Native Movement is an Indigenous-led Alaska-based organization that envisions a world that embraces Indigenous values of reciprocity and respect with all beings. Our actions are grounded in ceremony, justice, and love in support of regenerative communities for all. We work throughout the state to build people power and support grassroots-led projects that ensure social justice, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and the rights of Mother Earth. Our board consists of all Indigenous women, our advisory board is entirely Alaska Native representing all parts of the state, and our staff are dynamic and passionate builders of all genders and backgrounds.
Native Movement understands that in order to make meaningful and lasting change it is critical to address root-causes to reshape oppressive systemic power structures. Investing in Indigenous and grassroots leadership is necessary for transformative and lasting change. We carry out our work in three intersectional approaches: First, through our Action and Advocacy Program we carry out campaigns and organize with communities on issues of environmental justice, climate justice and gender justice. Second our Community Affiliate Program is providing direct support to grassroots community initiatives through fiscal sponsorship, administrative support, and regranting. Third, our Community Education Program provides training and is facilitating dialogue that deepens critical analysis toward building strong collaboration and more effective strategies. Finally, throughout our work we center an Indigenous worldview, incorporate ceremony as strategy, and prioritize rest and healing as part of our programs.
Environmental Justice Leader Spotlight
Brittany Woods-Orrison is a Koyukon Dené woman from Dleł Taaneets, an Alaskan village along the Yukon River. She grew up on her ancestral homelands learning how to harvest traditional foods and being taught her culture. Brittany attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, Alaska, then continued her student-athlete career at Menlo College. Brittany traveled around the Western United States learning about the lands, the waters, and the Indigenous stewards for a couple of years before returning home to Alaska to be the broadband specialist for Alaska Public Interest Research Group and Native Movement. Brittany now works on digital equity, cultural revitalization, food sovereignty, reconnecting to the land, and deep community building.
Deloole’aanh is Denaa, her family comes from the village of Ggał Doh (Kaltag), AK. Raised in the Tlingit village of Hoonah, in southeast Alaska, she grew up with a deep understanding of what it means to be Indigenous. However, growing up so far from her own culture left her with a feeling that she was missing something. Since she moved to the interior in 2010 she has been on a journey to reconnect to her culture. This has been a combination of language revitalization work, learning traditional arts from her region and going to Kaltag in the summer to participate in subsistence fishing with her cousins. Through this reconnection journey she found her way into Indigenous activism work and found a place with Native Movement as a community volunteer over the years and now as a team member. Deloole earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2018 and her Bachelor of Arts in Rural Development in 2021.
Sophie Swope was born, raised, and resides on Yup’ik lands in Mamterilleq, or Bethel, Alaska. Sophie is director of Mother Kuskokwim, an environmental conservation organization. She has worked in many sectors of her hometown, from Dental Assisting, to HR at her local Indian Health Services (IHS) facility, to being the Self Governance Director of her tribe, the Orutsararmiut Native Council.
Through her working background, she’s developed a great passion for the preservation of lands and the culture that relies on them. Sophie joined the nonprofit Native Movement as a Kuskokwim Community Organizer – with great hopes to end the intense extractive industries on Alaska lands, water, and air.
Why is Native Movement excited for WE ACT’s Justice40rward Community Tour to come to your community?
We are excited for WE ACT’s J40 Regional Tour to come to Alaska so that federal decision-makers can hear directly from community leaders and on-the-ground stewards about the unique obstacles our Alaska communities face and the creative solutions these communities are implementing to address climate change; transition to affordable, community-controlled renewable energy; promote Indigenous stewardship, increase food sovereignty; and increase reliable, community-controlled broadband.
What should others know about environmental justice in your community?
Environmental Justice means protecting Indigenous ways of life, supporting food sovereignty, and supporting all communities’ right to healthy water, lands, air, and future generations. Our Environmental Justice program supports local community power for the long-term protection and healing of communities.
What is your organization’s vision and mission?
We are dedicated to building people power, rooted in an Indigenized worldview, toward healthy, sustainable, & just communities for ALL.
