Native Vote

Native Organizers Alliance 2023 in Review

It’s a new year! And while we are preparing for the upcoming events of 2024, we also know it is important to reflect on the various accomplishments of the previous 365 days.

While so much of our organizing includes on-the-ground trainings, email campaigns, and education, Native Organizers Alliance was included in 26 panels, webinars, podcasts, and interviews.

Here’s a look at just some of the projects we were involved in throughout 2023: 

 Training Program

Our Native Community Organizer Training is for Native leaders, nonprofits, and organizations both in rural and urban communities. During these in-person sessions, we share new skills and strategies that are vital for effective organizing.

In 2023, we held 1 National and 7 State-Based or Regional Trainings for a total of 245 total training participants.

Save Oak Flat

In Spring 2023, we were notified of a Trump-era deal, which would hand over Oak Flat in Arizona to a notoriously devastating mining corporation. We organized an email campaign that supported the San Carlos Apache and Apache Stronghold, who are on the ground and working towards permanent protections for Oak Flat. Thankfully, the Biden administration listened, pushing that approval.

The constant attack on Oak Flat is why we also have shown support for Rep. Raúl Grijalva’s Save Oak Flat from Foreign Mining Act. Let’s keep up the fight to protect Oak Flat for future generations!

Re-Indigenizing National Parks

At Native Organizers Alliance, we’re working with Tribes, Native communities, and grassroots organizers across the country to grow the movement to re-Indigenize and protect national parks. In 2023, we used social media and our email list to push for co-management legislation as well as programs that would teach the Indigenous histories of the land where these parks exist.

We also organized a letter program to President Biden to establish a new national monument to protect the Grand Canyon. Tribal leaders and organizers were able to celebrate the years of work put towards this designation when the White House announced Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni:

“Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument will conserve nearly 1 million acres of public lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. The new monument protects thousands of cultural and sacred sites that are precious to Tribal Nations in the Southwest – including the Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Pueblo of Zuni, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes.”

The White House on August 8, 2023

Honoring Chaco Initiative

Many of our partners are fighting to protect Greater Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, a sacred place with deep cultural significance for Indigenous people. While steps have been taken to protect certain areas of Greater Chaco from industrial exploitation, more needs to be done to truly safeguard the safety and well-being of this cultural landscape and surrounding communities. We will continue to uplift this need and support The Honoring Chaco Initiative.

This legislation is a first-of-its-kind effort to change the paradigm of public lands management in this sacred landscape and finally prioritize the health, economic, and environmental justice, equity, and sustainability of the region.

All Our Relations Snake River Journey

Native Organizers Alliance was honored to be a part of the Indigenous-led 2023 All Our Relations Snake River Journey. Traveling through Washington, Oregon, and Idaho in September and October the campaign set out to build community and demonstrate the momentum of public support for restoring salmon to abundance and upholding treaty promises to Northwest Tribes.

Read more about our time on the journey here.

Free Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier is the longest-incarcerated political prisoner in our country. The fight for Leonard Peltier’s freedom continues to this day. In the fall, we brought together a coalition of organizations to bring renewed pressure on the Biden Administration to act.

We rallied for support via a petition with 70,000+ names that was then delivered to the White House by Congressman Raúl Grijalva.

Indigenous Futures Survey

The Indigenous Futures Survey is an annual survey that aims to capture Indigenous people’s voices, perspectives, and concerns for use in developing policy, understanding socio-economic trends, and highlighting important issues impacting Indian Country.

This information will help inform Tribal leaders and members of Congress about issues facing Indigenous People and inform so much for the upcoming Native Vote 2024.

The success of this year’s IFS is only possible because of the 10 fellows who worked in their communities with local organizations. Each fellow is part of our ‘moccasins on the ground’ approach and their work is important in the continued community and power building that makes grassroots organizing possible.

This year’s survey is co-led by IllumiNative and Native Organizers Alliance, with Kauffman and Associates, Inc. supporting the survey development and analysis.

DAPL and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement

After many years of delays and a fatally flawed Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) written by a member of the American Petroleum Institute — a clear conflict of interest — the Army Corps of Engineers finally took public comments on this dangerous violation of the sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Through our channels, we were able to submit over 101,000 comments on this DEIS. The fight against DAPL might have begun in 2016 but we will continue to stand in support of Tribal sovereignty until this pipeline is no longer a threat to the area.

 

Building Indigenous Grassroots Power at the Santa Fe Indian Market

At the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA)’s Centennial Santa Fe Indian Market, our partners at IllumiNative and NDN Collective held a weekend-long event, Indigenous Futures, that featured powerful programming that wove together the knowledge and experiences of Natives in the arts with organizers from the movement for Native political power.

Native Organizers Alliance’s Executive Director, Judith Le Blanc, was invited to be on the Visions for the Future: Voting, Organizing & Building Indigenous Power panel alongside Nick Tilsen, CEO of NDN Collective, Holly Cook Macarro of Spirit Rock Consulting LLC, and Crystal Echo Hawk, the Founder and Executive Director of IllumiNative.

As a panel, we discussed how this is the time to build Native grassroots political power for transformational social change and sovereignty through cultural organizing and narrative change. Everything we do must be a part of shifting power back to our communities – from film and art to voting and organizing for sovereignty.

Overturning Roe v. Wade further harms Native women

National Native org says decision violates a “sacred right”
Washington, DC —Native Organizers Alliance responds to the decision by the Supreme Court to
overturn Roe v. Wade. The following statement from Judith LeBlanc, executive director of
Native Organizers Alliance, can be quoted in-full or in-part.


