Indigeneity at Bioneers 2024

Founded in 2008, the Native-led Indigenous Forum at Bioneers is designed as a sovereign space for Indigenous People to bring their vision and message to Native and non-Native allies and to connect. Each year the Indigenous Forum works to amplify Indigenous voices, build networks and movements and enhance cross-cultural dialogue, learning, cultural sensitivity and informed action. The event is a core part of the Bioneers Conference, bringing together Indigenous activists, scientists, elders, youth, culture-bearers and scholars to share their knowledge and frontline solutions in dialogue with a dynamic, multicultural audience.

We invite you to join us in Berkeley for an incredible lineup of leaders making up the 2024 Indigenous Forum at Bioneers.

Thursday, March 28

Keynotes

Corrina Gould – Rematriation: Indigenous Women’s Work to Recover, Remember and Heal | 9:20 am

About this Keynote

Returning to open this year’s conference, one of the leading figures in the East Bay Indigenous community and a longtime activist for First People’s rights and the protection of land and waters globally, Corrina Gould, will focus on the concept and practice of “Rematriation,” which involves reclaiming traditional land and sacred sites to help rebuild traditional cultures and heal the deep wounds inflicted by colonization and genocide and also prioritizes the unique role women play in that enormous undertaking.

Sammy Gensaw, III – The Restorative Revolution and a River of Reciprocity | 11:34 am

About this Keynote

Sammy Gensaw III, a dynamic young Yurok leader, will share some of his experiences working for ecological and cultural revival along the Klamath River, central to his people’s identity and livelihood. He’ll discuss how the epic struggle to remove destructive dams required drawing deeply from ancestral wisdom, modern science, and cutting-edge activism, and how Indigenous leadership can play a central role in rekindling our connections to land and water and ushering in a restorative, resilient future for all of us.

Welcome to the Indigenous Forum | 2:00 pm

Featuring Indigeneity Program Director, Cara Romero, and Co-Founder, Clayton Thomas Muller

Panels | 3:00 pm

Rematriation: Indigenous Women’s Leadership

Featuring:

  • Corrina Gould
  • Jessica Hutchings
  • Caleen Sisk
  • Cara Romero (Moderator)
About this Panel

Rematriation centers Indigenous Women’s leadership for the restoration and regeneration of land and water. By revitalizing Indigenous knowledge, honoring traditions and renewing annual cycles of life, rematriation directly addresses harms caused by patriarchal extraction and violence. In this panel, three powerful Indigenous women share “real-life” examples of rematriation, the ripple effects of these practices, and ways that we can all get involved to Indigenize the future.

Panels | 4:45 pm

Natural Law and Food Sovereignty

Featuring:

  • Tabitha Robin
  • Rowen White
  • Marcus Briggs-Cloud
  • Alexis Bunten (Moderator)
About this Panel

How does “Natural Law” teach us to take care of Mother Earth? And what is the intimate relationship between natural law and food sovereignty? The Indigenous-led food sovereignty movement has spread rapidly over the past decade. Food sovereignty is more than just returning to ancestral diets for health and wellbeing. It is also a return to natural law while honoring our responsibilities towards all life on earth. In this panel, three Indigenous women share their personal journeys to food sovereignty, what this has meant for their communities, and why food sovereignty is so much more than a movement.

Friday, March 29

Keynotes

Oren Lyons – To Survive, We Must Transform Our Values | 9:50 am

About this Keynote

We can all see the Earth is heating up, that polar ice and glaciers are melting, and that ever more fires, floods and droughts are screaming at us that our climate is unraveling. Our societies are also showing signs of unraveling. But the legendary, world-renowned Native American Rights leader, Oren R. Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, who, among countless achievements, helped establish the UN’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations and authored or co-authored such profoundly influential texts as: Wilderness in Native American Culture and Exiled in the Land of the Free: Democracy, Indian Nations and the U.S. Constitution, is here to tell us that we can’t give up. We have profound responsibilities to coming generations, and time is of the essence, but if we want to reverse course to prevent climate catastrophe and achieve real peace, we will have to dig deep to transform contemporary society’s core values that underlie and drive the existential crises we are facing.

