Why is it important for Native youth to show unity? Why climate change now?

By: Maka Monture-Päki, Tlingit & Mohawk, 2018 Generation Indigenous Movement Builders Fellow

The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action. The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary.

Why is it on Earth Day we, as the greater public, only show unity in discussing climate change?

It shouldn’t be now. It should’ve been decades ago.

Alaska is on the front lines of climate change, which is just as much of a social and human rights issue as it is environmental.

Climate change is already causing accelerated erosion and permafrost erosion- both of which are contributing to infrastructure deterioration. 

The storm surges and ice melt threaten traditional food security. The vast changes in the land also contribute to mental health disparities.

Younger generations will play an important role in addressing these challenges.  However, we’re not always present in the spaces that make decisions about our homes.

Sometimes it means we, as Indigenous people need to be loud and disruptive- just to be heard.

When politicians make decisions about our homes without us involved, it’s almost like men making decisions about the rights of women’s bodies without us involved.

We should be the ones helping to make the decisions in the first place – being a part of the process.

We are inheriting the devastating impact of climate change. That is what is missing – we (Indigenous and youth) are missing.

We are a human every day, which means that we are made up of the Earth every day. 

This means that our responsibility to the Earth must be every single day. Because every day is Earth Day for Indigenous Peoples.