Living Earth Center hosts biodiversity talk

The Living Earth Center hosted a community biodiversity event Saturday in the CSU Ballroom, where they examined the power of diversity in both nature and society. 

They then looked into the long-ignored wisdom of the Lakota Individuals and discovered how these teachings might assist people in returning to a balanced, healthy relationship with nature. 

Megan Schnitker was one of the keynote speakers at the event. She is the executive director at the Mahkato Revitalization Project, an indigenous-led non-profit promoting cultural revitalization. She spoke about how she got involved in the conference. 

“Laura Peterson actually texted me, and so did Amy Hunt. They were getting together to do this conference because they’re both a part of the living air center,” said Schnitker. “They asked if I would be a part of it and be a speaker for the biodiversity conference, and I said I would.”

The conference aimed to remind people about why it is important to learn about the Earth and how to take care of it. 

“I think it talks about how we take better care of the earth and reconnect with it because we become so disconnected through screens. We forget where we originally came from and lose touch with the Earth,” said Schnitker. “There’s a lot of studies that people have done that show how touching the dirt changes our mood and alters our immune system and how it balances us out. Without touching the earth, we lose ourselves.” 

Schnitker also talked about how people can be more connected to the Earth. 

“We used to be super connected to all what we call Mitákuye Oyásʼiŋ which means ‘all my relations’,” Schnitker. “Lakota people have an understanding of how we are connected to Unci Maka, what we call Grandmother Earth. We consider everything that is living to be our relatives. We also think about how we treat our relatives, our connection to them and how we respect one another through prayer.” 

While working at MRP, Schnitker is the owner of Lakota Made, an indigenous woman-owned store that sells wild plant remedies and eco-friendly personal care products such as healing salves, plant tinctures and many others. 

Schnitker said she never thought these products would have a demand. 

“It started in the kitchen of my house just about four years ago. I was making things for my family when my husband suggested I make these to sell them, but I didn’t think people would want my products, and they can make them themselves,” said Schnitker. “Turns out people didn’t know what I was talking about, and they didn’t know how to do these things themselves.” 

Schnitker started selling off her Facebook page, which turned into much more. 

“It became a business page, and it then turned into doing vendor markets, and then the pandemic hit, so we did online selling, which was very successful,” said Schnitker. “Towards the end of the pandemic, we started with a small retail store in the Ross Plaza building. It quickly became too small, and now we are in the 606 building in Old Town, a big building where we make all of our products. here and have a much larger retail space.” 

Header Photo: The conference hosted by The Living Earth Center aims to assist people in developing a healthy, balanced relationship with nature, and how it’s important to take care of the Earth. File Photo

Write to Lauren Viska at lauren.viska@mnsu.edu

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