Climate Voices

November 8, 2021
By: Nicole Donaghy, COP26 Delegate

Climate Justice on Turtle Island

Climate Justice on Turtle Island - Photo

Ho mitakuyepi, hello my relatives! Today we woke up and started the day with our ‘cowboy coffee’ and manoomin pudding (rice pudding). (Pilamayaye and boozhoo Kyle.) We also took the morning to talk over our panel and prepare for the day as a team that has officially met for the first time in person. Though this is our first time meeting as a group, this felt like a meeting with old friends.

Today we hosted our panel titled, Climate Justice on Turtle Island: Truth and Reconciliation for the Land and Resilience of Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge presented by Ashley, Kyle, and myself. We have such different experiences as we all come from different educational backgrounds, yet our work is intertwined and overlaps.

We purposely began our presentation with a land acknowledgement, which are most commonly practiced at the beginning of meetings and the convening of groups in the US. I figure that many would consider a Scottish land acknowledgment could be counterproductive to some, since we are in the United Kingdom. The practice of acknowledging the land should always be grounded in honoring the sustainability of life for the people that inhabit the territory, not to remember and reaffirm privilege over the original inhabitants of the land. I also want to ensure that the land energy and energies of the ancestors of this land are acknowledged.

The highlight of the presentation was walking through the history of our people on Turtle Island. The eras of hardship and resiliency continuously nourish my work as a community organizer. We as Native people always have room for implementation of culture and celebration that we are still here. And we honor our ancestors through the practice of our tradition and including it in all of our work.

I would love to be able to justly elaborate on all of the content that we discussed on our panel. But the history, stories of tradition, and aspiration of a viable future through Indigenous sustainability is too much to encapsulate in my scribbles here. So take time to watch the video on the Climate Gen Facebook page.

I am proud to bring our shared experience as Indigenous people to this conference. I truly believe that the model of sustainability, the understanding of being in balance with nature, and our respect for all life can save us from ourselves. It’s a shame that our panel was held a half mile from the actual conference and that we are surrounded by at least 500 extractive industry representatives. Ya’ll could learn a thing or two.

Lastly, happy birthday, Ashley!

Mitakuye oyasin, we are all related.


Nicole Montclair Donaghy is Executive Director of North Dakota Native Vote. She is a member of Climate Generation’s Window into COP26 Delegation. In October 2018, Nicole joined North Dakota Native Vote to boost on voter education and voter engagement in response to the US Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the voter identification law that disproportionately affects tribal people in North Dakota. Learn more about Nicole.