8 Indigenous Climate Voices to Follow
Oct 1, 2023
In honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 9, we want to highlight some of the many Indigenous activists who are fighting to protect our planet. Indigenous peoples around the world have a long history of protecting the environment. In fact, despite making up less than 5% of the global population, Indigenous peoples protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity! Here are 8 inspiring Indigenous environmental activists to follow:
1. Autumn Peltier
Autumn is a 19-year-old Canadian clean water activist from the Wiikwemkoong First Nation in Ontario. Autumn has advocated for the preservation of drinking water for Indigenous peoples since she was 8 years old. She was appointed as the Chief Water Commissioner for Anishinabek Nation when she was just 14 years old, and she has spoken before the United Nations General Assembly, the World Economic Forum, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the importance of clean water. She has also been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize three times. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumn.peltier.
2. Dallas Goldtooth
Dallas is a climate activist and organizer of Bdewakantunwan Dakota & Dińe heritage. He was featured in the Grist 50 for his work leading the Keep It In The Ground campaign for the Indigenous Environmental Network—the organization led by his father, globally recognized activist Tom B.K Goldtooth. He co-founded an Indigenous comedy group called The 1491s and is an actor and writer in FX’s series Reservation Dogs, which is the first series with all Indigenous writers and directors. Follow Dallas on Twitter @dallasgoldtooth or Instagram @dallasgoldtooth.
3. Helena Gualinga
Helena is a 21-year-old environmental and human rights activist from a small Indigenous community in Ecuador in the Amazon rainforest. She advocates for the protection of Indigenous lands from oil companies and co-founded Polluters Out, a youth-led coalition against the fossil fuel industry. Helena spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) in December 2019, calling out world leaders for climate inaction. Follow her on Instagram @helenagualinga.
4. Nemonte Nenquimo
Nemonte is an environmental activist and a leader of the Waorani nation in the province of Pastaza, Ecuador. She is the first female president of the Waorani Pastaza Organization and the co-founder of Amazon Frontlines and the Ceibo Alliance. Nemonte successfully led a lawsuit in 2019 that protected half a million acres of Waorani land in the Amazon rainforest from oil drilling. She was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020, nominated by Leonardo DiCaprio, and received the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2020. Follow her on Instagram @nemonte.nenquimo.
5. Quannah Chasinghorse
Quannah (pictured above) is a 21-year-old model and climate activist from Alaska, whose Indigenous ancestry is both Hän Gwich’in (from Alaska and Canada) and Oglala Lakota (from South Dakota). Quannah has been a vocal advocate for protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling and protecting Arctic communities from the devastating effects of climate change. In recent years, she has boosted Indigenous representation in fashion by walking in runway shows for brands such as Chanel, Chloé, and Gucci, and gained national prominence after her appearance at the 2021 Met Gala. A short documentary called Walking Two Worlds, sponsored by The North Face, chronicles her environmental activism and modeling career. Follow her on Instagram @quannah.rose or Twitter @Qchasinghorse.
6. Tara Houska
Tara is an Indigenous land and water advocate and tribal attorney from the Couchiching First Nation. Tara participated in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests and gave a TED Talk called “The Standing Rock resistance and our fight for Indigenous rights.” She co-founded the nonprofit Not Your Mascots, has been featured in the Grist 50, and contributed to All We Can Save—a collection of essays from women in the climate movement. Follow her on Twitter @zhaabowekwe.
Tara Houska delivering her TED Talk (photo courtesy of TED)
7. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez
Xiuhtezcatl is a 23-year-old Indigenous climate activist and hip hop artist of Aztec heritage. He previously served as the Youth Director of Earth Guardians, an organization that inspires and trains diverse youth to be leaders in the environmental and social justice movements. He has addressed the United Nations General Assembly and even discussed his book We Rise on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Follow him on Twitter @xiuhtezcatl or Instagram @xiuhtezcatl.
8. Xiye Bastida
Xiye is a 21-year-old climate justice activist who was born in Mexico and was raised as part of the Otomi-Toltec Indigenous community. She and her family moved to New York City after her Indigenous community in Mexico was ravaged by heavy rainfall and flooding. As a lead organizer of the Fridays For Future youth climate strikes and a co-founder of Re-Earth Initiative, Xiye works to highlight the intersectionality of the climate crisis and keep Indigenous peoples at the forefront of the climate conversation. Follow her on Twitter @xiyebastida or Instagram @xiyebeara.
At CleanChoice Energy, we envision a world free of catastrophic climate change for all. We are grateful for these climate leaders and so many others who are working alongside us to make that vision a reality.
Photo of Quannah Chasinghorse courtesy of Teen Vogue
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