Former immigrant and Indigenous farmworkers have been using their cultural knowledge of sustainable fire practices to control wildfires and reclaim work in natural spaces. The workers previously faced hazardous and unhealthy conditions while being employed on vineyards, including exposure to toxic fumes and smoke, especially when harvesting through active fires. There was little financial compensation or support for their safety. Now, the workers are spearheading ecological restoration programs in wildfire prone areas. They are positioning themselves as leaders and educators in order to gain self-determination over their relationship to the land, reclaim former cultural practices, and have an active role in healing. The programs are offered in Spanish and local Indigenous languages and ensure that land workers are well-paid, safe, respected, and have autonomy in their work. These efforts mark an ongoing transition in climate mitigation efforts, centered on the intention to heal and grow both the environment and frontline communities. Photo credit: Brooke Anderson/YES! Magazine
This article highlights Michellejean Pinuhan, an Indigenous Higaonon woman from the Mount Sumagaya Region of the Southern Philippines. Pinuhan makes up part of a group of Indigenous youth called basbasonon, volunteers who help keep the ancient forestry monitoring practice of panlaoy -- a process requiring forest immersion where observers take note of the condition of the surrounding environment -- alive. Elders are an integral part, as they lead the basbasonon on forest immersion trips. For the Higaonon youth, panlaoy is an opportunity to learn about traditional forest resource management and to better understand their people’s difficulties with self-determination and land tenure. In 2001, four Higaonon villages from the Misamis Oriental Province formed MAMACILA to stand up for their rights and fight for land tenure. In 2009 the Philippine’s Indigenous Peoples’ commission issued MAMACILA an ancestral domain title including 17,553 hectares of land. Later, in 2016, Mindanao State University conducted a plant study revealing about 52 floral species belonging to 19 families, many of which are under threat. Yet, the study found that the plants grow abundantly within the area, attesting to the many effective contributions of panlaoy. Due to this, the local government created bantay kalasan, a program which subsidizes panlaoy and involves the help of about 80 Higaonon to patrol the forests and monitor biodiversity twice a month. As the territory continues to be under constant threat from land clearing and land grabbing, the Higaonon remain hopeful for the passage of a proposed bill which would recognize customary and traditional governance as conservation measures. Photo Credit: Archie Tulin/NTFP-EP Philippines
This article highlights twenty of the most fascinating individuals from Northern Michigan, two of which are Indigenous women. The first of these women, Jannan Cornstalk -- who is the founder of the Water is Life Festival of Mackinaw City, a member of the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance, and a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians -- devotes herself to water rights activism. In 2018, she brought back the aforementioned festival, which engages local communities and centers the celebration of and connections with water. Cornstalk seeks to inspire the community to protect the Great Lakes and other waters through daily choices and lifestyle decisions. The second highlighted Indigenous woman is Joanne Cook, a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB). Cook is presently the GTB’s chief appellate and has also served on Tribal Council and as a tribal court judge. Today, much of her work involves working with victims of crime and on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) project. She has also served on various local nonprofit boards.
Joenia Wapichana: ‘I Want To See The Yanomami And Raposa Serra Do Sol Territories Free Of Invasions’
Karla Mendes interviews Joenia Wapichana, Brazil’s first Indigenous woman lawyer and President of Brazil’s national Indigenous affairs agency, Funai. Wapichana discusses the thousands of illegal gold mines that have caused a public health emergency in Yanomami Territory, resulting in the deaths of 570 children who suffered from malnutrition and other serious illnesses. Wapichana contends that ensuring public health will require not only the removal of illegal mining, but also a lasting security presence within the area. She explains the need for studies that can identify the lasting impact of mining industries once they have been removed. When asked about ways to decrease prejudice towards Indigenous communities, Wapichana noted the importance of proper terminology and affirming the rights of Indigenous peoples. In the future, Wapichana hopes to be reelected to Congress and to see increased Indigenous representation in government. Photo Credit: Katie Mähler via Apib Comunicação
Authors Osprey Orielle Lake and Katherine Quaid highlight the Indigenous women who are leading the fight against Enridge’s Line 5 pipeline expansion. Indigenous women like Jannan J. Cornstalk, Carrie Huff Chesnik, Philomena Kebec, Sandy Gokee, Rene Ann Goodrich, Jennifer Boulley, Carolyn Gougé, Gina Peltier, Lisa Ronnquist, and Debra Topping express how the Line 5 pipeline threatens non-human relatives, the culture, health and well-being of their communities and how this violence contributes to climate change. Indigenous women leaders will continue to resist fossil fuel pipelines and to defend their land, water, and communities. Photo credit: Devon Young Cupery and Cheryl Barnds/WECAN
Annette McGivney highlights the story of Candice Mendez, a Navajo woman who runs her family’s farm on the Navajo reservation in northeast Arizona. During her childhood, Mendez and her family were self-sufficient; however, by the early 1990s, nearby waterways began to dry up due to climate change. These changes in water accessibility now force Mendez to drive more than one hundred miles each week to haul water back to the farm for her animals, which have been tended by women in Mendez’s family for no less than five generations. Since the Navajo People were not considered US citizens at the time decision-making surrounding Colorado River agreements occurred, their communities remain excluded from water-use and continue to lack sufficient water infrastructure. The disproportionate impacts of climate change on the Navajo Nation make these conditions increasingly more difficult, especially as they experience even greater temperature increases than the 1.5 C increase that much of the southwestern United States has already seen. Mendez’s attempts to receive funding from the USDA to support her farm have been unsuccessful; loans like this require land ownership as collateral, and there is no private property on the reservation. Due to these significant hardships, Mendez continues to have serious concerns about her ability to maintain her family’s ranch. Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The scale and intensity of wildfires has dramatically increased due to drier conditions from climate change and the suppression of natural fires. Women like Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire advisor to the University of California, Margo Robbins, executive director of the Cultural Fire Management Council, and Katie Sauerbrey, fire programmer for the Nature Conservancy, are part of a larger movement of women and gender non-conforming people working in the field of prescribed burning, the intentional practice of setting fires to maintain the health of forests. Prescribing burning comes from the traditional knowledge and practice of Indigenous Peoples in North America. This practice was disrupted by colonialism when settlers suppressed natural fire. The return to prescribed burning comes at a time when people are desperate for a solution to the catastrophic wildfires raging across the continent. For prescribed burning to be successfully practiced and integrated in fire management plans, Indigenous Peoples, women, and gender non-conforming people must be included and become leaders in the fire industry. Photo credit: Jennifer Osborne/Atmos
Mbororo environmental activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim has been working with communities in her native Chad to create maps, settling disputes regarding the sharing of natural resources. Ibrahim and representatives from EOS Data analytics used high-resolution satellite images to work alongside Indigenous leaders from more than twenty villages to map 1,728 square kilometers, collaboratively adding important markers like medicinal trees, sacred forests, rivers, settlements, roads, and more. Each community was given a laminated copy of the finished map, and Ibrahim is now working on a similar project in the Lake Chad area. Ibrahim hopes that her mapping projects will demonstrate the combined power of Indigenous knowledges and technology as a response to the climate crisis. Photo credit: IISB
Kiley Price highlights the work of three Indigenous women -- Evelin Garcia, Katty Guatatoca, and Carmenza Yucuna -- whose work has been supported by the Amazonia Indigenous Women’s Fellowship Program, a program that provides funding and resources to Indigenous women for conservation projects in their respective regions/countries. Garcia, a member of the Monkox Indigenous community located in the Chiquitania region of eastern Bolivia, noted the importance of recovering ancestral knowledge and practices of endemic plants to the feeding and healing of her community during the pandemic. In particular, kutuki is an important herb which has traditionally been used to treat illnesses ranging from colds and fevers to respiratory issues; this became an important resource for COVID-19 symptom alleviation. With the help of the fellowship, Garcia, along with other women in her community, created a curriculum for schools and community centers in the area to pass on medicinal plant knowledge. Guatatoca, a Kichwa woman from the Amazon forest in central Ecuador, founded the Awana Collective, a group of Indigenous women who use inorganic materials (like plastics) and organic materials to make handmade items. Guatatoca highlights how this work helps Kichwa women obtain financial independence while also caring for the lands which they rely upon by recycling inorganic materials. The items and designs are created using traditional Kichwa culture. Yucuna, a member of the Yucuna community from Mirití-Paraná in southern Colombia, focuses her efforts on preserving the traditional knowledge of the Melipona bee, a stingless bee whose honey has important medicinal properties, both antimicrobial and antifungal. The honey has been traditionally used for centuries for wound and infection treatment. Through the fellowship, Yucuna has completed research on the bees, which is now being used for their conservation and management, along with the ancestral knowledge of her community. Yucuna is also working alongside older women in the community to sell excess honey to help fund conservation efforts.
