Aligning with our Power During Climate Crisis: An Indigenous Action List

PennElys Droz, Sarah Sunshine Manning · September 25, 2019

Aligning with our Power During Climate Crisis: An Indigenous Action List

We hold the solutions to our greatest ecological challenges, and we also hold within us the power to ensure that our future is one that is just and beautiful for future generations.

While the world engages in important conversations around the climate crisis, Indigenous people are faced with especially unique experiences, challenges and opportunities. As the result of centuries of colonialism and disenfranchisement, Indigenous lands and life ways have already been deeply impacted by environmental degradation. With the growing climate crisis, Indigenous cultures, which are inextricably connected to the land, are now being threatened in unprecedented ways.

During this critical time, our values and inherent responsibilities call upon us to take action.

Some may ask themselves, “Well, what can I do,” which is an incredibly important question to ask ourselves as Indigenous people and good relatives to our Mother Earth. But we must also be mindful to stand in our power as we reflect on this.  As we actively resist the ongoing destruction of our Mother Earth and our precious ecosystems, we must align ourselves with our personal and communal power, and take action! creating solutions for a sustainable, regenerative future.

Here are a handful of things that you can do to channel all of that valuable energy and anxt into something positive for the Earth, our communities, and all our relations: 

Engage and Resist to Protect Land, Air, Water, and Families

  • Are your lands and waters in danger of contamination and degradation?  Conduct research in order to find out what the source of this contamination or degradation is, and mobilize with like-minded people to take action.
  • Talk to your elders, peers, and community members to learn, share, and build the power of your voices!  
  • Research what other Indigenous communities have been resisting in order to protect their lands and waters.  Reach out to them to learn strategies.
  • Build creative partnerships to clean up toxic sites.  Who might be interested in protecting and cleaning up the land?  Neighboring communities? Non-Indigenous farmers, hunters, and fishers? Downstream water users?  Find your allies!
  • Support the struggles of others!  Sign that petition, make those phone calls, donate money and supplies if you can, and if you are able, join calls for action!

Reconnect to your Lands, Waters, and Community

  • Learn or re-learn traditional harvesting and land care.  Do you know any harvesters, farmers, hunters, or fishers? This will build your relationships with the spirits of the land and help to restore balance to the land.  With that knowledge, you will be able to help your community. If you don’t know people, go out on the land and begin learning the shapes, patterns, plants, and animals.  Read. Learn from whoever you can! 
  • Pray and fast on the land.  Visit your sacred sites. 
  • Imagine new economies. What do we need to provide and thrive?  How can this be done in a way that honors the land?  Don’t be afraid to dream! Talk with your friends, family, elders, community members and share ideas!
  • Localize our trade. The more local we get, the more responsible and caring we can be.
  • Reduce energy use. Talk to your Nations’ planners, housing, leadership about the absolute necessity of renewable energy. Build a team in your community to advocate for this.  Work with the schools and youth! Learn how to produce energy yourself! 
  • Learn how your ancestors built homes.  What materials did they use? What architecture did they use?  How can we make sure any new housing reflects local material use and energy saving measures?  
  • Honor water. Use a water well, and learn how to work with plants to purify water.
  • Use nontoxic cleaning supplies.  Baking soda, Oasis soap, and Citrasolv eliminate most other cleaning supply needs.
  • Plant seeds and support local food systems!  
  • Learn your language! The understandings that will help us be resilient and thrive are within our languages. 
  • Teach our children the beauty in the world and in their cultures.  Help them to feel strong, disciplined, and gentle.  Outreach and connect to other parents who are trying to do the same. Parenting is a challenge, and we need to support each other!
  • Take children outside and help them open up their creative vision to learn from the Earth.  Excessive technology removes their minds from this creativity, so try to make sure they are required to be outside without screens for periods of time throughout the day.  We are raising the next generations’ elders. 

The possibilities here are endless! 

Whatever you do, remember that as an Indigenous person and as Indigenous communities, we are uniquely equipped to create solutions that not only stem from time-honored traditions that honor the Earth and all our relations, but we also descend from some of the most innovative and resilient people on this Earth!  Our love for the land, for the ancestors we descend from, and for our communities today, can fuel us with rich inspiration.

We hold the solutions to our greatest ecological challenges, and we also hold within us the power to ensure that our future is one that is just and beautiful for future generations.

To learn more about the NDN Collective and our recommendations around climate justice, check out our Position Paper: Mobilizing an Indigenous Green New Deal.

