Indigenous women represent one of the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in the world. For centuries, Indigenous women have been subjected to relentless discrimination and different types of violence based on gender, indigeneity, and class.
They are deprived of even fundamental human rights, such as access to health services, education, and employment.
August 9th commemorates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Especially now, they need us. Eighty-four percent of Indigenous women have experienced violence in their lifetime, and women are disappearing from their communities at an alarming rate. In response, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit (#MMIWG2S) were created to fight this epidemic.
Especially now, we need the knowledge, voices, and wisdom of indigenous peoples to fight climate change. Indigenous Women of the Americas Defenders of Mother Earth Treaty Compact states in part: “We understand that violations of the Laws of Mother Earth are also violations against women ‐ we are inseparable.” These violations have led to the untold numbers of missing, murdered, raped, and enslaved women.
“The violations of these Laws have led to ocean acidification and warming, sea-level rise, devastating fires, floods, extreme heat, cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes, species extinction (because of what our species has done, Mother Earth has lost half of her species since 1960), epidemic rates of cancers and autoimmune diseases, the poisoning and privatization of freshwater in lakes, rivers, streams, and aquifers as well as polluted air and soil.”
Indigenous women have been at the forefront of efforts to reverse climate change. It is young Indigenous women and girls in particular who are using their power to combat the powerful forces that are perpetuating environmental disaster—for example, at Standing Rock, it was young people who started the movement against the Dakota Access pipeline.
“It is the mothers not the warriors who create a people and guide their destiny.”
– Luther Standing Bear –
circa 1800s – early 1900s
The Lakota are a Native American tribe. Also known as the Teton Sioux, they are one of the three main subcultures of the Sioux people. Their current lands are in North and South Dakota.