An Indigenous Teen Climate Activist Is Setting Out To Take Down Trump And His Conservative Constituents

Artemisa Xakriabá is a 19-year-old indigenous climate activist leading global efforts to thwart the harmful effects of climate change. Global warming is catastrophic. Extreme weather creates a domino effect of natural disasters leading to public health crises leading to displacement and poverty, which largely affects people of color. 

According to Time, “In the U.S., urban communities of color, often also low-income areas, are especially at risk, particularly those living in counties in the Southeast, which have the highest concentration of African Americans. The situation is similar for Latinx populations. In the U.S. and globally, those least responsible for climate change are already the first to bear the brunt of its health effects.” 

Poverty, discrimination, and limited access to healthcare makes navigating the difficulties of climate change that much harder for blacks, Latinxs, and indigenous people. Artemisa Xakriabá wants to change that. 

Artemisa Xakriabá  is combatting climate change in Brazil.

The 19-year-old climate activist from São João das Missões, Brazil wants to thwart the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. A representative of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities for indigenous communities, Artemisa participated in the first march for indigenous women this year. At the protest, she and others took to the streets of the capital in Brasília to denounce President Bolsonaro’s destructive environmental policies.

Last September during the Global Climate Strike, she gave the closing remarks to a crowd of around 250,000 protestors in New York City.

“We, the indigenous peoples, are the children of nature, so we fight for our Mother Earth because the fight for Mother Earth is the mother of all other fights. We are fighting for your lives. We are fighting for our lives. We are fighting for our sacred territory. But we are being persecuted, threatened, murdered, only for protecting our own territories. We cannot accept one more drop of indigenous blood spilled,” she said. 

On this same day, she spoke before the US House of Representatives to urge senators to take action on climate change. 

Who are the indigenous people of the Xakriabá tribe? 

The Xakriabá people are one of 13 indigenous tribes in São João das Missões, Brazil; although historically the Xakriabá did not have a central territory, they largely inhabited the Tocantins River area but were forced to live on reservations in the 18th century. While their original language has become extinct due to colonialism, it was an Acua language of the Ge language family which is a part of the Macro-Je language stock spoken by indigenous South Americans. 

“It’s a very sad thing to say because, within those eight to nine months of (Bolsonaro’s) term, a lot has changed. He wants to place mining inside the village, within the indigenous territories. They are killing our trees to put mining, putting the part of the economic groups, the politics itself, the agribusiness,” Artemisa said before congress. 

Right-wing Bolsonaro has exacerbated issues for the Xakriabá with his deforestation policies that allow the government to plunder the tribe’s territory for mining and farming. 

Artemisa fights back against the Brazilian government.

Artemisa is challenging the government that refuses to end the tens of thousands of fires obliterating the Amazon rainforest. Corporate agriculture has ravished the area by burning down trees to create room for cattle — the fires have increased by 70 percent since last year. Yes, they’re killing trees for short-term financial gain, because in the long-term their won’t be a planet to capitalize on any longer. 

The Xakriabá tribe now has limited access to the river and its water due to corporate mining. 

“The scarcity of water in the territory is noticeable,” she said. “We need the river and the water for our living and for our spiritual health, our connection to the earth. So access to the river is a big issue for us. The governments of Brazil and the United States are not helping. They promote hate-based narratives and a development model that attacks nature and indigenous peoples. These governments are trying to put us in extinction. They are part of the problem.”

Gen Z wants a policy overhaul and that means centering indigenous voices. 

The Youth Climate Strike Coalition in the United States has a list of the demands and one is “respect of indigenous land and sovereignty and environmental justice,” along with “protection and restoration of 50% of the world’s lands and oceans including a halt to deforestation by 2030.” 

While this may seem like common to sense it is politically groundbreaking (ain’t many politicians here calling for such sweeping action) and recognizes the significance and humanity of indigenous people which is sorely lacking from our leaders. 

Gen Z isn’t waiting to be saved, they’re smart enough to know that we have to save ourselves. The only question is: are adults ready to follow? 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Indigenous Purépecha Woman Gets Full Ride Scholarship To Attend Harvard

Things That Matter

Indigenous Purépecha Woman Gets Full Ride Scholarship To Attend Harvard

In just a few months, college freshmen will be descending on their campuses across the country. One of these students is Elizabeth Esteban who is the first person from her indigenous tribe in Mexico to be accepted to an Ivy League school.

Elizabeth Esteban is going to Harvard and it is a major deal.

Esteban is a member of the Purépecha tribe, an indigenous community from Michoacán, Mexico. Esteban is the first member of her tribe to be accepted into an Ivy League university, where indigenous representation remains small. Esteban’s parents work as farm laborers in the eastern Coachella Valley in California.

“Well I felt proud and excited, every sort of emotion because I never would have believed that a person like me, would be accepted to a prestigious university,” Esteban told NBC News.

Not only was Esteban accepted into Harvard, a prestigious university, she also received a full-ride scholarship. Esteban’s family is part of a community of hundreds of Purépecha people who relocated to the easter Coachella Valley in search of work and a better life.

Esteban plans to study political science.

Dr. Ruiz Speaks with State of the Union Guest, Elizabeth from Desert Mirage High School.

Join me for a live conversation with my guest for tonight's State of the Union, Elizabeth from Desert Mirage High School!

Posted by Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD on Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Esteban wants to make a difference in her community. As an indigenous woman, Esteban wants to break barriers that are set on women in her community. She told NBC News that her community expects for women to stay home and be stay-at-home mothers.

The incoming Harvard freshmen was discouraged from applying to Harvard at one point because of her community’s unreliable internet connection. Esteban lives in a mobile home with her family in Mecca and struggled to complete course work. The internet went down in the middle of her Harvard interview and it almost prevented her from applying to the university.

“Well, I felt proud and excited, every sort of emotion because I never would have believed that a person like me, would be accepted to a prestigious university,” Esteban told NBC News about being accepted to Harvard on a full scholarship.

READ: California, Harvard, MIT File Lawsuits To Challenge Government’s International Student Visa Announcement

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com