Solutions From Indian Country: What The World Needs to Know

October 8 is Indigenous Peoples Day and while it might sound corny, here at Bioneers every day is Indigenous Peoples Day! Since our founding nearly three decades ago, Bioneers has celebrated and honored Indigenous knowledge and solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental issues. We work tirelessly every day of the year to get the word out about Indigenous issues and cultures, and to share ways that Indigenous knowledge can help solve our most pressing environmental and social concerns.

The 2018 Bioneers Conference will be bringing together more than fifty Indigenous changemakers from around the world to share their experiences working to protect water, reclaim land, and practice their religions through the annual Traditional Ecological Knowledge Workshop, the Bioneers Indigenous Forum, panelists, Keynote speakers and our partner tables and booths.  

Indigenous Forum speakers include Leah Mata (Northern Chumash), who is fighting to protect traditional seaweed harvests to re-balance the coastal ecosystems for all Californians; Hernan Payaguaje (Seikopai) who is battling oil extraction corporations to protect his Ecuadorian forest homeland; and, Susan Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee), whose tireless work for several White House administrations has shaped U.S. Federal Indian policy to protect sacred sites, secure religious freedom, revitalize Native languages and establish the National Museum of the American Indian.

When we organize the Indigenous Forum each year, we ask ourselves: “What kinds of solutions are coming out of Indian Country that the world needs to know about?” And, “How can we build cultural bridges so that these game-changing efforts can be supported and sustained?” The result is groundbreaking programming that can’t be found anywhere else.

On Friday, October 19, we are focusing on “Water is Life!”– the battle cry that encapsulated Standing Rock. Our first panel, Abalone Wars: Indigenous Voices from the Coastal Frontlines, showcases Indigenous leaders sharing their experiences on the frontlines of the battle to save our coasts while fighting to maintain their cultural connections to these resources, and our second panel, Mní Wičhóni: We Are Here To Protect Our Rivers, features women water carriers sharing what “water is life” truly means from a cultural and spiritual understanding.

On Saturday, October 20, Indigenous Forum panels are all about Indigenous Solutions for our most difficult environmental challenges. For the first time ever, we are hosting “Lunch with an Elder,” a powerful session with Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network. This will be followed by Native People’s “Just Transition” to Clean Energy, an incredible conversation with two Indigenous women who have successfully transitioned their Native communities off fossil fuels. Our final panel, Beyond Sovereignty: New Solutions for Self-Determination, features a Native lawyer, a tribal government official, an artist, and a policy-maker exploring how tribes might begin to go beyond conventional applications of sovereignty to include food sovereignty beyond farming, economic sovereignty beyond gaming, and environmental sovereignty beyond current legal systems.

Sunday, October 21, is all about re-indigenization, or honoring ways that all people can acknowledge their roots and responsibilities. For the first time ever, we are bringing pairs of Native/non-Native allies together for a groundbreaking conversation about How To Be A Good Ally. Last but not least, our final panel explores “Blood Memory.” What is it? How do you tap into yours? And, how do you respectfully acknowledge the blood memory of others?  

The Bioneers Indigeneity Program warmly welcomes all people from different backgrounds, ages and walks of life to join our Indigeneity programming as relatives, friends, and allies. We can’t wait to see you at Bioneers 2018.

Yours Truly,

Cara Romero and Alexis Bunten





Bioneers Indigeneity Program Staff Alexis Bunten (Aleut/Yup’ik) left, and Cara Romero (Chemehuevi) right, take a break to visit the MOMA while campaigning for the Rights of Nature in New York City this past July.

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