19 April 2010
Grassroots Organizers and Activists, Indigenous Peoples, Communities in Resistance Available for Interviews in Cochabamba, Bolivia at the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (19-22 April)
Biographies of Cochabamba participants below
Cochabamba, Bolivia–Social movements are converging in Bolivia to rally opposition to the push by the world’s leading carbon emitters to promote unjust and false solutions to climate change such as carbon offsets, and to make a collective push for stricter binding carbon reductions, reparations for industrial-driven environmental destruction, and a human rights approach to climate policies.
From North America, the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance-Indigenous Environmental Network delegation is attending with the aim of amplifying the perspectives of frontline communities resisting the impacts of climate change. Global Justice Ecology Project is providing a media support role for this delegation and for Indigenous Peoples and other representatives from the Global South to link reporters and media outlets in Bolivia and internationally with the voices of representatives of communities impacted by and in resistance to climate change, fossil fuels and false solutions to climate change.
COCHABAMBA CONTACTS for INTERVIEWS:
NORTH AMERICA CONTACTS:
BIOGRAPHIES OF AVAILABLE SPEAKERS/RESOURCE PERSONS BELOW IN NOTES
 Indigenous Environmental Network Youth Delegates
 Additional Resource Persons
BLOGS FROM COCHABAMBA:
 Indigenous Environmental Network:Elouise Brown–Dine’ (Navajo) from the Navajo Nation territories in New Mexico, U.S. She is president of the Navajo grassroots group, Dooda Desert Rock and advisory committee member of The Forgotten People, a grassroots Navajo indigenous group located on the Navajo reservation. As President of Dooda Desert Rock group, Elouise played an important leadership role in successfully shutting down the approval process of a 1,500-megawatt coal-fired power plant to be approved for construction on the Navajo indigenous lands. If built, the dirty fuels plant would emit over 12 million tons of carbon dioxide, ozone, mercury and other pollutants into the air each year. Her homeland, in the Burnham area of the Navajo Nation is already plagued by pollution produced from the two existing coal-fired power plants in the area, which are among the dirtiest in the country. She has become an indigenous activist speaking out for energy and climate justice.
Susana Deranger–Athabasca Dene territories in Alberta, Canada
A grandmother and member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation who resides in Regina, Saskatchewan. She is an educator and a researcher with a BA, BEd, and MEd in Curriculum and Instruction. She also was part of a team that developed a Masters of Indigenous Education Program at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Chiapas (UNACH) in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico and a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Development and Management at UNACH in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico. She was a member of the Indigenous Environmental Network delegation participating in the 2009 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) global negotiations on climate change. Susuna comes from one of the most destructive oil developments in the world, called the tar sands. The United States is importing millions of barrels of oil from the Canadian tar sands, which is contributing to the genocide of the Dene and Cree indigenous peoples of Northern Canada and to the destruction of Mother Earth. [Speaks Spanish]
Jihan Gearon–Navajo indigenous territories in Arizona, U.S.
Jihan is the lead organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network’s Native Energy Campaign. Jihan Gearon is Dine’ (Navajo) and African American. She is Tódích’ií’nii (Bitter Water) clan, and her maternal grandfather is Tl’ashchí’í (Red Bottom People) clan. She is a graduate of Stanford University with a Bachelors of Science in Earth Systems and a focus in Energy Science and Technology. Jihan comes from an indigenous territory negatively impacted from coal, uranium, oil and natural gas development. In her position as Native Energy Organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, Jihan works to build the capacity of communities throughout the U.S. and Canada who are impacted by energy development and climate change. Jihan is a member of the Steering Committee of the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (USA), a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Grassroots for Global Justice alliance (USA) and a member of Mobilization for Climate Justice, a North American activist alliance. Jihan was a participant in the COP 11 UNFCCC in Montreal in 2005 and participated in the COP 14 in Poznan, Poland in 2008 and the COP 15, UNFCCC in Copenhagen in 2009. Jihan was a delegate in the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change held in Anchorage, Alaska in 2009.Faith Gemmill–Gwich’in territories in Alaska, U.S.
