Indigenous Rights-Temp

Moderator

Shaunna Oteka McCovey

Shaunna Oteka McCovey is Yurok and Karuk and a member of the Yurok Tribe. She has worked for environmental organizations including Ocean Conservancy and Ecotrust. She is a board member of the Portland-based non-profit Pacific Rivers and was just appointed to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in her home state of California. She is also a poet and author of environmental essays and blog posts. Her work has appeared in magazines, anthologies and online journals, including Eating Fire, Tasting Blood: Breaking the Great Silence of the American Indian Holocaust, National Geographic’s Ocean Views Blog, and most recently, Ka’m t’em: A Journey Toward Healing, and Mni-Wiconi: Water is Life. Shaunna is a graduate of Humboldt State University. She holds a Master’s Degree in social work from Arizona State University, and a Master’s Degree in environmental law and policy and Juris Doctorate (JD) from Vermont Law School. Her poetry book is called The Smokehouse Boys. 

Panelists

Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director, Gwich’in Steering Committee

Bernadette Demientieff the Executive Director of GSC is Gwich’yaa Gwich’in; She was raised in Fort Yukon and a spent her summers in Venetie. Her great grandmother was Marcis (Horace) Moses from Old Crow YT Canada, and her grandfather Daniel Horace is from Fort Yukon. Bernadette is the mother of 5, and grandmother of 5 beautiful children. She takes this position very serious and has transformed her life to better serve her people. She stands strong to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge-Coastal Plain, The Porcupine Caribou Herd and the Gwich’in way of life. Bernadette sits on Native Movement Advisory Board, a member of the Defend the Sacred AK, also on the Alaskan Regional Board for NDN Collective, She participates in many women leadership activities and believes in the power of unity.Our Identity is non negotiable, we will never sell our culture and our traditional life style for any amount of money.

Tim Keenan-Burgess, Co-Director, Native Wisdom: The Peoples of Eastern Oregon

Tim Keenan Burgess is Paiute Shoshone and lives in
Portland OR. Tim is the Multimedia Coordinator at Wisdom of the Elders non-profit. He has served as Associate Producer for The Learning Channel; as well as Director, producer, editor, camera operator, etc. for many films, videos and broadcast companies. He was an organizer/promoter for the Portland Indigenous Film Festival “One Flaming Arrow” in 2016 and 2017. He currently provides training for emerging Native filmmakers and peer mentors and he is Co-Producer of Wisdom of the Elders monthly TV show, and Co-Director/ Producer of Wisdom’s ongoing documentary series.

The film, Native Wisdom: The People of Eastern Oregon highlights Indigenous scientists, artists and elders from several Oregon interior tribes, including the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Reservation, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, who share observations of their changing environment, natural resource issues, and the beauty of tribes’ traditional arts, music and storytelling.

Michael “Pom” Preston, Co-Director,

One Word Sawalmem

MICHAEL “POM” PRESTON is a member of the Winnemem Wintu tribe and the son of the current tribal chief, Caleen Sisk. He grew up going to his tribe’s sacred places and has been dancing in the Winnemem way since he was four years old. He continues to protect sacred sites along the McCloud River, which have been under threat of inundation from the Shasta Dam raise effort by the US Bureau of Reclamation.

Sawalmem, “sacred water,” is how the Winnemem Wintu tribe has always been in relationship with water.  Coming from Northern California, where water is abundant, the tribe decided it was time to share this meaning of Sawalmem to help change the concept of water as “resource” to water as sacred life giver.  As a member of the tribe, I decided to do my part in telling the world what my tribe is saying about water and became part of making this documentary happen.  

Farhan Umedaly, Director,

Gitxsan: Our Land, Our Laws

The son of refugees to Canada from Uganda, Farhan is committed to building alliances with indigenous communities through providing professional training and mentorship in filmmaking – an area of great opportunity as well as a powerful tool to give voices to those who have important stories to tell.

In 2017, Farhan founded the Empowered Filmmaker Masterclass which has trained more than 200+ indigenous participants to be filmmakers. He is also an instructor at Simon Fraser University within the Beedie School of Business and a guest lecturer on the topic of Human Rights – International Studies program.