Ozawa Bineshi Albert, a leader from the Yuchi and Annishinaabe Nations, will be speaking as one of the panelists at the 35th anniversary celebration of Grassroots International on October 20th. Bineshi has spent much of her life working for environmental justice and elevating First People’s rights in the US. In addition to being a founding Board Member of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), Bineshi was the Operations Director of the Native American Voters Alliance and a lobbyist for Strong Families NM. She is a key force within the Native Organizers Alliance, helping to design and lead organizing trainings.
There is also a powerful artistic dimension to Bineshi’s life: She is a member of Hembras de Pluma — a play on words meaning both “feathered women,” and “women wielding the pen.” Hembras is a collective of women artists who present personal stories of ‘childhood, growing older, loss, love, grief and joy, told as monologues and short plays, and written and performed to honor their histories, their ancestors, their families, and themselves.’ And as if all this wasn’t enough already, while pursuing a degree in Indigenous Liberal Studies at the Institute of American Indian Art in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she is the proud mother of three.
For Bineshi, working with youth is critical, particularly now with climate change barreling down upon the planet. “I think young people bring new ideas and new approaches to the work,” she says. “We have been in this battle for a long time and will likely be in it for a long time. In this case, young people are not ‘the future’—they are being affected today and have ideas about how to address it today.”
Bineshi continues to work with Grassroots International’s grantee and close ally, the Indigenous Environmental Network, whose involvement with the Standing Rock community helped propel that climate justice fight to world attention in 2016. She also IEN in a collaboration to build an international grassroots feminist movement along with Grassroots International, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, and World March of Women.
Established in 1990 within the United States, IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples to address environmental and economic justice issues affecting First Peoples. IEN has been supporting Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop policies and mechanisms to protect sacred Indigenous sites, land, water, and natural resources, and the health of Indigenous people and all living things. IEN not only maintains an informational clearinghouse, it organizes campaigns and direct actions, and builds alliances both in the US and globally to address Environmental Justice issues and impact policy.
Working with youth on the environmental fate of the planet goes deep into the heart of Bineshi’s vision and commitment. “They have to be at the table when solutions are being discussed because they are the ones who are going to have to hold people accountable to see those solutions manifested. They are our wildest dreams right now.”
Grassroots International is honored to welcome Bineshi to speak at the “Resistance, Resilience and Power” panel on Saturday, October 20 in Boston, and join our 35th anniversary celebration that evening. Other panelists include Alaa Hammouda from the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, and Sofia Robles from the Mixe Peoples’ Services. The panel is free, but pre-registration is required, and tickets are available for the evening event. For more information about all the events during Grassroots International’s 35th Anniversary, including how to get tickets, visit GrassrootsOnline.org/35th.