Georgina Johnson retraces lineages of connection between the Earth and the human body through sharing personal and historical narratives. Recalling bell hooks’ writing and lessons from her family, Johnson shares that a garden is a symbol of love, as it helps feed families, safeguard dignity, and learn how to appreciate the planet as well as give back to it. This mindset relies on a great respect for nature and the interconnection between its different components, including human beings. Johnson notes the abundant history of agricultural traditions in India to plant vegetation and flowers next to each other in order to protect their food and preserve biodiversity. However, the colonial development and spread of monoculture instigated loss of power of several communities due to its inherent exploitation of nature and native people for capital gain. This form of agriculture relies on the dispossession of wealth, the misuse of mass landscapes, and the degradation of delicate ecosystems. Therefore, Johnson highlights how it is crucial to rediscover and adopt practices that include the voices and stories of native land owners, who have been repeatedly ignored and erased as a result of colonialism and imperial ambition. Photo Credit: N/A
Some nations’ governments are increasing efforts to protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights, which will affect many extractive corporations’ abilities to operate as usual. In recent years, corporations have been left mostly unchecked to devastate the land. As Indigenous rights are bolstered at the national level, however, companies and investors will need to strengthen their working relationships with Indigenous Peoples and seek free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from Indigenous communities if they plan new extractive projects like mining, drilling, and fracking on their lands. Executive Director of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) Osprey Orielle Lake asserts that institutions need to have a strategy in place for when Indigenous communities say no to proposed projects, both renewable and nonrenewable. She contends that “Indigenous sovereignty and rights are central to a Just Transition,” and “No Go” policies should be implemented to allow Indigenous communities to reject projects and to ensure that their decision is respected by the institutions involved. Indigenous lands and local knowledge must be respected and upheld for Just Transition.
This article shares the story of Uýra Sodoma, the spirit of Indigenous trans nonbinary artist and biologist Emerson Pontes (she/they). Uýra speaks through Pontes in order to highlight the importance of protecting the Brazilian Amazon. A new documentary, Uýra: The Rising Forest, shows Emerson’s journey driving collective and educational experiences that engage communities in environmental justice activism. She has faced challenges not only from the mass deforestation of the Amazon, but also from Brazil’s homophobic and transphobic government policies. However, they have continued to use performances to bridge the movements for conservation and LGBTQ+ rights. They emphasize that the concept of the gender binary is a concept imposed by colonizers, using drag to connect with nature and the queer community. Photo Credit: Uýra: The Rising Forest
Over ten years of resistance against the Canadian tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline has reinvigorated the greater climate movement through coordinated strategies of direct action and coalition building. The Keystone XL resistance gained traction in 2006 following the advocacy of three women from the Deranger clan of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Alberta in partnership with the Indigenous Environmental Network. The Tar Sands Action sparked new waves of civil disobedience that became common tactics in direct actions to follow. From Maggie Gorry leading a Tar Sands Blockade in northern Texas to Joye Braun fighting for Indigenous sovereignty on her home lands of the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation in South Dakota, these grassroots direct actions were essential to the successful fight against Keystone XL.
Upland one of the Philippines key biodiversity areas, the Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, sits the village of Kamantian, home to 65 traditional basketry cultural bearers. This article highlights the Pala'wan people who create traditional Indigenous baskets, or tingkep, using non-timber forest products. One basket weaver, Labin Tiblak, began basket weaving at eight years old and once taught young girls the practice on a weekly basis, before the pandemic. Not only does Tingkep serve functional, artistic, and cultural purposes, but this practice supports the conservation of the Pala'wan peoples ancestral Mantalingham forests. The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, however, disproportionately affect the Pala'wan people by degrading Pala’wan land and resources, and disrupting traditional Pala'wan practices, like the ability to gather for basket weaving, putting the culture and the craft of Tingkep at risk. The article provides perspectives for the future, including insight from Minnie Degawan, an Indigenous Kankanaey-Igorot and the director of the Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program, who advocates for the government to fully recognize the right of the Pal’awan people to their territories and self-determination. Photo credit: Keith Anthony Fabro Also file under: Indigenous Communities and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Biodiversity and Forest Protection, Farming, Food Justice, and Land Rights
Maja Kristine Jåma, a reindeer herder and politician, discusses the negative impacts of wind turbine farms that have been built on the traditional lands of her people, the Sámi. The Sámi have fought against these state-owned wind companies since before their construction (about twenty years ago) because they violate their traditional rights and interrupt their livelihoods. The wind turbines, which are about 200 meters tall, also significantly impact the grazing patterns of reindeer, an important animal for the Sámi. After Sámi concerns were largely ignored, the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the wind farms violate Sámi lands and cultures, and they breach the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Despite this, Jåma explains that it is an ongoing issue, as the wind farms have already been built. She emphasizes how a just transition cannot take place with human and Indigenous rights being violated. Photo Credit: Sámediggi
Patricia Gualinga, a Kichwa leader in Ecuador and member of Amazonian Women (Mujeres Amazónicas), shares her experiences of fighting back against extractive forces that threaten the Amazon rainforest and its surrounding Indigenous communities. Alongside oil drilling, logging, and hydroelectric projects, both formal and illegal mining have become an increasing threat over recent years. Under the guise of “for the good of the country,” the Ecuadorian government continues to prioritize the economy in lieu of the rights of Indigenous peoples. Gualinga clarifies that there is no such thing as a “middle ground” or opportunity for compromise with the extractive industries that Ecuador has become so dependent upon. She points to the history of social neglect and continued marginalization of Indigenous groups that have severed the relationship between peoples and the state. Although there has been an international acknowledgment of the fact that Indigenous people are the best protectors and defenders of the natural world, racist rhetoric persists in framing them as “helpless” or without resolve for solutions that are not inherently economically based. Gualinga challenges these colonial bureaucratic frameworks and the emergence of the carbon credit system by illuminating the global scale of the catastrophe that awaits all people. To be an Indigenous leader, especially an Indigenous woman leader, bears many threats in the name of speaking the truth. However, Gualinga and so many alongside her persist as this work is vital and central to protecting territory as all-encompassing of the ancestry and future of Indigenous peoples. Photo Credit: Jonathan Rosas
Helena Gualinga, Native Ecuadorian environmental justice activist and land defender, considers herself a “spokesperson” for the Amazon and uses her voice to speak out against extraction, deforestation, and other forms of colonial and capitalist destruction of the land and waters she calls home. Gualinga has grown up amongst a community of land defenders and Amazon protectors, and she has learned from and rallied alongside her Sarayaku elders in the fight for environmental justice and human rights. Recently, she has been a speaker at the United Nations Climate Change Conferences, and in 2021 she co-led a youth climate march of more than 100,000 people. Gualinga and her sister were the first Indigenous women on the cover of Revista Hogar, a popular lifestyle magazine in Ecuador and used this honor as an opportunity to highlight the many Amazonian women who put their lives on the line to protect their territories, lands, and bodies from violence. Gualinga continues to raise awareness and resist colonialism through her activism, talks, and social media activity.
