This thesis brings to the forefront the traditional stories Marshallese poet, performer, and climate change activist Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner shares in her published poetry. Indigenous studies scholars agree that Indigenous stories have power--power to change, power to inform, and power to heal. The traditional stories in Jetñil-Kijiner's poetry reveal the power of the environment and the potential relationships that can exist between humans and natural beings. While these traditional stories work to disrupt the narrative that Indigenous perspectives, knowledges, and cultures are somehow inferior to their colonial neighbors', they also assert the need for a return to environmental reciprocit--or the establishment of mutually beneficial relationships between humans and the environment. Jetñil-Kijiner invites her audience to develop these relationships with natural beings as a way to combat the destructive effects of climate change. Seeing the environment as more than an inanimate resource to be exploited involves mindful interactions with natural beings--including plant, animal, water, and geologic life--through respecting their power and learning from their wisdom. Ultimately, Jetñil-Kijiner's invitation to adopt environmental reciprocity encourages global environmental healing by allowing traditional stories to transform the practice of human and natural interactions to allow for mutually restorative and enlightened relationships.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Purse, Rebecca, "More than Stories: Indigenous Environmental Reciprocity in the Poetry of Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 9528.
climate change, environment, nature, Indigenous, traditional stories, environmental reciprocity, natural beings, natural agency, other-than-human kin, environmental kinship