Why I March: We Need to Leave The Oil in The Ground!

My name is Patricia Gualinga. I am the international relations coordinator for the Kichwa First People of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon. I have had the opportunity to travel around the world, in addition to helping my people and fighting alongside my siblings, parents, and entire community.

I'm traveling to New York for many events around the UN General Assembly, including the People's Climate March. These are spaces where the world's governments come together to discuss issues of transcendental importance for indigenous peoples. Though our governments need to assume their proper responsibilities, often in these meetings there is no progress. One major aspiration of my trip is that our participation helps encourage some advancement.

As women, we are mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and friends. We are very sensitive to feeling what happens around us. Women have a close relationship to the Earth because everything we are comes from the Earth's powers. I'm certain through our songs and dreams, we can ensure that our strength is felt by governments so that they make good decisions. This is important because they are currently making bad decisions that put humanity at risk.

Brothers and sisters, we're calling out to the world to join together for true change. Let's leave the oil beneath the ground. The Sarayaku indigenous people believe that instead of bringing 'development,' the oil industry is destructive for indigenous society, non-indigenous society, the planet, and nature. It disrupts our indigenous worldview and destroys our ecosystems. That's why we vociferously fight so that oil is not extracted from our territories.

If we continue preying on the Earth under the banner of the oil economy, we put at risk both our lives and that of the planet. Mother Earth is tired of so much abuse and ill-treatment. Now is the time to put on the brakes, to say, "this is the limit, we can't continue this way."

This isn't just the fight of indigenous peoples or Sarayaku. It's the fight of everyone, because the air we all breathe doesn't have borders. Water doesn't have borders. While we humans place political borders, the Earth is a unified entity. And the consequences of pollution are affecting everyone.

The Sarayaku people are launching our proposal for Kausak Sacha, or the Living Forest. This includes not just animals and biodiversity, but also the spirits that are in charge of protecting those ecosystems -- making sure the rivers don't dry up, that there is abundant biodiversity, that the forest regenerates. But these spirits don't have a representative voice in urban society, and they are disappearing little by little. Before they disappear completely, we want the living forests within indigenous territories to be globally recognized as untouchable, sacred, and protected patrimony of biodiversity. We're not talking about national parks, we're not talking about something where the Plan B allows for oil exploitation. We're talking about something that lasts in perpetuity, as an inheritance for future generations.

Let's join forces and change our way of seeing the world. True wealth is found within our Amazon that contributes oxygen and life. In the call to leave oil below the ground, let's start with those who are resisting and maintaining our worldview as indigenous peoples. We won't allow continued disregard from the oil industry, which aims only to generate economic profits. We can generate a much more lasting benefit -- the general good of building an alternative that favors all life.

This blog post is part of the #WhyICare blog series, curated by the editors of HuffPost Generation Change in recognition of the People's Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014. To see all the other posts in the series, click here.

Join the conversation on Twitter and tell us why you care about the climate crisis with the hashtags #WhyICare and #PCM. For more information about the People's Climate March, click here.