An Indigenous Patrol In The Amazon Won A ‘Green Nobel’ After They Took Gold Miners Operating On Their Land To Court — And Won
Indigenous land defenders Alex Lucitante and Alexandra Narváez were awarded the 2022 winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmental activism, known widely as the Green Nobel. Lucitante and Narváez are members of La Guardia, a group of Indigenous patrollers from the Cofán community that have banded together to protect their ancestral territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon from gold mining. In 2018, the pair represented the Cofán community in a lawsuit that successfully suspended 52 different gold mining projects and protected 79,000 acres of land from the harmful effects of extraction. As a result of the lawsuit, the Ecuadorian government is required to consult with Indigenous communities regarding potential mining projects on or near Indigenous territories. Lucitante and Narváez warn that the fight is only just beginning, as they continue to be threatened by the encroachment of extractive industries on their lands yet they continue to resist. Photo credit: Goldman Environmental Prize
In Mexico’s Yucatàn Peninsula, traditional Mayan beekeepers still care for Melipon beecheii, a bee species important to Mayan culture and tradition. In 2012, the Mexican government approved the Monsanto program to plant genetically modified soybeans without consulting local communities and shortly, the bees started dying in large numbers. Leydy Pech, a traditional Mayan beekeeper who has long advocated for sustainable agricultural practices and the integration of Indigenous knowledge into practice, led the campaign against the Monsanto program on multiple fronts: legally, academically and publicly. The court case resulted in the government revoking the Monsanto program and has inspired Indigenous communities facing similar challenges to use Pech’s playbook. Lech explains the fight against the use of the soybeans is not just to protect the sacred bee, but to protect ecosystems, communities and a way of life threatened by industrial agriculture, climate change and deforestation. Photo credit: Natasha Donovan/Atlas Obscura
This episode of the Native Seed Pod highlights Corrina Gould, co-founder (along with Johnella LaRose) of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, Tribal Chair for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan, and co-founder of Indian People Organizing for Change. In this episode, Gould discusses the importance of reinstating Indigenous women as stewards of the land and highlights one of the successful initiatives The Sogorea Te’ Land Trust has launched -- the Shuumi Tax. This tax allows people who live and work within the traditional territories of Lisjan to pay an honorary tax for using the lands, which supports the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust. Gould also elaborates on the Himmetka program, an initiative that seeks to establish resources and community centers for gathering in times of crisis in multiple locations throughout the territory. These are based in areas that are vulnerable to crises due to lack of resources and protection from the city. Gould also underscores the importance of land to food security; it must remain accessible to those in the community who do not have fresh food available. The episode ends with Gould discussing some of her planned next steps which include founding a land fund which anyone globally can donate to in order to support the purchase of traditional lands. Photo Credit: Maisie Richards and Inés Ixierda
Cecilia Rivas is an Indigenous woman from the Kariña community and leader of the Tukupu, Venezuela’s first Indigenous Forest business. The Kariña people proposed the creation of the Tukupu project in 2016 to protect the Imataca Forest Reserve from destruction and to use its resources sustainably to benefit local Indigenous communities. Tukupu is composed mainly of women who work to restore and manage the forest and commercialize resources sustainably to benefit local industries. The work of Tukupu has resulted in the prevention of more than 23 million tonnes of carbon emissions. Rivas explains that the co-management agreement incorporated an Indigenous worldview to the benefit of the forest, local communities and the world. The children of Kariña are involved in Tukupu so they may learn and become the future guardians of the Imataca Forest Reserve. Photo credit: FAO Venezuela
Selina Leem, an 18-year-old woman from the Marshall Islands, gives a captivating speech about the impacts of climate change on her native coastal lands during the closing ceremony of the COP21 climate change talks in Paris in 2015. This young leader shares the symbolism of the coconut leaf in the tradition of her ancestors and how she hopes to be able to pass this down to her children and grandchildren in the future. Leem calls for this to be a global turning point where leaders take responsibility for climate change and strive to create a sustainable world. Video credit: 350.org
Juma Xipaia, an Amazon Indigenous leader, fights to protect her community and their way of life against illegal extractive activities and development projects, such as the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River. At the age of 13, Xipaia began fighting to protect her community when she saw the destruction and illness caused by similar projects in neighboring communities. Xiapaia is the Chief of her community; she faces corruption among fellow Indigenous leaders and death threats as a result of her work, all while studying to become a physician. Xiapaia stresses the importance and need for greater involvement of Indigenous Peoples at conferences such as the UN Climate Talks, where international climate negotiations occur. Photo credit: Instituto Juma
Since President Jair Bolsonaro introduced policies that increased violence against Indigenous Peoples and the Amazon, Txai Suruí and her family, friends, and community have faced threats, harassment, bullying and death for protecting their territories. Suruí’s father, Chief Almir Suruí, together with Chief Raoni Metuktire of the Kayapo people, formally requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate events in the Brazilian Amazon, demanding perpetrators be held accountable for their crimes against humanity. Suruí is also calling on the international community and the ICC to recognize the crime of ecocide. Suruí stresses she was raised to listen to the Earth and to live in harmony with the planet. She urges others to do the same — there is no time to waste. Photo credit: Gabriel Uchida
Josefina Tunki is the first woman president of the Shuar Arutam people (PSHA), an organization uniting 12,000 Indigenous people of the Condor mountain range in southeastern Ecuador. Tunki was involved in her community as an educator and treasurer before becoming president. Tunki and other members of the PSHA have been threatened because they oppose mining on Indigenous territory. Tunki explains she is not afraid of the police or threats from mining companies; she is afraid members of her community could lose their homes. Tunki strategizes how to fight against mining companies while also being maternal and caring toward those she protects. Photo credit: Lluvia Communication
Kalen Goodluck (Dine, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Tsimshian) and Christine Trudeau (Prairie Band Potawatomi) highlight the Rio Grande Pueblo Nations' extremely difficult path to quantified Rio Grande water rights. The negative impacts on the Rio Grande's water quality and quantity due to the climate crisis and non-Native interventions compound this struggle. Despite challenges, the Pueblo nations have hope and are taking action. In particular, three Indigenous women are highlighted for their work in fighting for quantified water rights to protect their communities, culture, and future generations. Notably, Julia Bernal (Sandia, Taos, and Yuchi-Creek Nations of Oklahoma), the director and co-founder of the Pueblo Action Alliance, which centers youth involvement in their advocacy for water rights; Judge Verna Teller (Isleta Pueblo), the Chief Justice of Isleta Pueblo who played a major role in having Isleta become the first tribal nation to create water-quality standards through the Clean Water Act; and Phoebe Suina (San Felipe and Cochiti Pueblos), hydrologist and owner of High Water Mark, an Indigenous and women-led environmental consulting company which specializes in water-resource engineering.
