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Mauna Kea, a volcano on the island of Hawai‘i, is sacred to Native Hawaiians as an elder ancestor and the physical embodiment—or kinolau—of deities revered in Hawaiian culture and religion. Thirteen telescopes and support facilities crowd the sacred landscape of Mauna Kea and a consortium of institutions led by the University of Hawai‘i Institute for Astronomy is now proposing construction a massive new Thirty Meter Telescope. An important ceremonial site, Lake Waiau, has been drying up in recent years, causing growing concern on the Big Island. Kealoha Pisciotta, president of the local organization Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, testified: “If we say yes to more development, we are saying yes to the desecration of our temple and our ancestors, yes to the destruction of our waters, and yes to the possible extinction of life itself.”
The Badger-Two Medicine is sacred to the Blackfeet people. It is the home of their creation story, and has continued to be a place of refuge and healing for 10,000 years. It provides strength, subsistence, and cultural identity to the Blackfeet people, which is why they have vowed to protect it.
Badger Two Medicine is the last cultural refuge of the Blackfeet Nation, home to many of their cultural origin stories, a stronghold for our ceremonies and traditions. It is where the Blackfeet practiced their culture in safety after the federal government outlawed their ceremony. It is where they still seek healing and solace, guidance and renewal.
Thacker Pass is in Humboldt County, Nevada. It was formed 16 mil + years ago, is traditional and unceded territory of the Paiute and Shoshone people. Now it is also the proposed site for a massive lithium mine that would destroy the area and valuable habitat for the creatures who live there.
“Yup’ik, Dena’ina and Alutiiq people have lived in Bristol Bay for thousands of years, continuing our sacred ways of life on our ancestral lands and waters. Our cultures are intrinsically tied to the health and wellbeing of our watershed and all the life it sustains. Bristol Bay is a large geographical area, around the size of Ohio, with 31 federally-recognized Tribes calling the vast region from Lake Iliamna to the Alaska Peninsula home. The region has more than 30 communities that collectively are home to around 7,000 year-round residents. The region’s population about doubles seasonally due to the summer recreational, sport, and commercial fisheries.”
“Bristol Bay is home to one of the world’s last great wild salmon ecosystems, the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, and some of the world’s last, intact, sustainable salmon-based cultures. Bristol Bay has been fighting the proposed Pebble Mine for nearly two decades. The mine puts at risk a way of life that has sustained the Indigenous people of the region since time immemorial; a commercial fishery that has been going strong for more than 130 years; and habitat that gives birth to the world’s largest wild salmon run.”
Bristol BayJune 2, 2021
Bristol Bay Watershed
June 30, 2021
“The Tongass Rainforest is the traditional homelands of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Peoples. It is the largest national forest in the U.S., and has been called ‘America’s climate forest’ due to its unsurpassed ability to sequester carbon and mitigate climate impacts. For decades however, industrial scale logging has been destroying this precious ecosystem, and disrupting the traditional lifeways, medicine, and food systems of the regions Indigenous communities.
Tongass Indigenous Representatives have been developing alternatives to local and national governance structures that have allowed the massive logging and destruction of their forests. Their proposal builds on these alternatives, and focuses on bringing forward matriarchal values that uplift local food sovereignty, traditional tribal governance structures and protect local forests and water ways.”
Photo credit to Howie Garber
June 30, 2021
Date Coming Soon!
“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an American treasure and is internationally known for its ecological importance and beauty. Renowned for its wildlife, forty-five species of land and marine mammals live in the Arctic Refuge, including polar bears, wolf, moose, mountain sheep and bowhead whales. The Gwich’in Steering Committee was formed in 1988 in response to proposals to drill for oil in the Sacred Place Where Life Begins, the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Our elders recognized that oil development in caribou calving grounds was a threat to the very heart of our people. They called upon the chiefs of all Gwich’in villages from Canada to Alaska to come together for a traditional gathering – the first in more than a century. At the gathering in Arctic Village we addressed the issue with a talking stick in accordance with our traditional way, and decided unanimously that we would speak with one voice against oil and gas development in the birthing and nursing grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. Our unified voice is expressed in a formal resolution, Gwich’in Niintsyaa.
Vast and remote, the 19.5-million-acre Refuge covers an area the size of South Carolina. While 8.9 million acres are protected as wilderness, the 1.5-million-acre coastal plain, the biological heart of the Refuge, remains vulnerable to industrial development.
