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As the planet grapples with the ever-starker consequences of climate change, a debut book by Lumbee citizen and Duke University scientist Ryan Emanuel makes a convincing argument that climate change isn’t the problem — it’s a symptom. The problem, Emanuel explains in On the Swamp: Fighting for Indigenous Environmental Justice, is settler colonialism and its extractive mindset, which for centuries have threatened and reshaped landscapes including Emanuel’s ancestral homeland in what today is eastern North Carolina. Real environmental solutions, Emanuel writes, require consulting with the Indigenous peoples who have both millennia of experience caring for specific places, and the foresight to avoid long-term disasters that can result from short-term material gain. 

Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1977, Emanuel was one of a handful of Native students at school. He spent summers visiting family in Robeson County, North Carolina, the cultural center of the Lumbee Tribe, or People of the Dark Water, where he played outside with other children, occasionally exploring a nearby swamp, one of the many lush wa... Read more

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