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What is Nature?

In the English language, we separate "plants" and "animals" from "humans." We also separate “nature” from "everything else." However, this distinction is not the same in every language. For example, it does not exist within many Indigenous languages.

Roo (Catawba Nation) explains how the Catawba do not have a word for differentiating plants, animals or nature from humans. This way of understanding leads to more respectful relationships with the beyond-human world.

Listen here:


How can thinking of humans as part of nature help us to treat the environment better?


Indigenous Land Relationships in the Carolinas: An Interactive Audio Tour

This tour features short audio recordings of Indigenous people telling their own stories connected to their relationship with the land. It was created by Quinn Smith (Chickasaw Nation, Chocktaw, Duke University's Trinity College Class of 2023) through Duke Gardens' Equity Through Stories Program.

Links to the rest of the tour pages are below; click to go to the previous or next tour pages, or click on any of the individual tour page titles. Tour pages can be visited in any order.






Jump to another point in the tour:


About Quinn Smith, Jr.

photo of Quinn Smith, Jr. in Duke Gardens

Quinn is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, majoring in public policy with a documentary studies certificate. As a documentarian, Quinn strives to challenge our misconceptions of Indigenous people by documenting a long-silenced, shared humanity.

What drew Quinn to the Equity through Stories Program was the ability to uplift Indigenous truths and to forge reciprocal relationships with Indigenous people throughout the Carolinas. Quinn does this by interviewing Indigenous people about their relationships with the land and weaving their stories into audio documentaries to be exhibited at the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants. He also initiates seed-sharing and other reciprocal ventures between Indigenous peoples and Blomquist Gardens. Quinn hopes that his work will help to re-educate Duke Garden’s 500,000+ annual visitors and to create a healing space for Indigenous people.

Visit Quinn's website here.