Indigenous women like O-é Kaiapó Paiakan, Alessandra Korap, and Tejubi Uru eu Wau Wau are taking on leadership roles in response to the escalating threats against their land, rights, and the Amazon. The Jair Bolsonaro administration has increased industrial development and intensified the exploitation of resources in Indigenous territories. In response, Indigenous women have stepped up to protect their communities. Paiakan, for instance, became chief after her father passed away from COVID-19 in 2020. Korap has raised her voice at male-dominated tribal meetings, protests, and public meetings outside her village, despite the machismo and threats she withstands for doing so. Tejubi’s uncle was a long-time environmental defender and was among the 20 defenders killed in Brazil in 2020. She and her tribe believe the extractive industry is responsible. Tejubi has joined protests against Bolsonaro’s latest attack against Indigenous rights. Indigenous women like these three face machismo and violence in their efforts, but continue to defend their land and the Amazon. Photo credit: Lynsey Addario
Rose Whipple from the Santee Dakota and Ho-Chunk nations is protecting her ancestral lands from pipelines in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. Whipple describes her recent community organizing against the Line 3 pipeline which would be the largest in North America and run through rare Wild Rice beds in Anishinaabe and Dakota territory. Inspired by the solidarity of Indigenous communities at Standing Rock, Whipple has learned to use the strength of her voice as a youth leader to stand against the corporate greed of fossil fuel companies which harms the health of people and our planet. She continues to fight for community resilience and a full transition to renewable energy. Photo credit: Jaida L. Grey Eagle
Adelaida Cucué Rivera, an Indigenous woman from the Purépecha community, recounts the story of four women of Perán that planned a rebellion against cartels who were illegally logging the forests of Perán. The loggers devastated the forest to the point the climate was changing in the region. The women-led rebellion lasted more than a year, but resulted in the people of Perán re-establishing their legal autonomy of their territory. A community-led vivero (tree-nursery) and replanting effort consisting mostly of women is growing back the forest, with the climate returning almost to normal and native plants and wildlife populations thriving again. Rivera warns that although the region has experienced a peaceful decade following the rebellion, the threat of the cartels returning looms, with the fight continuing to protect the forests and community of Perán. Photo credit: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images
Prime Minister Trudeau’s administration held a press conference in which Premier Christy Clark announced the approval of the Pacific Northwest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project. Premier Clark was praising the project for promoting clean energy and being of low cost when Christine Smith-Martin, of the Lax Kw’alaams, interrupted the conference to ask a very pressing question: “what about our salmon?” Smith-Martin then elaborated, saying that the environmental impact of the project was not being addressed by conference speakers, nor had indigenous communities been consulted in a meaningful way prior to the decision. Minister Catherine Mckenna, in turn, said that the impact on salmon has been assessed and there should not be significant effects. Smith-Martin was not convinced, and she insisted this project must be opposed. Salmon is vital to indigenous communities, and it must be treated as such. Video credit: Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition
In this episode of the All My Relations Podcast, idigenous women Matika Wilbur and Adrienne Keene discuss food sovereignty and colonised food systems with Valerie Segrest of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. A Native nutrition educator, Segrest uses her specialisation in local and traditional foods to touch on topics such as breastfeeding, food sovereignty activism, the issue with the term “food desert,” and systems of colonisation through food. Photo Credit: All My Relations Podcast
Megan Leslie, the recently instated president of World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada), insists that, going forward, environmental conservation efforts should include the perspectives and desires of indigenous peoples. Towards that end, WWF-Canada has partnered with Gitga’at First Nation, at their behest, to preserve marine life in British Columbia. Additionally, WWF-Canada has been working with remote Arctic communities such as the Nunawat people to promote their use of renewable energy as opposed to diesel fuel. As for the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion plans, Leslie says her organization prefers not to engage in specific infrastructure battles, though they consider investment in fossil fuel infrastructure the wrong step. Photo Credit: Alex Tétreault
Over the last few decades, amaranth has gained popularity globally. It is an extremely resilient 8,000-year-old pseudocereal indigenous to Mesoamerica, but also grown in China, India, south-east Asia, west Africa and the Caribbean. As a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids, amaranth is a nutritious source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and antioxidants that may improve brain function and reduce inflammation. This ancient cultivation was extremely important for Native People, such as the Aztecs and Maya. In fact, amaranth was not only a source of proteins but was also used for ceremonial purposes due to these communities’ strong spiritual connection to the land and plants. Beata Tsosie-Peña, an Indigenous woman from Santa Clara Pueblo, is a coordinator of the environmental health and justice program at Tewa Women United. She is part of several networks of women across North and Central America working together to reclaim Indigenous food systems, reconnect ancient trade routes, exchange seeds and share traditional knowledge as a way of regaining sovereignty and freedom for Native People. By overcoming the ban and struggles to preserve these seeds - the Spanish outlawed amaranth when they arrived in Central America, Mexico and the south-western United States - indigenous farmers contributed to their own self-determination and created an alternative economic system in order to protect their independence and control over the food supply. Photo Credits: Hitendra Sinkar/Alamy Stock Photo
In a recent screening of the documentary “Gather,” a film recounting Indigenous food sovereignty initiatives, members of the Narragansett and Wampanoag tribes described their own local food sovereignty struggles. Hosted by Rhode Island’s first food gleaning project, Hope Harvest Rhode Island, the event featured Narragansett-Niantic speaker Lorèn Spears, the executive director of the Tomaquag Museum. Alongside other tribal members, Spears emphasized the radical power of food sovereignty initiatives to resist oppression by the dominant society through the reclamation of intergenerational Indigenous knowledge. Photo Credit: Gather
Kendra Pinto is a member of the Navajo Nation’s Eastern Agency in the Greater Chaco region of northwestern New Mexico. In response to the rapid changes occurring since the fracking boom of the past decade, she is fighting for greater protection of her lands and community. Pinto plays an active role in the group Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment (Diné CARE) and has testified before Congress to demand justice from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and oil and gas companies who continue to receive new frack well permits. In partnership with the Sierra Club and Earthworks, she is calling for accountability by taking air quality samples to monitor methane emissions violations and other infractions from nearby frack wells. Photo credit: Randall Hyman/Truthout
On the Philippine island of Palawan, traditionally, fishing has been the means of support for most inhabitants. Over the last twenty years, because of climate change and a variety of other factors, fish are no longer as abundant as they once were. Local women, who were previously largely homemakers, have responded to this difficult situation by taking up seaweed farming. The revenue offered by this endeavor has been a welcome addition to household incomes. But climate change is also already affecting the viability of seaweed farms. The women farmers are rising to the challenge by improving seaweed harvesting and drying methods, using better tools and developing early warning systems for typhoons. Photo credit: Mongabay
Though South America has many water sources, many communities in the region go without sufficient clean drinking water. Lack of water puts a serious strain on women’s lives as well as their ability to farm. This is particularly true of Bolivian women living in the Chaco area, a region that is dry for many months of the year. During the dry period, communities rely on the muddy water that remains in the bed of the Rio Grande. Purifying the water with a local plant helps but it yields a product that is far from potable. The CASA Socioenvironmental Fund is an organization that runs many projects across South America with the objective of empowering local women so they can better serve their community and further environmental justice. The projects include water storage tanks for specific regions, developing farmers associations, and supporting indigenous female leaders. Video Credit: Fundo Casa Socioambiental. Caption: Video is in Spanish, but English subtitles are available.
