Image Courtesy of: NDN Collective

Who is Takota Iron Eyes?

When speaking of his daughter, indigenous activist Chase Iron Eyes says, “By being brave, she makes others brave.”

At only twelve years old, Tokata Iron Eyes made her first step into the world of environmental activism when she spoke in a video for the organization Rezpect Our Water, imploring young viewers to mobilize and take action against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This was only the beginning of her fight for climate justice. Tokata soon became a key figure in the No DAPL protests, using her passion to draw thousands of folks from around the world to join in protest.

In her childhood, Tokata’s grandmother taught her the importance of caring for the land, and how this relationship to place can be mutually beneficial. In the viral video for Rezpect Our Water, Tokata calls viewers to action, “Respect our water, respect our land, and respect our people.” These principles are at the very core of her grandmothers’ teachings, and now at the very core of Tokata’s activism: respect the earth and those who care for it.

The Dakota Access Pipeline threatened Tokata’s way of life on Standing Rock. In an area already deeply entrenched in a cycle of inequality, where residents often suffer from unemployment, unsafe housing, and lack of access to healthcare, safe drinking water is vital. As a junior in high school, Tokata immediately realized that a single leak in the pipeline could poison the water supply that her school, friends, family, and community all depend on. Protecting the waters at Standing Rock became a human rights issue.

Tokata never stood alone. Chase Iron Eyes, Tokata’s father, has been a key figure in leadership at the Lakota People’s Law Project, a massive organization dedicated to putting a stop to pipelines.  Tokata has built on all of this momentum to fight for a more sustainable future for her community and the generations that will follow. She sees herself as a representative for all the indigenous people who cannot afford to protest climate conditions.

She now sits on the board of a non-profit sustainable energy group called Indigenized Energy. The group, led by executive director Cody Two Bears, installed a solar farm near the northern border of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. At the revealing of the solar farm, with her mind on the future, Tokata said, “I don’t know if you guys know what this means to me right here. It means I get to have a safe future, it means my children get to have a safe future, it means that I get to see grandchildren. This is the beginning. I cannot wait to build more of these.”

Today, Tokata continues to amplify her own voice and the voices of the indigenous youth around her. She appears at rallies, pushes letter-writing campaigns, and makes videos to broadcast indigeneity across the world. In an interview for Marvel’s Hero Project, Tokata said, “I would not be the activist I am today without media.” You can follow Tokata @tokatawin on Instagram, or seek out more information about the Lakota People’s Law Project

Want to learn more about the Lakota People’s Law Project? Click here to learn more.

Lakota People's Law Project

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