So the Native peoples around the Americas borrowed from permaculture That's what the title of this post is wrongfully suggesting.
Because permaculture tends to avoid much definition, it can point to any number of things, as the posts in this forum do, and call them permaculture. Well, guess what.... Native agriculture is not like permaculture. That is so permie-centric.
Permaculture is nothing new and shouldn't pretend to be. Its a large umbrella to catch many practices that strive for low energy, integrated living systems using available resources that work with and not against the landscape with the most return for a land steward willing to work their asses off.
By the definition of "like" (similar to), native agriculture IS like permaculture. Permaculture is also like native agriculture. Permaculture is a useful basket term because instead of saying "Oh, I do agroforestry, hugelkultur, wildcrafting, rainwater catchment, and natural building" we can say "I do permaculture." Also, nobody has ever suggested that the Native Americans borrowed from permaculture.
Permaculture principles are like (and borrow from) those that underlie Native American agriculture. Natives did not have refridgerators to convert to dehydrators so one is not "like" the other because permaculture is far too all-inclusive to make a one-to-one comparison.
It is a semantic argument but an important one to most people trying to understand this new groovy term. Like saying P-Diddy is Like Stevie Wonder. No. P-Diddy took from Stevie Wonder and regurgitated it. I had to correct some young urban youth in Oakland who, upon hearing a Stevie Wonder tune said, "hey, he took that from Diddy". HEELLLL NO! Let's be honest about the sources of our ideas.
The convenience of the umbrella term Permaculture can also potentially discredit it. How much "doing" of permaculture qualifies as permaculture? I have chickens-- does that count? Well, they are technically in Zone 3 of my yard so maybe I'm not "doing" permaculture. If I moved them closer to my house.....?
What if I make a big pile (hugelkulture), let my pigs dig through it, convert my fridge into a solar dehydrator, but drive a Hummer to and from my community garden plot and when I get lazy go to Walmart for a cheap piece of Chinese kitchen aiding device? Am I still "doing" permaculture?
Unfortunately, a lot of otherwise well-meaning folks tend to over-enthusiastically promote permaculture as being something new, and incredibly different, and better than anything else ever. I posted this video on my Facebook page (thanks, Paul!) and a very good friend of mine, who also happens to be Navajo, commented "is like???"
Phrasing is very important in many cases, and it seems as though the title of this video, while certainly not meaning to be offensive or patronizing, came off that way.
Jonathan Storvick, Organic Edible Gardens
We must storm this mad man's lab and destroy his villanous bomb! Are you with me tiny ad?