On August 8, the Indigenous Environmental Network kicked off the central tributary for the Summer of Our Power quilt relay at the 2015 Water Blessing and Healing Walk, which was organized by Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights (P.O.W.E.R.).
IEN Quilt Patch
And here are some moments from the event:
Throughout the summer, the IEN has promoted numerous indigenous-led actions against, a march against tar sands that was led by Indigenous people. The action attracted more than 5,000 supporters.
“Indigenous Bloc in this weekend Tar Sands Resistance March in St. Paul, MN. June 6th, Saturday. Water Ceremony in the morning at 10 am. March at 3 pm.”
-via IEN on Facebook, June 2
For more incredible photos of this action, check out this website!
Indigenous leaders also organized protests against the KXL pipeline and led efforts to prevent the sacred land of Oak Flat from being sold to a foreign corporation.
Here are some moments from the summer via IEN’s twitter:
Indigenous Environmental Network Facebook page:
Indigenous Environmental Network page:
REFLECTION ON QUILT RELAY by Michael Leon Guerrero:
As we stood by the banks of Lake Sakakawea , we struggled to hear the prayers of the elders over the roar of a jet plane taking off in the background. It wasn’t a plane, however, but a natural gas flare on the far side of the lake and the roar didn’t fade away into the distant. It is a noise that drones on day and night, day after day. As far as the eye can see these flares dot the beautiful landscape of the lands of the Three Affiliated Tribes: the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people. Over 100 people gathered for the first annual Water Blessing and Healing walk. Organized by Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights (P.O.W.E.R), organizers Lisa Deville, family and friends from the tribes work to confront the devastating social, environmental and economic impacts of becoming a boomtown for the oil and gas industry – the poisoning of the land and water from illegal dumping of hazardous chemicals and fracking water, the fatalities from the onslaught of trucks barreling through the once quiet village now known as New Town, and the tragic loss of life caused by the rapid increase in drug use, violent crime and domestic violence.
Indigenous Environmental Network organizer Kandi Mossett was born and raised in New Town and has seen the transformation of her community over the last 10 years. On Saturday we say the beauty of New Town – the resilience of the people who have survived colonization, the displacement from their communities when the federal government flooded their lands 60 years ago to create Lake Sakakawea, and now the oil and gas rush. Along with the Water Blessing and Healing Walk, Kandi and Dallas Goldtooth from IEN and Fort Berthold POWER organized a workshop to discuss Just Transition and Climate Justice. It was another seed in strengthening the community’s resistance and resolve to reclaim the traditions, values and resources of their land.
Fort Berthold was one of three communities I was honored to visit this past week – as CJA’s Summer of Our Power Relay kicked off in Bellingham, WA, Fort Berthold, ND and New York, NY. These locations represent the starting points of the three tributaries that will converge in the Gulf Coast for the Ten Year Hurricane Katrina Commemoration – a series of activities from August 27-29uniting within the framework of Gulf South Rising. The relay is passing from one frontline community to another and each is designing a quilt square that will be sewn together and be present at the Katrina-10 Commemoration as a symbol of solidarity with the people of the Gulf Coast. It will also represent unity between communities organizing for a Just Transition away from the extractive, dig, dump and burn economy to thriving local, living economies that can heal the planet and sustain life.
In Bellingham, WA Community to Community Development organized a gathering that included people of the Lummi and Nooksack Nations, and Mixteca farmers from Oaxaca that have organized an independent farmworkers union called Familias Unidas por la Justicia. They have been working for fair wages in the berry fields of Sakuma Farms and calling for a boycott of Driscoll Berries. Felimon Pineda told the story of their struggle and Tara Villalba presented the quilt square she designed on behalf of C2C.
In New York on August 6, UPROSE organized the 5th annual Climate Justice Youth Summit, the largest climate justice gathering in the U.S. organized and led by young people of color. It was an energetic and inspiring event, as young people from El Puente in the Bronx, UPROSE in Brooklyn, Ironbound in Newark and hundreds of other high school and college-aged youth gave panel presentations on environmental justice organizing and climate resilience, workshops on Just Transition and other issues, and organized a hip-hop concert that included The Machine, Richard Raw and Nene Ali. Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus gave an inspiring keynote. The event closed out with a fantastic evening bomba concert by Legacy Women. UPROSE youth also organized a beautiful handoff of their quilt square to young representatives of Ironbound, the next stop on the Eastern Tributary. On Tuesday, August 11 Ironbound is organizing an Energy Action Day rally. From there it will travel to Detroit on August 18, Lexington, KY on August 22 and Gulf Port, MS/New Orleans on August 24.
The Central Tributary continues tomorrow in Minneapolis, MN where the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy will host an event. From there it travels to Chicago, IL (August 12), Indianapolis, IN (August 15), St. Louis, MO (August 21) then Gulfport, MS/New Orleans.
PODER in San Francisco transports the quilt squares along the Western Tributary to Los Angeles for a youth meeting ofCommunities for a Better Environment tomorrow night. From there they carry it to Flagstaff, AZ (August 12), Albuquerque, NM (August 14), San Antonio, TX (August 18) and Gulfport/New Orleans.
UPROSE has adopted the image of the sunflower as a symbol of climate justice resilience and just transition. On the two-hour drive from Bismarck, ND to Fort Berthold I was struck by the irony of a series of farms with acres of sunflowers along the way. These began to give way to metal pipes protruding out of the ground topped with natural gas flares – the symbol of an unjust transition to a world increasingly out of balance. But I left Fort Berthold, Bellingham and Brooklyn with an increasing sense of hope that at the end of the day – indeed the sunflowers will ultimately win out.
Big thanks to all our colleagues at Community to Community Development, UPROSE, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, Fort Berthold P.O.W.E.R and Indigenous Environmental Network for your work, your strength and hospitality.
Climate Justice Alliance Our Power Campaign