All Indigenous Ways of Relating Events

This panel brought together frontline communities, including Indigenous elders from the Pacific Northwest and environmental justice advocates from rural Appalachia and the Gulf South. Drawing on intergenerational knowledge and the lived experience of struggle, speakers shined a spotlight on the costs, public health impacts, and environmental damage caused by extractive and fossil fuel-based energy initiatives. They also addressed the power of people around the world to come together around truly clean energy solutions — solutions that contribute to the regeneration of the air, land, and water, and to the flourishing of communities that have been sacrifice zones for decades and longer.

Moderator * Beka Economopoulos, The Natural History Museum, Pacific Northwest


* Rueben George, Sacred Trust Initiative, Tsleil-Waututh Nation

* Yvette Arellano, Fenceline Watch, Texas/Gulf Coast

* Germaine Patterson, Women for a Healthy Environment, Pittsburgh/Mon Valley, PA

* Heaven Sensky, Center for Coalfield Justice, Washington County, PA

* Gillian Graber, Protect PT, Westmoreland/Allegheny County, PA

Roundtable co-organized by @BreatheProject and @The Natural History Museum at @Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Pittsburgh, PA Thursday, September 22, 2022

“We have a warrior right here from Lummi, Jewell James, who has been fighting for decades and decades and decades. He fought with my mother on the same side, and with my oldest sister. Jewell and I work together, so it’s this generational effort of protecting our sacred sites.”

This video interview was recorded during the first Alliance of Earth, Sky and Water Protectors Summit at the Lummi Nation Stommish Grounds, May 27-29, 2022.

Squil-le-he-le Raynell Morris is a mother, grandmother, and an enrolled Lummi tribal member. As Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs under President Clinton, Raynell was the first Native American staffer appointed to the White House, and has served as Chief of Staff for the Chairman of Lummi Nation. At Lummi Nation’s Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office, she was a key strategist in the successful campaign to block a proposal to build North America’s largest coal port on Lhaq’temish (Lummi) sacred ground.

“The last thing that is wanted for us right now is for us to unify. And that’s what we’re doing here. We are unifying and we are joining force. They do everything they can to stop that. They’ve taken children from women. They’ve abused us. They’ve killed us. They’ve murdered us. They’ve taken everything they possibly could from us, and yet we’re still here.”

This video interview was recorded during the first Alliance of Earth, Sky and Water Protectors Summit at the Lummi Nation Stommish Grounds, May 27-29, 2022.

Liv Bigtree (Oneida) grew up on the Onondaga Nation where she learned about her culture and traditions. Based in the Onondaga Nation and Mohawk Nation territories, she is an artist, whose work is about her connection to her culture and identity. Taking inspiration from her favorite Indigenous artist and mentor Wendy Red Star, her work often brings awareness to issues that face Indigenous peoples. By using mediums such as performance art and sculpture, she hopes to educate others in a way that westernized education does not. Outside of her art, Olivia continues to advocate for her people by attending protest marches and learning from her elders.

“The way I look at it: the elders laid the foundation for the house. And then we can build those walls. And then the next generation can add another floor. And then eventually we can put the roof on the house. It’s a constant building.”

This video interview was recorded during the first Alliance of Earth, Sky and Water Protectors Summit at the Lummi Nation Stommish Grounds, May 27-29, 2022.

Brayden Sonny White is a St. Regis Mohawk/Mohawks of Akwesasne from the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation. Brayden has served in numerous positions as the SLC Aboriginal Advisor, Founder of NASAC, Haudenosaunee Student Alliance Member, Akwesasne Youth Council Representative, WHTNC Presidential Panelist at the 2015 White House Tribal Nations Conference, Akwesasne Suicide Coalition Member and Gen-I National Native Youth Network Ambassador. Brayden has been named as a recipient of the 2016 CNAY Champion For Change Award and 2016 UNITY “25 Under 25” Award.

“We were trying to aim at those folks who were interested in questions of ecology and conservation but didn’t know how to deal with these questions about racism and settler colonialism, how to think about what that might mean in terms of place names and parks.”

Cultural geographer and ethnic studies professor Natchee Blu Barnd discusses “Words Are Monuments,” a quantitative analysis of 2,000 National Park place-names categorized according to various forms of settler-colonial violence.

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