Plants as Persons: New Science Meets Enduring Ethics

By Madronna Holden In his groundbreaking Plants as Persons:  A Philosophical Botany, Matthew Hall reveals botanical discoveries that indicate plants have individuality, self-recognition, self-direction, learning capacity, self- preservation and self-initiated movement.  Does this make them persons?  Hall’s conclusion is a resounding yes. But if plants have the traits of persons on the list above, this […]

An Easter Meditation: Natural Resurrection

By Madronna Holden “The waters are reminding people that they can use their healing gifts when we use ours.” –Robin Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass Kimmerer’s words have reference to a process of natural resurrection that is fitting to ponder this Easter day. Death in this case does not refer to the natural cycle of life and […]

Legal Rights for Nature

By Madronna Holden 10/6/2012 update: New Zealand grants river rights of personhood at the instigation of an indigenous people “In a landmark case for the Rights of Nature, officials in New Zealand recently granted the Whanganui, the nation’s third-longest river, legal personhood. The decision follows a long court battle for the river’s personhood initiated by […]

Previous Quotes and Sources

Here are past quotes with their sources, listing the most recent first: 2017 “One of the mechanisms that works best when you are faced with a life-threatening situation is a song”. Harry Belafonate “I give you the bullets from my weapon because I know they will never be used.  What you did with song and […]

Folklore Lecture Seven: Sacred Geography: A Sense of Home

Folklore as Personal and Cultural Orientation One of the primary functions of mythology and folklore is to provide us with a sense of orientation:  to tell us where we are, physically, culturally, spiritually.  The mythical portrayal of the making of Chehalis culture is also and importantly the portrayal of a journey in a particular landscape.  […]

Folklore Lecture Two: Folklore and Oral Tradition

Three Aspects of Words in the Oral Tradition First, oral tradition, as “spoken,” always has a particular human speaker.  An individual human person, in a singular human voice, is the one who passes on every folklore tradition.  Persons hailing from oral traditions (as the Native American traditions described by Allen) are quite aware of this […]

Lecture Seven: The Green World

Lecture I want to start this discussion with a personal memory from my year of teaching at the Palestinian university at BirZeit. It features a Palestinian elder who lost his family’s house (and thus his ability to have a family of his own) in the Six Day War.  He did not blame the soldiers—but “when […]

Do Not Buy List

Revised 2.2019 Compiled by Madronna Holden Recent alert:  A Consumer Reports study has found problematic levels of arsenic, lead and cadmium in fruit juices (including organic ones). The consequences of this are especially concerning when these juices are given to children. This list indicates safety, environmental and justice issues associated with particular consumer products. Think […]

Your Choices Matter: Citizen Action Alerts

For consumer choices to protect your health, the environment and social justice, see Do Not Buy List. Climate change action: Help Make Paris climate talks effective: Support climate champions rather than climate change deniers in the US Congress. Support US bill to keep fossil fuels in the ground:  This also means that we should prohibit […]

Folklore Lecture One: Definition and Function

(1) What is Folklore?  –We know folklore best by its stories (legends, myths, fairy tales), but folklore also consists of jokes, sayings, games, songs, traditional practices (ranging from celebrations to manners of food preparation), clothing styles, housing decorations, and traditional crafts.  In short, folklore is anything by which a social group expresses itself and its […]

Indigenous Peoples

By Madronna Holden From the UN’s statement of support for the native protestors at Standing Rock:  “For indigenous peoples the environment is a living entity that contains our life sources as well as our sacred sites and heritage. The environment is an important part of our lives and any threat to it impacts our families, […]

Partnering with the Natural World

By Madronna Holden In 1927 Chehalis elder Mary Heck testified on behalf of her people before the U.S. Court of Claims. She spoke in Chehalis, enumerating the things a non-Indian court might count in terms of value. She listed the houses that had been destroyed by pioneers who wanted the cleared land on which they […]

The Mice in the Sink– and Us

In “Mice in the Sink”, an essay exploring empathy in non-human animals, Jessica Pierce leads off with a provocative incident witnessed by CeAnn Lambert, head of the Indiana Coyote Rescue Center. Lambert found two baby mice, exhausted and terrified, trapped in the sink in her garage. She set a bowl of water in the sink. […]

Folklore and Oral tradition

What Folklore Does for Us By Madronna Holden (feel free to email me with comments, questions, or requests regarding this material at Folklore passes on the information and wisdom of human experience from generation to generation.  In this sense folklore is the original and persistent technology that gave us human culture in the first […]


The Natural Model of Reciprocity By Madronna Holden The idea of reciprocity expresses balanced and mutual exchanges.  In natural systems, such exchanges take place at the most basic energetic level–an essential law of physics states that, for every action, there will be an equal and opposite reaction.  Indigenous characteristically model their economic and social exchanges, […]