Huda Organics Climate Activist Spotlight: Indigenous Environmental Network
As many of you know, Huda Organics has joined the Show the Love campaign. This campaign is organised by The Climate Coalition. Show the Love runs through the month of February and is focused on showing decision-makers that real and urgent climate change policies need to be introduced NOW!
The Show the Love campaign encourages all participants to use the power of green hearts to express their own personal pledges, requests, and demands for climate action. One of the main tenets of Huda Organics is sustainability. For this reason, we are encouraging our customers to share their requests, concerns, and demands for climate action using the hashtag #qasilhearts. We will collect all of your comments and submit them on your behalf to local MPs. Your voice matters! Let it be heard!
In the spirit of this campaign, we have been showcasing notable climate activists and organisations on our social media.
A brilliant organisation we want to highlight is The Indigenous Environmental Network.
The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) is a grassroots alliance of Indigenous Peoples that seeks to promote environmental and economic justice issues. Since its inception in 1990, the IEN has focused its efforts on the protection of sacred sites, natural resources, land, water, and air through public awareness campaigns, protests, conferences, inter-tribal alliance building, policy advocacy, and literature. The IEN operates with one principal mission in mind: ‘to protect the sacredness of Earth Mother from contamination and exploitation by respecting and adhering to Indigenous knowledge and natural law.’
The IEN empowers intergenerational and inter-tribal communities to address issues of environmental racism such as the lack of access to clean water, exposure to toxic and hazardous waste, the exploitation of natural resources, and the scarcity of healthy and affordable food options. Such issues of environmental racism are compounded by the lack of representation, and at times, the deliberate exclusion of Indigenous people from policy-making.
The historic oppression of Indigenous communities and the absence of any substantial mainstream representation have resulted in environmental assaults on Indigenous territories. These assaults include the creation of toxic waste facilities and landfills near Indigenous lands, fracking, deforestation, and the exploitation of endangered species. In particular, the IEN is dedicated to protecting sacred lands that have been ransacked and pillaged for centuries. Sacred sites are at risk of further destruction due to the construction of environmentally damaging infrastructure such as coal mines and pipelines.
At the core of the spiritual practices of many Indigenous communities is a reverence to Mother Earth. Although all of nature is revered, certain bodies of water, mountains, hills, lands, and animals hold special significance to specific tribes of Indigenous people, and are considered sacred. Encroachments on sacred and Indigenous lands by corporations and government entities signify a fundamental lack of respect for the autonomy, dignity, and religions of Indigenous communities.
As such, the IEN considers the pursuit of environmental justice a form of spiritual activism. This spiritual activism is two-pronged in its approach. Firstly, the protection of sacred lands is viewed as integral to the preservation of Indigenous culture, spirituality, and sovereignty of ‘[its] unborn generations.’ Secondly, environmental justice is crucial to healing the ‘wounds inflicted upon the earth by the collective greed of humanity.’ In other words, Mother Earth must be defended against the corporate interests of fossil fuel companies, oil magnates, and multinational corporations, which consistently put profits before people.
The IEN began its activism with conferences called "Protecting Mother Earth Gatherings,’ in which its members discussed environmental issues such as nuclear waste contamination, and proposed strategies for protecting Indigenous lands. As time went on, these gatherings grew as Indigenous youth, tribal community members, and allies mobilised to spread awareness in different regional locations across the whole of North America. This vast network of activists now pursues advocacy work beyond the bounds of small regional conferences. IEN members have launched various national campaigns, established resource centres, produced educational materials, and spoken at several international summits, such as the United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen (2009) and Paris (2016).
In recent years, however, the IEN’s most notable activity has been organising the protests and awareness campaigns fighting the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines. The pipelines have since become synonymous with corporate greed and the climate crisis within the cultural lexicon. These pipelines were designed to transport fossil fuel and tar sands oil to the commercial market as quickly as possible. Pipelines, in general, pose significant threats to water sources, public health, and local ecosystems. Such pipelines pose significant threats to Indigenous lands and resources, and the IEN mobilised immediately.
The IEN organised protests and sit-ins, together with other advocacy groups, which attracted international media attention. These protests acquired many notable supporters, including Jane Fonda and Senator Bernie Sanders, and mass support from many people in the international community. These protests resulted in people divesting from banks and stocks of corporations that supported the pipelines, and public pressure on the government to deny construction permits. Although these efforts were able to stall construction for many years, the Dakota Access Pipeline is now operational.
Undeterred, however, by such a crushing defeat, the IEN continued its fight against the Keystone Pipeline. After ten years of protests, legal battles, and advocacy work, the Keystone Pipeline extension was abandoned - for good. The defeat of the Keystone Pipeline is widely considered ‘one of this generation’s most monumental victories.’
Indigenous lands are still under threat. This threat is not only loaded with perilous environmental consequences, but is also a risk to the cultural fabric of Indigenous communities.
To find out more, please visit the IEN’s website: https://www.ienearth.org/