Since the pipeline’s concerns grew from safeguarding waterways and resources to emitting greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, indigenous activists have been fighting to stop it.
The extension of the pipeline has been slowed or stopped by numerous Indigenous activist groups through legal action and grassroots activism, which served as the foundation for Biden’s executive order.
We need to prioritize Indigenous perspectives in discussions about environmental protection, environmental justice, and climate change since this trend of Indigenous protest resulting in environmental protection is not new.
Why aren’t Indigenous activists prominent in our discussions on climate change?
Perhaps the issue is our Western ignorance of Indian environmental advocacy.
While we fervently celebrate mainstream activists and politicians for any step toward sustainability, mainstream media frequently ignores Indigenous activists’ fight for environmental justice.
Indigenous voices should be at the forefront of ecology for a variety of reasons. Indigenous environmentalists emphasize intersectionality, which is the only perspective we should have on environmental issues in the twenty-first century. It should come as no surprise that social and environmental issues are related.
Many Indigenous environmental groups heavily incorporate this idea into their advocacy because climate change and other environmental challenges are not fairly distributed among race, ethnicity, gender, or class.
The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) is a group that focuses on environmental issues as well as how they affect racial and economic justice in various communities.
IEN even goes beyond intersectional environmentalism’s multidisciplinary character by emphasizing specialized but important ideas like Indigenous feminism in the environmental movement.
Indigenous environmentalism gives viewpoints on environmental concerns that encompass not only the Earth but also social and economic equity, as evidenced through traditional ceremonial activities that are anchored in the interdependence of the environment and people.
It is not enough to simply listen to and acknowledge Indigenous voices; they must take centre stage in environmental discussions.
In addition to the fact that environmental degradation, such as oil and gas production on reservations, frequently compromises Indigenous spaces and practices, a wealth of studies has demonstrated the need for Indigenous knowledge for real environmental transformation.
We might live on a planet with abundant resources and egalitarian links to the environment regardless of identity if we were to focus on Indigenous land practices rather than destructive Western-influenced environmental treatment.
This argument accurately captures intersectionality in its entirety. In comparison to white, wealthy communities, marginalized communities such as Black, Indigenous, and communities of colour are affected by climate change at a disproportionately high rate.
By viewing climate issues through a lens of intersectionality, we’re able to understand how pollution, natural disasters and other climate change-related environmental issues impact an individual depending on their identity.
Politicians and the general public act with total disregard and disregard for Indigenous land when they view the pipeline as a benevolent economic opportunity.
What local communities might be affected by an oil spill? Whose lives will be most negatively impacted by the greenhouse gas emissions brought on by the oil being transported through the pipeline?
The key actors in climate change, Indigenous peoples and other oppressed populations, must no longer be seen as merely supporting actors.
We need to modify the way we discuss environmental concerns and climate change to put the people who are most affected and informed about it front and centre.
On an individual level, aim to centre Indigenous voices in your consumption of environmental news.
Media outlets such as Atmos approach environmental issues from non-Western perspectives, often highlighting Indigenous storytelling.
In addition, Indigenous activism has a large social media presence.
Want to learn more about Indigenous peoples all over the world, their lives and their campaigns? Check out these inspiring Instagram accounts
This 24-year-old Indigenous climate activist shot to the attention of the world after making an impassioned speech on the opening day of COP26 in Glasgow.
Addressing heads of state, she said ‘the Earth is speaking. She tells us that we have no more time. The animals are disappearing. The rivers are dying, and our plants don’t flower as they did before.’
The 19-year-old model is of Han Gwich’in (from Alaska and Canada) and Oglala Lakota (from South Dakota) heritage.
Her eye-catching face tattoos, known as Yidįįłtoo, are displayed at the corner of her eyes and on her chin.
Better known as Notorious Cree, Jones is from the Anishinaabe Tallcree First Nation in Alberta, Canada.
His performances, which he showcases on Instagram and TikTok, fuse traditional hoop dancing with modern breakdancing.
The hoop dance is a storytelling dance, which historically has been used to provide Indigenous communities with emotional support.
Speaking to American VOGUE, Jones summed up his mission, ‘We dance for those who can’t dance, and we dance to heal. I always hope to educate and bring awareness in a good way.’
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is a hip-hop artist who uses his music to fight for climate action.
He has 108k followers on Instagram and can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute.
In 2017, he tried to sue Donald Trump over inaction on global warming.
Originally from Brazil, Thaline now lives in Finland where she continues to be an activist for her people, The Karajá.
A talented singer, she took part in the TV show The Voice Brasil, where she was proud to represent Indigenous peoples.
‘For many years, I looked for someone to represent me in this medium and, every time I saw it, it was very stereotyped. We, contemporary Indigenous peoples, don’t see each other on open TV, it’s always in a stereotyped way or represented by non-Indigenous people, as we see in soap operas. So, my being there singing is important for many people.’