Indigeneity at the Bioneers Conference, Nov. 11-13

Welcome to Indigeneity at Bioneers 2021. Bioneers has honored Indigenous knowledge and lifeways since its inception, and this year’s Conference is no different. We are so honored to share with you the keynotes, panels, and interactives with Indigenous leaders across so many fields and cultural traditions. We hope to see you there!

– Cara Romero and Alexis Bunten, Indigeneity Program Co-Directors


Thursday, November 11

10:30 am Opening Remarks with Manny Lieras (Diné/Comanche) 

11:15 am Indigenous Guardianship is Key to Halt the Climate Crisis with Nemonte Nenquimo (Waorani)

About this keynote

For millennia Indigenous communities have been guardians of their environments, protecting flora and fauna, using their traditional knowledge and wisdom passed down over generations to live in balance within their ecosystems. Today Indigenous peoples safeguard 80% of the biodiversity left in the world, and protecting those lands and waters is crucial to mitigating the climate crisis, because those biodiverse areas are among the planet’s major carbon sinks. Indigenous peoples are the ancestral owners of nearly half of the intact forest left across the entire Amazon Basin. Nemonte Nenquimo, a leader from the Waorani community in Ecuador and a founding member of Indigenous-led nonprofit organization Ceibo Alliance and its partner, Amazon Frontlines, will discuss why respecting Indigenous people’s internationally recognized rights to decide the future of their territories, cultures and lives is critically urgent for the protection of our world’s most important rainforest, our climate, and life on our planet.

11:30 am Performance by Dallas Goldtooth (Mdewakanton Dakota/Diné)

12:45 pm Indigenous Forum Panel – Laughter as Medicine: The Power of Native American Comedy with Jackie Keliiaa (Yerington Paiute/Washoe), Dallas Goldtooth (Mdewakanton Dakota/Dine) and Cara Romero (Chemehuevi)

About this panel

If they say that laughter is medicine, then the most powerful medicine of all might just be American Indian comedy. Native Peoples have rich and complex humor traditions. Jokes are used to reflect on life, teach a lesson, build relationships and heal from pain. For us, comedy is a form of deep resilience to the intergenerational trauma of ongoing settler colonization, and a way to see a future for our communities beyond it. As many hardships that we face as Native Peoples, we always find a way to joke about it in culturally unique, hysterical ways. As we emerge from a global pandemic, and struggle with ongoing oppression and threats to people and planet, we need laughter as medicine more than ever. 

Featuring Jackie Keliiaa (Paiute)  and Dallas Goldtooth (Mdewakanton Dakota/Diné), and hosted by Cara Romero (Chemehuevi).

12:45 pm Panel – Embodied Healing Approaches to Personal, Generational, and Socio-Political Trauma with Dr. Ruby Gibson (Lakota, Ojibwe, Mediterranean) and Staci K. Haines

About this panel

Trauma has perhaps never been more widely prevalent than it is now, nor more varied in its causes: personal stress, familial history, racial discrimination, poverty, oppression, climate disaster, etc. These times are really stretching our capacity to endure, so they require ever more effective healing and self-care modalities that include the taking of our personal inventory and adjusting our beliefs and lifestyles. Join two master Somatics practitioners and teachers as they share insights and explain their methods. With: Dr. Ruby Gibson (Lakota, Ojibwe, Mediterranean), author, educator and healer, co-founder and Executive Director of Freedom Lodge; and Staci K. Haines, educator, advocate, healer, co-founder of Generative Somatics and author of The Politics of Trauma.


Friday, November 12

11:11 am Apocalypse Then & Now with Julian Brave NoiseCat (Secwepemc)

About this keynote

The perspectives and experiences of Indigenous peoples are especially critical in the fight against climate change and environmental devastation. First, it is estimated that 80% of the planet’s remaining biodiversity is found in the lands of Indigenous communities, who have historically proven to be the best protectors of their ecosystems. These lands are also often some of the Earth’s most important carbon sinks, so the health of those regions is crucial to our collective survival, and supporting these frontlines groups in defending their rights and territories has to be central to any credible global climate strategy. On top of that, the rest of humanity has a great deal to learn about how to live in balance with the natural world from the traditional ecological wisdom of many Indigenous peoples. Finally, no one has more experience surviving apocalypses and providing models of resilience in the face of dire crises. Julian Brave NoiseCat, an activist and one of this era’s most brilliant emerging progressive journalists and thinkers, will lay out the case for the moral imperative to assure that Indigenous voices have a central role in humanity’s struggle to address the existential climate crisis.

