The Indigenous Space Economy
From Land to Space: Recognition, Rights, & Sovereignty.
By Samson Williams, Space Economist, MilkyWayEconomy
Who owns the sky?
“Our land is more valuable than your money. It will last forever. It will not even perish by the flames of fire. As long as the sun shines and the waters flow, this land will be here to give life to men and animals. We cannot sell the lives of men and animals; therefore we cannot sell this land. It was put here for us by the Great Spirit and we cannot sell it because it does not belong to us. You can count your money and burn it within the nod of a buffalo's head, but only the great Spirit can count the grains of sand and the blades of grass of these plains. As a present to you, we will give you anything we have that you can take with you, but the land, never.” --Crowfoot, chief of the Blackfeet, circa 1885 https://shec.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1543
Hello. My name is Samson Williams, I’m an anthropologist who specializes in space economics. Before my story started, once upon a time in the not too distant past, my ancestors were kidnapped to this land of Manifest Destiny, shackled in the belly of colonization. Though my ancestors were not slaves, they were enslaved. And now, not so many generations passed that my grandmother does not still speak of her grandmother who was enslaved, I put words to paper to implore you, the unconquered, do not sell your sky.
Of course you may ask, “How can one sell the sky? No one owns the sky. ” And so today, in the 21st Century, we find ourselves at a repetitive moment in history, where colonizers hasten to repeat the sins of their forefathers. Having cut up the soil and divided the Earth into barb wire etched sections of greed, the offspring of those that bought and sold my ancestors, while attempting to exterminate yours, have looked up and decided their divine rights of ego and manifest destiny should take flight. Not just to the sky above, but to orbits even higher than any concept of “up” we’ve ever known. Hence, why at this very moment, the largest “land grab” in history is taking place, 62 miles above our heads. And by what right are these heavenly orbits claimed? By the right of force. By the right of possession. By the right of law…that was never discussed with you, your people, your tribe, your sovereignty or your Ancestors.
As of January 2023 this land grab in orbit, that we call The Space Economy, is valued at over $503B dollars. By the 2040s the value of The Space Economy is forecast to be between $4 trillion and $10 trillion dollars. Big, almost fantastical numbers that with them come the hard questions of:
- Will we do a better job of defending Space than we did its child Earth?
- What rights do future generations have to look up and see the night’s sky their ancestors still speak to them through, free of garbage and the clutter of possession by violence?
- What are Indigenous People’s rights in orbit, in Space, on the Moon and beyond?
We must answer these questions. Because if we do not. It won’t be that we sold the Sky or even be involved in a discussion about who owns the Sky. It will be that those who stole the land will tell us that the Sky was never ours to begin with…before laying claim to the Moon, the heavens and beyond.
For more on the Indigenous Space Economy follow Dan Hawk https://www.linkedin.com/in/dan-hawk-92b37121b/ and the United First Nations Planetary Defense. Because, if we colonize space, someone will have to kill the masters.