Faith is the executive director of REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands), an Alaska Native grassroots alliance formed in 2002 by a group of Alaska Natives representing each region of Alaska to share knowledge, experience and strategies to address the detrimental impacts of oil and gas development. Faith and the REDOIL network addresses the disproportionate impacts of the fossil fuel industry on Alaska Native sovereignty and self-determination, subsistence, human and ecological health and climate change. Faith is an advocate for demanding a moratorium on any new fossil fuel development in and near indigenous lands. Faith Gemmill is a Pit River/ Wintu and Neets’aii Gwich’in Athabascan from Arctic Village, Alaska. Faith previously worked on behalf of the Gwich’in Nation for over ten years as a representative, public spokesperson and Gwich’in Steering Committee staff to address the potential human health and cultural impacts of proposed oil development and production of the birthplace and nursery of the Porcupine Caribou Herd which is located within the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Faith continues as a public spokesperson, press and tribal liaison and human rights advocate. Faith has represented the Gwich’in Nation within appropriate mechanisms of the United Nations to advocate for the recognition of Gwich’in human rights as well as work for the rights and recognition of Indigenous Peoples.
Tom Mato Awanyankapi Goldtooth–Dakota Makoce territories in Minnesota, U.S. Tom is the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, an alliance of indigenous grassroots communities throughout North America and Alaska. Tom is from both the Navajo and Dakota indigenous tribal peoples. Tom is an Indigenous environmental justice activist, speaker, and recognized leader within the climate and environmental justice and indigenous movement, at the local, national and international levels. Tom has co-produced the REDD booklet and a member of the Durban Group, an international alliance of people’s movements and independent organizations who reject the claim that carbon trading and offsets will halt the climate crisis. Since the 1990’s, Tom has participated in indigenous and non-indigenous climate meetings including the Conference of the Parties (COPs) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Tom is member of the International Indigenous Forum on Climate Change, the indigenous caucus operating within the UNFCCC. Tom was a delegate in the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change held in Anchorage, Alaska in 2009. Tom helped in the drafting of the Mystic Lake Declaration, a national Indigenous statement on climate change, developed at the Native Peoples Native Homelands Climate Workshop II: An Indigenous Response to the Challenge, in November 2009 in Shakopee, Minnesota.
Kandi Mosset–(Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara), North Dakota, U.S.
Kandi is the IEN Tribal College Climate organizer from the Fort Berthold Reservation within the state of North Dakota. She graduated from the University of North Dakotas Earth Systems Science and Policy Program in December of 2006 and now holds a Masters of Environmental Management. She began working for the Indigenous Environmental Network as the Tribal Campus Climate Challenge (TCCC) Organizer in February of 2007. As a Native organizer for IEN-TCCC, she works with Native students and faculty at more than 40 Tribal Colleges across Canada and the U.S. The goal of the program is to leverage the power of young indigenous people to organize on Tribal college campuses and high schools in order to win Clean Energy policies at their schools. Since then, over 30 tribal colleges have been engaged in the TCCC and have worked on projects ranging from light bulb swaps and community tree plantings to small-scale community solar panel installations and community gardens. The TCCC’s goals are to support initiatives within tribal colleges that connect students to environmental justice and climate justice issues in their communities in line with Indigenous traditional knowledge and belief systems. Kandi was a delegate to the COP 15 in Copenhagen and a delegate at the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change held in Anchorage, Alaska in 2009. Kandi was on the planning committee for the Native Peoples Native Homelands Climate Workshop II: An Indigenous Response to the Challenge, in November 2009 in Shakopee, Minnesota. Kandi helped in the drafting of the Mystic Lake Declaration, a national Indigenous statement on climate change.Manny Pino–Acoma indigenous territories in New Mexico, U.S.
He is a co-founder of a tribal grassroots group called Laguna Acoma for a Safe Environment and is a professor of sociology, President of the Board of Directors of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Director of American Indian Studies at Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. Manuel has worked in the area of American Indians and the environment for the past twenty-eight years with an emphasis on uranium mining and nuclear fuel cycle issues impacting Indigenous Peoples throughout North America. Manual comes from an indigenous community directly impacted by uranium mining. Uranium is a fuel for the nuclear industry. Mr. Pino was one of two indigenous environmental activists to be presented with the 2008 award, Nuclear-Free Future Award, in Munich, Germany.
