Indigeneous Knowledge | Becoming Native to Place

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PRE-CONFERENCE INTENSIVE: Thursday, October 16th

Three Sisters Farming: Indigenous Women, Plants, and Foodways
Presented by The Cultural Conservancy and Bioneers Indigenous Knowledge Program

In this full-day, hands-on workshop/immersion in Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), we explore plants as teachers and the science and philosophy of diverse indigenous foodways and ethnobotanical traditions, including: “Three Sisters” Agriculture, Pueblo farming, organic gardening and California Indian land management practices. We will harvest, collect seeds, and eat together from our Three Sisters Garden as an embodiment of botanical and social polyculture.

This historic workshop features a world-class line-up:

Robin Kimmerer (Potawatomie): scientist, award-winning writer (Braiding Sweetgrass; Gathering Moss), Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology at NY’s SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and founding Director of its Center for Native Peoples and the Environment for reconciling indigenous and Western science.

Roxanne Swentzell (Santa Clara Pueblo): co-founder/President of the Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute at New Mexico’s Santa Clara Pueblo and globally renowned Santa Clara Pueblo ceramic sculptor.

Sage LaPena (Wintu): Water Resources Coordinator at California’s Hopland Pomo Tribal EPA, working on watershed management, riparian restoration, botany, habitat restoration, Traditional (Tribal) Ecological Knowledge, and public education.

Wendy Johnson: author of Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate, renowned organic gardening elder-mentor, founder of the famed Organic Farm and Garden program at Green Gulch Zen Center in Marin County.

Lois Ellen Frank (Kiowa)-Menu TBD

Maria, Mayan Elder-tamales

Hosted by Melissa Nelson, President of the Cultural Conservancy, Wendy Johnson, and Cara Romero, Director of the Bioneers’ Indigenous Knowledge Program.

Location: Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden, College of Marin, Novato, CA 

Price:  $195, includes transportation from Embassy Suites (101 McInnis Parkway San Rafael, CA) and lunch

Register: Click Here



Brave-Hearted Women: Protectors of Native Women’s Health
Indigenous women examine health threats to women, families and communities, and provide breakthrough case studies and models for protecting and supporting Native women’s health in urban and rural contexts. Hosted by Melissa Nelson (Turtle Mountain Anishinaabe), President, The Cultural Conservancy. With: Erin Konsmo, (Metis/Cree), Media Arts Justice and Projects Coordinator, Native Youth Sexual Health Network; Esther Lucero, MPP (Navajo), California Consortium of Urban Indian Health Centers; April McGill (Pomo/Yuki), Native American Health Center, San Francisco; and Katsi Cook (Akwesasne Mohawk), traditional midwife and health advocate.

Indigenous Forum. ALOHA (Applied Hawaiian Philosophy)
Native Hawaiian visionary Pua Nani Mahoe and TEK educator Kaimana Barcarse share Hawaii’s unique collective cultural wisdom and traditional philosophies of land, water, spirit and “Aloha” teachings. Learn about malama aina—how to take care of the land, water, community, spirit and self, as they take care of you; and how to weave the Aloha Spirit into your life. The dialogue will address the need for deep collaboration for protecting our natural resources that sustain life on Papahanamoku (Mother Earth).

Indigenous Forum. Native Cultural Appropriation
Inaccurate and offensive depictions of Native American culture abound. This forum examines representations of Native peoples, stereotypes, and cultural appropriation. Hosted by Cara Romero (Chemehuevi), Bioneers Indigenous Knowledge Program Director. With: Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara-Lakota); Ginger Dunnill (Hawaiian) and Dylan McLaughlin (Navajo), who create art and film revealing misconceptions and literally destroying painful pop culture stereotypes; Q&A hosted by Andrew Jolivette (Apelousa-Atakapa-Ishak), Chair of American Indian Studies, San Francisco State. 

