‘Don’t Take Our Voices Away’: A Role Play on the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change

Teaching Activity. By Julie Treick O’Neill and Tim Swinehart. 16 pages.
A role play on the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change asks students to develop a list of demands to present to the rest of the world at a climate change meeting.

  • Time Periods: 2001 - Present, 21st Century | Themes: Environment & Food, Native American, Pacific Islander, Science, World History/Global Studies | Reading Levels: High School | Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free)

‘Don’t Take Our Voices Away’: A Role Play on the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's HistoryOn the Dec. 8, 2009 broadcast of Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman asked her guest, 15-year-old Mohamed Axam Maumoon, youth ambassador from the Maldives Islands to the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen, for a message to young people everywhere about what climate change meant to him. Without hesitation, Axam turned to the camera and asked, “Would you commit murder . . . even while we are begging for mercy and begging for you to stop what you’re doing, change your ways, and let our children see the future that we want to build for them?”

What does it mean to take Axam’s question seriously? For many of us in the wealthy and so-called “developed” countries of the world, it means learning about the very real and life-threatening ways that climate change is affecting some of the world’s poorest populations. From the rapidly submerging islands of the Maldives, Kiribati, and Tuvalu, to the melting permafrost in native lands across the Arctic, indigenous peoples around the world are confronting some of the worst effects of the climate crisis, despite having done so little to cause it. Axam’s question prompts us to confront the injustice of a situation in which the wealthiest 20 percent of the world’s population has been responsible for more than 60 percent of global warming emissions.

This teaching activity was originally published by Rethinking Schools and is included in their book, A People’s Curriculum for the Earth.

Additional Resources

Paradise Lost. PBS NOW traveled to the nation of Kiribati to see up close how climate change affects residents’ daily lives and how they are dealing with the reality that both their land and culture could disappear from the Earth. NOW also traveled to New Zealand to visit an I-Kiribati community that has already left its home, and to the Pacific Island Forum in Niue to see how the rest of the region is coping with the immediate crisis of climate change. [Producer’s description.] This film can be viewed for free online. It was used in the classroom and is recommended by the teachers who wrote “‘Don’t Take Our Voices Away’: A Role Play on the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change.”

The Island President tells the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives. After leading a 20-year pro-democracy movement, surviving repeated imprisonments and torture, Nasheed becomes president at 41, only to encounter the crisis of climate change. Considered the lowest lying country in the world, a rise of a mere three meters in sea level would inundate the 1,200 islands of the Maldives, rendering the country practically unlivable. [Producer’s description.]

Democracy Now! interview with Mohamed Axam Maumoon, the 15-year-old environmental ambassador from the Maldives, challenging Western viewers by asking, “Would you commit murder?”

My final message will go generally out as a question. Would you commit murder? Our country, the Maldives—not only Maldives, but other countries such as Bangladesh, Kenya, and Zambia—all those countries are suffering to the point that we can’t see the end of it, because of the mistakes other countries are making. And it’s as good as killing us off. So I ask you again, would you commit murder, even while we are begging for mercy and begging for you to stop what you’re doing, change your ways, and let our children see the future that we want to build for them?


Democracy Now! clip featuring youth activist Kari Fulton speaking at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico:

Where will you be in 2050? I know where I will be, and I want to live in a just and clean, sustainable world. We want people to know that whether you live in the forest, whether you live in the hood, you will be impacted by false solutions. And REDD, REDD-plus, REDD-minus-plus, REDD-plus-plus, whatever you want to call it, is a false solution, because you are creating a market on our forests. You are not protecting our Mother Earth.

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Coup in Maldives: Adviser to Ousted Pres. Mohamed Nasheed Speaks Out from Hiding as Arrest SoughtDemocracy Now! broadcast, 2/9/2012.
theme_environmentfoodLessons, books, films, and websites for teaching about climate change in K-12 classrooms.

 

 

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