- Our Vision -
Using Notions of Sovereignty to Fight for Mother Earth
Indigenous Iowa was created in August 2016 out of the No Dakota Access Pipeline movement in largely fought at the Standing Rock reservation and throughout Iowa. However founder, Christine Nobiss, had been working on building an Indigenous organization in Iowa for years, She has also been organizing in Canada since childhood and in the US since 2005. During the Standing Rock NoDAPL sovereignty fight, Christine created a Facebook page called Iowa to the Camp of Sacred Stones in order to gather donations for the Standing Rock camps. With the integral support of the rest of the Indigenous Iowa council, the page grew into what is now a 501(c)4 non-profit organization. The council held its first official meeting on October 15, 2016
Indigenous Iowa is a part of the Indigenous resistance and was formed out of concern for Iowa's environment and for the future of earth’s people. Using notions of Indigenous sovereignty and traditional ideologies, we strive for environmental and social justice which are two issues that cannot be separated. As our climate changes, more people will suffer and our mission is to help prevent the atrocities that are occurring to our Mother and the people she nurtures.
One of our main goals is to raise awareness about the devastating effects that fossil fuels and Big-Ag have on our environment while simultaneously promoting the development and implementation of renewable energy and sustainable farming. Thus, we strive to educate and stop world conglomerates that have not yet woken up to the devastating reality that they have created for the rest of us inhabiting Mother Earth. We are also concerned about our home, Iowa, where farm and animal runoff have poisoned our land, air, and water. Iowa is the most biologically colonized state in the country and the number one contributor to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico due to Big-Ag and commercial infrastructure projects. Iowa is the only state bordered by the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers, the two largest rivers on Turtle Island. Though it is a unique and beautiful river valley, unfortunately, runoff from this state has a direct line to the Gulf of Mexico.
There are more than 14,000 Native Americans from various nations living in Iowa, but only one settlement- the Meskwaki. Due to the fertile and productive quality of Iowa's soil, settlers were very extreme about moving Natives Americans out of the area. For that reason, Indigenous Iowa seeks to coalesce the Native people and their allies in this state so we may act and speak with a collective, Indigenous-minded voice. Our aim, as the Seventh Generation is to work from traditional, cultural, and Indigenous perspectives thus recognizing that we are stewards for Mother Earth. We are constantly forming alliances with archaeologists, attorneys, tribal leaders, and other organizations passionate about environmental and social justice in order to bring our goals to the forefront of settler descendant society.
- Our People -
Indigenous Iowa is run by a collective of Natives that do all they can to decolonize settler descendant "norms".
Christine Nobiss, Plains Cree/Saulteaux - Founder
Christine Nobiss is Plains Cree/Saulteaux of the George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Founder of Indigenous Iowa, Little Creek Camp, and Decolonizer with Seeding Sovereignty, she lives a busy life organizing in Iowa and around the country. She is also a speaker, writer, artist and movement mentor in Iowa, and across the nation. She believes that environmental and social justice work are inextricably linked and change will only happen when we dismantle corrupt political and economic systems and rebuild them with a decolonized worldview. Christine graduated from the University of Iowa with a Masters Degree in Religious Studies (with a focus on Native American Religion and Culture) and a Graduate Minor in American Indian Native Studies. She fights for a better future for her two small children.
Trisha Caxsep Guwiga Etringer, Ho-Chunk
Trisha Etringer is an enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation who grew up in Elk Run Heights, IA and currently reside in Cedar Falls, IA. She is a senior at the University of Northern Iowa about to complete a Psychology Major and minor in Mental Health. Her goal is to attend the University of Iowa Medical Program for Psychiatry education and training to become a Child Psychiatrist. The long-term goal is to work within Indigenous communities who suffer from high rates of suicide, alcoholism, depression, and historical trauma.
She works with Indigenous I.O.W.A. because she wants to focus on giving an Indigenous perspective on social and environmental justice issues in the state she grew up in. Trisha volunteers as a videographer, photographer, drone operator, and editor for Women’s Indigenous Media (WIM).
Among those fights and causes, she is a single mother of four beautiful children and believes that it is crucial to teach them the
importance of their enriched heritage and culture as there is a need for that in Iowa. Iowa was home to about 28 First Nations before the Indian Removal Act. Present day, she feels lucky to look around and name five Indigenous people in her area at any given time. She feels that growing up as an adopted daughter of a John Deere electrician, that she lacked the importance of her Indigenous heritage. There was a deep need as she got older to learn about her roots and years later, she is still learning.
It is highly important to include Indigenous perspectives in Iowa, because Trisha’s children will one day ask about their Indigenous heritage and she wants them to be able to trace back their history. This is is why she is heavily involved with Indigenous-led environmental and social justice projects, specifically in Iowa, because she can set the bar high for her children to look up to. Trisha also feels that other Indigenous individuals will have something to identify with, know who they are, and feel more comfortable if she sticks with her goal of empowering Indigenous voices in Iowa.
Jessica Engelking, Anishinaabe
Jessica Engelking is Anishinaabe; her mother an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. She has a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota, Morris; where she made us of the university’s American Indian Tuition Waiver. As an undergraduate, she was active in environmental and social justice organizations. Jessica received her master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Iowa. Her research interests included the philosophy of fiction, metaphysics, and logic. While in Iowa, she became involved in the efforts to protect the land and water. She continues to work with Indigenous I.O.W.A. from her residence in Minnesota.
Lance Foster, Iowa - Elder Advisor
Lance M. Foster (Irogre: Finds What is Sought, Bear Clan), b. 1960, is a member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. Raised in Montana, he received a B.A. in Anthropology and Native American studies from University of Montana as well as an M.A. in Anthropology and an M.L.A. in Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University. He’s an alumnus of the Institute of American Indian Arts. He was the Director of the Native Rights, Land and Culture division of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a Historical Landscape Architect for the National Park Service, and an archaeologist for the U.S. Forest Service. He taught at the University of Montana -Helena College of Technology. He currently serves his tribe as THPO (Tribal Historic Preservation Officer), consulting for the tribe on environmental and cultural compliance, founded the tribal museum, is an Ioway language advocate, and NAGPRA officer. He is the author of The Indians of Iowa (University of Iowa Press, 2009), has appeared in several cultural documentaries, and has other publications. An artist and educator, he resides with his wife in White Cloud, Kansas.