‘Indigenous Women On The Frontlines: Report-Backs & Calls To Action’ was presented on February 27th, 2018 as part of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network series of WECAN Online Education and Advocacy Trainings!
During the training, we heard from three outstanding Indigenous women organizers surrounding the latest updates from their respective homelands, and the resistance movements for defense of land, water, climate and life with which they are each engaged.
Cherri Foytlin is an Indigenous writer, organizer, advocate, activist, photographer, speaker, and mother of six who lives in south Louisiana. She is of Dine, African-American and Latina descent. Cherri is the author of Spill It! The Truth About the Deep Water Horizon Oil Rig Explosion, and regularly contributes to Bridge the Gulf Project and other local, national and international publications. In the Spring of 2011 she walked to Washington D.C. from New Orleans (1,243 miles) to call for action to stop the BP Deepwater Drilling Disaster, and has ongoingly taken direct action in support of human and ecological health of Gulf Coast citizens and communities. She has served as the State Director of Bold Louisiana, and as a Senior Fellow for the Center for Earth Ethics. She is also signatory to the Indigenous Women of the Americas – Defenders of Mother Earth Treaty.
Most recently, Cherri has emerged as a leader of the L’eau Est La Vie Camp, on the frontlines of the struggle against the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, an Energy Transfer Partners project which threatens communities, waterways and ecosystems of the Gulf region.
Cherri joined the training to share vital updates, in the middle of an intense week of action and changes on the ground in Louisiana, where a temporary injunction has been placed on the project, and then almost immediately violated by the company as it attempts to continue construction.
Cherri and the diverse coalition of communities and leaders engaged in the No Bayou Bridge pipeline movement have an immediate call for solidarity out for a Global Week Of Action, February 26th to March 4th – and asked training participants to take immediate action, by posting photo or video, or taking another direct action in support of social and ecological justice in the Bayou and Gulf Coast region.
Resources to learn more and support the L’eau Est La Vie Camp and Cherri’s work:
Eriel Tchekwie Deranger is a founding member of Indigenous Climate Action and spent two years in the role of interim director, helping to build the strategic direction of the organization, before becoming the organization’s first Executive Director in August 2017. A member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Deranger has has worked for many years and with countless projects and collaborations to challenge fossil fuel development and champion the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Eriel has previously worked with the Indigenous Environmental Network, Rainforest Action Network, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, and with her home Nation the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. She is a wife and mother of two.
During the training, Eriel shared stories and analysis of the landscape of tar sands extraction in Canada, and how Indigenous peoples are taking action to oppose these projects and protect their lands and communities. Eriel spoke to the importance and strength of the leadership of Indigenous women (including within the Indigenous Climate Action organization!) – all despite the brutal and escalating violence against the land and women, including the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Resources to learn more and support Indigenous Climate Action and Eriel’s work:
Tara Houska, Anishinaabe of Couchiching First Nation, is a tribal attorney based in Washington, D.C., the National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, and a former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders. She advocates on behalf of tribal nations at the local and federal levels on a range of issues impacting indigenous peoples. She is a co-founder of Not Your Mascots, a non-profit committed to educating the public about the harms of stereotyping and promoting positive representation of Native Americans in the public sphere.
She spent over six months living and working in North Dakota fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline, and over the past year, much of Tara’s efforts have gone toward building a support network to defend the nearly 700 protectors who’ve been detained and arrested at Standing Rock, as well as divesting from banks that fund the pipeline. Her work embodies the notion that we can’t treat environmental and social injustice separately.
During the training, Tara briefed participants on the current situation and mobilizations in the Great Lakes region, where the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline is threatening an immense series of waterways, and the sacred wild ricing territories of the regions Indigenous communities. She reflected on her experiences including with direct action on the ground at Standing Rock in North Dakota, and her Minnesota homelands – as well as the global divestment movement, and Indigenous-women led efforts to defund the fossil fuel industry.
Resources to learn more and support Honor the Earth and Tara’s work: