The Story is in Our Bones

How Worldviews and Climate Justice Can Remake a World in Crisis

Table of contents

Author's Note

Foreword
By Casey Camp-Horinek, Ponca Nation, Environmental Ambassador and Hereditary Drum Keeper of the Ponca Tribe

Part I: Entering the Terrain
Chapter 1: Worldviews Are a Portal
Chapter 2: The Story Is in Our Bones: Origin Stories to Remake our World
Chapter 3: Ancient Trees and Ancestral Warnings
Chapter 4: A Visionary Declaration from the Amazon

Part II: Dismantling Patriarchy, Racism, and the Myth of Whiteness: Ancient Mother and Women Rising
Chapter 5: She Rises
Chapter 6: Tracing and Healing the Assault on Women
Chapter 7: Listening to Black and Indigenous Women, and Debunking the Myth of Whiteness
Chapter 8: Worldviews of Our Ancestral Lineages

Part III: Reciprocity: A Thousandfold Act of Responsibility and Love
Chapter 9: Offering and Tending to the Land
Chapter 10: Composting the Cultural Toxins of Colonization and Capitalism
Chapter 11: Reciprocal Relationships with People and Land

Part IV: Living in Balance with the Natural Laws of the Earth
Chapter 12: Rights of Nature: A Systemic Solution

Part V: The Land Is Speaking: Language, Memory, and a Storied Living Landscape
Chapter 13: Worldviews Conjured by Words
Chapter 14: Songlines Through the Landscape
Chapter 15: Building a Relationship with the Storied Land

Reader's Guide and Resources
Acknowledgments
Credits
Endnotes
Index
About the Author
About the Publisher

It's time to rewild ourselves and our dominant worldviews to build earth-centered communities for all.

Description

It's time to rewild ourselves and our dominant worldviews to build Earth-centered communities for all

These pages summon from our bones our commitment to defend this living Earth.
—Joanna Macy, author, Coming Back to Life and Active Hope

This is a very valuable book. It delves deep into what we can and must learn from both Indigenous worldviews and the natural world that has helped inform them, and it does so without sentimentality or rancor; in so doing, it opens a number of paths for everyone trying to think more wisely about how we can inhabit a planet in fundamental crisis. It would best be read not as an intellectual exercise but as a guidebook to real change.
—Bill McKibben, author, The End of Nature, founder, The Third Act

A magnificent book loaded with knowledge, wisdom, and…an empowering call for action.
—Nnimmo Bassey, author, To Cook a Continent, Right Livelihood Award winner

Incredibly important and timely…includes the memory and knowledge of how we can live in balance with nature.
—Helena Gualinga (Kichwa from Sarayaku, Ecuador), Indigenous youth climate leader

This extraordinary book offers a very potent recipe, spanning culture, global systemic change, sense-making, and remembrance of our Earth legacy.
—Nina Simons, co-founder, Bioneers

A majestic journey of sense-making. The resounding message throughout this book is to act with urgency and purpose in these times of interlocking crises.
—Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-president, The Club of Rome, co-author, Earth for All

The dominant cultural worldview is based upon extraction and exploitation practices that have brought us to the precipice of social, environmental, and climate collapse. Braiding poetic storytelling, climate justice analyses, and collective knowledge of Earth-centered cultures, The Story is in Our Bones opens a portal to restoration and justice beyond the end of a world in crisis.

Author, activist, and changemaker Osprey Orielle Lake weaves together ecological, mythical, political, and cultural understandings and shares her experiences working with global leaders, climate justice activists, Indigenous Peoples, and systems-thinkers. She seeks to summon a new way of being and thinking in the Anthropocene, which includes transforming the interlocking crises of colonialism, racism, patriarchy, capitalism, and ecocide, to build thriving Earth communities for all.

For anyone grieving our collective loss and wanting to take action, The Story is in Our Bones is a vital guide to remaking our world. This hopeful, engaging, and creatively lyrical work reminds readers that another world is possible, and provides a desperately needed antidote to the pervasive despair of our time.

Reviews

"Highly recommended"
Library Journal

"Filled with countless examples of women and Indigenous people reclaiming their power, The Story Is in Our Bones shares a hopeful, creative vision for Earth’s future"
Foreword Reviews

"These pages summon from our bones our commitment to defend this living Earth. I bow to Osprey in deepest respect and gratitude for her years of inspired activism and this brilliant book."
Joanna Macy, environmental activist, scholar, Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology, author, Coming Back to Life and Active Hope, and featured, A Wild Love for the World: Joanna Macy and the Work of Our Time

"Osprey Orielle Lake has given us a magnificent book loaded with knowledge, wisdom, and fine story-telling. In it she lays out a tapestry of multiple pathways that unite to demand humility in our relationship with Mother Earth. The book exposes colonialism, imperialism, racism, capitalism, and patriarchal systems as the underlying factors that have fostered an extractivist, ecologically degrading mindset that drives the current polycrisis. With lavish examples of traditional ecological knowledge, reciprocal economic and governance frameworks, and new narratives, The Story is in Our Bones does not leave the reader exasperated and helpless—it is an empowering call for action."
Nnimmo Bassey , author, To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa, Right Livelihood Award winner

