WEAving Words

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“As indigenous people we’re still fighting for protection, for cultural survival, fighting to protect our sacred and holy places. Although it has always been in the interest of the government to annihilate or assimilate indigenous peoples, we’re still here, and we’re not going anywhere. And we’re continuing to share our traditional ways and traditional knowledge with our young people because it’s important for us to survive, for our cultures to survive, for our futures to survive.

We are all indigenous, no matter where we’re from or what our heritage is, whether we’re from Asia, Africa, South America, North America — it is a matter of recognizing that root and recognizing our ancestry.

The basis of all indigenous cultures is respect and harmony, and living within your environment in a harmonious way, and one that is respectful and understanding that the earth is our Mother and she takes care of us and nurtures us. Everything we need to be a healthy people is here, is provided for us by our Mother Earth. It’s just a matter of recognizing and remembering who we are.

And we also need legislation!”

—Jeneda Benally, Save the San Francisco Peaks Coalition, from our Fall 2009 Conference Call Series: San Francisco Peaks: Legal Advocacy for Sacred Places

Please stay tuned to the Women’s Earth Alliance website to hear a recording of this powerful one-hour conference call featuring Jeneda Benally and Howard Shanker, attorney for the Save the Peaks Coalition.

The time is now

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It’s an exciting time to be doing what we’re doing here at Women’s Earth Alliance. Economists, world leaders, and policy experts alike are beginning to recognize the central role of women to community health and economic stability. A recent New York Times article said:

“Only a small proportion of aid specifically targets
women or girls, but increasingly donors are recognizing
that that is where they often get the most bang for the buck.”

President Obama appointed a new White House Council on Women and Girls, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a recent interview “women and girls” are a “signature issue” of the administration’s foreign policy. During her tour this month through Africa, Clinton stated,

“Until women around the world are accorded their rights
and afforded the opportunities of education, health care and gainful employment,
global progress and prosperity will have its own glass ceiling.”

Check out these articles:

  • Clinton Global Initiative – at their Annual Meeting last week they added a new focus area for Women and Girls. Read more here.
  • New York Times Magazine – they dedicated a whole issue to what they called ‘The Women’s Crusade’ which can be read here.
  • Half the Sky – written by two Pultizer Prize winning journalists, and an anchor article in the NYTimes Magazine issue above, this book is a call-to-action to invest in and support women and girls

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WEAving Words

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“… I have presented these arguments for a purpose. To illustrate that that these are very common issues for women, not only for Indigenous women, but for all women. What befalls our mother Earth, befalls her daughter — the women who are the mothers of our nations. Simply stated, if we can no longer nurse our children, if we can no longer bear children, and if our bodies, themselves are wracked with poisons, we will have accomplished little in the way of determining our destiny, or improving our conditions.

And, these problems, reflected in our health and well being, are also inherently resulting in a decline of the status of women, and are the result of a long set of historical processes. Processes, which we as women, will need to challenge if we will ultimately be in charge of our own destinies, our own self-determination, and the future of our Earth our Mother.”

—Winona LaDuke. Co-Chair Indigenous Womens Network, Program Director of the Environmental Program at the Seventh Generation Fund, at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, China, August 31 1995.

 

Read her full statement here.

[This is the first of many quotations from allies and visionaries that we plan to share from time to time. The words we share inform and inspire our work. If you come across something that should be included here, please let us know.]

WEAving the Worlds Call Series: Green Jobs

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On September 29 we held our first conference call in our Fall 2009 WEAving the Worlds Call Series:

The Navajo Green Jobs Victory and the State of U.S. Green Jobs Policy.

21 women leaders at the cutting edge of green jobs policy development participated in a conversation with two fascinating leaders in this field: Elena Foshay of the Apollo Alliance and Wahleah Johns of the Black Mesa Water Coalition. Wahleah spoke about her work on Navajo Green Jobs – click here for an interesting piece about it in the LA Times – and Elena spoke about her work on the federal level and the stimulus package (here is more about that).

This is an area full of opportunities and hopes as well as challenges. Wahleah spoke about the challenging process of getting council leaders to support green jobs because they are so accustomed to a coal-based economy. And Elena described how the real front line of green jobs is at the state/ local / regional level, and she highlighted some of the current green jobs victories at the state levels. Click here to learn more about what the Apollo Alliance has achieved in Oregon.

Interested in learning more? Participating on the next call? Email Caitlin Sislin at caitlin(at)womensearthalliance.org.

A little blogging history

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This isn’t WEA’s first blogging experience.

In September 2008, Women’s Earth Alliance convened a delegation of public interest women attorneys from across the United States for a journey of listening, witnessing, and preparation for action. Through ten days of travel and experiential learning throughout the Southwestern United States, our delegates discovered firsthand the ways in which America’s domestic energy policy sits largely on the backs of Native American lands and communities. Through dialogue and site visits, we learned about challenges facing these communities including coal and uranium extraction poisoning the soil and water, coal-fired power plants polluting the air, and open-pit mining and recreational facilities desecrating sacred mountains.

And we blogged about it! Click here to read our Advocacy Director’s blog about the trip.

Intrigued and want to learn more about this journey? Also be sure to watch the short video by Marlo McKenzie of Sacred Land Film Project, or learn more about the environmental justice leaders we met.