Andrew Catt-Iron shell · April 22, 2020

Earth Day 2020: We can no longer take baby steps. Honor the Earth as your own mother.

While fifty years have come and gone from the first Earth Day, we do not have another fifty years to get this right.

This year, Earth Day is absent the large crowds celebrating Mother Earth’s life. Virtually silent are the usual soundbites in network media telling us we should recycle and carpool, like that is enough to save deteriorating ecosystems that hold together our natural environment. In years past, countless network advertising dollars have gone into telling us what we already inherently know to be true, that we should protect our planet, and not harm her.

Today, the pandemic our world is experiencing gives us all pause. For a moment, humanity has no choice but to reflect upon it’s vulnerability. We are not weak, as human beings. We are vulnerable.

We must put our money and our energy into a paradigm shift for the greater good.

NDN Collective Organizer, Andrew Catt Iron-Shell. Photo Courtesy of Andrew.

Even amid this pandemic crisis, the corporate agenda is to convince us to shop away our fears as we ignore the warning signs, forsaking actions that we should collectively take to save our world. Mainstream society has conditioned us to think that an inequitable, modern economy is virtually all that is needed to support life. 

As Indigenous people, we know this is not the truth.  We do not have to fall in line with the status quo, becoming like those looking out only for themselves. 

For the past fifty years of Earth Day, the corporations, the politicians and the uninformed  have largely shaped the narrative of what the day should be about. But now more than ever, we have to take back that narrative of what truly honoring our Mother Earth is all about. We must collectively act. We must mobilize worldwide and bring back balance between humanity and the natural order of things in order for humanity and all life to survive. 

Andrew Catt-Iron Shell with his son in the Badlands of South Dakota. Photo Courtesy Andrew Catt-Iron Shell.

To be sure, we have fifty years of solidarity behind us celebrating Earth Day. The children and grandchildren of those first Earth Day participants have grown into millions of strong souls standing on this side of Mother Earth.  The Indigenous, white, black, and people of all backgrounds and economic standings, have stepped up.  We must continue to educate, advocate and teach our young people to love the earth as their mother. We must put our money and our energy into a paradigm shift for the greater good. It should not be a crime to oppose the fossil fuel industry and pipeline expansion. We must say no to extractive economies that serve no one but oil executives and their shareholders. 

This Earth Day is unequivocally the most important Earth Day we’ve shared.

While fifty years have come and gone from the first Earth Day, we do not have another fifty years to get this right.  At fifty years old, we can no longer take baby steps or hold back our voice and intention for a more sustainable way of living together. It is our time to act now. 

We are going to get through this challenging time together, and an important shift is already happening. We see more and more individuals, governments, and even corporations who are showing growing concern for the environment, and do want to do the right thing for humanity. 

This Earth Day is unequivocally the most important Earth Day we’ve shared. It is our moment in this eye of the storm, to find clarity, to nurture action, and to stand side-by-side with each other for the sake of all life. In unity, the greatest acts of humanity have achieved victories, even under great duress. In this moment we must redesign economies and shape new behaviors that leave an abundance for future generations.  

Earth Day 2020 is our time to put back into perspective that which we know we must do: Honor the Earth as you would honor your mother. 

Andrew Catt-Iron shell
by   Andrew Catt-Iron shell

Andrew Catt-Iron Shell, NDN Collective Organizer, is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Andrew is a grassroots organizer who began his work advocating against extreme health inequity and health disparities of Tribal populations. His work has included place-based advocacy in helping build from the ground up a regenerative community development project on the Oglala Lakota Nation. In his current role, Andrew looks to focus on building strong community networks and hands-on participation for shared victories in protecting mother earth and protection of Indigenous community.

August 2022 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.

NDN Collective Responds to Manchin's Side Deal Being Pulled from IRA Posted 1 week ago
“Make no mistake – the decoupling of Manchin’s dirty side deal from the Inflation Reduction Act is a result of tireless advocacy by frontline, climate justice, and Indigenous communities."
NDN Collective Hosts Extreme Heat and Climate Change Webinar

Brandi Douglas

Posted 2 weeks ago
The webinar included a presentation by Dr. Gaurab Basu, of Cambridge Health Alliance, in collaboration with the NDN Collective Climate Justice Team, providing information needed to prepare and adapt to the heat and climate change health equity crisis.
Impacts of Permitting Reform Proposal on Tribes and Indigenous Communities

NDN Collective Climate Justice Team , Dr. Kyle Whyte

Posted 2 weeks ago
This analysis and summary, co-authored by the NDN Collective Climate Justice Team alongside Dr. Kyle Whyte, organizer and Professor of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, captures the impacts of Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) permitting reform proposal and is based on the most recent draft text released on September 21, 2022. 
NDN Collective Announces Open Application Period for NDN Changemaker Fellowship Posted 2 weeks ago
“We are honored to offer this fellowship and recognize visionary Indigenous changemakers who are working towards defending their territories, sustainably developing and decolonizing their communities.” 
Honoring Youth and Families: NDN Collective 3rd Annual Backpack Giveaway Provides More Than School Supplies

Brandi Douglas

Posted 3 weeks ago
“Our hope is that this event starts the kids' school year off in a good way and shows them we recognize, value and honor them.”
NDN Collective Officially Opens Doors of Rapid City's First Indigenous-Led School for Indigenous Students Posted 4 weeks ago
"It is important for students to see themselves in what they are learning everyday, and to have the opportunity to be who they are, learn their language, and be recognized for their inherent Indigenous genius. At Oceti Sakowin Community Academy students will have the opportunity to do this, which is what the ancestors have wanted for our wakanyeja – our children.”
Indigenous Groups From North America Write Letter to Chilean Leadership, Supporting Monumental Provisions in Proposed Chilean Constitution Posted 4 weeks ago
"Chile’s newly proposed constitution sets a precedent for the U.S. and other governments to not only recognize it is beyond time to update our draconian constitutions, but also that integrating Indigenous rights into our core laws will move us towards truly achieving equity and justice."
Sko Vote Den Artist Showcase Brings Music and Voter Engagement to Santa Fe

Brandy Calabaza

Posted 1 month ago
Bringing Indigenous relatives together through art and music for a fun and interactive event aimed at the power of voting, encouraging attendees to utilize their ability to vote in the upcoming election as a means of building and reclaiming Indigenous power.
NDN Collective Takes One Step Closer to Building Tiny Home Community for Houseless Relatives in Rapid City

Brandi Douglas

Posted 1 month ago
NDN Collective’s tiny home community development, Gliúŋ, to provide essential needs, access to resources, security and belonging to unhoused Indigenous relatives in the Rapid City area.
NDN Collective to Co-Host ‘Sko Vote Den Artist Showcase’ in Santa Fe Posted 2 months ago
“Indigenous people have been shut out of the political sphere for far too long – it’s time to show up for ourselves and our communities, by centering our issues, our solutions, and electing our people to office.”

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.