A New Generation of Indigenous Leaders

Indigenous youth mural at the 2015 National Bioneers Conference. Photo by Tailinh Agoyo.

The Bioneers Indigenous Knowledge Program fosters new Native Youth leaders by creating opportunities for Native Youth to participate in, present, and be empowered by attending the annual Bioneers Conference.  At the 2015 Bioneers conference, we had about 70 Native youth, including many from the Bay Area.

Bioneers is learning that the most effective component of our Native Youth delegation is its peer-to-peer and youth-to-adult relationship-building activities.  It’s always heartening to follow our amazing Native Youth leaders/presenters who emerge and bloom from Bioneers.

I’d like to take a moment to highlight three Native Youth presenters and scholarship recipients from 2015 and their ongoing work today. I want to offer my most profound gratitude to each of you who support our Youth Scholarships! This is the gift your gift is giving the world.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and Earth Guardians

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez Bioneers Conference 2015 © Nikki Ritcher

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is a powerful voice on the front lines of the youth-led climate movement. He’s the 15-year-old Indigenous change agent, environmental activist, public speaker, eco hip-hop artist, and the Youth Director of Earth Guardians. Xiuhtezcatl has been taking the world by storm, rocketing from a grassroots organizer to the cover of Vogue, to the pages of Rolling Stone. He’ll be back with us at Bioneers 2016 with a first-time, full-length keynote.

Jade Begay and the Indigenous Environmental Network

Indigenous activist Jade Begay photo by Jade Begay

I spoke with Tom Goldtooth recently about the exciting news that IEN is working with Jade Begay, a 2015 Bioneers Native Youth scholarship recipient. She went from Bioneers 2015 on to the Paris climate talks  (COP21) with Tom and his crew from Indigenous Environmental Network. Here’s a great article on Jade. She is of the Tesuque Pueblo and Diné (Navajo). She is a filmmaker and currently works as the Sustainability and Justice Communications Fellow at Resource Media, and on the Indigenous Environmental Network‘s media team.

Naelyn Pike and Saving Oak Flat

Naelyn Pike photo by Spiritualution

An arresting youth presenter from Bioneers Indigenous Forum 2015, Naelyn Pike continues her brave work to Save Oak Flat.  Watch this video and stay tuned for a release of Tom Goldtooth’s intimate interview with Naelyn in the 2015 Indigenous Forum.

We invite you to join with us again in supporting these brilliant, courageous young Indigenous leaders to participate in Bioneers 2016 and change the world!

Postscript: In Memory of Berta Cáceres, Human Rights and Environmental Activist

Berta Cáceres, who was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her opposition to Central America’s biggest hydropower projects, was shot to death in her home on March 3.  Two weeks later, thousands converged in Tegucigalpa for the start of a mobilization to demand justice for Berta. Her death, followed by the murder of another eco-activist, prompted international outrage, as well as a flood of tributes to the prominent and courageous defenders of the natural world.

We honor the memory and courage of Berta Cáceres and send our prayers to the Lenca people as they continue their struggle to protect their sacred lands.

“We must undertake the struggle in all parts of the world, wherever we may be, because we have no other spare or replacement planet. We have only this one, and we have to take action.” — Berta Cáceres

Celebrating Native American Female Warriors

We still learn little about Native Americans in our history classes and even less about Native women beyond Pocahontas and Sacagawea. For Women’s History Month, let’s dive a little deeper. We’ve compiled some outstanding articles and links on our Native Women sheroes:

Bonus Video: Antwi Akom – What Is Eco-Apartheid?

Please share this link with all of your Native Studies educators worldwide! I am excited by the formal release of our newest Indigenous Forum videos. These videos can be used in the classroom or for special interests.

Through schools and businesses, Akom, Associate Professor of Africana Studies at San Francisco State University, works to engage low-income youth and communities to address the health-wealth gap. In the “toxic triangle” – from Berkeley to Oakland and across to Bayview-Hunters Point – life expectancy is 10-15 years shorter for African Americans, Latinos and Indigenous Peoples than for wealthier residents in the Bay Area. It’s not an achievement gap but an opportunity gap, and it stems from institutional privilege for whites.

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