Activists, scholars and community members from around Turtle Island gathered to learn, inspire and be inspired at the second annual Indigenous Earth Issues Summit organized by the Center for Native American Studies on Monday, April 6.
Hailing from Manitoba, Alaska and Montana as well as the Northwoods region, presenters offered their perspectives to over 100 people on a variety of issues including the renewable energy potential in Indian Country, possible metallic sulfide mining sites around Lake Superior, and solutions to our environmental problems that are found in
Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Others showed films on such topics as Western-style development's impacts on the Chittagong Hills region of India and on the Indigenous Ladakhi of the Himalayas as well as a film on the Sacred Run events honoring Mother Earth and calling for social and ecological justice around the world.
Afternoon keynotes Susan LaFernier (Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Vice-President) and Chuck Brumleve (Keweenaw Bay Indian Community's Mining Specialist) spoke on the proposed Yellow Dog metallic sulfide mine north of Marquette. Members of the audience commented on it being a very interesting and highly informative presentation.
Evon Peter, a former chief of the Neetsaii Gwich'in and current Executive Director of Native Movement, spoke as the evening keynote and received a standing ovation. Intertwining story with personal reflection and historical lessons, Peter spoke on the environmental history coming out of the relationship between Alaskan Natives and the United States. Much of what he spoke of also challenged the audience to find the will to make the changes needed to address our environmental crisis.
Peter found the Summit as a whole a great experience. He commented particularly on the involvement of students in the Summit presentations. Students from CNAS's NAS 342 course, "Indigenous Environmental Movements," as well as students from the Hannahville Indian school presented their research and ideas at the Summit. It gave him hope, he said, to see students an integral part of such an event as he felt they were gaining valuable experience for making change in the world.
One Summit attendee described the Summit as "Phenomenal!" Others used words like "Awesome!" and "Inspiring." One audience member wrote, "I was impressed - the Native Studies Department's hard work and teachings are making a remarkable difference in the world."
CNAS would like to send a big thanks to all the volunteers, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the presenters, and the Summit participants. Chi-miigwech! You all made the success of the Summit possible.
Garry Morning Star Raven of Manitoba and the Aboriginal Delegation from Australia.
The Summits flyer
2009 Summit Highlights
This summit was made possible by the generous support of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.