Robert Thompson–Inupiaq, from Kaktovik Village, Alaska, U.S.
He is from one of the most remote northern villages at the “top of the world”, in Alaska. An advisory grassroots member of REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands), an Alaska Native grassroots alliance formed in 2002 by a group of Alaska Natives representing each region of Alaska to share knowledge, experience and strategies to address the detrimental impacts of oil and gas development. Robert is a whaler, subsistence hunter and guide and has been experiencing firsthand the changing climate and unpredictability of weather patterns. Robert was a delegate at the 2005 COP 11 of the UNFCCC in Montreal Canada. Robert has been one of the activists speaking out against the USA proposal to pursue offshore oil drilling by opening the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off Alaska to a barrage of new oil and gas development.
AND Indigenous Resource Person:Alberto Saldamando– Zapoteca/Chicano, living in the city of San Francisco, California, U.S. Alberto is the General Counsel with the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC). Alberto Saldamando has a J.D. (Doctor of Law) degree and has wide experience in international human rights work and has developed expertise in the UN non-conventional mechanisms for the Vindication of Indigenous Human Rights. He is responsible for filing complaints with international human rights mechanisms at the request of Indigenous Nations and organizations. Fluent in Spanish and English, he provides training to grass roots Indigenous Communities throughout Turtle Island on International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law and complaints procedures. He has participated in climate change delegations as an expert linking climate change and climate mitigation and adaptation issues to the rights of indigenous peoples and human rights. He has wide experience in working with UN Processes on a diplomatic level.
Areas of Expertise: Human Rights and the Rights of indigenous peoples, Rights of Mother Earth and human rights, Food Security and Food Sovereignty and the Right to Food, action strategies, the UN System.
 Indigenous Environmental Network Youth Delegates:Ben Powless–Mohawk indigenous territories, Canada. Ben is a youth delegate that has been active in climate policy and a Delegate of the Indigenous Environmental Network since the 2007 13th session of the Conference of the Parties (COPs) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Bali, Indonesia. Ben is the Focal Point for the International Indigenous Forum on Climate Change, the indigenous caucus operating within the UNFCCC. Ben is currently finishing the study of Political Science and Human Rights at Carleton University in Ottawa, after having completed a year in an international exchange program, studying sustainable rural development between Alberta and Mexico. He has been involved with the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition since its inception, working at both the national level and with the Ottawa Chapter. He has represented indigenous youth at various international events, most recently at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s High-Level Conference on World Food Security, Climate Change and Bio-energy. [Speaks Spanish]
Chibon Tekatsi’tsanken Littlebear Everst–(Mohawk), Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada. A grassroots youth leader is a member of the Bear Clan from the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawake. As a young aboriginal leader, Tekatsi’tsanken believes in taking a stand and supporting every initiative toward the betterment and honor of indigenous communities and the lands. He is looking for opportunities for networking, meeting with other young people and looking for solutions to sustainability.
Daygot Leeyos Edwards–(Oneida), New York, U.S. Daygot is a young female lyricist and producer from Oneida Nation of the Wolf Clan. Her music empowers, educates, and uplifts our consciousness, with lyrics reflecting the struggles and triumphs of being a spiritual human being. She mixes together collages of words and melodies to deliver a message of inspiration to all. She is a spiritual activist using an indigenous traditional and environmental justice framework in her messaging to the world. She was an IEN delegate to the COP 14 UNFCCC in Poznan, Poland and at the COP 15 UNFCCC in Copenhagen, Denmark.
