FORT BERTHOLD, ND, April 17, 2019 – A delegation of Indigenous women climate defenders from Colombia, Guatemala, Israel, Kenya, Nepal and Nicaragua arrived today in North Dakota to visit the Fort Berthold Reservation where they will meet with local leaders who are confronting the devastating impact of oil and gas mega-projects on their communities, particularly on Indigenous women and girls.
The delegation, organized by MADRE and the Indigenous Environmental Network, is an opportunity for Indigenous women leaders challenging extractive industries and resource exploitation in their own communities around the world to learn from local leaders working on the Fort Berthold Reservation—home to the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nations. Here, they will share stories and discuss strategies for opposing the devastation and displacement wrought by extractive industries worldwide.
“Indigenous Peoples around the world facing off against mining and other harmful mega-projects in their own communities are deeply inspired whenever Indigenous Peoples rise up against these environmental threats,” said Lucy Mulenkei, one of the delegates and the Executive Director of the Indigenous Information Network in Kenya. “We know for-profit extractive industries continue to threaten the land and well-being of people in this region—and in our own—with a disproportionate impact on Indigenous Peoples, particularly women and girls.”
“Opportunities like this are necessary in the work of Indigenous Women to foster the building of lasting relationships as we help each other face urgent issues in our communities and come together to tackle them at the local to the international level,” added Kandi White, Indigenous Environmental Network Native Energy & Climate Campaign Director.
The delegation is meeting with Fort Berthold Protectors of Water & Earth Rights (Fort Berthold P.O.W.E.R.), local youth group members of Descendants Alliance, and other local Indigenous leaders and activists.
After visiting North Dakota, the delegation will travel to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues taking place in New York from April 22-May 3, 2019 where they will share concrete policy recommendations and a joint statement on how to best confront extractive industries and their harmful effects on Indigenous communities around the world.
Lucy Mulenkei (Kenya). Lucy is the Executive Director of the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) in Kenya. A Maasai from Kenya, she has been working both as a chairperson and coordinator of the African Indigenous Women Organization in the East African Region for the past several years.
Yasso Kanti Bhattachan (Nepal). Yasso belongs to the Thakali Indigenous community. She is a founding member and advisor of the National Indigenous Women’s Federation (NIWF), Nepal, and one of the leading Indigenous women activists and scholars of Nepal.
Rose Cunningham (Nicaragua). Rose, a Miskito leader and expert in popular education, international labor law, and the rights of migrants, refugees, and displaced persons, is the founder of the organization, Wangki Tangni. She served as an officer of the Organization of American States for 10 years and has been instrumental in raising awareness about violence against Indigenous Women at the UN.
Ana Ceto Chavez (Guatemala). Ana, an Indigenous leader from the Ixil region of El Quiche, is the coordinator of MUIXIL, an organization that promotes and defends the human rights of Indigenous women and their communities. The first Indigenous woman in her community to receive a law degree, she is a strong advocate of restitution and recognition from the Guatemalan government for the genocide of Indigenous Peoples.