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Milwaukee is the first County in Wisconsin to Pass “Rights of Nature” Resolution
October 27, County Executive David Crowley signed a resolution and made Milwaukee County the first in Wisconsin to recognize “Rights of Nature,” a movement aimed to recognize legal rights of the natural world and its ecosystems, resources, and species.
The Rights of Nature Movement is a global movement asserting that natural areas, bodies of water and plant and animal wildlife have a right to exist unimpeded and unpolluted by human society. In Wisconsin, it has been pushed forward by indigenous people in the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk Nation.
Guy Reiter, whose Menominee name is Anahkwet, is regarded as a leader of the rights of nature movement in Wisconsin. He likened the moment to the moon landing, according to a report from Lina Tran from WUMN radio, Milwaukee’s NPR.
"It's a love for the earth, and really it's a love for nature and recognizing that right now, there are really no laws designed to defend it," Reiter said. "Hopefully, people can understand that we have to be able to speak up for those that don't have a voice and this is an opportunity to do that."
Associate Shannon Meagher lives in Milwaukee and is a member of CSA’s Laudato Si Action Team. She too was one of the attendees that celebrated the signing of the Rights of Nature resolution last month. She shares her experience…
“On the surface I understood what the “Rights of Nature” meant, but at the signing, a supervisor, Liz Summer, talked about why this resolution is so important. She stated, ‘This resolution recognizes that the natural world has an inherent right to exist and thrive. It should not simply be based on whether humans benefit from the natural world in an economic sense.’
I also learned that it has been Wisconsin Indian Tribes, namely the Menominee Tribe and the Ho-Chunk tribe that have been working on the resolution since at least 2018, and have been the main pushers of getting the resolution passed.
During the signing ceremony, after two of the Indigenous people spoke about how much this means to Native Americans all over Wisconsin, and the same for the County Supervisors who spoke as well as County Exec David Crowly, I started to think about the same. I realized how important this resolution is to the people of Milwaukee County, all over Wisconsin, and really the world. It is what Pope Francis talked about in “Laudato Si,” wanting for every piece of land, every water way, every body of water, every animal and its habitat to be protected and taken care of. It is always encouraging to see the Pope’s vision in caring for the common home affirmed with actions like this. I pray for the day the whole world comes to the same understanding.”