This was written by Stephanie BadSoldier Snow:
I’m an Indigenous mom of two children, a wife, and an active member of my Tribal community. I am HoChunk, Meskwaki, Lakota, and Umohon.
I was born and raised on the Meskwaki Settlement in Central Iowa, the traditional homeland of the Ioway Tribe, for which the state is named.
The Meskwaki Nation is an Algonquin group originally from the Eastern Woodlands. The Meskwaki was pushed westward because of settler expansion and the conflicts that emerged from this. The Meskwaki made their way to the Great Lakes region. By 1735, the Meskwaki moved from Wisconsin into Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. The Tribe established its Settlement in 1857. After being forced to reservations in Kansas and Oklahoma, those who resisted pooled their money together to buy the first 80 acres.
The Meskwaki Nation is the only resident Tribal group in the state of Iowa. Its land base, the Meskwaki Settlement, is the only one of its kind. It now stands at over 7,000 acres and has around 2,000 members.
To deal with the climate crisis, we have beliefs about our relationship to the Land. The story of our origin tells us that we have always been, and still are, in direct connection with the Earth (soil, dirt, clay) itself, and therefore, everything in and on it are interconnected. We cannot change others’ core beliefs, but if the concept of responsibility and stewardship could be understood by more people, we would make great strides in fixing what we have broken.
Tending the Earth is a Meskwaki tradition of regenerative and sustainable growing practices that work with Her, rather than trying to gain full control of Her. This should be taught to anyone with an interest in agriculture and food production. Funding should also be provided that supports changes needed to slow climate change, improve air and water quality, and become less dependent on chemicals that make animals and people sick.
What Indigenous Peoples rights means to me is the freedom to live peacefully on our Tribal lands without interference of our foodways, traditional customs, the use of our languages, and without fear of further loss of these precious ways. We want to eat clean food, breathe clean air, drink clean water, and carry on our cultures in a good way, knowing that all that surrounds us is safe. We want to protect our territories and change policies that hinder our lifeways and the foundation of our cultures.