“Overturning Roe v. Wade is another blow to the sovereignty of Native women over their own
bodies. We are just a few decades away from the forced sterilization of Native women by the U.S.
government, and today’s decision is another violation of our most sacred right to bodily
autonomy.
Native women are 2 to 3 times more likely to die in pregnancy than white women, according to
the Centers for Disease Control. Our women are already dying in childbirth. And the Court’s
decision today puts even more at risk by forcing at-risk pregnant women to carry a pregnancy to
term.
The decision ignores the humanity and rights of victims of violence. One in 3 Native women will
experience violence, including sexual violence, in their lifetime. They are also more likely to be
victims of sex trafficking. The Supreme Court has sentenced these women to a full-term
pregnancy that has resulted from sexual violence. It is the ultimate violation of their rights.
Native Organizers Alliance has seen the power of our people when we unite to defend our rights.
The fight isn’t over, and we will do all we can to support tribes and Native organizations in their
work to protect and defend reproductive rights.”

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Contact:
Brad Angerman, Pyramid Communications
bangerman@pyramidcommunications.com
702-218-4490

Native Community Organizer Training Participant Q&A

For the Native Organizers Alliance National Native Community Organizer Training in May, 19 participants were brought together in Federal Way, WA for a week of sharpening grassroots organizing skills using traditional Indigenous values. The curriculum is designed to create a foundation for Native power building for social change and strengthening sovereignty.

We’ve asked April Fournier (Navajo), Program Manager at Advance Native Political Leadership, to share her reflections and learnings from the week with us.


NOA: What was your level of understanding of organizing prior to the training? How familiar were you with grassroots organizing prior?

AF: Going into the training I would say that I was fairly informed, but didn’t have a lot of depth in my knowledge of organizing theory and strategy. I had been involved with different movements, but not enough to have deep knowledge. I would say a little more than a surface understanding.

NOA: What were your key takeaways from the training that you feel can be applied to your work?

AF: SO MUCH! Being able to put into words the way in which we operate from an Indigenous Model of Teaching and Organizing. We operate knowing all things work in relation. We have to recognize where power and influence exist in order to understand where power can be shifted. We also have to be strategic and engaging with our communities and come at this work in a good way. When we come into this work with our ancestors on our shoulders, our community in our heart, and the generations who come after us in our minds we change the game.

NOA: What tools or resources do you feel were most beneficial to you and your work?

AF: The Power Mapping activity was so powerful, being able to understand who we should spend our time on when we’re engaging with decision-makers was a really important exercise. It shapes the whole campaign and how we think about energy investment. If someone is a low-impact non-decision maker, why spend time and energy engaging them. We have finite resources, invest them accordingly. Bringing it all together in a group to develop a strategy was also really great, we have to do that regularly so flexing those muscles and putting the learning into action really helped cement what we spent the week learning.

NOA: What was your overall experience of the training? Any particular aspect you enjoyed the most?

AF: I’ve not ever had the chance to sit in community with so many Native leaders. Spending a week in this space, connecting, learning from and teaching, laughing and feeling. It was incredible. It also allowed us to really focus on the work and the content. So often we don’t have the time or space to remove distractions and really sit with information or each other. Taking the time and honoring this space felt really special.


NOA will be holding an additional National Training from November 13-19 along with several state-based trainings later this year. Watch our website for application announcements.

NOA responds to Biden announcement on treaty protections

The Biden administration is set to announce a memorandum of understanding from 18 federal agencies to protect tribal treaty rights. The MOU’s from the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Commerce, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, State, and the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Personnel Management, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Council on Environmental Quality are ordered to issue reports on their efforts to strengthen treaty protections within the next 180 days.

President Biden’s announcement comes after a journey thousands of miles across Indian Country, and countless prayers offered from Native peoples across the nation, that the federal government do more to protect our most sacred places. Our people have spoken across Indian Country, saying enough is enough. Our sacred sites must be protected and our treaty rights upheld.

More than 85,000 people signed a petition calling on President Biden to direct federal agencies to uphold the treaties and gain the consent of tribes in infrastructure and development projects.

We urge each agency to craft an MOU that not only respects treaty rights but acknowledges the great harm done when tribes and Native peoples are not given the opportunity to consent to projects affecting their lands, waters, and resources. It is not enough to check a box to “consult” with tribes with projects like dams, mines, and oil pipelines. The treaties demand that tribes give their consent to these projects. This failure of agencies to gain the free, prior, and informed consent of tribes is a violation of treaty rights and a flawed process that leads to the desecration of our sacred sites.

For generations, the federal government has failed to follow through on its commitment to tribes. This failure has led to the destruction and desecration of our sacred lands, waters, and resources. Promises were made to our ancestors but never kept. We are hopeful that today’s announcement directing federal agencies to strengthen treaty protections is a critical step towards upholding our tribal treaty rights.

Native Organizing Alliance Celebrates Restoration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments

WASHINGTON, DC — Friday Oct 8th, 2020 President Biden issued a proclamation confirming the original boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah.

In reaction to the announcement, Judith LeBlanc, citizen of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma and director of the Native Organizing Alliance, issued the following statement: 

“President Biden promised to restore protections to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments on Day One. Now, more than 200 days into his presidency, we’re glad that he’s taken action to keep that promise, returning protections to the first successful tribally-led National Monument designation.

“Since President Trump slashed protections in 2017, these treasured and sacred places have been at risk. We celebrate this long overdue restoration and most of all we celebrate that these exceptional, sacred places and their cultural significance will no longer be threatened by vandalism and energy development.

“In September, the Native Organizers Alliance, in conjunction with Illuminative and Utah Dine Bikeyah launched an advertising campaign demanding immediate action to “Protect Bears Ears Now!

“But this is only the beginning, we look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to protect sacred places under threat from resource extraction and industrial development and ensure tribal sovereignty is respected and achieved.”