 Grassroots Global Justice Alliance Community Representatives:Genaro Lopez-Rendon grew up in South Texas in a working class family with strong Mexican and Chicano roots. As a young child he began fighting for justice, participating in actions and marches with his family. Genaro first did an internship with Southwest Workers Union (SWU), and then started organizing with SWU in 1999 as an organizing trainee and soon afterwards the Environmental Justice Organizer. He focused on organizing and empowering the community affected by the contamination from the former Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio. Since becoming the Director, Genaro has helped define and focus the organization’s work towards South by Southwest alliance building and creating regional, national, and international movements while simultaneously expanding SWU’s local organizing and impact. Genaro sits on the National Planning Committee for the US Social Forum and was instrumental in organizing the People’s Freedom Caravan, a ‘social forum on wheels’ working with over 80 organizations, 500 people traveling through 6 states, to the first USSF in 2007 in Atlanta. Genaro is on the Steering Committee of the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative and on the board of the Gulf Coast Fund both of which focus on climate and environmental justice issues.
Sara Mersha was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts, and has been living in Providence, Rhode Island since 1993. She worked for 12 years as an Organizer and Executive Director of Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), a grassroots-organizing group in Providence with a membership base in low-income communities of color. She worked on a variety of campaigns including low-wage worker organizing, youth organizing, anti-criminalization, and anti-gentrification work, along with political education and broader movement-building work. Sara’s involvement with national networks has included the Right to the City Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice, and Jobs with Justice (of which she is a former board member). Sara transitioned out of her role as ED of DARE in 2009, remains involved as a member, and is currently a graduate student at the Center for Environmental Studies at Brown University, where she is exploring issues of climate justice on local and international levels.
Colin Rajah is a Program Director at the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR). A political refugee from Malaysia, Colin has been an activist-organizer for almost 25 years around Asia and in the U.S., authoring dozens of publications and speaking frequently on issues related to migration and migrant rights, and international trade and globalization. Colin serves as the Secretary for Migrant Rights International (MRI), an international federation of migrant rights organizations. Over the past five years, he has co-chaired an International Working Group that organizes civil society movements and events responding to governmental summits on migration, especially the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). Colin also co-chairs a national working group on migration and climate justice. He is currently authoring a report on the criminalization and exploitation of migrant labor through international trade and development, managed migration, and repressive enforcement policies.
Areas of Expertise: Migrant’s rights, international migration, intersection of trade and climate on migration
Sunyoung Yang is a community organizer of the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles. She helps lead the Clean Air Clean Lungs Clean Buses Campaign, which aims to reduce auto use and greenhouse gas emissions in while expanding equitable mass transit for working class people of color in Los Angeles. She was born in Korea, grew up in the Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan and Guam, until high school when she came to Los Angeles. She received her B.A. at Smith College in 2004 and studied in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru studying bio-cultural diversity and sustainability. She has worked with the Indigenous Environmental Network as part of the Climate Justice Corp internship program, doing climate change research. She is fluent in Korean and Spanish. For more info: http://www.thestrategycenter.org
Cindy Wiesner is a queer working class Latina originally from Hollywood, CA. Cindy is a community activist and organizer for the last 20 years. She has organized with HERE (Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union) Local 2850 and POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights). She worked as a trainer and organizer for GenerationFIVE. Has served on the boards of the Youth Empowerment Center, Women of Color Resource Center and GenerationFIVE. Cindy was also the leadership development director at the Miami Workers Center and currently is the political coordinator for Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ). She represents GGJ on the National Planning Committee of the US Social Forum and also on the Hemispheric Council of the Americas Social Forum and the International Council of the World Social Forum. http://www.ggjalliance.org
 Global Justice Ecology Project’s New Voices on Climate Change:
Camila is working with Global Justice Ecology Project, running the South American office from Porto Alegre, Brazil. Her research worked is concerned with genetically engineered trees, agrofuels, agribusiness expansion, and the connections to social and ecological human rights. She works in Brazil as a lawyer; researcher at Terra de Direitos, a Brazilian NGO working on land rights and is a member of the Political Ecology working group of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales). She is a Doctoral Candidate at the Graduate Program in Social Sciences in Development, Agriculture and Society of the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (CPDA/UFRRJ).
