Truth Telling and Movement Making: Introducing the 2017 Bioneers Indigenous Forum

What do Hawaii’s Poet Laureate, a MacArthur Genius, and the 2016 recipient of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award have in common?

They are all featured presenters in the 2017 Bioneers Indigenous Forum.

Organized by our all-Native Indigeneity Program staff, and advised by our Native Board members and allies, the Bioneers Indigenous Forum has long served as a place for Indigenous intellectuals, activists and community leaders to convene in a safe, intercultural space to foster critical dialogue around environmental threats and social injustices Indigenous peoples experience. Indigenous voices and world views have always been critical to Bioneers’ mission to share practical solutions to the world’s most pressing issues, and since 1993, we have hosted such luminaries as Winona LaDuke, Oren Lyons, Robin Kimmerer, and Tom Goldtooth.

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, speaks from the heart at the 2016 Indigenous Forum Panel, The Art of Intergenerational Activism.

The 2016 Indigenous Forum brought us powerful and emotional stories about the horrifying aftermath of Canada’s boarding school system in a panel about Truth and Reconciliation, and the first-hand accounts of what it’s like on the front lines at Standing Rock in our Indigenous Rising panel.

In 2017, the Indigenous Forum will continue the tradition to bring to light issues often ignored by the mainstream media, but are so critical for all people to learn.

Across 3 days, we will be focusing on three themes: Frontline Solutions, California Indian Survival, and Pacific Connections. Panelists representing over 20 tribal nations will present innovative, heart-breaking, and inspiring programming that will make a lasting impression on the spirits and minds of those who will join us.

Here’s an overview of our incredible line up:

Friday, October 20: Frontline Solutions

From Alcatraz to Standing Rock, Indigenous activists have long been recognized as at the forefront of innovative and effective movements. Our first panel, “Reclaiming Indigenous Worldviews: Implementing the Rights of Nature in the Bay Area and Beyond,” explores ways that First Peoples’ traditional worldviews can be adopted into Rights of Nature policy to protect natural systems for all peoples. Our second Friday panel, “Fighting Racism in School” is near and dear to our hearts, as we feature some of the most incredible teenagers we know, who will come together to share personal stories of successful battles to bring the real history of America into the classroom and to abolish dehumanizing Indian mascots once and for all.

Saturday, October 21: California Indian Survival

California Indians are the most culturally and linguistically diverse in all of North America. California has the largest Indigenous population in the US, and Los Angeles has the second biggest urban Indian population in America (just after New York City). Yet, people in California and across the broader US are woefully ignorant of the massive genocide and cultural revitalization that have taken place in the state. Through two powerful back to back panels, California Indian elders, leaders, and storytellers come together to tell the truth about surviving generations of kidnapping, slavery, and mass murder, and the healing power of traditional storytelling.

Sunday, October 22: Pacific Connections

As an Alaska Native, I grew up hearing stories about knowledge passed across thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean for generations, knowing that I was somehow connected to Hawaiians, Maoris, and other peoples across the Pacific. Yet, neither the mainstream public nor even other Native peoples not living along the Pacific Rim are aware of the rich body of shared knowledge about the seas and how they have changed over millennia. Our First Sunday panel, “Pacific Connections: Indigenous Approaches to Climate Change from Tanax Amix to Aotearoa,” brings together culture bearers from across the Pacific to share first-hand observations of the effects of climate change and explore how Indigenous seafaring traditions, knowledge and connections can launch innovative solutions and inform policy. For the first time ever performed on the West Coast, our final event will feature a special performance, “The Story of Everything,” by Hawaii’s Hawaii’s Poet Laureate, Kealoha. His epic, multi-media feast for the soul explores life’s biggest questions—“Where do we come from?” “Where are we going?”—drawing from sources as diverse and yet interconnected as astrophysics, disco, biology, Michael Jackson, and the Kumulipo.

We hope that you are as excited about the line up as we are! Want to know more? Download a complete description of the 2017 Indigenous Forum panels and speakers.

Psst: We have much more Indigenous programming planned for the 2017 Bioneers conference –from arts installations to main stage speakers, and our annual TEK one-day intensive. Keep an eye out for more updates.

As Ever,

Alexis Bunten (Aleut/Yup’ik) and Cara Romero (Chemhuevi)

Bioneers Indigeneity Program Manager and Director

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