Indigenous climate activists are at the forefront of a growing movement of young people who are striking for the climate. People of color from front-line communities have put forth great effort to grow the climate movement.
Here are just a few of many inspiring young leaders you should know about. They are advocates for climate justice, aiming to heal the Earth and to shut down the systematic oppression that enable climate change.
Autumn Peltier is the Anishinabek Nation chief water commissioner. She advocates for water protection in First Nations communities and around the world. Sharing the message of the sanctity and importance of clean water, Autumn spoke at the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden in 2015, as well as at the 2018 United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Autumn’s advice: “Keep going, don’t look back, and if you have an idea, just do it; no one is going to wait for you or tell you what to do, use your voice and speak up for our planet.”
Quannah Chasinghorse is from the Han Gwich’in and Lakota Sioux Nations. She recently helped win back protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which the Trump administration had opened to oil drilling.
According to Quannah, “A lot of our communities and villages on the coast, because of erosion, are literally falling apart. Communities are being evacuated from their own homes and ancestral lands because of climate change. Being out there on the land is what connects us to each other. It is healing for us is when we all go out together on the land. It’s what grounds us and connects us, knowing that generations of our ancestors have walked across those lands.”
Daphne Frias is from West Harlem, where is a waste treatment plant has been creating pollution in her community. She realized that wasn’t normal when she went to an affluent neighborhood. Daphne has cerebral palsy, and over time her lungs and respiratory system have weakened to the point that she gets pneumonia every year, making her susceptible to bad air quality.
Daphne says. “Just because we are poor doesn’t mean we deserve to have our environment destroyed in our community. I don’t see many activists out there with physical disabilities. It’s really important that people with physical disabilities can get involved with climate justice and activism in general. I hope that I can inspire them.”
Makaśa Looking Horse is a water activist in Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario, Canada. Her community is fighting corporate giant Nestlé, which pumps millions of liters of water every day out of the local aquifer, while 91% of Six Nations does not have access to clean water. Looking Horse is a youth coordinator for Water is Life.
According to Makasa, “Since I was 12, I’ve known that it is my inherent responsibility to my people to protect them and look out for the next seven generations. I don’t want my babies to worry about clean water. When we have rights to care for the land, the land thrives. With capitalism, the land is seen just as a money maker and a resource and not as a source of life. This is why Indigenous rights matter.”