• Fresh Banana Leaves

  • Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science
  • By: Jessica Hernandez
  • Narrated by: Stacy Gonzalez
  • Length: 9 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (56 ratings)

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Fresh Banana Leaves  By  cover art

Fresh Banana Leaves

By: Jessica Hernandez
Narrated by: Stacy Gonzalez
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Publisher's Summary

An Indigenous environmental scientist breaks down why western conservationism isn't working - and offers Indigenous models informed by case studies, personal stories, and family histories that center the voices of Latin American women and land protectors.

Despite the undeniable fact that Indigenous communities are among the most affected by climate devastation, Indigenous science is nowhere to be found in mainstream environmental policy or discourse. And while holistic land, water, and forest management practices born from millennia of Indigenous knowledge systems have much to teach all of us, Indigenous science has long been ignored, otherized, or perceived as "soft" - the product of a systematic, centuries-long campaign of racism, colonialism, extractive capitalism, and delegitimization. 

Here, Jessica Hernandez - Maya Ch'orti' and Zapotec environmental scientist and founder of environmental agency Piña Soul - introduces and contextualizes Indigenous environmental knowledge and proposes a vision of land stewardship that heals rather than displaces, that generates rather than destroys. She breaks down the failures of western-defined conservatism and shares alternatives, citing the restoration work of urban Indigenous people in Seattle; her family's fight against ecoterrorism in Latin America; and holistic land management approaches of Indigenous groups across the continent. 

Through case studies, historical overviews, and stories that center the voices and lived experiences of Indigenous Latin American women and land protectors, Hernandez makes the case that if we're to recover the health of our planet - for everyone - we need to stop the eco-colonialism ravaging Indigenous lands and restore our relationship with Earth to one of harmony and respect.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2022 Jessica Hernandez (P)2022 North Atlantic Books

Critic Reviews

"Westerners, [Dr. Hernandez] writes, fall short on including Indigenous people in environmental dialogues and deny them the social and economic resources necessary to recover from 'land theft, cultural loss, and genocide' and to prepare for the future effects of climate change." (Publishers Weekly)

“In Fresh Banana Leaves, Jessica Hernandez weaves personal, historical, and environmental narratives to offer us a passionate and powerful call to increase our awareness and to take responsibility for caring for Mother Earth.” A must-read for anyone interested in Indigenous environmental perspectives.” (Emil’ Keme, K’iche’Maya Nation, member of the Ixbalamke Junajpu Winaq’ Collective)

“A groundbreaking book that busts existing frameworks about how we think about Indigeneity, science, and environmental policy. A must-read for practitioners and theorists alike.” (Sandy Grande, professor of political science and Native American and Indigenous studies, University of Connecticut)

What listeners say about Fresh Banana Leaves

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Sadly, too repetitive

Sadly, while the premise is sound, the author’s bludgeoning repetition made it impossible for me to finish the book.

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Extremely important book. Required reading for environmental scientists.

Hernandez provides an extremely detailed, yet easy to follow, breakdown of how colonialism, white supremacy, and patriarchy have shaped and continue to influence the lives of everyone in the Americas. She provides historical examples, stories of relatives and neighbors, and personal accounts to illustrate the truths of her lived experience for those of us who can choose to ignore these systems if we wish. If you are an environmental scientist, policy maker, or just a person who cares, you should read this book.

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Love it!

As someone who is Afro-Latine, this book acknowledges Afro indigenous and Latine people in a way that talks about the healing that needs to take place. Dr. Hernandez also discusses how academia has support colonial narratives that are rooted in patriarchy and white supremacy. I loved this book and will revisit it as a public health worker.

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Making soup, not a sandwich

So this is a generally uncomfortable read, but the climate crisis is also uncomfortable. This feeling is in part of facing the issues that colonialism created and that there is no clear action plan. It seems like the main purpose Dr. Hernandez is imparting is how intersectionality through Indigenous science is all in compassing and thus, doesn't have a "do X to fix Y." To fix our planet is going to have to be a long series of different plans working together, This is why the book is also a history dive of the Americas its all connected and it has to be understood to help fix the problems that are unique to the Americas, I see how people think shes repeating her point over and over again, and I felt that too, the thing is the point is brought back up to add another layer of nuance to the complexity of the point itself. So if we pause and think it over, the message Dr. Hernandez is making is like a good soup made from scratch. It's seemingly simple but it requires a lot of parts working together and then cooked over a long and caring time.

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Important message but highly repetitive

I loved listening to Dr. Jessica’ Hernandez’s story and passion for this space. I know it’s a huge and important issue and her intersection between her academic work and indigenous is amazing (though academia is naturally very colonized.) I did find at least a half a down times in the book where she repeat the same information multiple times not just to drive a point but as if it wasn’t mentioned prior? I do wish she provided more organizations and resource to support displaced indigenous people. I know that’s not her job and there are bigger and bigger powers at play :(

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Great research, little awareness or viable solutions

I wanted to like this book, I wanted to feel empowered, as a Mexican immigrant woman to the US, to make a difference in environmental management. This authors perspective did nothing but leave me feeling paralyzed and invalidated, as if there is nothing I could ever do to improve environmental management because I am white-passing and not indigenous. My only recourse is to acknowledge that as a white Mexican woman, I am a byproduct of settler colonialism which means that even my best attempt to help indigenous communities and the environment is still an extension of settler colonialism because my skin color is white. This book ignores the basic fundamental aspects of adaptive and complex leadership. It blanket blames white people and aggressively points out everything “white people” have ever done wrong with our ever acknowledging efforts to make things right and change the pervasive culture. It negates any effort made by a white person to bring indigenous knowledge forward and categorizes this efforts as appropriation. I had planned to go on and get a Ph.D. In Environmental management and sustainable and resilient communities but I am seriously questioning if I will because apparently by doing so I will be perpetuating the marginalization of indigenous knowledge and co-opting it for my own personal gain and acknowledgement. This author needs to read a leadership psychology book (starting with polarity theory because she made this entire book an “either/or” instead of an “and” problem), this is not how you lead complex change, this is not how you motivate people to support your initiative. This is how you shut people down to feel complete helpless to your cause because you spend 7 hours telling them if they aren’t indigenous they need to get out of the way. This book belittles and invalidates those who are trying to change the culture just because their skin is white.

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  • 07-16-22

Excellent!

wonderful narrative of indigenous peoples vast knowledge of the sciences written by an indigenous scholar.

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Books that heal

This book has allowed me to put words to my feelings on the environmental advocacy movement. We need to see it as holistic always. We are all connected and need to acknowledge ancestral learning as the science of generations of people practicing culture and rituals.

There are many repetitive stories within the book but I think the author wanted to emphasize them and the people, perhaps a bilingual editor can help with how to do this without the repetition of stories and words. As a Spanish speaker it feels like that’s how stories are told in Spanish, but don’t work that well in English.
But don’t get me wrong this book was amazing and made me cry and smile and learn. It has everything. Thank you for this much needed book. Look forward to more.

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  • 06-21-22

A perspective that deserved to be heard!

This was a wonderful listen, I was so grateful to hear the authors perspective and the interviews of other indigenous people. I appreciated that the author acknowledged and rejected anti-Black racism in the front and end of the book. And that the Jessica recognized Black people as indigenous as well.
The stories about what different family members experienced held so much weight. Especially to hear how Jessica's Father's experiences impacted them both immensely.
This book demonstrates, unequivocally, to the Audience that Indigenous wisdom and sciences are valid and vital.