Introduction by Rex Lyons, Haudenosaunee Nationals

Panels | 3:00 pm

Listening to Elders

Featuring:

  • Jeanette Armstrong
  • Casey Camp-Horinek
  • Marlowe Sam
  • Alexis Bunten (Moderator)
About this Panel

Unlike “American” culture which fetishizes youth, most traditional cultures deeply honor the wisdom that comes with age and experience. Elders play treasured roles in their communities passing on knowledge, values and practices that keep tribal members healthy in mind, body and spirit. This historic panel features a discussion among four elders who have not only led their own tribes, but are highly influential in broader public conversations about healing, democracy, human land and water rights, and much more. They are cross-cultural bridgers, whose stories have shaped the course of history and will continue for generations to come. Join us to hear from some of the most inspirational elders we know.

Healing the Land, Healing the People: Responding to Current Crises with Reconnection and Regeneration

Hosted by the Mother Tree Network and the Awi’nakola Foundation

Featuring:

  • Mak’wala Rande Cook
  • Coreen Child
  • Suzanne Simard
  • Jana Kotaska
  • Teo Grossman (Moderator)
About this Panel

In British Columbia and many other places, colonization removed Indigenous people from their wooded lands and made way for industrial forestry, causing incredible harm to both the people and the land. Using a variety of approaches, many First Nations are regaining governance of their ancestral forests and seeking to steward them in ways that draw on both historical Indigenous management practices and cutting-edge contemporary science to support ecosystem health, cultural values, and local livelihoods. This panel brings together the Mother Tree Network and the Awi’nakola Foundation to share how they support First Nations in British Columbia in this transformational work.

Panels | 4:45 pm

From the Bottom Up: How Indigenous Action is Affecting Climate Change

Featuring:

  • Jayce Chiblow
  • Rande Cook
  • Eriel Deranger (Moderator)
About this Panel

The UN Conference of the Parties (COP) 28th gathering on Climate Change wrapped up in December of 2023. Indigenous Peoples presence has increased every year, and we have become the second largest civil society delegation at COP, second only to oil & gas lobbyists. Indigenous Peoples have played a critical role in these spaces for decades, utilizing the deep-rooted knowledge our communities hold concerning the effects of climate change and the connections to our intimate relationships with land and water. Our beliefs tell us how to keep systems in balance, contrary to the ideologies of capitalism that have spread across the globe. We know climate change is driving extreme weather and the 6th mass extinction on Earth, yet governing bodies are still not doing enough to mitigate greenhouse gasses. Promises are starting to be made with attention to the recommendations of Indigenous Peoples, our knowledge systems, and our rights, but they continue to be negated by policies that subsidize the carbon-based economy. Indigenous Peoples require more than just political action but recognition of our sovereign inherent and internationally affirmed rights to turn this crisis around. Join us to learn how Indigenous climate activists impact national and international negotiations and policies to address climate change and what you can do to support the movement.

Reforesting Hearts and Minds to Protect the Amazon and Mother Earth

Hosted by Amazon Watch

Featuring:

  • Puyr Tembé
  • Celia Xakriabá
  • Leila Salazar-López
About this Panel

Join Puyr Tembé, First Secretary of Indigenous Peoples of the State of Para in the Brazilian Amazon; Celia Xakriabá, a Federal Deputy in the Brazilian Congress and a co-founder of ANMIGA (the National Association of Ancestral Indigenous Women Warriors); and Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director of Amazon Watch, in an intimate and inspiring conversation about the power of Indigenous women’s leadership to protect the Amazon and all of the biomes of Brazil. What began as seeds of resistance to deforestation and land-grabbing for industrial extraction has grown to a national and international movement to reforest minds and hearts to defend Indigenous land rights, respect women’s rights and protect Mother Earth. Learn how you can join the movement. “The fight for Mother Earth is the Mother of all fights!”

