be, were it to shine a light on Past Present and Future. I wondered whether the accusatory tone pleases the author, like an exclamation mark adding emphasis. Some chapters into the book, I forced myself to listen , slowed down the sped, and felt like taking cover under the painted buffalo skin tipi. I know warmth is there, there. It may not be fair to compare these two books on this platform, were we not in dire need to build bridges, and traverse as ONE humanity, from an earth-bound, back to star-aware consciousness.

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  • Mr. Cullan N. Joyce
  • 09-30-22

Brilliant and challenging. Really opened my eyes

It's challenging, but, coming from an Australian perspective, it helped me to understand the journey of the work.