I’ve followed the work of Chase Iron Eyes and the Lakota People’s Law Project for years. He was involved in the Dakota Access pipeline struggle at Standing Rock, including begin arrested there. In the video below, he and his daughter, Tokata, talk about why everything discussed at COOP26 isn’t nearly enough.
As we near the end of COP26 — the United Nations’ most recent climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland — we have reason for concern. Because, while nations the world over have again come together to talk about addressing the climate emergency, activists — including a host of Indigenous People and organizations — are watching closely and sending a strong message from the frontlines: everything being discussed and promised at COP26 isn’t nearly enough. This past week, my daughter, Tokata, and I appeared on Christiane Amanpour’s show, broadcast on both PBS and CNN, to talk about COP26, our anti-pipeline stands, and the future of Indigenous and climate justice.
As Tokata’s friend, Greta Thunberg, put it in Glasgow, “It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure. It should be obvious that we cannot solve the crisis with the same methods that got us into it in the first place.”
I suspect you’ll agree with Greta, Tokata, and me when we say solving global warming isn’t going to be easy. It will demand sacrifices on the part of individuals and nations and a willingness to embrace a diversity of perspectives — from the latest climate science to the wisdom of Indigenous peoples. Our voices matter, because we have long practiced living in harmony with Unci Maka, our Grandmother Earth, and all the other species who inhabit her.
Chase Iron Eyes
In the video he says the human species is at a very vulnerable, but teachable moment. Our social contract is broken and requires social, economic, and racial justice. That solutions to our environmental crisis depend on Indigenous liberation. And yet, he is hopeful because Standing Rock raised global consciousness and once progress is made, there is no turning back.
There was an emotional part of the video, when Tokata was asked how she felt about the remains of native children being uncovered on the grounds of the institutions of forced assimilation. About learning of these atrocities while she is in school herself, a tool of the genocide of her people. She said she gives thanks for those children. And feeling she is carrying on their legacy.
The video ends with Chase talking about their work building bridges with non-Indigenous people. Let’s come together.