"As a young Indigenous woman, it is important to me that we consider all the complex intersections of colonialism, racism, patriarchy, capitalism, and ecocide while building a better world. This incredibly important and timely book includes the memory and knowledge of how we can live in balance with nature, which still lives on in Indigenous communities and is crucial to solving the multiple crises we are facing!"
Helena Gualinga (Kichwa from Sarayaku), Indigenous youth climate leader, Ecuadorian Amazon

"The Story is in Our Bones is a remarkable achievement, a rich read, and one surely not to miss. For anyone who wonders—as I often do—how on Earth we're going to navigate the seemingly intractable confluence of crises, this extraordinary book offers a very potent recipe, spanning culture, global systemic change, sense-making, and remembrance of our Earth legacy. The book resonates from mind to belly to bones."
Nina Simons, co-founder, chief relationship officer, Bioneers

"Osprey Orielle Lake guides us on a majestic journey of sense making for the 21st century as we attempt to emerge from emergency. She leads us through the importance of adopting a systems approach that fosters new economic models and the need to value nature and climate justice. The resounding message throughout this book is to act with urgency and purpose in these times of interlocking crises."
Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-president, The Club of Rome, co-author, Earth for All

"In this beautifully written book, The Story is in Our Bones offers a frank acknowledgment of the Anthropocene that serves as a vital, yet sober grounding in what we should already know but many are in denial to fully admit. At the same time, Osprey skillfully weaves history, mythology, anthropology, climate and earth science, sociology, and spirituality to illustrate the central message. Capitalism and colonialism have gotten us on this path of catastrophic climate change, but as she says, they can be transformed. Whether it is learning from ancestors from Ukraine, movements like Via Campesina, or women foresters from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the path to a Just Transition and healthy ways of living like Buen Vivir, are rooted in interconnection and in learning from the story. If we do this, we all thrive, nestled in the bosom of Mother Earth."
Jacqui Patterson, founder, executive director, The Chisholm Legacy Project

"This book traces luminous threads of possibility away from extractive collapse, coalescing back into reciprocity with sovereign living processes. Osprey Orielle Lake reminds us of the ancient lineage of regeneration, alive in our cells, awakening now in sacred form and practical action, in just the right places and forms to bring down the planetary fever."
Stuart Cowan, executive director, Buckminster Fuller Institute, co-author, Ecological Design

"In this landmark offering, Lake, a tireless campaigner for a just and vibrant world, gives voice to those who have long been marginalized by the dominant culture: Indigenous and Black women from around the world along with the multitudes of our nonhuman relatives. At its core, this marvelous wide-ranging book takes us on a deep dive into root causes of our polycrisis and with flair and scholarship delivers a roadmap toward cultural transformation."
Jeremy Lent, author, The Web of Meaning and The Patterning Instinct

"Reading this book in these dark times of increasing ecological destruction, is like being a salmon in the depths who scents the stream of origin that will guide it home. Osprey Orielle Lake speaks with great wisdom and scholarship—interweaving her exquisite sensitivity for the voice of the wild with her vast experience as a movement leader, and the knowledge of the many frontline communities she stands with. Reassuring us that the wisdom of our Earth-loving ancestors is still within us, Osprey shows how people all over the world are rising to defend Earth and bring more just and ecologically benign societies into being."
Cormac Cullinan, author, Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice, director, Wild Law Institute

"Osprey Orielle Lake, in her magnificent The Story is in our Bones, offers us a new cosmology and a new lens with which to see reality. By combining the wisdom in Indigenous origin stories from around the planet with modern ecological knowledge, her work awakens a radical imagination capable of ushering forth a vibrant Earth Community. If you read her book and dwell in its wisdom, you will soon find yourself in the next era of your creative life."
Brian Thomas Swimme, author, Cosmogenesis: An Unveiling of the Expanding Universe, director, Human Energy

"This is a very valuable book. It delves deep into what we can and must learn from both Indigenous worldviews and the natural world that has helped inform them, and it does so without sentimentality or rancor; in so doing, it opens a number of paths for everyone trying to think more wisely about how we can inhabit a planet in fundamental crisis. It would best be read not as an intellectual exercise but as a guidebook to real change."
Bill McKibben, author, The End of Nature, founder, Third Act

"This is a profound and much-needed book. I am grateful to Osprey Orielle Lake for presenting an in-depth analysis of the root causes of the ecological crises we face and for paths forward to secure the future of humanity in harmony with nature. With gorgeous poetics and precise logic, the chapters show us how to build a thriving future informed by radical imagination, science, Indigenous People's wisdom, and principles of climate justice. Simply stunning. "
Farhana Yamin, lawyer, climate activist, Honorary Fellow, Somerville College, Oxford University