This article highlights the issue of unjust criminalisation and disproportionate state violence against indigenous women water and land protectors. While indigenous people constitute about 4% of Canada’s population, they represent 27% of the incarcerated population in 2018. According to the Canada’s Correctional Investigator Indigenous, women constituted 37% of all women behind bars and 50% of all maximum security inmates in 2017. Mi’kmaw lawyer and academic Pam Palmater evokes the targeting and criminalisation of Indigenous women by Canadian state authorities as historically rooted in a colonising strategy, since they bear children who will carry on the culture and language of their nations. Pamela says that indigenous women’s perseverance and leadership should not be lost in the conversation and concludes that ‘even though Indigenous women have always been targeted, both in the law directly and indirectly, they continue to stand up for the land and for their children despite knowing what’s coming’. Photo Credit: Amber Bernard/APTN
Based in Missoula, Montana, Indigenous ethnobotanist and Salish scientist Rose Bear Don’t Walk describes her personal relationship to Thanksgiving, while imploring readers to bring food sovereignty values to their own plates. She reclaims the settler-colonial notion of Thanksgiving by using the holiday to give thanks, spend time with family, and support her local farms— further forging a connection between herself, her family, and the land around them. Photo Credit: Missoula Current
Prior to inauguration day, over 75 Indigenous women from First Nations across the country call on President-elect Joe Biden to end destructive pipeline projects including Line 3, Keystone XL, and Dakota Access Pipeline. Signatories include Casey Camp-Horinek of the Ponca Nation and the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), Tara Houska, Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe and founder of Giniw Collective, and Joye Braun of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) among dozens of other Indigenous leaders. The collective letter shares personal stories as well as research on how these pipeline projects perpetuate violence against Indigenous peoples and lands and violate key treaty rights. Photo Credit: Tiny House Warriors/Facebook
Indigenous communities in the Cerrado region of Brazil are organizing to raise awareness of the environmental impacts of agribusiness and deforestation on their native lands. The region is even richer in biodiversity than the Amazon, playing a critical role in global carbon sequestration. Diana Aguiar, political advisor to the National Campaign in Defense of the Cerrado, describes the devastation that has been caused in recent decades due to agribusiness and cattle ranching, compromising the headwaters of major rivers and the livelihoods of Indigenous communities. Local communities and partner NGOs are working to bring greater attention to the importance of this vast savanna and to increase pressure to protect the region as a dedicated world heritage site. Photo Credit: Elvis Marques / CPT Nacional
Indigenous women in Minnesota are leading the fight against the proposed expansion of the Line 3 pipeline through tribal lands and major water sources. Tara Houska, an Ojibwe woman of the Couchiching First Nation, has set up camp for the past three years in resistance. Houska, tribal attorney and founder of Giniw Collective, explains that the pipeline compromises the health of her community and violates treaty rights, perpetuating cultural genocide of Indigenous communities. She is working with congresswoman Ilhan Omar to increase pressure on President Biden to take urgent action to halt the dangerous trajectory of pipeline expansion, including revoking water-crossing permits for future preventative measures. In addition, local organizer and member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Nancy Beaulieu, calls for tribal leaders to be held accountable for not providing prior informed consent to their members about the pipeline project. Photo credit: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber/The Guardian
In this article written by Anya Zoledziowski, Indigenous community leaders call on President Biden to follow the decision to end construction of the Keystone XL pipeline with more direct action to protect Indigenous women. Angeline Cheek, member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes in Montana, is relieved that there won’t be an influx of transient workers or man camps in her community due to the pipeline cancellation. However, Cheek and Carla Fredericks, an enrolled member of Fort Berthold and the executive director of the Christensen Fund, demand President Biden follow his other campaign commitments to protect Indigenous women from high risks of sexual assault and trafficking by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). They call for safety and accountability measures to end the disproportionate violence which is often inflicted by transient infrastructure workers who are non-Indigenous members. Photo Credit: Kokipasni Youth Group/VICE World News
In this commentary, Susan Lieberman, David Wilkie, and James Watson from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) contend that the protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights is crucial to the survival of humanity. The destruction of the Earth’s ecological systems has set the planet on a path toward its sixth mass extinction event: climate change catastrophe. The authors argue that if 30 percent of the world’s intact land and water is equitably protected by 2030, this crisis could potentially be diverted; however, evidence shows that this is only possible if leaders recognize the value and critical importance of Indigenous ecological knowledges and land stewardship to the survival of animals, plants, lands, waters— and, ultimately, humanity. Indigenous rights and traditional stewardship must be respected, honored, and protected by people, corporations, and governments across the globe. Photo credit: David Wilkie/WCS
A recent study, co-authored by Kathryn Baragwanath, a PhD student at the University of California, finds that lands held by Indigenous Peoples are better protected from environmental destruction than other areas of the forest. In the Brazilian Amazon illegal forest clearing and the setting of illegal fires threaten the longevity of the forest. This study recognizes the role of Indigenous communities in biodiversity conservation and recommends that guaranteeing collective property rights and, ultimately, “homologation” over the forested land to Indigenous communities is key to ensuring legal protection over the forest. However, this will require a more complex solution, as practical realities such as political agendas and economic pressure continue to trigger illegal activities. Photo credit: Andre Penner/AP
Anna Kusmer explains that although the Brazilian Amazon is incredibly vulnerable to destruction, the legal recognition of Indigenous land rights could offer it much-needed protection. In 2020, the Brazilian Amazon was hit hard by forest fires and illegal deforestation, mining, exploitation, and trafficking–- more than any other year in recent history. Sometimes, as many as 30,000 fires were burning at once, set intentionally, and illegally, by people who were trying to clear the forest to make room for “productive” industry like farming and livestock. This violence against the Brazilian Amazon not only leads to biodiversity loss but also raises climate change concerns. According to Kusmer, the best solution to this issue is homologation, the legal acknowledgement that the land belongs to Indigenous peoples. Indigenous stewardship of the land has been shown to preserve biodiversity, conserve natural resources, produce fewer carbon emissions, among other benefits. Although Indigenous peoples of the Brazilian Amazon still face political roadblocks and little governmental support, they continue to take care of the land the same way they have for generations. Photo credit: Andre Penner/AP
Amid pandemic economic impact, many Latin American Indigenous immigrants have no choice but to do farm work in hazardous conditions during wildfires, increasing their vulnerability to COVID-19 due to their exposure to smoke. Movimiento Cultural de la Unión Indígena, an Indigenous workers’ group, is pushing for appropriate working regulations, in addition to providing economic and social assistance, especially to the undocumented suspicious of federal support. Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
The Three Sisters Collective in Santa Fe, New Mexico is leading local efforts to address climate change impacts in Indigenous communities. Carrie Wood, member of the Navajo Nation, and Christina M. Castro, member of the Taos and Jemez pueblos, are two of the women who have been supporting critical local responses such as making air purifiers for elders in the Nambé, Tesuque and Pojoaque pueblos who have dealt with excessive smoke from the Medio Fire combined with other wildfires in the western US. Their support stems from long-held mutual aid traditions led by Indigenous women, stressing the importance of investing in Indigenous knowledge and tribal fire management techniques for community resilience. Photo credit: Cody Nelson/NM Political Report