PennElys Droz
by   PennElys Droz

Dr. PennElys Droz, Program Officer, is Anishinaabe/Wyandot from the US-Canadian border. Droz directs the planning, execution and evaluation of the NDN Fellowship & Prize. Droz brings two decades experience in the Indigenous environmental and regenerative Nation building movements to re-develop ecologically, culturally and economically thriving and resilient Native Nations. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Technology and a Master’s degree in Environmental Resource Engineering from Humboldt State University and a PhD in Biocultural Engineering Design, American Indian Studies from University of Arizona.

Sarah Sunshine Manning
by   Sarah Sunshine Manning

Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications, is a citizen of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Idaho and Nevada, and Chippewa-Cree of Rocky Boy, Montana. Manning directs NDN Collective’s communications strategy and impact. She also serves as producer of the NDN Podcast While Indigenous and as editor of the NDN blog. Manning has Bachelor’s degrees in American Indian Studies, Social Science-History, and licensure in Secondary Education. She has a Master’s degree in journalism and mass communication.

January 2023 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.

Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

Doubling Down for LANDBACK: Q & A with Nick Tilsen After 2.5 Year Legal Battle Comes to an End Posted 1 month ago
In this Q & A interview, Nick shares some of his reflections and big picture takeaways from the past two and a half years. Nick faced up to 17 years behind bars after a #LANDBACK protest in the Black Hills on July 3, 2020.
NDN Collective Announces Community Action Fund Grant Partners Posted 2 months ago
“NDN Collective is honored to invest in the self-determination and leadership of these organizations, collectives, organizers, and cultural practitioners. They are on the frontlines defending our communities from resource extraction, combating the polluters fueling climate change, and standing up for the human rights of Indigenous peoples."
NDN Collective Shares Program Intention of Collective Abundance Fund Ahead of Official Launch Posted 2 months ago
“While this financial commitment is unprecedented and significant, funding alone won’t solve the racial equity gap. Movement building must continue. Policy and advocacy work must continue to disrupt, dismantle, and shift the economic systems that don’t work for us. We can all play a part in that.”
All Charges Dismissed Against Nick Tilsen in 2.5 Year Long Case Posted 2 months ago
“My case held a mirror up to the so-called legal system, where prosecutors – fueled by white fragility and fear of Indigenous power – wasted years of state resources to intimidate, criminalize, and violate me. The fact that I’ve gone from facing 17 years in prison to all charges dismissed is not a coincidence or an act of justice – it’s evidence that the charges were bogus from the start."
NDN Collective Announces 2022 Community Self-Determination Grantee Partners Posted 2 months ago
“This cohort of grantee partners represents some of the most impactful work happening across Turtle Island—defending the air, land and water; developing Indigenous economies based on regenerative principles; and revitalizing our languages, cultures and ceremonies in ways that illuminate the path for the next generations.”
NDN Collective & Rewiring America Release IRA Memo for Tribes & Indigenous Communities Posted 2 months ago
Households could save $140,000 on energy bills over 25 years with efficient energy infrastructure – which would both help build Indigenous wealth, and help families divest from the volatile oil and gas markets. 
NDN Collective Statement on COP27 Negotiation Outcomes Posted 2 months ago
"We call on nation states to sever their relationships to the fossil fuels industry, fully commit to phasing out of fossil fuels, and utilize the core tenets of a Just Transition. Anything less is a failure to all of humanity.”
NDN Collective Responds to Mass Shooting of 2SLGBTQIA+ Relatives in Colorado Springs Posted 2 months ago
"As 2 spirit and queer individuals we long for spaces that are safe. We long for spaces that we can show up in and be our unapologetic queer selves without the fear of persecution. What happened to our relatives in Colorado is a violation of that sacred space and only triggers a more profound hyper vigilance of our spaces, our communities and of ourselves."
COP27: NDN Collective's Recap of Week One at the United Nations 27th Annual Conference of the Parties (COP) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt Posted 3 months ago
"Our delegation has been participating in the Indigenous Peoples Caucus and the Local Communities Indigenous Peoples Platform, as well as tracking negotiations, meeting with government officials, and more."
COP27: NDN Collective Meets with White House Climate Advisor Posted 3 months ago
In their discussion with White House Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi, NDN Collective, alongside frontline Indigenous and Black organizers touched on issue areas including IRA, mining, oil and gas leases.

United like never before, we rise together—arm in arm—to equip all Indigenous Peoples with the tools needed to become architects of our future. Through a holistic approach to infrastructure, funding, advocacy, movement building, and philanthropy we are fostering a world of justice and equity for all people and the planet.