Madonna Thunder Hawk co-founded Women of All Red Nations (WARN) in 1978, organizing a health study of the drinking water on the Pine Ridge reservation. (WARN found the water to be highly radioactive, which led to the establishment of rural water supply system.) Thunder Hawk also helped organize the Black Hills Protection Committee (later the He Sapa Institute) whose goal is to protect the many sacred sites within the region’s treaty lands.
Madonna Thunder Hawk is a member of the Oohenumpa band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Her life’s work has been guided by the goals of winning justice for Native Americans. Madonna is the embodiment of courage. She was an original member of the American Indian Movement, a co-founder of Women of All Red Nations (WARN), and is currently the Lakota People’s Law Project’s principal organizer and Tribal Liaison. Madonna has been featured in several documentary films including the recent PBS series We Shall Remain. She is a grandmother, both literally and figuratively, to a generation of Native American activists. Through her work, Madonna builds alliances and support for Child Welfare among South Dakota’s tribal leaders and communities.
She is a veteran of every modern Native American struggle, including the 1969 to 1971 occupation of Alcatraz to the 1973 siege at Wounded Knee. Hailing from the Feather Necklace Tiospaye, which extends across the Lakota reservations of South Dakota, Thunder Hawk is also a long-time community organizer with a range of experience in American Indian rights protection, cultural preservation, economic development, environmental justice and Lakota social reclamation.
Born and raised on a number of South Dakota reservations, she first became active in the late 1960s as a member and leader in the American Indian Movement (AIM). In addition to involvement in the national and international arena for Native sovereignty, she anchored much of her organizing at the community level. While on the federal relocation program in San Francisco she joined the occupation of Alcatraz and has since been forever consumed by the indigenous struggle for self-determination. Once drawn into activism, Thunder Hawk has been a voice of resistance ever since.
She established the “We Will Remember Survival School” for Indian youth whose parents were facing federal charges or who had been drop-outs or “push-outs” from the educational system. This alternative home/school was part of the National Federation of Native-Controlled Survival Schools that was established during the movement as many alternative schools developed. Thunder Hawk was a co-founder and spokesperson for the Black Hills Alliance, which blocked Union Carbide from mining uranium on sacred Lakota land.
An eloquent voice for Native America, Thunder Hawk has spoken throughout the United States, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East. She was an International Indian Treaty Council delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva. She also was a delegate to the U.N. Decade of Women Conference in Mexico City and in 2001 to the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa.
Sarah Sense Wilson, LMHC, CDP, WSGCC-II, Chair of Urban Native Education Alliance
Sarah Sense-Wilson (Oglala) serves as the elected Chair for the Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA). Sarah is committed to strengthening our urban Native community through tireless advocacy, organizing, and networking both within the Native community and greater King County area. Central to Sarah’s values is student voice, “As an organization we need to be cognizant of its purpose at all times, we are here to serve the academic, social, emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs of our Native children”. Collaborating, consulting and sharing in decision making with students supports our emphasis on being student centered.
Sarah’s educational background includes a B.A. in Political Science, UW 1999, Chemical Dependency License 2004, and she completed her MA degree in Applied Psychology from Antioch University in 2010. Sarah is a Washington State licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a certified Problem Gambling Counselor. She has worked in the chemical dependency field for over 15 years, specializing in both family and couples counseling. Sarah is currently employed at Tulalip Tribes Behavioral Wellness as a Problem Gambling Coordinator.
Sarah and her partner Mark have one daughter who recently graduated from Western Washington University. Sarah enjoys her multiple volunteer roles and is highly motivated to improve academic and cultural enrichment experiences for our urban Native youth. Sarah believes both cultural knowledge and education are vital to strengthening and building the future for our urban Native community.
Hugo Lucitante is a member of the Cofán people of Ecuadoran Amazonia. He is currently concentrating in Ethnic Studies and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Brown University. His work focuses on historical research on the Cofán people with interest in Indigenous Studies and environmental and sustainable development. Through Brown initiatives, he has helped develop the Cofán Heritage Project. He works closely with the Linguistics Department for a Cofán language documentation project, and with the Cofán-Brown Student Alliance Club. In addition to his school activities, Hugo currently works as a liaison for his people and the community of Zábalo, both as an Eco-tour guide and as a sitting board member for the Cofán Survival Foundation and Fundación Raíz.
Chief Phil Lane, Jr – Hereditary Chief And Elder
Chief Phil Lane Jr. is a traditionally recognized Hereditary Chief and Elder. He is an enrolled member of the Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations. He is an internationally recognized indigenous leader in human and community development.The founder and chairman of the Four World’s International Institute (FWII), an organization dedicated to “unifying the human family through the Fourth Way”, Chief Phil Lane, Jr. is the recipient of many awards, including the John Denver Windstar Award, and is a frequent speaker on behalf of indigenous rights and wisdom
Peter Ali on Native American flute and Dean Evenson on silver flute.
Native American flutist Peter Ali will be sharing about his new album “Prayers on the Wind.” Looking forward to talking with Peter and sharing his music with you all.
Photo by StrongHearts Native Helpline.
Senior Native Affairs Policy Advisor
Caroline LaPorte is the first Native Affairs Senior Policy Advisor for the StrongHearts Native Helpline and is an immediate descendant of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. In her policy work, LaPorte, a licensed attorney in the State of Texas and who concurrently serves on the NIWRC’s Policy Team, will focus on specialized issues including criminal justice, children and youth, firearms, housing and human rights relating to domestic violence in tribal communities. Before joining StrongHearts, she worked as a family law attorney and at Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), an organization that represents children in foster care.
LaPorte brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in Indian law and federal, tribal and state jurisdiction to StrongHearts, having held a clerk position with the Office of Tribal Justice within the Department of Justice and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians criminal justice system. She has a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami School of Law in Florida and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Baylor University in Texas.
is an underground poet from the valley of the sun; a phoenix-born, Chicago-bred hip hop MC who uses his music and poetry to empower the people while documenting the struggles of community resistance to colonization on stolen lands. His current project Until We Overcome: The Hidden Facets of Apartheid in Amerika is a literary collection of voices and stories collected from the frontlines of turtle islands’ movements for justice.
We will be hearing songs from his CD.