Capstone Project on Religion, Economics, and Ecology

Thesis Statement:


We often find ourselves at a crossroad where we need to make important decisions knowing well that we will have to deal with the consequences. We may find ourselves having to choose one thing at the expense of another. For example after you have given everything to make your dream career a reality, you may find yourself at a point where you either have to prioritize your work over family or vice versa. Remember that your family is equally valuable and a lot of work and investment goes into making a family. This is indeed a tough decision. At such a point, you will need to gather a lot of information so that you make the best decision to solve the present stalemate.

This is the kind of dilemma Margaret faces. She is torn between her family and tribe and her business Crayrock’s mining company. She endeavors to find a wholesome solution to her dilemma that will be sufficient for all aspects of her life. To achieve this, she gathers necessary information from diverse sources. Equipped with these, she is ready to make a decision.

Conflict of Interest

Margaret Bull Case Study

Margaret Grey Bull has found herself in a dilemma involving different aspects of her life including her economic life, religion and ecological beliefs. Being the associate vice president to the development division at Crayrock, she was instrumental in the creation of the company as well as offer advice in matter concerning the protection of the environment. Being a mining company, these are very weighty issues at Crayrock.

Growing up, Margret was told of the initiatives by the government to depopulate reservations. The government used policies and blocking of food supplies to depopulate the reservations. The young people were cajoled with jobs and healthy programs in the city and consequently they lost their reservations rights (Gudorf 239).

A couple adopted Margret and her sister Rose after their mother died later on to be followed by their father who drank himself to death due to depression resulting from lack of a good job. At this time, Margret was 11 years old. The couple who were a church minister and a teacher saw her through school and college where she graduated with a B.S in environmental studies. She furthered her education and got her MBA. This is when she started working as a technical assistant at Crayrock Mining Company. She worked at the development department. Peter, the vice president always applauded her for saving the company large amounts of money through her expertise in environmental studies (Gudorf 239-240).

Part of her mandate was to give professional advice concerning environmental issues. The company wanted to start a project on 600 acres of land that involved mining gold, copper and zinc. This excavation, in her opinion, meant that four tribes that were living near the selected piece of land would be negatively affected. To back up her fears a study revealed that the excavation would lead to generation of Sulfuric acid elements. The toxic components contained in this acid had the potential to cause lasting damage to the environment. The land will remain damaged for several centuries if this happened (Gudorf 240).

Margret was in a dilemma. Her job was at stake if she rallied against the plans of the company. She also had to consider the economy of her company that would be affected by the failure to carry out the excavation. On the third side of the coin, if she approved the excavation, it would not be right by her religion since she knew the adverse negative effects that the activities will cause on the natives.

She sought advice from Rich, a lawyer in environmental law. They explored various angles including land ownership and the past similar experiences about natural resources. Even after going through various pat rulings on cases surrounding such similar circumstances, she was still left with questions.

In a sense, Margret is in a catch 22, no matter what action she takes, she is bound to have some sort of negative implications. She came up with an idea of advising the company to a small part of the designated land like less than half of it. However, she foresaw this idea being shot down because of economic viability reasons. Being in such a situation means that you are facing conflict of interest and no matter what decision you make, there will be negative effects. She was undecided on whether to base her decision on her responsibility as the vice president or native.

Case Study Analysis

A Native American Response

Margret is not only the vice president but also a native of this land. This is one of the important factors that she will have to consider when making her decision. Even being a native has its complexities of not only culture but also spirituality. To understand where she draws her tribal identity, it is necessary to delve into the historical background of her culture. She has to consider her tribal, professional as well as he personal integrity in this. By only narrowing down to one of these aspects is not only extremely myopic but false (Gudorf 246).

As much as she works to play her role in corporate world, Margret is attached to her family, heritage and tribe. This is in fact where she draws her values mostly from her tribal belief system. We could say that she exists bi-culturally and trans-culturally across different cultures. Multi-cultures found at the workplace and in her social environment. In order to understand her dilemma, it is imperative that we look at how differently her tribe understands spirituality, relationship and identity (Gudorf 246-247).

Overview and Relatedness:

First, let us understand the physical characteristics of these people. They are indigenous American Indians. Among them, you will find urban persons, full blood, reservation and mixed race. The Indians are from somewhere in North America.

