“Let us put our minds together to see what kind of future we can make for our children….” Sitting Bull
By Winona LaDuke
That’s really this time. In the darkest of political times, the collapse of ecological balances, and the rise of unchallenged corporate power, it’s a time to be thoughtful and courageous.
Honor the Earth held a strategic planning in early February. Our organization is 27 years old, was born from the need to build alliances to protect Mother Earth and was founded by Amy Ray, Emily Saliers and myself. We have been on this path for almost three decades together. We returned to Santa Fe, because it is here that we were inspired to bring movement and music together. At Mount Taylor in l979, musicians Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne joined Dine and other Indigenous peoples opposing a new uranium mine at Tsoozdil, one of the four sacred mountains of the Navajo people. It was there that we came to understand the power of unity and of music. We were born from that inspiration.
Since then, we’ve done our best. As a national organization, our work is focused on music, art, media and social transformation. We have fought side by side with people to stop nuclear waste dumps, dam projects, call for cleanup of Superfund sites, and now face the largest tar sands pipeline project in North America. We’ve regifted over $3 million to Indigenous peoples in the Americas, working to protect sacred ways and sacred sites. And we’ve built the foundation of the next economy, here on the White Earth reservation with 8th Fire Solar. We are still here, we are inspired, and we are readying for the years ahead.
It’s forty years later and we have returned to the southwest. This time, we come together to ask questions as to who we are in the fabric of a social movement for water, Mother Earth and Indigenous peoples. What is relevant, what is strategic, what is right and what is epic? That’s what we are doing.
We did that with prayer and music. Our concert at the Scottish Rite Temple filled hearts with love. Lyla June Johnson mesmerized an audience who can admire her magical words, and her commitment to social justice. Our Emcee, Clayton Brascoupe represented the Traditional Native American Farmers Association, with whom we shared the proceeds of the show, and then our beloved Indigo Girls shared the magic of their harmony and lyrics.
It takes a Village
How do you have this conversation? You bring in some friends. That’s to say that we found some people to help us talk about these issues, to think as Indigenous people how to grapple with the challenges we face. And how do we do this in the context of a non profit organization that works nationally and internationally, and is reservation based. So, to think about the transitions ahead we invited some friends. Indigenous Collective was our team.
That is , Honor the Earth is a national organization, but, since we have worked in so many communities and so many partners, we really wanted to talk about a collective future. That is how do we work collectively to bring about the transformation essential to our survival? We talked about our shared history, and we remembered where we came from. We understand that
2020 is a year of transformation, and we want to be at the table, not on the menu. That means we have a plan, and we invite you to join us. That’s to say, that it will take a village to grow our future.
We commit to the following work:
l) We will work with allies to Get out the Vote.
2) We will be Water Protectors: continue to oppose Fossil Fuels in the Great Lakes. That means we will stand against the Enbridge pipelines. We will see the join.
3) We commit to work on the Just Transition towards the economy which is founded on the Indigenous principles of living, and addresses energy, food, materials economy and the protection of water for future generations.
4) We commit to continue our work in supporting the leadership of Indigenous women, we will continue to support and nurture this leadership.
In the upcoming months, we will collectively face some of the greatest challenges of any generation. Today, on a worldwide scale social movements are standing against the destruction of the world we know, and we will continue to stand with them. We are Water Protectors. And, we will make the future our descendants deserve.
Let us stand together.