Saturday, March 30

Keynotes

Casey Camp-Horinek – Walking the Red Road—It’s Elemental | 9:25 am

Panels | 3:00 pm

Native Youth Organizing for the Rights of Nature

Featuring:

  • Talia Landry
  • Ciara Oakley Robbins
  • Jyrzie Alves
  • Amaya Balbuena
  • Jacelle Steiding
  • Britt Gondolfi (Moderator)
About this Panel

In 2023, Mashpee Wampanoag youth came together to protect herring, a keystone species in their ancestral homelands, whom their tribe has stewarded for the last 12,000 years. Extractive fishing and pollution has reduced the herring population to 5% since this data has been tracked. The youth took note, organized a coalition, and drafted a resolution to protect herring, based on Rights of Nature legal principles. They brought it to their Tribal Council, who unanimously approved it. In this panel, we’ll hear this inspiring story from the youth directly, and their practical tips for how other youth can protect the places they live through direct action.

Panels | 4:45 pm

Sustainable Practices with Native Professionals

Featuring:

  • brooke smiley
  • Ras K’Dee
  • Nazshonnii Brown-Almaweri (Moderator)
About this Panel

Join our panel of engineers, artists, and land stewards who will discuss their professional journeys and share their personalized tips and strategies to help guide you in your academic, professional, and personal endeavors. This panel invites the community to listen and learn from Native professionals at different stages in their career path, within STEAM fields. These professionals will reflect on questions like What is burnout? How can I land an internship? What sustains you? What does sustainability look like for Native-led spaces? This conversation will be geared towards youth attendees, who are invited to participate in resource sharing and ask questions.

Drawing from Indigenous Ecological Knowledge to Restore the Earth

Featuring:

  • Nina Simons
  • Jeannette Armstrong
  • Sammy Gensaw III
  • Nikola Alexandre
About this Panel

The ravages inflicted on ecosystems and human communities, especially those of frontline First Peoples, by the brutally exploitative extractive system that dominates the global economy, threaten to unravel the entire web of life. The challenge of our time is to quickly reverse that ecocidal trajectory, and one of the best places to look for effective alternative models is in the deep wisdom of traditional Indigenous cultures who learned over millennia to work with the natural world with an attitude of reverent and respectful reciprocity to meet human needs while ensuring the environment’s ongoing health. In this session three inspiring leaders working to implement various forms of Indigenous ecological science in partnerships with university, state and local partners share their perspectives and experiences. With Nina Simons, author of Nature, Culture & the Sacred and Bioneers’ co-founder; deeply respected longtime activist and educator Jeannette Armstrong, Ph.D., Syilx Okanagan Nation, cofounder Enowkin Centre; dynamic young leader in salmon restoration/dam removal struggles on the Klamath River, Sammy Gensaw III, Yurok, co-founder, Ancestral Guard; and Niko Alexandre, co-founder of the Shelterwood Collective, which brings together Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ people in a land-based, community-building project that is implementing TEK methods in their fields and forests.

Film Screening | 7:00 pm

Scha’nexw Elhtal’nexw Salmon People: Preserving a Way of Life

Followed by Q+A with Directors Darell Hillaire and Beth Pielert

About this Screening

Written, Produced & Directed by Darrell Hillaire & Beth Pielert; executive-produced by the Lummi-led non-profit, Children of the Setting Sun Productions, and Vision Maker Media. (62-minutes)

Inspired by the late Chexanexwh Larry Kinley, a Lummi fisherman and tribal leader who worked to protect wild salmon and promote tribal sovereignty, Scha’nexw Elhtal’nexw Salmon People: Preserving a Way of Life follows two Lummi families as they fish sockeye while navigating climate change, wildfire smoke, and a depleting fishery. In these critical times, Larry asks: “Who Are We Without Salmon?” Scha’nexw Elhtal’nexw Salmon People shows the resilience and adaptive nature of the salmon and the people. It is a spiritual reflection on a lifeway centered on respect and gratitude since time immemorial.

There will be a 30-minute Q+A period after the screening with the film’s directors, Darell Hillaire and Beth Pielert.