Big oil companies and some members of the U.S. Congress want to drill in the coastal plain which would put the future of the Porcupine Caribou Herd at risk. The herd’s migrations cover a vast area – caribou can travel up to 3,000 miles over the course of a year – yet they rely almost exclusively on the thin band of land along the coast of the Refuge to birth and nurse their young every year.”
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
July 7, 2021
Killer whales, or orcas, are a “miner’s canary” for the ocean. Their health indicates the health of the seas, the salmon stocks, the ancestral waters and way of life of coastal Indigenous communities, and the well-being of future generations.
The orca is among the most contaminated and critically endangered marine mammals in the world. From the Lummi Nation to the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest are sounding the alarm, exposing the many threats orcas face, from outdated dams and depleted salmon stocks they depend on for food, to toxic pollution, sound pollution, and the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline that would bring 800 new oil tankers annually to the Salish Sea.
The killer whale is one of the Lummi’s most revered relations. For the Lummi and many other Coast Salish tribes, killer whales are kin. Qw’e lh’ol mechen, the Lummi word for killer whale, translates to “our people who live under the sea”.
Salish Sea Event July 14
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia and Snake Rivers and their tributaries, once the greatest salmon rivers in the world. We can do this by removing four outdated and expensive dams on the lower Snake River.
For too long these 4 dams have impeded the rights of Nez Perce and other Northwest First Peoples to exercise Traditional Fishing Treaty Rights. Now the salmon are dying by the thousands. The federal government promised the Nez Perce People the right to hunt and fish in their usual and accustomed places as part of the 1855 Treaty. The promise was broken. It’s time to right this wrong.
Wild salmon, steelhead and pacific lamprey have been used by the Nez Perce People for subsistence, trade and ceremonial purposes for centuries. If we free the Snake River, we can save the salmon, honor Treaty Rights and bring about the biggest river restoration in history.
July 15, 2021
Bears Ears is an incomparable and priceless place, a place with irreplaceable cultural resources. It is a place many Native peoples in the Four Corners area continue to define as home, soul, and the setting for the cultivation of cultures. Unfortunately, this landscape and its ancient shrines, petroglyphs, plants, animals, minerals, and cultural artifacts have become a center of desecration, looting, and disrespect. The proposed Bears Ears national monument will provide much needed protection for this nation’s most rich cultural landscape so that we can care for it in perpetuity.
This is a land with natural as well as cultural resources. We believe that if we treat the land with respect, care for it, and act as good stewards, its resources can enrich and enhance our lives. But we must not just take, we must act with care, and also give back. For thousands of years of constant human occupation, the Bears Ears was unscarred by bulldozers, dynamite, and chainsaws. The ancestral homes and sacred places were treated with respect, not looted for artifacts. No pipelines drained its nourishing water, no drilling rigs pierced its quiet soils to suck hydrocarbons from the dark underworld. Only in the past few generations have these special lands been marred; the damage done is substantial, but most of it is reversible. Tears of grief over industrial indifference and callous looting are not enough. Protections and enforcement are needed. There is still time to keep the cultural heritage of this exceptional place intact, but without swift action, we fear that the archaeological and cultural riches of the Bears Ears will suffer shameful, disgraceful, dissolution and obliteration.
Monument designation will be the first step in righting the wrongs of the past and halting the continued destruction. Ecological resilience is strongest in places that are the least disturbed and most biodiverse. Bears Ears is a resilient landscape. Navajo people have a term for such places of ecological rejuvenation: we call them Nahodishgish, or “places to be left alone.” These intact landscapes are thought to be the healthiest of all lands, from which plants and animals spread and repopulate surrounding lands. There are few places left on earth that the hand of man has not scarred. Bears Ears is one such place, where healing of the earth can begin. The scars and wounds of industrial exploitation will be smoothed over. Native plants and animals will proliferate.
Archaeological sites damaged by looting and neglect cannot be healed. They will never regenerate. But the damaged sites can be mitigated through stewardship, through education, and through shared appreciation. In the case of archaeology, prevention is the only medicine that will heal the People. Spiritual leaders will bring healing to the mesas and canyons, and as children visit the homes and special places of the ancient ones, the bonds to the past will be strengthened, and a new future will come to these places of the past.
July 17, 2021
A thousand years ago, Chaco Canyon in northern New Mexico was the ceremonial center of ancestral Puebloans, whose culture encompassed more than 75,000 square miles of the Southwest. Today, Chaco Canyon is a National Historical Cultural Park and World Heritage Site, considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the Americas, and yet over 93% of the area is leased to oil and gas activities. Indigenous people, primarily Navajo (Diné), sacred cultural sites, precious water resources, and the area’s biodiversity are all under a grave and growing threat from fracking.
