Nisqually Welcomes International Environmental & Indigenous Leaders as Protecting Mother Earth Conference Begins

Published June 29, 2018

FRANK’S LANDING, Wash. – As the 17th Protecting Mother Earth conference begins today, Nisqually leaders welcomed hundreds of environmentalists, tribal leadership and frontline grassroots groups seeking solutions to environmental problems threatening Pacific Northwest tribes and Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Native people of the Salish Sea, Puget Sound and the Pacific are calling for a halt to any toxic poisoning of the oceans and fisheries they depend on.

“As we open the conference today, we’ll report on the state of affairs and the impact of fossil fuel extraction on our homelands, said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “The increase of mining and extractive industries brings corporations into our protected areas like Bears Ears National Monument. We are experiencing the impact of the climate crisis and its effects on our people, coastal waters and fisheries. That’s why the Nisqually people invited us here – they are dealing with the depletion of their fish and the effects of changing water systems. They’re concerned about this area becoming the hub of fossil fuel transportation for more coal trains, more oil pipelines and more tanker traffic for development like liquid natural gas.

“Mother Earth and Father Sky are not for sale – they are not property rights to be traded, sold or owned by corporations,” Goldtooth said. “Our gathering is following the prophecies that were left for us by our elders. They told us there would be many moments that we need to come together to unite and build our strength through the resilience of our teachings, our cultures and our spirituality. Our women are rising, our youth are rising to protect Mother Earth. We are defending our inherent rights to protect our homelands, to resist colonialism, and to renew our Indigenous lifeways as solutions for survival. Our women speak about how corporations and governments are abusing Mother Earth in the same way that the dominant society treats women.

The four-day conference includes an array of plenary sessions and workshops focused on Just Transition, climate justice, renewable energy, mining, food sovereignty, and oceans and fisheries. The full agenda is here: (link)

“The 17th Protecting Mother Earth Conference is exactly where the Climate Justice Alliance needs to be at this moment,” said Angela Adrar, Executive Director, Climate Justice Alliance. “As environmental justice activists who are rooted in the understanding that our communities are all connected to the earth and each other, we join with our Indigenous brothers and sisters in Nisqually to forge place-based solutions that link economic justice and deep democracy with the climate crises we all face.  These interlinked crises caused by multinational corporations and their neo-colonial empires, impact our communities first and most. We stand with all communities gathered here to say NO to the plunder and profits of these corporations; we are looking to our own ecological and cultural roots to create alternatives that will protect the people and the planet.”

Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director of Amazon Watch said, “This gathering could not come at a more urgent and opportune time for us to come together as Indigenous Peoples, frontline communities and allies to Protect Mother Earth and defend our rights. From the Arctic to the Amazon and beyond, Indigenous Peoples and frontline communities are leading the real solutions to our climate crisis, by protecting Indigenous rights, resources and sacred territories; keeping fossil fuels in the ground; and promoting a just transition to renewable energy. Now, more than ever, it is essential that we stand together. Our future generations are counting on us.”

The Protecting Mother Earth conference is free and open to the public. The conference is co-sponsored by the Indigenous Environmental Network, Indigenous Climate Action and the Nisqually Tribe.

“Water is life, and we should not be living in a world where there is death in the water. From the Tar Sands in Canada to Standing Rock on the Northern Plains, to the Salish Sea, our people are uniting with one voice and one mind to stop the destruction of our home, Mother Earth,” said Goldtooth.

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