HANOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Hawaiian guests announced their arrival to the conference on climate change by singing to a member of the Eastern Abenaki, as she welcomed them to her tribal lands.
Dartmouth is hosting the “Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Working Group” conference. The focus is on the impact of climate change on Indigenous people. The conference brought together indigenous communities, NGOs, federal and state agencies, and students working on climate change.
Keynote speaker Chief Oren Lyons, faithkeeper for the Haudenosaunee Iroquois confederacy talked about the enthusiasm among the participants. Lyons was part of the delegation of Indigenous Peoples who went to the United Nations in Geneva for the first time in 1977. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of environmental issues before the United Nations for decades.
“It is a reenergizing of our own energies and refocusing and inspiring us to work harder. The panel was exceptional, broad perspectives, it reminded me of a lot of things, stuff I hadn’t thought about,” commented Lyons.
State University of New York professor Robin Kimmerer, a member of the Citizen Band of Potawatomi, talked about the gathering of Indigenous people as a way of organizing to stop climate change.
“When our relatives the plants and animals are disappearing, it’s our duty, it’s our responsibility as human people to stand up for them. Native people have a long history of survival and resilience in the face of climate change that our voices have to be raised collectively in behalf of the planet,” said Kimmerer.
The Working Group is a tribal college- and university-centered network of organizations focusing on climate change research and education since 2006.
Rhonda LeValdo, Acoma Pueblo, is a current faculty member in Media Communications at Haskell Indian Nations University, and the most recent past president of the Native American Journalists Association.