Indigenous Women Lead Fight Against Climate Change In Latin America

Above Photo: Corbis

Why should U.S. Latinas care about this issue?

It is having an effect on our lives right now. Our families in Central and South America and the Caribbean are becoming climate refugees. If we do nothing, we’re giving up animals, forests, mountains and beaches that are rich with life and history. Ask yourself, what are you willing to lose to climate change?

Your project looks specifically at indigenous women at the forefront of this movement across the Americas. We often see these various communities separated by borders, politics, income, language, etc., but what are some of the similarities you find in the women doing this work throughout these regions?

Many indigenous people have pointed out that climate injustice on the part of more developed nations and multinational corporations is just another form of colonization, which indigenous people have resisted and survived for centuries now. In my work on this series, I was endlessly moved at the work these women are putting into protecting the planet for all of us, even while trying to live under the legacy of colonization. Each of the women I profiled is fighting racism, sexism and many other forms of oppression on top of their work as fierce climate warriors.

What do you hope to accomplish with this series?

The series is titled Bearing Witness, and I see it as an effort to honor and amplify the work that indigenous women are doing to fight climate change. The reality is that indigenous communities have been fighting climate change and resource extraction since before it was cool, but they don’t always have the reach or the social capital and power to make the impact we need. I hope that my series inspires allies to join the movement for climate justice, a movement led by indigenous women and frontline communities.

How long is this series and which communities can readers expect to be highlighted in this project?

PLUS: For Latinos, It’s Our Nature To Care About El Planeta!

The series has six posts total, and moves from the Kichwa people fighting to protect the Sarayaku region of the Ecuadorian rainforest, indigenous women in North Dakota fighting violence against women associated with the oil industry, women in Brazil standing up to so-called “green” hydroelectric dams and Afro-indigenous Garifuna women on the coast of Honduras who are threatened by state and drug violence, tourism, extractive industries and climate disasters.

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