My answer to the question “does it matter what one does on this land?”
I think it does.
In his book, King refers to two of the traditional ways that Native groups are creating income from their land. One is casinos. The other is resource development.
Here is what he has to say about casinos:
“I’m not particularly happy about gambling as a fiscal base for Native people. That kind of money generally brings out the worst in folks, Native or non-Native. But after several centuries of economic oppression, and given the lack of alternatives, professional gambling, for many tribes, holds the most potential for the least effort. Still, apart from raw cash and jobs, industrial-strength gambling contributes little of value to the world.
But then, the same thing could be said for land mines and reality television.”
As for resource development, he says “I suggest we concentrate on the issues of tribal membership and resource development...these two topics may well be two of the more important issues of the twenty-first century for Aboriginal people in North America.” He goes on to say “the Alberta Tar Sands is an excellent example of a non-Native understanding of land. It is, without question, the dirtiest, most environmentally insane energy-extraction project in North America, probably in the world...” Further… “ I still find it impossible to imagine the Alberta tar sands ever coming out of an Aboriginal ethos.”
In my opinion and at this point in our history, casinos and resource extraction cannot be at the heart of any people, any culture, cannot be the principal economic engine. What is soul destroying for the one is soul destroying for the all.
As we shift our priorities, the focus needs to become the concept of “right livelihood”. In Nexus, we will bring consciousness to that aspect of our lives that we call work. So many of us are compromised by what we are called upon to do in order to “make a living”. Many of us are engaged in employment which we know is adding to the misery of the world. When the whole is tainted, the parts which are supporting it are also tainted. We need to come to terms with the great number and breadth of jobs which do not merit our participation...anything from weapons manufacturing, to the exploration and development of energy sources that are unsustainable, to the manufacturing and sales of goods that have been created and built using unacceptable and exploitative labour practices. It doesn’t matter which group, culture or nationality we are talking about - soul-destroying work is unacceptable and repugnant and we need to address this issue in all aspects of our re-visioning.
Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh wrote,
"To practice Right Livelihood (samyag ajiva), you have to find a way to earn your living without transgressing your ideals of love and compassion. The way you support yourself can be an expression of your deepest self, or it can be a source of suffering for you and others. " ... Our vocation can nourish our understanding and compassion, or erode them. We should be awake to the consequences, far and near, of the way we earn our living."