Strengthening Indigenous Rights And Leadership In The Face Of Global Challenges – COVID-19, Climate Change And Environmental Degradation
A global representation of indigenous peoples organizations along with the International Union for Conservation of Nature are working to address climate change through increased partnership and shared leadership. Ahead of the World Conservation Congress in January of 2021 the IUCN is making the decision to increase indigenous leadership positions and define key proposals around indigenous roles, rights and relationship to the environment. The IUCN is also calling for support from member states in indigenous stewardship of their lands, territories and seas especially by indigenous women. A new document produced through this collaboration aims to draw attention to solutions and challenges faced by indigenous peoples around Covid-19. Through increased sharing of proposals and techniques there is growing hope for indigenous resilience and the protection of their way of life under increasing threat from the pandemic along with the long-term challenges of climate change and environmental degradation. Photo credit: Asociacion Ak’Tenamit
Women in Guyana are becoming a larger force in rice production, the country producing the most rice per capita in the world. When given access to the same resources as men, such as water and land ownership, these women farmers can help reduce poverty and improve nutrition. In order to meet the increasing global demand for rice, it is imperative that climate change vulnerabilities and gender inequalities are simultaneously addressed. Photo credit: Tanja Lieuw
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, an elder of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and founder of Sacred Stone Camp and Tara Houska, Ojibwe lawyer and founder of the Giniw Collective are interviewed by reporter Amy Goodman after the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is ordered to shut down by August 5, 2020. LaDonna Brave Bull Allard has opened her home in North Dakota to supporters from the beginning of the resistance in order to protect sacred sites, water sources, and the health of her community members. She has joined forces with Indigenous leaders and water protectors from around the world, many of whom have faced similar harms from extractive industry. Tara Houska asserts that the shutdown of this massive pipeline sends a critical message to the fossil fuel industry that these dangerous projects will not be tolerated and that a regenerative green economy is non-negotiable. Photo credit: Democracy Now! (video screenshot)
Carlita del Sol explains the concepts of bioregionalism and place-based governance. In pre-colonial times, Indigenous Peoples lived on their ancestral territories for thousands of years, and hyper-localized knowledges of their regions were passed down through generations. These knowledges allowed Indigenous Peoples to live in reciprocal relationship with the land, taking care of the region and its “lifesources,” while also depending on the land, animals, and local food systems for their own survival. del Sol includes a list of steps that people can take to re-orient themselves with the bioregions that they are already in relationship with. Photo credit: Mervin Windsor (Haisla-Heiltsuk), from Decolonial Atlas
Maria do Socorro Silva is a descendant of enslaved Africans, and an Indigenous woman of the Amazon forest, in the region of Barcarena. Like her ancestors, Maria has resisted and rebelled against colonial, capitalist forces, who see the land and women’s bodies as property for the taking. Norst Hyrdo is a Norwegian company that extracts raw materials from Barcarena. High levels of aluminum, iron, copper, arsenic, mercury and lead have been found in the Murucupi River in Barcarena, contaminating the river that Indigenous communities depend on, leading to illness and death. Maria, herself fighting cancer caused by the contamination, also fights by sharing her story to young climate activists, explaining to them the connection between the health of Indigenous Peoples to the health of the environment. Like her ancestors, Maria resists and fights for the next generation. Photo credit: Liliana Merizalde/Atmos
Isabel Wisum became the first woman to be elected Vice President of Achuar Nation of Ecuador (NAE) in 2016, and the first woman to have a leadership position in that community. She has supported the maternal and neonatal health of other women in the Amazon rainforest, empowering generations of women as rainforest guardians. A trained community health promoter, her leadership inspires other women of NAE to participate in the local decision-making process, helping to build resilience for her culture, land and people. Photo Credits: Pachamama
Anishinaabeg leaders march in resistance to the proposed Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline in Clearbrook, Minnesota on Indigenous People’s Day. Tara Houska, member of the Anishinaabeg Nation and Founder of Ginew Collective, leads the march with more than 200 supporters to protect Ojibwe culture and treaty rights along with key water sources that would be compromised in the Great Lakes region with the potential to harm millions. The pipeline construction company, Enbridge, faces several lawsuits after the environmental review was overturned due to high risks to waterways. Houska and other Indigenous leaders continue to garner greater support for resisting construction and protecting their ancestral lands. Photo credit: Amelia Diehl/In These Times
Thelma Cabrera Pérez, an indigenous campesino woman campaigning for Guatemala’s presidency has unexpectedly risen in polls. Among twenty candidates, she is currently claiming the fifth spot, a difficult accomplishment for any rural candidate. Cabrera is only the second indigenous person to run for president in a country that is approximately 60% indigenous. The challenges indigenous people face in Guatemala, from poverty to landlessness, has driven many to emigrate. Cabrera pledges to uplift the indigenous population and the population in general by tackling oppression, stopping illegal land-grabs, nationalizing electricity among other policies. As a Maya Mam woman from meager beginnings, she represents hope to the voiceless and oppressed. Photo credit: Luis Echeverria/Reuters
The four climate justice advocates Maya Menezes, Nayeli Jimenez, Niria Alicia and Thanu Yakupitiyage share their perspectives on the strong connections between the climate crisis and issues of migration and asylum. Drawing from different examples and experiences, they make a strong case to address the climate crisis in the broader framework of anti-capitalist and anti-colonial struggles and to stand in solidarity with movements to protect the rights of indigenous people, migrants and asylum seekers. Photo Credits: Getty Images
Deb Halaand, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, became one of the first two Native American women to be elected to Congress when she won her campaign for representative of New Mexico’s 1stCongressional District. After her victory, Rep. Halaand focused her attentions on the controversy surrounding Utah’s Bears Ears national monument. The monument is home to many sites sacred to Native American peoples but in December 2017, the Trump Administration declared the boundaries would be reduced for the benefit of oil, gas and mining industries. In response, Halaand proposed various bills for the protection of national monuments but the future of these bills remains uncertain. Halaand’s effort are not solely concentrated on protecting native land but also combating climate change. Photo credit: Jason Andrew/The Guardian
In Brazil, Indigenous women are fighting against the exploitation of the Amazon rainforest in more ways than one. To protect the Amazon, women are on the frontlines of marches, publicly sharing their stories, leading public meetings, physically preventing access to the forest, relearning their language and culture, teaching children how to resist and act collectively, filing lawsuits against foreign companies exploiting the Amazon, and cultivating alliances with young European activists to jointly protect the Amazon. This does not go without risk. These women withstand threats to and attempts on their lives. These Amazonian women persist because the survival of the Earth and future generations depend upon it. Photo credit: Liliana Merizalde/Atmos