Native Movement is an Indigenous-led Alaska-based organization that envisions a world that embraces Indigenous values of reciprocity and respect with all beings. Our actions are grounded in ceremony, justice, and love in support of regenerative communities for all. We work throughout the state to build people power and support grassroots-led projects that ensure social justice, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and the rights of Mother Earth.
Why is Native Movement excited about the Justice40 Initiative?
Most of the communities in Alaska are small, primarily Alaska Native communities off the road system (i.e., only accessible by plane or boat). The cost of living is extremely high, including very high energy costs, and employment rates are low. Many people still do not have running water in their homes, and vast swaths of the state have poor access to the internet. The primary source of energy in rural Alaska is diesel, which is both expensive and dirty.
Justice40 could help Alaskans build basic infrastructure, including broadband access and renewable energy. Access to reliable internet and clean, affordable energy will help communities move beyond the oil economy so they can pursue their own regenerative visions.
What are 3 projects you are working on with your community?
This is a hard question to answer because of the breadth of our work. We are a statewide organization that supports multiple grassroots efforts across the state spanning issues of LGBTQ+ rights, missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), climate justice, environmental justice, and energy justice. We are supporting communities fighting multiple extractive projects across the state, including the Ambler mine, the Donlin mine, and the Willow oil and gas project. We also support communities in their regenerative visions, including land back, food sovereignty, clean energy, and expanding broadband access. We hold trainings on decolonizing gender and untangling colonialism, among other things, and are fostering a cohort of community educators across the state.
What is a previous project or program that your organization is proud of achieving for your community?
Native Movement has shaped Alaska’s landscape of visionary justice-oriented movements. Our bold and principled actions and advocacy has broadened the possibilities of what is considered “politically realistic” solutions and inspired others. Our work has unwaveringly strived to adhere to the Indigenous knowledge and values while continuously reflecting on the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing, this has resulted in the expansion of these values and ethics throughout Alaska’s landscape of diverse advocacy groups.
Native Movement is often described by partners as an “ecosystem organization,” advancing a growing, thriving, and interconnected movement of collaborative work across the north. We have co-founded and continue to foster several critical statewide coalitions, including the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Working Group, the Alaska Just Transition Collective, the Alaska Climate Alliance, and the Alaska Coalition for Justice.
The growth of Native Movement’s Community Affiliate Program is another critical indicator of our success, these groups include: Tlaa Deneldel, an Interior Alaska Native group building food sovereignty and culture revitalization through land-based solutions; Herring Protectors, a Southeast Alaska group centering ceremony for the revitalization and protection of a keystone species: herring; Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition, a group elevating climate solutions and foster a fair, equitable, and just transition; Mother Kuskokwim Tribal Coalition, an Indigenous women led group from the Kuskokwim Delta made up of Tribal Governments and allies working to uplift and strengthen Tribal voices of opposition to the Donlin Gold Mine; Girinkhii, a Gwich’in language revitalization, culture and arts project based in Fairbanks, led by Gwich’in elders, scholars, artists, and educators; Yaakwdáat Latínx’i Coalition, a coalition of Yak-Tat Kwaan shareholders working to stop the timber clear-cutting on sacred and culturally-significant sites; and Mumingnanium Manniauģnilum Suli Suanatiqaqtuk [Inupiaq Grandmothers Growing Goodness], a group of grandmothers in northern Alaska engaging multiple generations on Arctic issues to center the importance of tradition and culture creating. The growth of empowered community organizing throughout Alaska gives us confidence in the path we are creating toward visionary and lasting change.
Our Community Education program has trained hundreds of organizations and community groups and thousands of individuals, deepening our collective critical analysis and building stronger collaboratives for justice.
We have successfully utilized many strategies, from policy initiatives, narrative sovereignty to nonviolent direct action. Key throughout all our work Healing Justice, we know that the revitalization and re-creation of ceremony is a vital strategy. Healing is vital to the world we all deserve. Our organization’s leadership is expansive and visionary. We know we stand with our ancestors – past and future – and it is with Indigenous knowledge systems that we remember forward as we advocate for justice and shape our communities locally with global balance in mind.