cover image Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science

Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science

Jessica Hernandez. North Atlantic, $17.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-62317-605-1

Environmental scientist and activist Hernandez, who is Zapotec and Maya Ch’orti’, debuts with a passionate if jumbled look at the intersection of environmental justice, racism, and conservationism. She argues that “mostly white cisgender men” are managing Indigenous lands through systemic “ecocolonialism” that has harmed Indigenous peoples and led to environmental damage, and they’ve failed to acknowledge the “ecological grief” they’ve caused. Westerners, she writes, fall short on including Indigenous people in environmental dialogues and deny them the social and economic resources necessary to recover from “land theft, cultural loss, and genocide” and to prepare for the future effects of climate change. She argues vehemently against national parks (“Yellowstone not only marked the forced removal of Indigenous peoples, it also celebrated the genocide enacted against Indigenous peoples during these times”) and such organizations as the Sierra Club (“Why is the face of conservation still white men?”), describes the racial and gender discrimination she faced as a student, gives short histories on Indigenous resistance movements in Central America, discusses women-led artisan collectives, and reveals her own family history. It’s a moving lay of the land, but one prone to sidetracking without charting a way forward. The survey has potential, but it doesn’t quite come together. (Jan.)