On March 26, 1973, a young girl spotted loggers heading towards Gopeshwar forest near the small village of Reni, in Uttarakhand. The village advisor, Gaura Devi, recruited 300 village women to hug trees in the forest and physically prevent their deforestation. As large corporations attempted to log near other rural villages, the local women hugged the trees, drawing inspiration from the events at Reni. The movement soon earned the title of the “Chipko andolan,” meaning the “stick-to movement.” Finding its roots in the 1730 Indian tree revolt, and using guiding principles from the Gandhian philosophy of self-sufficiency and self-sustenance, the woman-led Chipko Movement serves as a precursor for modern environmentalism. Photo Credit: Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty
Sana Javeri Kadri, a queer immigrant woman of colour, is challenging colonial trade practices with her Oakland-based company, Diaspora Co. Her company aims to support sustainable agricultural practices within the turmeric industry, provide fair compensation to Indian farmers (above ten times the market price), and empower marginalized communities. Diaspora Co. sources their turmeric from Kasaraneni Prabhu, a fourth-generation turmeric farmer working in Southeast India who uses traditional pest control methods involving companion crops. Javeri Kadri also hires queer, especially those of colour, whenever possible aiming to be radically inclusive in order to counter the social injustices and inequities prevalent in the food industry. Photo credit: Elazar Sontag
Africans and women will be some of the main groups hit the hardest by climate change, and it is becoming increasingly more important to protect women’s land in Nigeria to help mitigate these effects. Women are responsible for 70% to 80% of all agricultural labor in Nigeria, but only 10 percent of land owners in Nigeria are women. This is partly due to the customary laws and property ownership, which makes it extremely hard for women to inherit land. With decreasing amounts of arable land coupled with continued population growth in Nigeria, 70% of Africans who rely on the land are at risk as climate change worsens. Those affected the most in are the women who perform the majority of agricultural labor and have more intimate relationships with the land. Empowering women to own the land where they work will improve Nigerian communities’ climate resiliency, creating a more sustainable relationship between humans and the environment. Photo credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images
Victoria Law is a journalist who spent 6 years with the Zapatista movement in Southern Mexico and published Compañeras: Zapatista Women’s Stories. She gives an overview of the Zapatistas, the influence women have in the movement and the impact the movement has had on their lives. The Zapatistas began organizing in the 80s and declared war on the state of Mexico in 1994, on the exact day the NATO the free trade agreement began. Since then the movement is renowned for the peaceful protests, indigenous organization, and their autonomy. Women have played a key role in the Zapatista communities accomplishing a drastic reduction of violence against women, the prohibition of alcohol (connected to abuse), the freedom to participate and lead in politics, and autonomy over their lives. Victoria sheds light to many things that can be learned from the organization of the Zapatistas and the key role that women continue to play in their liberation and in the liberation of their people. Photo Credit: Mr. Thelkan
Women are fighting to make their resistant efforts against extractive industries more visible to demonstrate an alternative way of living that is desperately needed. Lynda Sullivan highlights the stories of women who are leading resistant efforts in their local communities to protect Mother Earth against extractive industries. In sharing these women’s stories, Sullivan illustrates the connection between violence against women and Mother Earth, where there is a clear intersection between suppressing feminine power and objectifying the sacred and creative core of the feminine. Through her writing, Sullivan fights against these extractive industries through the power of storytelling.
Women in Afro-Ecuadorian communities are uniquely and historically responsible for traditional medical practices. Like Indigenous Ecuadorians, Afro-Ecuadorians have made the rich botanical resources of Equator the foundation of their medicinal treatments. Traditional medicines are often coupled with healing practices such as singing songs and saying prayers for spiritual ailments as well. However, women practicing Afro-Ecuadorian medicine are now facing threats to their traditional practices due to restrictive policies that label ancestral medicine as “alternative” and from increased pesticide use, and cheaper western healthcare services. Photo Credit: Raul Ceballos
Despite once providing bustling profits for fishing families, Lake Malawi — one of Africa’s largest lakes — suffers from overfishing and women in Malawi are feeling the brunt of this. The fishing industry employs close to 300,000 Malawi workers and fishers, but fish are no longer being found in abundance. Stiff competition from fishermen is drastically depleting fish levels. The fish that are now being found are smaller and priced higher, reducing the profitability of a market that used to flourish in the past. Women who used to buy fish cheaply and trade it for more, are then forced to buy from fishermen, who have also been pushed out of business, at increased prices. Moreover, they are no longer able to provide local fish as a cheap protein to their families because overfishing has left women under tight restraint. Thankfully successful community efforts have been rallied around creating bylaws that would close down the lake for a temporary amount of time to promote lake health. And it appears these laws put in place were working — a man was hit with a hefty fine for fishing on the lake when it was close. Photo credit: Mabvuto Banda
In this Mothers of Invention podcast, former Irish president Mary Robinson and New-York-based Irish-born comedian Maeve Higgins focus on money and climate change. This episode specifically addresses climate change as a human rights, justice and climate issue; and highlights the importance of divesting from the carbon economy to invest into renewable energy, the green economy and jobs of the future. Divestment, from fossil fuel, pipelines, oppressive systems etc. is powerful and effective as ‘it speaks to people’s pockets’. The podcast features female activists’ experiences and campaigns from South Africa and the US. Yvette Abrahams is a former apartheid activist and Commission for Gender Equality. May Boeve is an an American environmental activist, organiser and Executive Director of 350.org, a global grassroots climate movement. Tara Houska is a Couchiching First Nation citizen; a tribal rights US attorney, environmental and indigenous rights advocate, and the National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth. Photo Credit: Unknown
The author Laureli Ivanoff is an Inupiat, a northern indigenous population with communities from Alaska to Greenland. She reflects on the future of her people who now have to learn to live without the cold: last winter there was less ice in the Bering Sea that any winter since the 1850 when record-keeping started. The Inupiat need the northeastern Bering Sea to stay cold so that the creatures they traditionally rely on can thrive. She particularly thinks about her newly born son Inuqtaq, to whom hunting was going to be an act of intentional decolonization, a way of keeping alive a custom that’s become sacred and of staying connected to his heritage and identity. As she hurts for him and for her family, Laureli hopes the world quickly adapts and also respects the earth as they have for millennia. Photo credit: Ash Adams/The New York Times
At the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco California, Niria Alicia stood up and sang out in protest to Governor Jerry Brown’s refusal to take action against oil and gas companies. In this piece, Niria describes why she joined eight other young people in singing the Women’s Warrior Song as an act of resistance at the summit. Niria sites her own identity as an Indigenous woman, and daughter of a farmworker to poignantly explain the consequences of fossil fuel divestment. Photo credit: Niria Alicia
Aminata Bamba and Traore Awa are two women leading the charge on gender equality in the cocoa industry in Western Africa. Both with senior positions in their cocoa cooperatives, Ecookim and CAYAT cocoa cooperative respectively, and having returned from a Fairtrade Conference, they defy the traditional gender roles prevalent in their country and help lift the taboo on women leadership. In a community where unpaid labour often mean that women working throughout the production chain are often not recognised and gender expectations result in a male-dominated industry, the Fairtrade Women’s School of Leadership is working to empower women to take the lead and has trained 413 women in Awa’s community. Their program provides guidance and business support and last year’s conference tackled the future of trade and systemic issues in supply chains. Photo credit: Tony Myers.