As far as their understanding of relationships is concerned, it goes beyond blood relations to other people in their social environment. “Understanding of relatedness therefore demands from an individual, a responsibility unto all the creations as well as to all generations, whether dead, living or even unborn” (Vine 10). They believe that it is thus expected by the universe so as to achieve morality.

The understanding of relationship and responsibility by the natives is well captured by two researchers and psychologists, Derald and David Sue: Indians perceive themselves as a tribe extension. The Indians are able to create an interdependent system that gives them a sense of belonging and security (Derald 176).

To clearly understand Margret’s dilemma, we should explore her personal and profound sense of relationship.


They understand power as being conjoined with a particular place. Both, time and place play an important role in people’s lives. The place is important because it is how one thing relates to another. Power on the other hand is the power that makes it possible for people to exist in the universe. Personality is therefore considered to be a combination of the two; power and place (Deloria 14).

From this, we can see that a place is very important to the natives as the power of everyone is influenced by the participation power of a given place. Self-identity comes from the interaction of power and place. That is what defines an individual. When one has wisdom, they attract power. Elders who have wisdom and knowledge are therefore revered. The young can also be honored if they gain wisdom since they believe that everyone has an equal ability to be wise. Looking at Margret’s dilemma from a corporate view it may seem obvious and no dilemma but when you take a wholesome approach, you realize that the personal and communal scope also play a major role (Gudorf 248).

Traditional Religions, Spiritual Formation, and Native Christians

American Indians believe that one’s spirituality is tied to their cultural beliefs. May be this understanding could answer the popular question of whether there are Christian Indians. This debate started as early as when Columbus arrived in America. After the creation of different states in America, the natives have practiced Christianity.

Margret’s dilemma is drawn from this backdrop of Christianity as well as her traditional beliefs. In essence, missionaries to try and stop traditional practices were using Christianity in the past. A few natives however, did not do away with their tradition but embraced positive elements from their tradition and combined these with Christian laws. It is therefore clear that it is not only Margret who is struggles with this ambiguous context trying to balance both native and Christian value in decision-making (Gudorf 249).

The power of a particular place is connected to the spirituality of a given tribe. They share in a system of relatedness and interdependence. In order to achieve wholeness, respect and hearing stories and rituals are used. There is a variety of rituals practiced by the traditional natives. They pray and believe in the existence of a God from whom they ask for cooperation in their interactions and also blessings. To them there is no difference between holy and secular, body and soul and body. Among their traditional beliefs, there is no provision for personal religion (Paula 55).

If Margret wants to be honest with herself, she must acknowledge that the different worldviews at her disposal are antagonizing. Appreciating this dissonance is the first step to choosing the most appropriate decision. She should also realize that the dilemma she faces does not only affect her as an individual but it affects the community around her in general.


At some point in life we have all been faced with a dilemma similar to the one Margaret was going through. We may have had to sacrifice something or some people in order to make the most amicable decision at the time. The decision may not even favor you but you find yourself unable to make find any other most suitable solution.

Margret has to consider that if she chooses her traditions and religious beliefs, she may lose her job, which is also important to her. She also has to take care of the environment and refer to her religious and traditional belief systems. Her conscience will gravely judge her if she totally disregards her core values and goes ahead to make a decision that will benefit the well being of the mining company.

A very heavy responsibility of ensuring the well-being of her environment has been placed over her shoulders. The views of her sister and her brother in law are also playing back in her mind. The reality is that regardless of all these factors, she can only make one decision eventually. This struggle is a normal part of life (Donald 1996).

A Hindu Response

According to the Hindu, the human being is the most central and important part of understanding the world. We all understand the world in our own personal ways. The traditional Hindu system operated under a caste system. The tradition places the Brahmans as the custodians of law, instructions and religion. The Brahmans were priests that played the role of property owners. Political responsibilities were given to the Ksatriya who were warriors. The Vaisyas were merchants. The peasants were at the bottom of this caste system and were responsible for doing odd jobs like tilling land. This last group unlike the other three was made up of people who were not educated this is why their roles were considered less worthy to be done by the rest (Chapple 252).

The prevalence of the Buddhism religion did away with the caste system and preached equality within the society. Very many Indians adopted the ideologies of Buddhism until 1500 years later when Hinduism came about. The ideas of Buddhism were merged into Hinduism. However, over time, other religions have also developed from Hinduism when people discover their own world views (Chapple 253).