Area of Expertise/Specialties:
Agrofuels, peasant movements, agribusiness expansion in Brazil, biotechnology and GMO impacts on peasant and family farm agriculture, Amazon deforestation dynamics, territorial conflicts in the Amazon region, political ecology/emerging environmental social movements
Global Justice Ecology Project,Terra de Direitos; Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales
Portuguese, Spanish, English
Sandy Gauntlett–Aotearoa / New Zealand (Maori Indigenous person)
Biographical Information: Environmental activist of Maori descent; has been involved in various forest related for over a decade;); lectures on Kaitiakitanga (Maori Environmental Resource Management); teaches International Environmental Policy and Research papers, Chairman of the Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environmental Coalition (PIPEC), Aotearoa/New Zealand; Oceania regional focal point for the Global Forest Coalition; forests and past climate and forests campaigner for Friends of the Earth New Zealand; past Advisory Board member for article 8j report (CBD); past advisory board member to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment; TLCEPA and WCPA member (IUCN).
Area of Expertise/Specialties: Plantations and agrofuels; Pacific climate impacts; Indigenous Peoples rights and protected areas; forests and climate change; climate change and biodiversity; climate justice; climate refugees.
Affiliate Organizations: PIPEC; Global Forest Coalition; Te Wananga O Aotearoa; FoENZ;
Languages: English, Te Reo Maori
Biographical Information: Documenting and researching in the area of monoculture tree plantations for more than 10 years; personally visited and documented several countries in Latin America (Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela) several in Asia (Thailand, Indonesia and India) and two in Africa Swaziland and South Africa; has been working with the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) since 1995 and established together with the International Coordinator of the WRM, Ricardo Carrere, the International Secretariat in Montevideo; participated in many COPs at UN Conventions and presented position papers on behalf of the Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations.
Area of Expertise/Specialties: Monoculture tree plantations
Affiliate Organizations: World Rainforest Movement, Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations
Languages: English and Spanish; understands Portuguese and speaks it less fluentlyMaria Theresa Nera-Lauron
Asia Pacific Research Network
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
Jihan Gearon, Faith Gemmil and Ben Powless (mentioned prior) are all part of New Voices on Climate Change. Nicola Bullard from Focus on the Global South is not able to attend due to Global Gridlock from the Icelandic volcano and Lidy Nacpil, Regional Coordinator of Jubilee South Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS APMMD) had to cancel for other reasons.
 Additional Resource Persons:Jason Negrón-Gonzales is the former Director of Movement Generation, co-founder of the MG Justice & Ecology Project, and current Program Associate at MG. He began his political work organizing as a student around Puerto Rican community issues. As a student at UC Berkeley he was involved in building multi-racial student alliances and worked against the ending of affirmative action and the cutting back of ethnic studies. After graduating he worked for seven years with People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), a membership based community/labor organization in San Francisco. In his time at POWER Jason served as Organizer, Campaign Director, and Education Director and led alliance building work locally and nationally. For his night job he also works as a trauma RN at San Francisco General Hospital.
Diana Pei Wu has worked as a researcher, organizer, activist and popular educator on housing, gentrification, immigrant rights, youth organizing, environmental justice and climate justice locally and nationally. Before that she worked on indigenous land rights and forest management with communities in Oaxaca, Mexico and Malaysian Borneo. In 2003, Diana was part of a collective that co-founded ChinJurnWorPing, a SF Bay Area based group of progressive and radical people of Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong descent, working for social justice and for increasing the progressive voice in our community. Diana also holds a PhD in Society and Environment from the University of California, Berkeley, is fluent in Spanish and English, and also speaks Mandarin Chinese, French and Portuguese. Her current day job is as a Copeland Fellow in Global Sustainability at Amherst College in
Cassandra Smithies, New York City, NY. She is a non-indigenous Spanish translator and interpreter.
Doyle Canning, is a strategist, trainer, and organizer with a big imagination and a deep commitment to social change. She is co-director of smartMeme http://www.smartMeme.org
Brenda Norell, Tucson, Arizona. Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indigenous territories USA for 27 years. He has served as a staff writer for Navajo Times and numerous Indian newspapers. She was also a stringer for AP and USA Today during the 18 years she lived on the Navajo Nation. She has traveled with the Zapatistas and is the publisher of Censored News. She is a contributor to CounterPunch and Narco News. During the Bolivia Climate Summit, she will broadcast live on Earthcycles http://www.earthcycles.net
/, and report for the UN OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague. http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/