Shaina Oliver from USA
I live on the ancestral lands of the Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Ute Nations., including the 45 tribes that once occupied the state of Colorado. I am a field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force and EcoMadres of Colorado Chapter. I am an advocate for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to clean air, water, lands, and health.
Most importantly I am an Indigenous mother of four, we are the descendants of the genocide known as the “Indian Removal Act”, known to the Dineh as “the long walk of the Navajo”. These types of policy violations have run a long historic impact on Indigenous peoples’, community, health, wealth, and environmental wellbeing. Its impacts continue to be felt today in the form of lack of consultation and consent with Indigenous leaders, extractive capitalism decisions made about resource extraction continue to hurt our communities, and environmental racism that we see in our communities as people of color, often as low-income community members. As a tribal member I have seen the devastation of degraded lands and the dwindling flocks of the birds, butterflies, and bees. Our Ancestral lands continue to be sacrificed for mining, drilling, and infrastructure of all sorts.
As a Colorado resident, myself and my family have experienced the worst air quality this past summer of air quality index above 120, according to IQAir reported by 9news Colorado.
It is Indigenous, Black, Latino, and low-income communities who bear the disproportionate burden of air pollution. Segregation has led to our communities being located by highways and industrial zones that impact our health. Many people, like me, bear the health burdens of pollution, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, cancer, and adverse birth outcomes. COVID 19 has become one more health burden our communities disproportionately bear.
And I’ve been living with asthma since my infancy. Worsening air quality due to heat and wildfires related to climate change has a direct impact on my ability to breathe. Protective policies that clean up air pollution will save lives in communities like mine. Over 26 million people in the United States are burdened with asthma, including more than 6 million children. With recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, confirms that climate change is “widespread, rapid, and intensifying,” reconfirming the warnings Indigenous knowledge keepers have been raising for years. We must think of our next generations future and livability standards and access to clean air, water, soil, and health.