Voices for Indigenous Peoples' Day
Today is Indigenous Peoples' Day, a time to honor and celebrate the original people and Nations of this continent, Turtle Island, and in particular the original Nations of the Great Lakes Basin. While some non-Indigenous people may think of these Nations as part of history and the past, they are vital communities today and a needed source of witness and wisdom, especially in a time of threats to water, environmental degradation, and climate change.
As part of that recognition, here are some interviews from this past year with two Indigenous women for the Great Lakes Spirituality Project. You can find more interviews with Indigenous people from previous years here. I hope you enjoy these conversations.
Holly T. Bird
Holly T. Bird is an attorney, judge, and activist. She helped lead the legal fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Descended from the San Felipe Pueblo/Yaqui/Apache tribes and the English Isles, she currently serves as a Supreme Court Justice for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi and previously as a judge for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. She has also worked with adults and youth, including now as the co-director of Title Track, a Michigan nonprofit dedicated to clean water, racial equity, and youth empowerment.
In the first post of this two-part conversation, Bird talks about caring for water as an Indigenous woman, never taking it for granted, and healing young people's relationship with water. In the second post, Bird tells the story of her work fighting DAPL.
To start our conversation, Beth Earl said she is "Potawatomi, or Bodéwadmi is the traditional way of saying that. My clan is Eagle clan." Earl has served for decades as an Indigenous midwife, and in this interview she talks about how, “The first thing that comes forward from life, the new life coming forward, is that water.“
As a water protector, Earl also talks about how water has memory, and that we need to listen to the water. “We need to listen to the water, we need to know that the water is alive. And that's why we say water is life.“