Dollars and Sense in Indian Country and Beyond: Expanding Indigenous Philanthropy
This session challenges the paucity of funding for indigenous-led initiatives of preservation, conservation and revitalization in Indian Country and globally (.5% of foundation funding), illustrating how Native-led organizations are innovating with inter-tribal re-granting. Hosted by Melissa Nelson (Anishinaabe), founder, Mino-Niibi Fund for Indigenous Cultures of The Cultural Conservancy. With: Pearl Gottschalk, Charitable Givings Ambassador, LUSH Charity Pot; China Ching (Hawaiian), Christensen Fund; Oren Lyons (Onandaga), indigenous rights leader; Evelyn Arce (Chibcha), International Funders for Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous Women on the North-South Frontlines of Earth Protection I. The South
(Double session) Hosted by Tom Goldtooth (Dine’/Dakota) of the Indigenous Environmental Network. With indigenous women from the North: Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca), elder indigenous rights activist and actress, on historical impacts of oil development in Oklahoma and current threats from pipelines from the Canadian Tar Sands; Faith Gemmill (Gwich'in), of REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction On Indigenous Lands), on the history of oil and gas development in Alaska and expansion plans for offshore drilling; and witnesses Crystal Lameman (Beaver Lake Cree Nation) and Eriel Deranger  (Athabaskan Chipewyan First Nation) with Idle No More.

Indigenous Women on the North-South Frontlines of Earth Protection II
Hosted by Tom Goldtooth (Dine’/Dakota) of the Indigenous Environmental Network. With indigenous women from the North: Crystal Lameman (Beaver Lake Cree Nation) of Idle No More, on current threats from Pipelines from the Canadian Tar Sands; Faith Gemmill (Gwich'in), of REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction On Indigenous Lands), on the history of oil and gas development in Alaska and expansion plans for offshore drilling; and witnesses Clayton Thomas-Müller (Mathais Colomb Cree Nation) and Eriel Deranger (Athabaskan Chipewyan First Nation) with Idle No More.

Native Youth Talking Circle. Hosted by Cara Romero (Chemehuevi); Tom Goldtooth (Dine’/Dakota), Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network; Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (Aztec).



The Rise of the Canadian Native Rights-Based Movement to Protect Our Commons
Introduction by Nina Simons

Clayton Thomas-Muller, a leading organizer for Idle No More and Defenders of the Land, and a Co-Director of Polaris Institute’s Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, portrays Canada's rising Native-led rights-based movement, supported by labor, civil society, students and grassroots groups. This powerful movement is challenging the neo-liberal free market agenda that has turned Canada into a petro-state. It may be our last best effort to save our lands and the health of our people from the extractive industries and the banks that finance them.

Mishkos Kenomagwen:
The Teachings of Grass
Introduction by Melissa Nelson, The Cultural Conservancy

Indigenous peoples worldwide honor plants, not only as our sustainers, but as our oldest teachers who share teachings of generosity, creativity, sustainability and joy. By their living examples, plants spur our imaginations of how we might live. By braiding indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) with modern tools of botanical science, Robin Kimmerer, professor of Environmental Science and Forestry of Potawatomi ancestry, explores the question: “If plants are our teachers, what are their lessons, and how might we become better students?”

The courageous Kichwa leader from the Ecuadorian Amazon joins Amazon Watch and Pachamama Alliance with an urgent report from the front lines of protecting the lungs of the planet where women’s leadership is rising.

Youth Leadership
Our Generation Was Born To Change The World
Fourteen-year-old indigenous environmental activist and rapper Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Youth Director of Earth Guardians, has organized rallies, actions, demonstrations and events, and spoken globally. His generation is rising up to defend our future.



Movement Building I:  Convergence
Can the global convergence of disparate movements gain the traction necessary to overcome the concentration of wealth and power driving the destruction of civilization and nature? How? Hosted by Carleen Pickard, Executive Director, Global Exchange. With: Naomi Klein, author, filmmaker, activist; Clayton Thomas-Müller, indigenous rights leader and movement builder; Joel Solomon, President, Renewal Partners and Chairman, Renewal Funds, founding member of Social Venture Network and Tides Foundation of Canada.

