Honoring Native Women: Pennie Plant Still Strong

Longtime Activist Pennie Plant speaks out against large oil corporations.

Longtime Activist Pennie Plant speaks out against large oil corporations.

In Celebration of March Being ‘Women’s History Month’ – Honoring Native Women

Editor’s Note:  In most Native nations across Indian country, it is our women that hold culture, take care of families, begin projects, teach children, youth, and even adults about language, traditions and generally weave everything together creatively.  In celebration of March being Women’s History Month, the Native News Online reached out to Nanette Bradley Deetz to write about Native women. This is the second of several articles Ms. Deetz has written to honor Native women:

Profile: Pennie Plant

ALBANY, CALIFORNIA Pennie Opal Plant (Yaqui/Choctaw/Cherokee/European) is a successful business-owner and a longtime activist.

In 1991 she opened Gathering Tribes Fine Art and Craft Gallery, in Albany, California, just north of Berkley. Gathering Tribes Gallery represents indigenous artisans of the Americas with fine arts, crafts, and jewelry from Alaska to Chile.

“As indigenous people, we understand that the political boundaries that separate us are temporary, as all political boundaries are,” said Plant. “I was born and raised in San Pablo, California, which is a small community surrounded by Richmond, California. I am the mother of two adopted daughters, and the grandmother of one grandson. I am married to Michael Horse, a well known Yaqui jeweler and actor,” continued Plant.

As part of her activism, for the last three years, Ms. Plant has organized an Indigenous Women’s Poetry/Music event in order to celebrate International Women’s Day at Gathering Tribes Gallery. She also participates each year in the Solano Stroll, a fair and street parade sponsored by the Berkeley and Albany Chamber of Commerce. In 2013, Ms. Plant (as Gathering Tribes Gallery) organized a float that consisted of a truck bed carrying some members of All Nations Drum singing and Idle No More SF members playing hand drum while singing the Warrior Woman song from the Canadian First Nations.

Plant has always invited customers at her galleries to be part of the solution to whatever problem was presented. “They have always participated in generous ways. After Hurricane Katrina, we raised over $13,000.00 for the United Houma Nation. They have also participated in raising thousands of dollars for Leonard Peltier and the Longest Walks,” commented Ms. Plant.

Because of her 25 plus years as a businesswoman in Albany and Berkeley, this entrance into the street fair and parade was enthusiastically endorsed and welcomed by residents.

In addition to her business acumen, painting and poetry writing, Ms. Plant has traveled extensively.

“After I sold my first business, I traveled alone to the Yucatan where a Mayan Day Keeper had put out a call for people to join in ceremony with Mayans at several of the ancient temples. I then spent six months traveling around the Australian outback, and spending time with aboriginal people of that culture. From there I traveled to Indonesia, then back to the U.S. before traveling again to Oaxaca, Mexico”.

In January, 2014, Ms. Plant was invited to attend the International Summit on the Rights of Nature in Quito, Ecuador. The summit was coordinated by Global Alliance, a group of lawyers, indigenous people, activists and others who are working on the Rights of Nature/Mother Earth in judicial arenas and activist circles internationally. “The concept comes from the original instructions given to humanity long ago, and which many indigenous Nations still maintain. It is codified in the Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth,” said Plant.

Plant is still a strong woman warrior.

“I am currently working on climate/fossil fuel issues. I am a member of Idle No More Solidarity San Francisco Bay. Our group is extremely active in making our presence known at local corporations, such as the Richmond Chevron refinery and Kinder Morgan. Our local Idle No More group is coordinating a series of healing walks along the refinery corridor in the northern part of the East Bay entitled, ‘Connect the Dots: Refinery Corridor Healing Walks/Rides.’ It will be a series of four healing walks beginning on April 12, with one per month through July, 2014. We will walk through the cities of Pittsburg, Martinez, Benecia, Rodeo, and Richmond. These walks are designed to bring refinery communities together, to walk in prayer to heal the land and waters and to bring attention to Wes Pac Energy’s plan to build a large train terminal and bring in Alberta tar sands and bakken crude oil,” said Plant.

Nanette Bradley Deetz is of Dakota, Cherokee and German descent. She is a poet, writer, educator and sometimes musician whose poetry appears in several anthologies. The most current is “Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down,” published by Scarlett Tanager Press; “Turtle Island to Abya Yala, A Love Anthology of Art and Poetry by Native American and Latina Women,” Malinalli Press, and “Alameda Island Theme Poems, 2004,2005 & 2006.” She combines poetry and music in her band, Redbird Giving which performs at many Bay Area native and non-native venues. She is a correspondent for the Alameda Journal and Native News Online.


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