Temperatures are climbing. Sea levels are rising. Severe climate-related disasters are happening more frequently. As a result, Indigenous peoples around the world are quickly becoming the generation that can no longer swim in the water, fish in the river, hunt traditional foods or pick age old medicines. In response to the crisis, tribal leaders and environmental activists have called for a unified front to fight environmental and genocidal racism.
One such effort was the 17th Protecting Mother Earth Conference (PME), sponsored by the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Nisqually Indian Tribe and Indigenous Climate Action. From June 28 to July 1, the PME brought together hundreds to share lessons, celebrate victories and build unity. Even the location of the gathering was meaningful: It took place at Frank’s Landing, a Washington State area where the Nisqually tribe used nonviolent, direct action to defend their inherent rights to hunt, fish, and gather under the Treaty of Medicine Creek of December 1854. Here are reflections from folks who were there.
Ayşe Gürsöz is a multimedia producer working at the intersection of climate change, human rights and corporate accountability. She currently works with the Climate and Energy team at Rainforest Action Network and volunteers with Indigenous Rising Media, an Indigenous-led media initiative of the Indigenous Environmental Network. In the past, Ayşe has worked with Al Jazeera’s AJ+, Public Advocates and was a 2017 Media Consortium fellow of the New Economies Reporting Project.