By Shannon Biggs and Pennie Opal Plant, Co-founders, Movement Rights
Mark your calendars for May 16-18 2019. The Frontline Oil and Gas Conference will bring impacted community members from across the country together in the Ponca Nation in Oklahoma for three days of training and collective work to protect communities from oil and gas related pollution and other harms.
“The Indigenous people of Oklahoma know all too well the effects of the fossil fuel extractive industry. We live with the direct consequences on a daily basis. Cancer runs rampant in our communities. Respiratory illnesses cause our children and elders to suffer every day. The medicine plants and animals live in polluted soils, drink polluted waters and breathe the same polluted air. Our entire ecosystem is suffering together, as we are one with all living things.”
— Mekasi Horinek
Three years ago, Ponca elder Casey Camp Horinek asked Movement Rights to help bring rights of nature to the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, in order to stop fossil fuels development from destroying life on tribal lands. Last year Casey led the Ponca Nation to become the first in the US to recognize rights of nature in tribal law.
But that historic victory is only the first step in protecting her community, and only the beginning of recognizing rights of nature as indigenous law rooted in the Sacred nationally. And it is only one inspiring part of the innovation and leadership that comes from the frontlines of the oil and gas struggles.
In 2018 Casey and Movement Rights brought the idea of an Indigenous-led Frontline Oil & Gas strategy-building gathering to the climate justice movement. And we are proud to announce that on May 16-18, 2019 the first Frontline Oil & Gas Conference will be held in Ponca City, Oklahoma. The Frontline Oil and Gas Conference will bring impacted community members from across the country together in the Ponca Nation in Oklahoma for three days of training and collective work to protect communities from oil and gas related pollution and other harms.
Not just another conference, this event is about building for frontline power.
For the Ponca tribe, enforcing their new law will mean taking fossil fuel corporations to court for violating the rights of nature. Bringing the climate justice movement to their homeland is a powerful demonstration of our unity and solidarity. For the climate justice movement, this event will host 200 national participants, 75% of whom will be Indigenous and People of Color grassroots leaders sharing their knowledge and skills with each other, and working toward a fossil fuel free future.
As Mekasi Horinek says, ” As a member of the Ponca Nation we are proud to host this event and tell our story, and give a platform for others to share, teach, and learn what we all can do to help each other change this cycle of illness and death due to fossil fuel industry not just in Oklahoma but around the world. Physically, mentally, spiritually we must create change for a better world for people and our planet, and for future generations. It is time to shed full light on the genocidal impacts of the fossil fuel industry on the people and all living things.”
Together we can learn about what other communities are doing and how we can work together to collectively say ‘no’ to new facilities, and reduce the harm for those already living with oil and gas in their backyard. The conference has an emphasis on innovative strategies led by indigenous communities, people of color and grassroots activists. If you’re interested in being a part of this exciting conversation, please register today. Travel scholarships are available, to see if you’re eligible, please visit the website.
To help us spread the word, please share this blog, or follow Movement Rights on social media and look for the hashtag #FrontlineOG.