Mariah Gladstone, 21
Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Blackfeet
In order to preserve this planet and ensure that our children have clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe, it’s essential that we begin acting now. It starts personally, by taking shorter showers, using reusable shopping bags, replacing light bulbs with CFLs, and other small steps. Then there is the larger ones like pushing legislation that encourages environmental protections (while also respecting indigenous rights). As Native peoples, we are inherently political; our existence is tied to treaties which define us as sovereign entities. As such, it is essential that we exercise that responsibility. There are cases where legislature and the politics that colonialism and brought us will not work. In these cases, there is not always an easy answer. But I have faith that my indigenous brothers and sisters will physically protect our mother earth if ever a conflict arose. Keystone XL will be stopped with Native-made road blocks (if the idea doesn’t trickle away on its own). Indigenous youth must also make every effort to be well spoken. We must walk in the world of a colonial nation and our traditional worlds. We must represent ourselves as ambassadors and advocates and interpreters. We should strive to become educated in math and science and culture. Our minds are our bows and arrows and our cultures are our shields. As Native youth, we must always remember that a good planet is mighty hard to find.