On Monday, Lifted Voices will celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day with students at the Village Leadership Academy in Chicago. We will discuss Native history and culture, but we will also lift up the names and work of young Native people whose work is charting the course of current resistance movements, and whose stories should be heard far and wide. Indigenous artist Jackie Fawn created the above poster as well as individual images to highlight four young activists, each of whom contributed a few words for us to share with the group of fourth to eighth graders we will be visiting with on Monday.
These are their stories.
My name is Remy and I am Dine’ artist and activist. Having grown up on the Navajo Reservation, literally next door to Black Mesa, the most dangerous coal strip mining operation in the world, I have intimate knowledge of the effects of “progress” at the expense of marginalized people. There are seven coal fired plants that surround our reservation. That isn’t by accident. It’s by design. Through activism and different art mediums, I strive to bring first hand accounts of climate change and inequality from the reservation to the rest of the world.
As a service to frontline communities, I have expanded my creative based knowledge to many different artistic techniques and disciplines including but not limited to: web design, graphic design, screen printing, painting, paper mache, stenciling, puppets, murals, banners, wheat pasting, graffiti, small and large art builds, and other forms of street and performance based art.
My name is Naelyn. I am Apache and I am a youth just like you. Oak Flat is a place sacred to my people and we are trying to protect the land, and our right to be who we are as Apache people, from a foreign mining company. Resolution Copper’s invasion of Oak Flat would destroy the land and its surrounding areas. I and thousands of people are standing up to defend the land and our rights as human beings, as well as the rights of those yet to be born. As the youth of today we need to come together and unify as a people, and stand up for who we are. Our voices are strong, and we as youth create the path for our future children. My ancestors died for my people and I, so that we could continue to exist, and I will continue to fight just as they did. Now, it is our turn to take a stand for what the creator has blessed us with. We together can create a better future than what was left behind for us.
My name is Vandell and I am an organizer of multi-ethnic Afrikan and Indigenous (Coharie) descent working on a land reclamation project called Afrikatown. I am trying to build with existing communities to keep them rooted and resilient as we face oppressions due to anti-black and anti-native racism, as well as due to class, gender, and citizenship status.
There’s a lot of strength that happens when people from different backgrounds come together. In Oakland California we are seeing Black and Indigenous and Brown peoples unite in the creation of a town, a district called Afrikatown. In our town, we prioritize Afrikans because we understand that Afrikans were removed from their native lands, brought to “America” as enslaved peoples and made to feel like no place can truly be their home. Afrikans need space: we need a place where we can collectively call home. As we fight gentrification (which we consider as a part of ongoing colonization), Afrikatown puts equal importance on Indigenous peoples and our lifeways. In particular, we believe Afrikan liberation is tied to Indigenous liberation and vice versa. Having space on this land means giving it back to the original people here and revitalizing the earth knowledges that keep people and the land healthy. Afrikatown has the goal of being a space of healing and creativity. We want to be the Harlem Renaissance of our time, as well as bring back the things our ancestors did to feed and heal themselves.
I am a hip hop artist from Santo Domingo Pueblo which is in present day New Mexico and go by the name of MC Rhetorik. Music has always been a form of communication and Hip Hop is my tool. If it wasn’t for Hip Hop I’d be in jail or worse. I communicate with the world and bring light to current issues as well as reflect on times of struggle and perseverance. Hip Hop is resistance, a connection to the past present and future. I use this tool to be apart of a solution. In my community we fight drug an alcohol abuse, diabetes land disputes, domestic violence and water rights issues.