Intelligence in Nature: The Vegetable Mind
Contemporary science is validating traditional knowledge about the vast pervasive intelligence in nature, and in plants in particular. What is intelligence? How do we learn nature’s languages? Hosted by Melissa K. Nelson, President, The Cultural Conservancy. With: Robin Kimmerer, Director, Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at SUNY-ESF; Monica Gagliano, renowned Australian marine biologist and evolutionary ecologist whose research Michael Pollan reported in the New Yorker.

Woman and Nature: The Shadow and The Promise
Explore with a multicultural circle of women the upsides and downsides of the deep, ancient association of women and “the feminine” with nature, and how a re-integration of the feminine principle into our culture may best serve us today. Hosted by Starhawk, renowned author, educator, activist, Permaculturist. With: Rachel Bagby, singer, author, farmer, facilitator; Pat McCabe (Woman Stands Shining), Diné (Navajo) artist/activist; Sasha Houston Brown (Dakota/Santee Sioux Tribe, Nebraska), Director of Education at Little Earth of United Tribes; Brandi Mack, who uses permaculture and holistic health approaches in her work with African American girls suffering from trauma; Osprey Orielle Lake, co-founder/Executive Director, Women's Earth and Climate Action Network.

Council. Cultivating 21st Century Earth Stewardship in a Power-Imbalanced World: Global Citizens, First Peoples & Spaceship Earth
We are pushing Earth’s life support systems to the edge, enacting of a paradigm of “ infinite growth” and taking. Common sense and indigenous wisdom traditions affirm that a life lived with balance leads to a more harmonious coexistence. Coupled with a need for reconciliation across gender, race and other social divides, 21st Century Earth and community stewardship require partnerships beyond boundaries. Join with fellow Bioneers to engage an ethos for stewardship fit for the 21st Century. Rooted in the wisdom traditions and best practices of First Peoples, and the planetary perspective of Global Citizens, we will explore models and practices of living reciprocity as if our lives depended on it—because they do. With Ilarion Merculieff, Aleut traditional messenger and Sharon Shay Sloan, council trainer and community steward. Bioneers of all ages strongly invited to attend. (Interactive, experiential)

Gender, Sexual Health and Culture Change
How might new and ancient understandings about gender from diverse cultural and generational perspectives inform our cultural reinvention? How is sexual health key to the vitality and resilience of our societies and all people? Hosted by Lana Holmes, co-founder, Timeless Earth Wisdom, Inc. With: Pat McCabe (Woman Stands Shining), Dine (Navajo) artist/activist; Jhos Singer, a transgender Maggid (Jewish preacher) serving Jewish community centers in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay; Erin Konsmo, Media Arts Justice and Projects Coordinator, Native Youth Sexual Health Network; and Sonj Basha, an Oakland-based activist working to ensure the inclusion of gender non-conforming and transgender identities in institutions of higher education.



The Hadza: Last of the First
This acclaimed film by Bill and Laurie Benenson (Dirt! The Movie) looks at human origins in Africa's Rift Valley, where one of the world's last remaining hunter-gatherer groups, the Hadza, have lived sustainably for 50,000 years. It presents intriguing theories about Homo sapiens’ evolution and origin, and the delicate balance of human aggression and cooperation at our core. With: the Hadza, Jane Goodall, Richard Wrangham (author of Catching Fire) and Wangari Maathai. (70 mins)

Amazon Gold
This disturbing account of a clandestine journey bears witness to the apocalyptic destruction of the rainforest in pursuit of illegally mined gold and its impact on indigenous peoples in the Amazon. Narrated by Academy Award winners Sissy Spacek and Herbie Hancock. Directed by Reuben Aaronson. (53 mins)


Join Nina, Kenny and the bioneers for a celebration of Bioneers’ 25th birthday with an amazing organic, biodiverse gourmet meal by renowned Native American chef Lois Ellen Frank. Separate admission. Space is extremely limited. First come, first served. Pay it forward by buying an extra ticket for a worthy change-maker, young farmer or low-income attendee. Or sponsor a whole table!


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