Rising Voices 3 Conference

By Wendy Dorman, NECSC Intern


This past week I was fortunate enough to attend the Rising Voices 3 Conference in Boulder, CO. Indigenous scholars and scientists came together from across the country to discuss and plan for climate change. I was able to contribute through note taking, assessing the relationships being built by the conference, and helping to organize a working group to put action to our words.

I heard stories from the frozen North where they are losing the land as the ice melts, and the tropical South where all that melted water is flooding islands and washing away homelands. I cried as I listened to a brilliant young student describe the struggles of her community through poetry, and hoped as I heard the story of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) revitalizing people and economies through production of the ulu (breadfruit). I heard people become defensive towards traditional science even as they tried to work together, and traditional scientists charging forward as we do without thought of the costs of these “benefits” to native peoples, and I saw a community of kind openhearted people willing to educate each other and work through our flaws.

Over two days we spent our afternoons grouped by topic. I took notes for the group “Health and Liveliness.” While many people started hesitantly on day 1, by the end of day 2 people were so fired up they were organizing and volunteering to work on problems together on their own time. One participant told me “this isn’t like a regular conference, this conference lasts for months after you leave.” I certainly hope so.