12:45 pm Indigenous Forum Panel – Indigenous Activism NOW: Talking Story with Clayton Thomas Muller and Julian Noisecat

About this panel

Clayton Thomas-Muller and Julian Brave NoiseCat are nationally and internationally acclaimed Indigenous leaders in the fights against climate change and the accelerating, human-induced destruction of our ecosystems. When they aren’t on the front lines organizing movements to protect the planet, Clayton and Julian work as accomplished writers penning penetrating analyses of the connections between settler colonial capitalism, broken social and political systems, trauma, and environmental disaster. They also happen to have a deep friendship. Join us for an intimate conversation with these two exemplary leaders, as they share the story behind the story about how their lives intersect with their activism and discuss their new projects and their hopes for the future.

12:45 pm Panel – Nature + Justice + Women’s Leadership: A Strategic Trio for Effective Change with Naelyn Pike (Chiricahua Apache), Amisha Ghadiali, Osprey Orielle Lake, and Nina Simons

About this panel

As ecological destruction, climate destabilization, the global pandemic, and all forms of historical and current injustice are converging to initiate a near-death experience for our species, join a group of wise women to discuss why the combination of honoring, respecting and learning from nature, being motivated by a deep quest for justice, and cultivating the leadership of women can provide a potent, three-pronged strategic path for getting us to a world we want.

Featuring: Naelyn Pike (Chiricahua Apache), Amisha Ghadiali, Osprey Orielle Lake, and Nina Simons

12:45 pm Panel – Sacred Manhood: An Intergenerational Conversation on Trauma and Healing for Boys and Men of Color (“BMOC”) With Jerry Tello (Coahuiltecan), Jason Seals and David Bouttavong

About this panel

Many boys and men of color have to grapple with very potent intergenerational traumas deeply linked to the racism, oppression and systemic inequities their communities have had to endure for so long. The Covid Pandemic has unfortunately exacerbated many of these underlying dynamics, resulting in increased levels of domestic and community violence in many neighborhoods.

Featuring: Jerry Tello (Coahuiltecan), Jason Seals, and David Bouttavong.

2:30 pm Community Conversation: Being in Right Relationship—The Indigenous Wisdom of the Four Sacred Gifts with Anita L Sanchez, Ph.D., (Aztec/Mexican American), Amy Lenzo, David Shaw and Jason Bayani

About this interactive

Bioneers brings together a very diverse, discerning, engaged and reflective community, and the curated conversations around crucial topics we have been hosting recently (“Community Conversations”) have proven highly popular and stimulating. Each session begins with a very brief presentation by a noted thought leader as a “conversation starter” to frame the topic, followed by structured group discussion. At the end, a talented spoken word artist “harvests” the essence of what was said in a poetic synthesis and performs it for the group.

In this session, Anita Sanchez will start us off by drawing from her award-winning book, The Four Sacred Gifts: Indigenous Wisdom for Modern Times, to explain how unity, healing, hope-in-action, and the ability to forgive the unforgivable are the key life-tools (the “four sacred gifts”) we must cultivate if we are to achieve our full potential as a collective life-giving force in the “One Hoop of Life.” We will then engage in facilitated conversation, as we seek to bring our most creative thinking forward, and weave our hearts, minds, and voices into a collective braid.

Featuring Anita L Sanchez, Ph.D., (Aztec/Mexican American), deeply experienced trainer/coach, author, member of the Transformational Leadership Council, and Bioneers and Pachamama Alliance board member. Facilitated by: Amy Lenzo, weDialogue and the World Café Community Foundation; David Shaw, Santa Cruz Permaculture and UCSC Right Livelihood College. “Harvester:” Jason Bayani, author, theater performer, Artistic Director, Kearny Street Workshop.

2:30 pm Interactive – Healing from Trauma with Somatics and Community Practices with Donaji Lona and Nazbah Tom (Diné)

About this interactive

Unlike many traditional psychological approaches, somatic practices focus on embodied sensations as much as on the mind. They have proven especially effective in helping address many types of traumas, from purely personal ones to those rooted in collective histories of oppression. In this session, two gifted practitioners, Donaji Lona, a somatics teacher and community social justice activist/organizer who works especially with immigrant communities in the San Francisco Bay Area; and Nazbah Tom (Diné), a Toronto-based somatic practitioner and writer who works with a combination of techniques, including drama therapy, conversation, gestural practices, breath, and bodywork, will share their insights into how we can start working through our traumas with some of the powerful embodied transformation processes that Somatics offers us.


