Indigeneity Program Overview

Indigeneity is a Native-led Program within Bioneers that promotes Indigenous approaches to solve the earth’s most pressing environmental and social issues. We produce the Indigenous Forum, original media, educational curricula and catalytic initiatives to support the leadership and rights of First Peoples, while weaving networks, partnerships and alliances among Native and non-Native allies.

Since our inception, Bioneers has been fundamentally shaped and guided by Indigenous knowledge, participants and partners. Indigenous Peoples are the original “bioneers.” Our first nonprofit initiative in 1989 (preceding the conference) was the Native Scholars program, working with Indigenous farmers to conserve both Traditional Ecological Knowledge and seed stocks.

Because disconnection from place leads to many severe ecological and social crises, it’s critical that people reconnect to place, a process sometimes called “re-indigenization.” The Indigeneity program promotes Traditional Ecological Knowledge and cultural wisdom of First Peoples as a pathway for the re-indigenization of all peoples.

First Peoples also carry what is sometimes called “The Original Instructions,” guiding principles, values, ethics, social processes and tools for how a culture or society can organize itself in relation to place, embody kinship, and practice peace.

The Indigeneity program invites allyship for the leadership of First Peoples as the guardians of lands that contain as much as 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity at the razor’s edge of clean and dirty energy.

The program is Native-led and provides a space for in-depth explorations in an invitational format that encourages all people to re-indigenize ourselves. It supports all peoples to examine the history of colonization within their own roots and helping people to better understand and to respect the intellectual property rights and cultural privacy of Indigenous Peoples and their knowledge.

“Indigenous peoples are like the miners’ canaries. When their cultures and languages disappear, it reflects a profound sickness in the ecology.”

– Dr. Gregory Cahete

We use the Bioneers conference, the Indigenous Forum, original media, educational curricula and catalytic initiatives to support the leadership and rights of First Peoples, while weaving networks, partnerships and alliances. The Indigenous Forum within the main conference has become an annual touchstone for Native leaders and allies to communicate and to create, nurture and facilitate strategic alliances connecting Indigenous communities and campaigns with each other and global allies.

We produce one-of-a-kind TEK workshops for hands-on learning and training. We’ve adapted conference presentations into annual radio shows, TV broadcasts, online videos, Indigenous knowledge media collections, and books. These media and the conference serve Indigenous and mainstream communities, educators, youth, as well as many others. We provide these audiences with authentic, easily accessible tools for understanding and teaching contemporary Indigenous issues and illuminating pathways for engagement.

Indigeneity’s Impact

Amplifies Indigenous Voices and Campaigns

Educates the broader public on Indigenous Issues

Provides opportunities for Native youth leadership

Connects Indigenous leaders with one another

Connects Indigenous leaders with allies

Results in social change


Our work includes a mix of live events, media production and distribution, trainings and curriculum development. Along with the three-day Indigenous Forum conference-within-a-conference, the “mother ship” Bioneers conference features many Indigenous presenters whose talks we leverage in our media, with the generous permission of our speakers.

Each year, we host a day-long “TEK Workshop” focused on a theme that brings together Indigenous science and activism. We produce high-quality media and unique Indigenousdesigned curriculum to disseminate in classrooms and beyond. We also produce special events such as our Digital Natives symposium in collaboration with Google Earth Outreach, and special events such as “Decolonize Thanksgiving” in collaboration with Mak-‘amham Café Ohlone. We’ve done several catalytic initiatives with specific Indigenous focus such as the Iroquois White Corn (IWC) project, Dreaming New Mexico, and the current Rights of Nature Tribal Governance project.

We prioritize cultivating future leaders through our annual Native Youth Leadership Program (NYLP), internships, Digital Natives Initiative, and Intercultural Conversations project. Our annual “Native Youth Leadership Program” brings over 125 Native Youth to the Bioneers Conference for a life-changing experience that exposes these brilliant young people to new ideas and role models through carefully curated cultural programming.

We mentor Native college-bound youth about their career paths, and how to communicate about complex issues that we face as Indigenous Peoples through six-week, and yearround internships. In partnership with Google Earth Outreach, our “Digital Natives” initiative supports Native youth to share their stories online, using advanced Google Earth mapping and storytelling tools. We also cultivate cross-cultural youth leadership through the flagship “Intercultural Conversations” project, which brings together Native and non-Native youth in dialogue about environmental and social issues, culminating in person at the Bioneers Conference.

Return to the Indigeneity Program Page.

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