Native Voices Books
Award-winning book highlights Turtle Island's foremost indigenous environmental warriors.

10 Environmental Warriors You've Got to Meet

Vincent Schilling

Turtle Island, like the rest of the planet, is beset with environmental damage that at this point threatens humanity’s very survival. Tribal citizens, sung and unsung, are at the forefront of attempts to mitigate climate change and other adverse effects of the wanton extraction of resources, the gluttonous use of fossil fuels and the habitat destruction that is spreading worldwide.

Here we highlight 10 Native Champions who truly work for the good of our Mother Earth. These 10 Native Defenders of the Environment hail from all corners of Indian Country, from Canada, the continental United States and Alaska.

These defenders fight, and have fought, against a plethora of environmental concerns, including nuclear waste, the Alberta oil sands, uranium mining and so much more. Without further ado, here are 10 Native Defenders of the Environment, taken from the book of the same name.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo (Lubicon Lake Band of Cree)

Melina Laboucan-Massimo

Born in Peace River Alberta in 1981, Melina Laboucan-Massimo is a Lubicon Lake Band Cree who works tirelessly as a tar sands campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. Growing up in Canada’s oil-sands region, she has seen the effects of industrialized oil extraction on her people.  After traveling all over the world to learn about indigenous cultures, Melina eventually returned to study in Canada and eventually earned a Master’s Degree in environmental studies.

Battling the onset of illness in her own family, Melina works every day against the plight she calls environmental racism.

RELATED: Lubicon Cree Member Details Alberta Oil Sands Pollution


Winona LaDuke (White Earth Band of Ojibwe)

A former Green Party vice presidential candidate and the founding director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, Winona LaDuke has won the Reebok Human Rights Award and been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca, New York. She was also named one of Time magazine’s 50 Most Promising Leaders Under 40 in 1994.

For decades LaDuke has fought environmental injustices ranging from unfair uranium mining practices, to the battle for food sustainability in Indian country, and the dangerous practices of chemical companies such as Monsanto, to name but a few. Currently she is fighting against the Keystone XL pipeline.

RELATED: Winona LaDuke: Keep USDA Out of Our Kitchens

Three Horseback Journeys Trace Paths of Imminent Pipeline Destruction

Clayton Thomas-Muller (Mathais Colomb Cree Nation)

Clayton Thomas-Muller is a co-director of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign of the Polaris Institute and an organizer with Defenders of the Land. He serves on the boards of the Black Mesa Water Coalition, the Global Justice Ecology Project and Bioneers. He is also a steering committee member of the Tar Sands Solutions Network and a member of the Indigenous Environmental Network who was hailed as a “climate hero” by Yes! magazine in 2009. A former leader of organizations such as the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Youth Alliance, Thomas-Muller is also a hip-hop artist who travels the world sharing leadership skills with youth and encouraging them to succeed. 


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