Youth Leadership Keynote: Naelyn Pike | Bioneers 2017

Youth Leadership Keynote: Naelyn Pike | Bioneers 2017


ALEXIS: Camai, Everybody!
My name is
Alexis Bunten.
I work alongside Cara Romero
in the Bioneers Indigeneity Program.
My tribes are Aleut and Yupik
from Bristol Bay, Alaska.
I’m honored to introduce
our next speaker,
Naelyn Pike to
you today.
[CHEERS]
I know.
Whoo! Naelyn.
But, before I do, I want
to start with a brief story.
You know you’re living in a
confusing, topsy-turvy time
when Donald Trump makes
John McCain look like some kind
of every person’s champion for
access to basic human rights.
I assure you he is not.
[APPLAUSE]
When I first
graduated high school,
I went to Senator John McCain’s
presidential primary speeches.
I went with my
signs to protest.
He fought against
everything I was for,
things like a woman’s
right to choose,
putting a stop to
off-shore drilling,
free speech, separation
of church and state,
same-sex marriage,
funding for social services,
funding for science.
I could go on
and on and on
about everything he fought
against that I was for.
But you get the point.
During his second
presidential run,
he appointed the
abominable Sarah Palin
as his VP candidate,
who’s husband’s
great grandmother
is from the
same tribe as me.
But despite that, she consistently
fought against our subsistence rights
to hunting and fishing in
our traditional homelands.
So I was not surprised when
20 years later John McCain
put forth a defense bill
that included a rider
that gave land to Resolution Copper
for a mine to be put in Arizona,
and that land was Oak Flat,
a sacred site of prayer
for the San Carlos
Apache people.
Naelyn Pike just graduated
high school this year.
Woo! Give it up!
[CHEERS]
She is now the same age that I was
when I first started protesting McCain,
but she’s already been
fighting to save Oak Flat
for three years now.
Are you guys getting what
I’m saying here?
I’m old enough to be Naelyn’s mom.
I’m older than her mom.
And John McCain is still stripping
our sovereign tribal rights away
and destroying our sacred land
for mining and drilling
through his racist policy.
It is intergenerational now.
I first became aware of Naelyn
and her tribe’s fight to save Oak Flat
when I saw this viral image of a
beautiful young native woman
standing in her moccasins
in Times Square,
bow and arrow pointed
down towards the earth,
looking forward with a determined
look on her face that portrayed strength.
Naelyn’s spirit that came through this
photo gave me a kind of hope that—
I can barely explain it in words.
I’m sure you’re getting it right now
looking at the photo.
Later, I learned that this
photo was taken when Naelyn
was on an epic road trip from the
San Carlos reservation in Arizona
to Washington, D.C. to fight
to take back Oak Flat.
Last year I had the privilege to finally
meet her in person and work with her.
This poised, powerful young woman
has what it takes to organize people to fight,
despite ongoing generational trauma,
despite the current administration,
probably even
stronger for it.
When you hear her speak,
she is like a cipher
that brings the wisdom of
generations with her.
The last thing I want to say
is that in addition to being very wise,
Naelyn is also incredibly down
to Earth and humble.
When I was facilitating the
Intercultural Conversations project
that my good friend and
program partner, Alvin,
spoke about earlier
on this stage,
I asked Naelyn if
she would be willing
to call our students and
speak with them,
and spend time with them,
at least virtually through our platform.
She took my phone call.
She dropped what she was doing,
which was she was literally
shopping for college supplies
at a store,
and she said, Yeah,
I’ll be available for your students.
When do you want
me to call in? I’m there.
Naelyn is just
like that.
So give it up
for my hero,
Naelyn Pike.
[APPLAUSE]
NAELYN: Thank you.
[NATIVE GREETING]
Hello, my name
is Naelyn Pike.
I am enrolled in the
San Carlos Apache tribe,
but I’m Chiricahua Apache.
I got a little choked up from
previous watching these discussions
and from the panel that we had
yesterday in the Indigenous Forum.
But right now I’m going to tell you
a brief of my story
and where I come from
and who I am.
I’m fighting to protect
our sacred land,
which is [NATIVE NAMES].
Those lands are my homes.
Those lands are who I am and
where I come from.
The place where I can feel free,
as being Nde, as being Apache.
Because that was taken away from me
and the generations before me.
That freedom to believe in anything,
that freedom to be who we are,
that freedom to pray,
to sing the songs,
to live on the land and
to be who we are.
That right was taken away.
And that’s what I’m fighting against.
That’s what we’re doing here today.
That’s what this generation
is doing here today,
is that we’re fighting against
these dirty politicians,
these corporations that want
to desecrate our sacred land,
that want to desecrate who we
are and strip our identity away.
That’s the generational fight,
where my great grandmother
was told she couldn’t
be who she was,
that she was stripped away from her
identity because that was savage,
that that wasn’t right.
Kill the Indian, save the man.
My grandfather growing up and
fighting and contemplating the idea
of why would someone want
to take away who I am.
And my mom,
standing behind him.
And it’s now my turn
to stand up too.
It’s my turn to take on this fight
and to understand and to teach
my little sisters,
my little cousins,
to teach my
future children
that who we are is powerful,
is resilient, is strong,
because we are
a beautiful people.
[CHEERS]
We have the right to go back
to these places because
San Carlos is where we were
placed as prisoners of war
after the Apache wars
in the 1800s.
That’s not my home.
It’s a place called
Hell 40 Acres
because it was a place where
no human beings could live.
That’s why I’m fighting for my homes,
Oak Flat and Mount Graham,