In this essay published in the Earth Island Journal, philosopher, writer and climate activist Kathleen Dean Moore calls to action the mothers, grandmothers, aunties, godmothers and all those who love the children. From her cabin in Alaska, she witnessed her a hummingbird saving her nestlings from a squirrel, and a bear saving her cub from wolves. She highlights the power of love, ferocity and responsibility of mothers and grandmothers protecting children and the planet against global warming and ecosystem collapse. She evokes grandmothers Annette Klapstein and her friend Emily Johnston, who shut off the flow of Canadian tar-sands oil by cutting the chain on an oil-pipeline valve in Minnesota. She relates the work of Leatra Harper and Jill Antares Hunker, mothers who devise strategies against fracking from their kitchen tables. This eloquent piece is illustrated by Lisa Vanin, whose work focuses on the magic and mystery of nature. Illustration Credit: Lisa Vanin
Santona Rani, President of the Rajpur Women’s Federation, is working to increase climate and community resilience in her flood-prone area of Tajpur, Lalmonirhat in northern Bangladesh. Climate change is increasing the detrimental effects on crops and productivity. Her organisation is made up of twenty groups that work to assist 500 vulnerable and marginalized women. It works alongside ActionAid’s Promoting Opportunities for Women Empowerment and Rights (POWER) to boost independence through sustainable agriculture that fosters climate resilience. They also work to address the unjust gender roles that exist within the society; aiming to increase income and recognise the amount of work women do, provide training around leadership, women’s rights, financial aspects, sustainable farming and communication skills, as well as endeavour to prevent violence against women. Their work is community based, and involves interactive theatre shows, informative leaflets, and a seed bank and grain store that protects against the damages of flooding or natural disasters. Photo credit: ActionAid.
In 2008, Ecuador re-thought its democracy and included “Rights of Nature” in its constitution. Following in these footsteps, Shannon Biggs (United States), Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca Nation, United States), Pella Thiel (Sweden), Pablo Solón (Bolivia) and Henny Freitas (Brazil) have also started the process to incorporate the Rights of Nature into national legal frameworks. Mari Margil, associate director of the U.S. Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, helped draft state-wide legislation, the first of its kind in the world. Pablo Solon, an environmental and social activist as well as former ambassador of the United Nations, acknowledges that nature helps humans be more humane. Similarly, Patricia Gualinga, former director of Sarayaku Kichwa Native People’s head of international relations, views nature as an actor in democracy rather as an outside subject. Photo Credit: Hugo Pavon/Universidad Andina
The murder of Earth Defenders is on the rise, especially throughout Latin America, according to Global Watch. Nevertheless, Colombian women like Jackeline Romero Epiayu, Briceida Lemos Rivera, Isabel Zuleta, and Nini Johana Cárdenas Rueda continuously fight for the land and their livelihoods. Through community organization and outreach, these women are bravely resisting the expansion of mining industries and infrastructure projects that have devastating impacts on the environment and local communities. But with such force comes danger as these four women are facing harassment from Colombian authorities, anonymous threats to their lives and loved ones, and have even escaped attempted kidnappings and murders. Photo Credit: Ynske Boersman
Indigenous women organizers lead Solidarity to Solutions Week (Sol2Sol) during the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, CA. Kandi Mossett with the Indigenous Environmental Network grew up in the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota whose community experienced high cancer rates from close proximity to coal plants and uranium mining. Isabella Zizi with Idle No More SF Bay was raised in Richmond, California near the Chevron refinery with accidents disproportionately impacting Indigenous and communities of color. The week of action criticizes politicians who cling to false solutions to the climate crisis that support the fossil fuel industry and market-based solutions while leaving out frontline communities. Mossett and Zizi describe alternative community-based events during Sol2Sol including a People’s Climate March led by the Ohlone people native to the Bay Area, prayer ceremonies on sacred sites, visits to nearby sustainable farms, and educational workshops. Photo credit: Daniela Kantorova/Flickr
Katsi Cook, founder of the first school of Indigenous midwifery, traces the trajectory of her life and explains how the traditional knowledge of Indigenous communities is helping to conserve moral values and the environment. Her interest in environmental health was inspired by her experience delivering babies as a midwife, when a mother asked a simple question: “Is it safe to breastfeed?” Her research led to the first human health study at a superfund site, which revealed that Mohawk indigenous women are disproportionately affected by the nearby industrialization of the Great Lakes basin. Their breastmilk has been contaminated with harmful chemicals that in turn impacts their offspring. Cook shares the stories of her ancestors which are helpful for her to empower her fellow women. Photo Credit: Yes Magazine
Isela Gonzalez, director of Alianza Sierra Madre, uses civic activism to fight for political change as a way to confront the vested economic interests of not only big corporations, but also narco-gangs and corrupt politicians, that violate indigenous land rights. In a country that is painted in violence, with assassinations as an answer to those who have a different vision than governmental or corporate agendas, standing up for environmental and social causes come with serious risks. Often facing threats to her life, which has resulted in armed guards, panic buttons and crisis training, Gonzalez is staunch in her battle to defend the Tarahumara’s rights. The three tribes who live among the pine-oak forests of the Sierra Madre have a worldview that sees themselves as part of the land and it was this, as well as their way of life, that inspired her to refocus the direction of Alianza Sierra Madre on indigenous rights as the frontline for environmental protection. Photo credit: Thom Pierce for The Guardian.
In this interview, Maureen Penjueli of the Pacific Network on Globalization (PANG), shares the group’s efforts to protect the land and ocean sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples in the Pacific region. Free trade deals and foreign investments that open channels for seabed mining and extractive industries threaten customary land tenure systems and disregard Indigenous ways of knowing. PANG helps Pacific people achieve economic self-determination by educating them about policy levers such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples or Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to fight exploitation and put pressure on government leaders. Photo credit: Rucha Chitnis
Neris Uriana, the first female chieftain of Wayuu tribe in La Guajira, was elected in 2015. She had tremendous support from her husband Jorge Uriana who thinks the future is female. Jorge was the previous community leader and decided women should participate in decision making and worked to dismantle machismo culture. After becoming chieftain, Neris has introduced sustainable agriculture methods to her tribe and collaborated with other communities to improve irrigation, crop cycles, and land use. Neris has successfully created many women leaders in her tribe, such as Pushaina, who is growing the crops with minimum water supply. Photo Credit: Lucy Sherriff/PRI
A group of elderly Kenyan women in Mathiga village, northeast of Nairobi, have become entrepreneurs by taking advantage of their basketry skills, in an area where they could barely manage to farm. By selling their baskets to tourists, as the demand increased, their livelihoods got better. Despite the challenges to the tourism sector brought about by attacks by Somali-linked Islamists, their goods still got attention, even beyond Kenya’s borders. Basketry has not only offered them a source of livelihood, but it has also opened doors for them in the world. Photo credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation/Caroline Wambui
The feminine hygiene industry markets products that are manufactured with dangerous chemicals and which perpetuate harmful myths around period bleeding. Much of the marketing languages capitalizes on the notion that bleeding is shameful and should be hidden or kept from public discourse. Further, women and girls are often encouraged to use mainstream products such as bleached tampons and p