Indians really treasure the value of their land. Its beauty has made many artists to do art in appreciation of its wonderful climate and environment. Storytellers have told of enchanting stories and so have poets about this land. Indians value their nature from where they get their medicines. This is precisely why Indians are passionate about protecting their natural land. There are areas that they believe are sacred and as such should not be tempered with. They believe there is a connection between nature and some of their temples of worship. They create shrines to their gods and goddesses in nature and they ensure that such places are protected from any harm (Fredrique 198).

Indians are known for flowing with the motions of nature. For example, those living in the rural areas where they do not have access to electricity begin their day when the sun rises and ends it when the sun sets. Especially in the Northern climates, it is very common for nature and humans to flow in this manner. The Indians believe that this fluid nature of existence with nature appeases the goddesses and so they do it as a service (Chapple 256).

In Margret’s case if she gives a go ahead to the company 140,000 farmers will lose their livelihood and another 100,000 people will find themselves without a home (William 130). By looking at all the three different religions and understanding their beliefs about the environment, she is able to make an informed decision.

Without forgetting that her job is on the line, she has to consider the Atha Veda perspective of Hinduism that holds that nature should be protected. Giving the company a go-ahead and do the mining on this piece of land, she will not only harm the earth but also negatively affect the lives of the inhabitants of that land. Especially because she is already aware of the effects similar activities in New Delhi and Los Angeles, it would have some moral implications for her to give a go ahead to her company. If she applies the worldview of Buddhism then the right thing would be to block the project from going ahead. The core belief here is that you forfeit financial gains for the benefit of the well-being of your environment (Chapple 259).

However, Jainism being practiced by most miners and jewelers would allow her to make the decision to go ahead with the project. Although Margret will still find a challenge to justify the anticipated harm to so many people; even when using this religion. The bottom line is that Margret has to make a conclusive decision.


Margret is a Native American Indian and the vice president of Crayrock Mining Company’s division of development. Together with her sister, Christian foster parent brought her up after the passing of her parents when she was young.

The company she works for wants to start a project on a piece of land whose surrounding community is made up of native Indians. As the vice president and chief advisor concerning environmental issues, she is faced by a dilemma.

The project is expected to generate sulfuric acid whose components will cause a lot of damage to the environment. The mining will destroy the rivers in the vicinity and these effects will remain present for centuries to come. This means that it will directly affect the natives of this land.

By saying no to her company, Margaret puts her job in jeopardy. If she decides to abide by her religious and tribal inclinations, she will not give the project a go-ahead. If she agrees to the company’s plans, her conscious will judge her because she will be acting against her belief systems. In order to make a good decision she consults her sister, brother in law and a lawyer.

Discussion Questions

  • Describe the conflicting interests in this study
  • How does religion come in to inform Margret’s final decision?
  • Describe the diversity of the cultural context in this case study
  • Margret is affected by the prevailing situation. Explain
  • How does the whole scenario affect her personal?
  • Explain the religious context in this scenario
  • How do the diverse religious beliefs inform Margret’s decision?
  • In your own view, what would be the best solution for this situation? Explain

Work Cited

Chapple, Key. “Ethics and World Religions.” Conflict of Interest: A Hindu Response. 1999.

Deloria, Indian Education, 14.

Derald, Wing, and David, Sue, Counseling the Culturally Different: Theory and Practice, 2″d ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 1990.

Frederique, Apffel, and Purna, Chandra. “Sacred Groves Regenerating the Body, and Land, the Community,” in Global Ecology: A New Arena of Political Conflict, ed. Wolfgang Sachs. London: Zed Books. 1993.

Gudorf, Christine. “Ethics and World Religions.” A Conflict of Interest: Case Study. 1999.

Paula, Gunn. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Boston: Beacon Press. 1986.

Treat, James ed., Native and Christian: Indigenous Voices on Religious Identity in the United States and Canada. New York: Routledge. 1996.

Vine, Deloria, Jr., Indian Education in America. Boulder, CO: American Indian Science and Engineering Society. 1991.

William, Fisher, ed., Toward Sustainable Development: Struggling Over India’s Narmada River. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe. 1995.