Voices from Maple Nation Declaration

Bozho! Nyawenha skanoh! Boozhoo! Chwent Awskenehe! Shekon Sewakwekon! Kulahsihkulpa!

We send greetings in the Indigenous languages spoken across the territories we call home, the expansive northeastern forests of Maple Nation that we share with our plant and animal relatives who are in need of our voices.

We are indigenous women of Maple Nation: grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, and babies, gathered from many Indigenous Nations from the four directions. We come from different traditions, languages, roles and cultures. Yet, we all share in the traditional care-taking responsibility for the Maple Nation bioregion in which we live; the forests, medicines, fish, and wildlife, sacred rivers, springs, lakes and shorelines. We offer our gratitude for these generous gifts of Mother Earth.

The Haudenosaunee people view Maples as a leader among trees, for the ways they sustain us. They are ecological and cultural keystones in our cultures and a symbol of our region. Yet accelerating climate change threatens Maple Nation and the web of ecological relationships of which we are all a part.

Changing temperatures and unpredictable seasons place Maple forests and all of our non-human relatives at risk, when change comes faster than they can adapt. How will they regenerate in a world out of balance? Our plant medicines are moving away from us even as new species arrive. When shall we hold our ceremonies if the seasons they honor shift? How shall we tend our gardens and gather our foods, if the rains are unpredictable, if the temperatures wither the plants and the gardeners alike? What songs will we sing if the beings they sing of are gone? As we witness the suffering of Mother Earth, the emotional toll is high. The lands, waters, peoples and all beings of Maple Nation are suffering together. What we do to land, we do to ourselves. We feel their pain.

As Indigenous women, we carry special gifts and responsibilities to care for Mother Earth. Women are honored in our cultures as givers of life and caretakers of the land and water, gifted with special connection to the sources of life -- to seed, soil, water, and plants. Our work is guided by the wisdom of our ancestors and the expectations of our children. We stand together with shared purpose, strength and knowledge inspired by the presence of our first women, Grandmother Moon and Mother Earth. Our gentle gifts of compassion and healing are paired with fierce strength to defend all we love.

Our gifts as Indigenous women are connected to our responsibilities as culture keepers. We, side by side in balance with our men, are caretakers of ceremony, story, and song. We carry and nurture traditional ecological knowledge and environmental philosophies for caring for land. Our responsibilities encompass teaching, healing and leadership. As women, we carry authority for decision making on behalf of all life and we raise our voices for all beings. As inhabitants of this land since time immemorial, we have a deep understanding of change and the resilience it demands. We have weathered the shifting winds of history both environmental and political. Despite extraordinary threats, we are still here, carrying the wisdom that was entrusted to us. Our traditional teachings have been key to our survival in times of change. As our world is poised on the brink of climate chaos, the time to listen and act on those teachings is upon us.

We acknowledge that every one of us bears responsibility for the injuries to Mother Earth. Collectively Indigenous peoples have contributed little to the causes of climate disruption, yet we are especially vulnerable to its consequences. For us, climate change is more than an inconvenient truth. As Indigenous peoples, we are reliant on the gifts of land and water for subsistence and ceremony, our material and spiritual lives, as well as our health. Therefore, climate change threatens our very cultural survival.

We, the women of Maple Nation, raise our voices in response to these threats, on behalf of our beloved homelands and the generations yet to come. We will not stand idly by.

We commit ourselves to speak out on behalf of the wellbeing of Maple Nation, to take action to sustain the lands and waters that sustain us, and to support each other as we face these challenges. We will continue to lead our families, our communities and our Nations in resisting destruction and adapting to change.

We call upon our sisters, our brothers, all the peoples of Maple Nation and beyond to join us in this work guided by respect, reciprocity and reverence for generous Mother Earth who sustains us all.