Today, Navajo communities of Greater Chaco are living amid extensive oil and gas development with no regard for public safety. Since 2013, the Bureau of Land Management has approved hundreds of new fracking proposals, without adequate Tribal consultation. On July 11, 2016, 36 fracking waste tanks exploded in a fire that burned for five days and forced dozens of families to evacuate with no emergency safeguards. The Bureau of Land Management has acknowledged it never analyzed how this fracking boom will impact public health and the environment, yet approves fracking activities with no plan in place to protect the region’s air, water, Tribal cultural sites, and communities, and without adequate consultation with the public in general and with Navajo Chapter Houses and Navajo Allotment Land Owners in particular.
In the meantime, the Bureau of Land Management continues to approve more wells and lease more land for fracking, failing to consider that the Greater Chaco area holds spiritual and cultural significance to all Indigenous peoples who are rooted in Chaco culture, not limited to the Navajo Nation, and that sacred sites in the area are not limited to those within the boundaries of Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
July 18, 2021
The Black Hills stretch across western South Dakota, northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana and constitute a sacred landscape for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Omaha. To the Lakota, they are Paha Sapa, “the heart of everything that is.” The Black Hills were the casualty of one of the most blatant land grabs in U.S. history and continue to be the site of a legal and political confrontation.
“Mount Rushmore is on stolen Lakota land and its very existence is a symbol of white supremacy” says Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective President and CEO. “In opposing the ongoing desecration of our sacred land and asking for return of Lakota lands where Mount Rushmore is situated, we’re not saying anything that our parents, grandparents and great grandparents haven’t already said– The Lakota have opposed Mount Rushmore since the very beginning.”
“Indigenous people have resisted colonization for the past 500 years,” says Tilsen. “Colonization is the oldest form of white supremacy, and America is being called out and called up to acknowledge that. Mount Rushmore is yet another symbol of white supremacy and colonization, and until it is returned to the Lakota, we will continue to oppose it and fight for justice.”
July 21, 2021
Dakota/Lakota/Nakota communities are working to pass a resolution recognizing the sovereignty and rights of the Mni Sosa (Missouri River.) The Missouri River is currently managed for economic imperatives, rather than ecological or culturally competent imperatives. The goals are: to restore the rights of the spirit of their river through promulgation of resolutions for local Traditional Societies, Oceti Sakowin Tribal Governments, and regional Tribal Alliances; to continue and complement their current Biocultural Region work to re-indigenize the landscape and hydroscape; and to protect their river from conflicts over water that have been prophesized, and establish buffer zones that they create with their Indigenous narrative in the Missouri River Watershed.
The Yankton Sioux are confronting threats to the Missouri River Cultural Bioregion that include the building of the Keystone XL pipeline and “man-camps” of pipeline workers, and the continuing pandemic in a state that refuses to follow public health guidelines and openly promotes racism and violates the principles of tribal sovereignty. Historically, federal environmental policy and leadership have favored extractive industries.
Traditional leaders want to restore the Ihanktonwan inherent Indigenous rights to be caretakers of the land and water of the region–a model for advancing tribal sovereignty in environmental and cultural protection through braiding thousands of years of knowledge and contemporary science to exercise the legal and inherent right to govern in the interests of humanity.
July 21, 2021
July 24, 2021
This territory is the headwaters of the Red River and the Mississippi River; the territory of the Great Lakes. For thousands of years, the ancestors of the Anishinaabe people lived here well. The current concern is that the Canadian corporation, Enbridge, is proposing a new route for their Line 3 replacement across a pristine water-rich environment. The lakes, streams, wetlands, and the Mississippi River would all be at risk. Line 3 is a clear danger to the climate, water, and land in Minnesota, and would undermine the Indigenous treaty rights of the Anishinaabe people.
According to the Anishinaabe’s Seven Generations and Seventh Fire prophecies, we are in the time when we have a choice between two paths. One path is well worn, scorched and leads to our destruction. The other path is new, green and leads to mino-bimaadiziwin (the good life). We must choose to walk the new path by saying “no” to fossil fuel investments and “yes” to renewable energy investments. Honor the Earth maintains that the path must be grounded in Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and a deep reverence for our Mother Earth.
Honor the Earth and Water Protectors are working to stop the aquatic invasive species; to keep the Boundary Waters free from pollutants; and to keep new pipeline corridors out of lake country.
Stop Line 3
July 27, 2021
The journey ends in Washington, DC, with a totem pole blessing, press conference, and delivering the pole to the Biden-Harris Administration
July 28, 2021