Founded in 2008, the Native-led Indigenous Forum launched in collaboration with board members, Clayton Thomas Muller of 350.org and Melissa K. Nelson of the Cultural Conservancy, as well as Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network. It was designed as a sovereign space for Indigenous People to bring their vision and message to Native and non-Native allies and to connect. It has grown dramatically over the past 10 years, with over 300 Indigenous attendees’ belonging to 94 distinct tribes in 2018. It remains the only gathering of its kind, bringing together Indigenous activists, scientists, elders, youth, culture-bearers and scholars to share their knowledge and frontline solutions in dialogue with a dynamic, multicultural audience.
Goals of the Indigenous Forum:
Amplify Indigenous voices, models and initiatives
Build networks and movements among Indigenous Peoples and with allies
Enhance cross-cultural dialogue, learning, cultural sensitivity and informed action
Educate large numbers of people
Even in today’s increasingly inclusive cultural and media environment, Native Peoples speaking in their own voices are often absent and greatly under-represented. Creating a Native-led communications platform and related media for wide distribution are central to the Forum’s purpose. Equally central is the network and movement building that occur on site that lead to more effective and informed action both among First Peoples and with allies. Bioneers and the Forum have provided a crucial trellis for these network of networks and otherwise fragmented movements to grow and to grow together.
The Indigenous Forum provides a one-of-a-kind platform where diverse audiences can learn about Indigenous change-makers’ strategies, accomplishments and campaigns. Each year, the Indigeneity Program and the Indigenous Forum play an important role in bringing allies, partnerships and funders to our Indigenous partners.
Despite the erasure of Indigenous perspectives in the mainstream media, there is a great demand among the American public for Indigenous knowledge and voices.
Since its inception in 2008, the Indigenous Forum has prioritized the creation of a space that nurtures cross-cultural dialogue and understanding among all peoples. We believe that real change takes all people. We illuminate what non-Native people can do in their own communities, as well as culturally appropriate ways to get involved with Indigenous issues.
According to a recent audience survey, the top reasons people attend are:
- Subject Matter
- Indigenous Perspectives
- Indigenous Knowledge
- Specific Speaker
Post-conference conversations with attendees indicate that participants of all backgrounds apply what they have learned once they return home contributing to the success of countless Indigenous movements and campaigns over the past 30 years.