|Tom Goldtooth of IEN. Photo credit: Melissa Nelson|
The Cultural Conservancy - Indigenous Forum at Bioneers
Overview and History
The Cultural Conservancy has served as a Native American advisor on native programming at Bioneers since 1996 when we started organizing Native American workshops there. Melissa Nelson has served as a board member of Bioneers as well as a consultant and associate producer of the conference. In 2010 re-joined the Bioneers’ board of directors. TCC initially supported the work of Tonu Shane Eagleton in developing artwork for the Bioneers main stage as well as creating small wooden sculptures and wood block prints for the Bioneers awards 1997 - 2000. We organized the first stage art silent auction at Bioneers featuring Shane Eagleton’s beautiful wooden sculptures. This silent auction continues every year under the guidance of Bioneers. In 2006 TCC worked with Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network to create an “Indigenous Caucus” at Bioneers specifically for indigenous peoples to discuss our own unique concerns and issues and have a space to meet and work together.
Bioneers has been committed to fostering connection, cross-pollination and collaboration by bringing together diverse people and projects. Along with this commitment of supporting diversity, Bioneers has embraced the sharing of Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge and wisdom within its programs and conferences. Along with Indigenous leadership on the Bioneers’ board of directors, Bioneers and TCC developed a formal partnership together and with the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), a national/international Indigenous network. IEN is a network of indigenous communities and staff organizers building sustainable indigenous communities and protecting the human and environmental rights of Indigenous Peoples. TCC and IEN recognize that Bioneers considers the dissemination of Indigenous knowledge (“The Original Instructions”) a priority area of unique importance. Since the inception of Bioneers, it has been deeply influenced by indigenous thinking, and has prominently featured indigenous presenters and voices.
|Children of Lorraine Gray (Mohawk). Photo credit: Jan Mangan,|
Within this context, in the 2008 Bioneers Conference, TCC and IEN partnered with Bioneers to successfully produce a pilot project with featuring an Indigenous Tent, located central to the conference, that provided Indigenous workshops and cultural activities in a forum that brought over 50 indigenous leaders, families and activists in participating in the conference.
For this second year, this Indigenous Tent was re-named the “Indigenous Forum at Bioneers”.
Goals for the Indigenous Forum
- Providing a space for in-depth explorations of “Indigeneity” and “Re-Indigenization” in an invitational format that encourages all people to re-indigenize ourselves. Supporting all peoples to examine the history of colonization within their own roots. People need to look from within their own cultures, not from native cultures. There needs to be understanding and respect for the intellectual property rights and cultural privacy of Indigenous peoples and our knowledge.
- Providing an educational/programming space designed by The Cultural Conservancy (TCC) and Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). Bioneers, TCC and IEN will consult with each other to assure the programming of the Indigenous Forum is aligned with each organizations’ values and protocols.
- Providing a networking space and sanctuary for Indigenous participants.
- Educating the global community as to the key issues and resiliency First Peoples are developing to address cultural survival, human rights, land and biodiversity preservation, and incorporating indigenous science.
- Helping attract greater support for Bioneers’ indigenous programs, and for Indigenous work, people and projects in general.
|Ootie Almendariz (Maidu/Patwin). Photo credit: Jan Mangan,|
Indigenous Forum at Bioneers 2010
Hosted and produced by TCC Executive Director Melissa Nelson (Anishinaabe/Métis) and IEN Executive Director Tom Goldtooth (Dakota/Diné), this year’s Indigenous Forum will feature six exciting workshops on major issues, struggles, and successes in Indian Country and in indigenous communities globally.
Workshops will feature:
- “Canoe Cultures of the Pacific” – focusing on native efforts to revitalize indigenous watercraft and navigation systems as a way to restore indigenous knowledge and address global climate disruption. With Wikuki Kingi (Maori), L. Frank (Tongvan/Ajachmem); Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey (Hawaiian). In conjunction with this workshop, we will feature and launch a traditional, specially carved canoe as a symbol of the “Original Instructions” of indigenous cultures.
- “Guardians of the North” – addressing First Nations and indigenous communities resistance to energy and timber extraction in the native lands of Canada and Alaska. Moderated by Clayton Thomas-Muller (Cree) with Dune Lankard (Eyak/Athabascan), George Poitras (Cree), Faith Gemmill (Gwich’in); Josephine Mandamin (Ojibwe)
- “Protecting Corn Mother – Sacred Foods of Native America” – Southwestern and national native leaders in the food sovereignty movement will address the importance of corn as a sacred food and discuss efforts to protect and restore the sanctity of indigenous seeds and foods. With Kiowa chef Lois Ellen Frank, Tesuque Pueblo farmer Louie Hena, and Kandi Mossett (Hidatsa/Mandan/Arikaraa).
