READ: Tribal Rights and Sovereignty Can Save the Climate Justice Movement Under Trump

By Yessenia Funes Jan 20, 2017

A new climate-denying, fossil fuel-friendly administration enters the White House today (January 20). For some, that means preparing for a fight to protect rivers, air and wildlife.

Julian Brave NoiseCat of the Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen in British Columbia Canada, is one of those people. In a column published yesterday (January 19) for the Guardian, he urges the climate justice movement to look to Indigenous people to lead the way in face of a Donald Trump presidency.

He writes:

On Friday, men who disavow climate change and profit mightily from fossil fuels will take charge. In a global race to the bottom, there’s no telling how far downriver these shortsighted profiteers will sell our future generations.

Capital may flow soullessly to the highest return, and for now, the state at all levels may be in the hands of reactionaries. But the first people of this land, who often live on the frontlines of our metastasizing climate disaster, remain resolute.

NoiseCat recognizes the incoming administration’s ties with the fossil fuel industry—and how this could likely throw Indigenous people into conflict against it. But in his piece, the New York City Urban Fellow reminds readers that the movement can win. In discussing Standing Rock’s ongoing fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, he writes:

Indigenous Americans – the poorest of the poor and the most likely to be killed by law enforcement – won a monumental victory for the planet, indigenous rights and the forces of conscience against capital. Their rallying cry, “Water is Life!” echoed around the world.

He urges for more on-the-ground action, alliance building and, ultimately, recognition of indigenous rights and sovereignties to achieve additional wins. 

Read his complete commentary here.