because those places,
you can be born there,
you can live there,
take the medicinal plants,
eat the food and
drink the water,
and be free,
and live that essence
of life of who we are,
that God-given gift,
our Creator, Yosen,
has given us.
And they want
to destroy that.
A block cave mining corporation
wants to destroy that land,
wants to take it and use the
money and put it in their pockets.
That oldest evil
in this world.
But I’m saying no!
And many people,
millions of people in this world,
are saying no!
We have so many sacred lands
that are going to be desecrated,
so many fights that are
going to protect Chaco Canyon,
to protect Bears Ears,
to protect indigenous land,
food, water,
the right to live,
our identity,
to protect the
[NATIVE NAME] ,
to protect the Missouri river.
We’re fighting against
so many pipelines,
these evilness
in this world.
And the thing is that these generations
behind us had told us this prophecy.
But there’s
another prophecy:
That the youth
is going to stand.
And that’s us today.
That’s us here and now.
[APPLAUSE]
I can no longer
stand and say
that these corporations
can do this
because enough is enough.
And each and every one of you here
today are making that stand,
you’re making
that difference.
You’re saying and you’re
awakening to this truth.
Because this truth has been
hidden for so long.
People put it behind us and say no,
we don’t want to hear it.
It’s just a native issue.
Go back onto the reservations.
No!
And that’s where we
stand here now
and that’s why I’m
telling you now
that these truths
need to be heard.
We need to
be awakened
and understand
that these things
do need to be heard because
if it’s not heard,
what are we
going to do?
What future are we going
to put for our children?
What future am I going to
let my children live in?
I cannot let this world be gone,
and I cannot be a bystander
because I’m afraid or
I don’t want to talk about the truth
or I don’t understand.
In order to create change and
make change for the people
is to unify because a true unity
is accepting one another’s diversity,
because each and every one
of in this room is beautiful.
We all have a story.
I have my own story.
My mom has
her story.
But as long as we understand
each other’s stories
and we accept
that beautiful diversity
in the people,
of all people,
because we are human
beings to this world,
and the one thing we have
to understand is that
we all have one issue and
we all can relate.
And that’s that we need
to protect this Earth.
[NATIVE WORD]
[APPLAUSE]
If we do not protect her,
if we do not save her,
and if we let all these corporations
take these resources until it’s run out,
then there’s no future
for our children.
And you’re hearing this
from a young girl.
So that’s telling
you something;
that this is a crucial time
that we need to make changes,
whether it’s through the laws,
to the systems, because
anything can happen.
Either we believe in this hope,
because I believe that there’s hope.
There’s hope within this room,
hope in this conference,
hope outside,
hope in the communities,
that there’s going to
be a difference.
There’s going to be a change
and that change is here now!
And if we don’t make that change,
then there’s no future.
Everything’s going
to be gone.
And that’s
what’s important
is to understand that we need
to protect these sacred areas,
these sacred lands,
and protect each other’s rights
to believe in anything,
because if we
don’t accept that,
then I gotta say,
then what are we doing?
What are we fighting for?
We must be
not thinking at all.
And that’s why we have to 
wake these dirty politicians,
like John McCain,
like Trump,
and because we
are the people.
We are the people.
We make that difference.
We make that stand.
We create
the policies.
If it wasn’t for the people,
then no one would be here.
And so tonight
and right now,
here I’m telling you
that I’m very proud.
I’m very proud of the youth
that are standing up.
I’m very proud to see the essence
in the children because that’s beautiful,
and we cannot
take that away.
We cannot take what
is important to us
and what is important
to those ahead of us.
Because the youth is
making a stand.
The youth is letting our
voice be heard
and if you can’t
listen to that, then
there’s no future.
So what I’m telling you is that
each and every one of us
have our
own story
but each and every one of
us needs to listen to it
because these lands,
these places, my land,
my home where I come from
and where I’m able to be who I am
can be taken away.
And if it’s not my land,
it’s someone else’s
and their community.
It could be in your backyard.
That’s where we have to
understand that protecting Oak Flat
and protecting all these
other sacred places
will set a precedent to the
future of this country,
to the future
of our people,
and humanity, and the
future of this Earth.
It is up to us to make that
stand now, here, today,
to stand up and take that path
because you can stand up
but it’s if you walk it every
single day of your life.
If you walk
that life,
if you take
that action
and after this conference
that’s what is important,
is what you’re going
to do next.
You may go to all these vendors
and you may go and look at the panels
and you may
watch me now,
but it’s what is
in your heart,
that fire lit
with inside you,
and that fire is
rising in the youth.
You can feel it.
You can feel it in the ground.
You can hear it in the trees.
You can feel it in the air
as you breathe it.
Because this change
is here and now
and it’s up to you to
make that change too.
To stand with us and
to just be you,
because it is important
that we unify.
It is important that we
help and support one another.
It is important that we
protect this Earth
and our right to be
a human being and
believe in anything that we
want to believe in.
It’s up to us here and now.
It’s up to you.
So [NATIVE WORDS],
thank you.
[APPLAUSE]

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