Jade Begay – Strengthening Indigenous Leadership During Collapse

By now, we have all heard the statistic that Indigenous Peoples protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity, despite being 5% of the world’s population. This simple fact alone should position Indigenous, Native, and Tribal Peoples as not only leaders but experts on resource management and climate mitigation and adaptation. Yet, in many spaces, political and institutional, Indigenous knowledge and expertise are seen as supplemental, and at worse, romantic. So how can we move beyond just acknowledging Indigenous Peoples to working to ensure that their rights are centered and strengthened in climate action at the local, national and global levels? Jade Begay, one of North America’s most effective Indigenous Rights activists shares her insights on how far Indigenous leadership has come and what we can do to strengthen and embolden this leadership that is so needed if we are all to survive on planet Earth. 

This talk was delivered at the 2023 Bioneers Conference.

Photo by Cara Romero

Jade Begay, MA, a citizen of Tesuque Pueblo and also of Diné and Southern Ute ancestry, Director of Policy and Advocacy at NDN Collective, works at the intersections of storytelling, narrative strategy, climate and environmental justice, and Indigenous rights policy at the domestic and international levels. She previously served as the Creative Director and Climate Justice Campaign Director at NDN Collective but now directs its programs and projects that elevate policy and advocacy issues important to the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and tribal nations. In 2021, Jade was appointed by President Biden to serve on the inaugural White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and is a recipient of a Ripe for Creative Disruption Environmental Justice Movement Fellowship.

Learn more about Jade Begay and her work at NDN Collective.


Nick Estes – The Age of the Water Protector and Climate Chaos

In this Bioneers 2022 keynote, Nick Estes, Ph.D. (Kul Wicasa/Lower Brule Sioux) describes the outsized impact frontline Indigenous communities are having in fighting climate change and resisting extractive industries, the importance and effectiveness of Earth-centered approaches to fighting for Climate Justice, and the overarching goal of being “good ancestors of the future.”

Indigeneity Conversations

This podcast series, a project of Bioneers’ Indigeneity Program, features deep and engaging conversations with Native culture bearers, scholars, movement leaders, and non-Native allies on the most important issues and solutions in Indian Country. It explores compelling issues such as Indigenous Land Return, Cultural Appropriation, Rights of Nature and other essential conversations that exemplify the essential leadership role that Indigenous cultures are playing in the effort to reshape and transform society’s relationship with the natural world while highlighting the contemporary lives, work and experiences of Native Americans.

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