Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

July 8, 2011

Protecting Mother Earth Conference in North Dakota July 28-31, 2011


Contact: Loren White, Jr.
Phone: (701) 390-­‐7133

NEW TOWN, North Dakota -- Community members of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation are hosting the 16th Protecting Mother Earth Gathering at the Little Shell Antelope Society arbor in the Four Bears Park campground, south of the 4 Bears Casino, from July 28-31, 2011. The Four Bears Park is situated 4 miles west of New Town, North Dakota.

The Indigenous Environmental Network, a Native national environmental justice advocacy organization, is sponsoring the gathering where educators, indigenous peoples, local community members, youth and elders, and other interested individuals camp outdoors together for four days to collectively discourse and strategize on the resolution of local, national, and international environmental justice and indigenous rights issues through forums of plenary and concurrent workshop sessions.

Informational sessions, demonstration projects, and skills trainings related to protecting the Mother Earth will be offered daily by renowned Native traditional leaders, Native activists, advocates, educators, and practitioners of environmentally conscious living. An on-site kitchen staffed by volunteers will provide three free meals a day and an afternoon snack. Free daycare is also available for children, ages 4—11 (diaper-free). Donations during registration are very much appreciated but are not required. Tribal programs and environmental organizations with budgets are welcomed to donate. Evening sessions begin at 8pm and include A Cultural/Traditional games and activities night Thursday in the MHA Nations Earth Lodge Village, an Open Mic/Talent Show on Friday night and a Traditional Pow Wow on Saturday night. In addition, there will be a water ceremony on Saturday morning beginning at 5:45am led by Mother Earth Water Walker & Anishinawbe Grandmother Josephine Mandamin. Participants are asked to bring a small amount of water from their homelands to take part in the water ceremony and all women are asked to wear skirts if planning to attend.

Participants may sign up for the walk/run on Saturday morning beginning at 7am as well as area tours of the Three Affiliated Tribes Museum, Earth Lodge Village &; Straw Bale Building Demonstration home at the local Fort Berthold Community College. Two Continuing Education Units from FBCC will be available to registrants.

The theme for the July gathering is “Water, Energy, Climate, and the Importance of Health &; and Culture,” which is fitting for the indigenous community hosting PME. The MHA homelands are currently in the midst of a gigantic oil boom on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Tribal members are experiencing social, economic, environmental, and cultural changes for which they were wholly unprepared. A greatly increased industry-related population has resulted in a town full of strangers competing for the same jobs and resources as the local people. Long convoys of huge industrial vehicles roar through the towns and countryside tearing up roads that weren’t built for behemoth trucks. Deteriorated highways--two of which are main roadways through the reservation--have been sitting closed, causing some tribal members long daily detours to work.

Oil removal methods, well blow-outs, toxic spills, illegal dumping and increased gas emissions have tribal members concerned about their land, air, water and health.

The Protecting Mother Earth Gathering will provide a forum for the local community and visitors to discuss their specific and mutual concerns, to gain an understanding of IEN’s work, and to seek viable methods for protecting the environment. Individuals interested in the gathering may visit IEN’s website at  for more information and to register.

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