Saturday, November 13

12:45 pm Indigenous Forum Panel: Indigenous Pathways to a Regenerative Future with Sikowis (Plains Cree/Saulteaux), Nick Estes (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe) and Alexis Bunten (Unangan/Yupik)

About this panel

Indigenous Peoples already do “green jobs,” integrate cultural values into business activities, and protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity. In order to transform our economies through Indigenous-led solutions, we need to uplift movements and stories inspired by Indigenous resistance. To do this, we must change the culture of philanthropy and impact investing, which still largely circulates in privileged circles. In this panel, Sikowis, Nick Estes, and Alexis Bunten discuss colonial-capitalism and how Indigenous-led strategies offer a pathway towards an equitable and regenerative future.

Featuring Sikowis (Plains Cree/Saulteaux), Nick Estes (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe) and Alexis Bunten (Unangan/Yupik)

2:30 pm Community Conversation: Global Warming Woman: Transforming Anger, Fire and Power with Ruby Gibson, Th.D. (Lakota, Ojibway, Mestiza), Amy Lenzo, David Shaw and Jahan Khalighi

About this interactive

Bioneers brings together a very diverse, discerning, engaged and reflective community, and the curated conversations around crucial topics we’ve been hosting recently (“Community Conversations”) have proven highly popular and stimulating. Each session begins with a very brief presentation by a noted thought leader as a “conversation starter” to frame the topic, followed by structured group discussion. At the end, a talented spoken word artist “harvests” the essence of what was said in a poetic synthesis and performs it for the group.

Global Warming Woman is a totem for our changing world—a fierce, protective warrior, deeply connected to Earth Mother, seeking balance on the Hoop of Life. Right now, she’s on fire, kindling the injustices of the past, demanding respect and blazing a passionate path for the future. Join us to look at the collective and generational history of suppression and misuse of power, and how it impacts our bodies, our health, our relations, and our Earth.

Together, we’ll explore strategies and practices for cooling the fire within, for conflict resolution, for addressing addictions, for safe anger release, and for reconciliation. With conversation-starter Ruby Gibson, Th.D. (Lakota, Ojibway, Mestiza), co-founder and Executive Director of Freedom Lodge and author of My Body, My Earth: The Practice of Somatic Archaeology. Facilitated by: Amy Lenzo, weDialogue and the World Café Community Foundation; David Shaw, Santa Cruz Permaculture and UCSC Right Livelihood College. Harvester: Jahan Khalighi, spoken word poet, youth educator and community arts organizer.

2:30 pm Panel – Earth, Water and Fire: A Permaculture and Indigenous Approach to Managing Land with Penny Livingston, Carmen Gonzales (Diné), Bill Tripp and Arty Mangan

About this panel

To understand how we steward the land appropriately in harmony with nature and natural forces, it is necessary to understand our relationship to the primal elements and their relationship to each other. Join a discussion that will bridge ecological science, permaculture and Traditional Ecological Knowledge and how they are applied to land management in ways that nurture ecosystem resilience and regeneration. With Permaculturist Penny Livingston; water protector and permaculturist Carmen Gonzales (Diné); and Bill Tripp (Karuk Tribe), Deputy Director of Eco-Cultural Revitalization for the Karuk Tribe. Hosted by Bioneers’ Restorative Food Systems Director Arty Mangan.

2:30 pm Interactive – What is Cultural Appropriation? with Alexis Bunten (Unangan/Yup’ik) and Cara Romero (Chemehuevi)

About this interactive

Although people are becoming more aware of the rampant cultural appropriation that takes place every day, there is still a great deal of confusion about what cultural appropriation is. In this interactive session, we will unpack the differences between cultural appropriation and appreciation through real life examples, exercises and discussion. You’ll leave the session with the confidence to interact with Native Peoples as a good relative, the know-how to purchase and display Native arts responsibly, as well as the ability to help others avoid cultural appropriation.

Featuring Alexis Bunten (Unangan/Yup’ik) and Cara Romero (Chemehuevi), Co-Directors of the Bioneers Indigeneity Program.

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