- “First Peoples of California” – will address the unique native history of California and examine the efforts of today’s Native California Indians working to protect lands, waters, languages, and endangered cultural traditions. Invited speakers include Joanne Campbell (Coast Miwok), Jacquelyn Ross (Coast Miwok); Eric Wilder (Kashaya Pomo).
- “Doctrines of Recovery” -- after 500 years of colonization and oppression under the “Doctrine of Discovery,” indigenous leaders are resisting, organizing, and healing through international, national, and local efforts to decolonize and recover resilient communities. With Chief Oren Lyons (Onandaga). Melissa Nelson (Anishinaabe/Métis) , and Steve Newcomb (Shawnee/Lenape)
- “Bay Area Indian Youth Culture” – featuring local California Indian artists and activists Ras K’dee (Pomo), April McGill (Yuki/Wappo/Pomo), and Kanyon Sayers-Roods (Ohlone/Chumash).
|Photo credit: Jan Mangan,|
This year we will feature a native women’s led “Gathering the Waters” Ceremony to honor the lifeblood of Mother Earth. This Water Ceremony will be led by Ojibwe Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, Tongan/Maori educator Tania Wolfgramm and others. All will be welcome to respectfully join this ceremony and bring waters from their homes to join together their stories.
We gratefully acknowledge the sovereign homelands of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (Coast Miwok/Southern Pomo Nations) upon which the Indigenous Forum and Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California take place. We recognize and respect their sovereignty.
For more information about the Indigenous Forum or to make a donation to enable more Indigenous participation by community leaders and students, contact:
-The Cultural Conservancy - 415.561.6594 (email@example.com)
-Indigenous Environmental Network - 218.751.4967(firstname.lastname@example.org)
We gratefully acknowledge the FIRE Fund for their contribution to the Indigenous Forum at Bioneers.
In 2010 we are also excited to produce a Bioneers pre-conference intesive workshop:
|Chris Peters, Tias Oros, Renee Gurneau, and others. Photo Credit: Melissa Nelson|
Pre-conference intensive workshop
Native Traditional Ecological Knowledge:
Indigenous Science and Ecocultural Restoration Workshop
Hosted and sponsored by The Cultural Conservancy
“In the spirit of inter-species harmony”
…we recognize the natural universe as our primary educator and healer,
learning, shaping and sharing our ancient wisdom, unique scientific knowledge, ways and artistic skills for the creation of exceptional
cultural treasures, always seeking to enhance the wellbeing of
‘all of our relations’.
Join us for a full-day immersion into the Native TEK—Traditional Ecological Knowledge—of local California Indian Tribes and Indigenous communities around the world. You will learn about the sophisticated sciences—knowledge and practices—of Indigenous peoples today working to protect their traditional knowledge and restore their eco-cultural heritage. We will focus on the local Coast Miwok Nation/Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria as an example of a cultural survival and eco-cultural revitalization and nation-building.
Keynote presentations by Native Instructors, knowledge holders, scholars, practitioners and artisans will include Coast Miwok Elder and Tribal council member Joanne Campbell on language and baskets; Jacquelyn Ross (Coast Miwok/Jenner Pomo) on traditional foods; Kathy Wallace (Karuk/Hupa/Yurok) on basket weaving; L. Frank (Tongva/Ajachmem) on restoring traditional arts and cultures; Dennis Martinez (O’Ohdam/Chicano/Swedish) on forest and fire management and eco-cultural restoration; Wikuki Kingi (Maori/Hawaiian) on Pacific Islander wood carving and canoe making; Tania Wolfgramm (Maori/Tongan) and Melissa Nelson (Anishinaable/Metis) on indigenous evaluation, inter-tribal alliances and multimedia as a form of ecocultural renewal.
Workshop will include:
Dune Lankard (Eyak/Athabaskan). Photo credit: Jan Mangan,
- In-depth dialogue, conversation, and question and answer sessions
- Cultural Demonstrations and hands-on learning of traditional arts such as basket weaving, wood carving, cordage making, acorn gathering, species identification and tree planting
- “Reading the land” -- Hands-on, multi-sensory experience in ecological restoration strategies for native ecosystems
- Learn the language of the land – mini-language lessons in Coast Miwok, Tongva and other California Indian languages in the process of revitalization
- Learn the language of the Pacific - mini-language lessons in Maori from Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Proto-Polynesian
With the blessings of the local Coast Miwok/Graton Rancheria, we will work on-site at a park or conservation lands close to the Bioneers Conference site in Marin County. Workshop will begin at 9 am and finish at 5 pm.
- Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival
- Indigenous Peoples Restoration Network
- Pou Kapua Creations / Creatrix