This piece was written on unceded Tongva and Gabrielino lands.
When any non-Native folks take up the charge to fight climate change and protect Earth, we must look to the First Peoples who have been stewarding this land, their land, for centuries. It’s no surprise that women and two-spirit people have been at the helm of resistance on all fronts–from the fateful day European colonizers arrived on their land, to the present-day epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women across the “United States”. While there is a long cultural history of Native people leveraging their own bodies against capitalistic greed, we want to call attention to the Indigenous women leading the charge today.
Autumn Peltier, Anishinaabe-kwe, Ontario, Canada
Autumn Peltier, 16, is the Chief Water Protector for the Anishinaabe-kwe of the Wikwemikong First Nation in what is called Ontario, Canada. When she was just 13 years old, she addressed the United Nations General Assembly to implore them to ban plastics and leave safe drinking water for future generations. She rose to international notice after presenting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a copper water pot and demanded clean water rights for all.
Follow her fight on Instagram.
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Standing Rock Sioux, Fort Yates, North Dakota
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard is a Native historian and activist. LaDonna established the first resistance camps of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests, called Sacred Stone Camp. The DAPL was constructed underneath Indigenous land and was slated to endanger safe drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. On June 6, 2020, a federal judge ordered Dakota Access LLC to cease its operations and empty all oil from the pipes until an environmental review could take place.
Follow Sacred Stone Camp on Instagram.
Sônia Guajajara, Guajajara, Maranhão, Brazil
Guajajara is one of the most internationally recognized earth defenders. She was born on Araribóia land in the Amazon rainforest and is facing a major battle with right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has threatened to open Indigenous land for commercial use. In 2018, she became the first Indigenous person to run for a federal executive office in Brazil when she ran as the vice presidential running mate of the Socialism and Liberty Party.
Follow Sônia Guajajara on Instagram.
These young girls and women have protected the quality of life for countless Native people and have protected Earth, life itself, for generations to come.
How do your everyday actions affect these Indigenous women and their fight for justice? Discover the PerSus app which helps you measure your personal sustainability.