Stories articles Indigenous Guardianship

THRIVING PEOPLES. THRIVING PLACES. Indigenous women leaders portrait artwork wildposting on the street in New York City, NY, USA in 2021.

THRIVING PEOPLES. THRIVING PLACES. wildposting in New York City, NY, USA in 2021. Photo by Snakeskin Media, courtesy of Amplifier.

September 5, 2023

Celebrating Indigenous Women as Leaders for Their Peoples and the Planet

Every September 5th, the International Day of Indigenous Women celebrates the vital role of Indigenous women leaders for their communities, the ecosystems they inhabit, and, ultimately, all life on Earth.

Indigenous women's leadership is vibrant and ever-present in many ways, including protecting biodiversity and leading grassroots movements for the health of the planet. Around the globe, they work not for personal gain but for collective thriving by channeling their ancestral knowledge into action for a better future.

On International Day of Indigenous Women 2023, we uplift 15 Indigenous women leaders who work as activists, educators, artists, and scholars. These leaders are also featured in our THRIVING PEOPLES. THRIVING PLACES. campaign – a collaboration between Nia Tero and Amplifier, a nonprofit design lab that makes art and media experiments to amplify the most important social movements of our time. Each leader has taken a critical role in Indigenous-led movements around the world and each has made advocating for Indigenous rights and the protection of Earth their life's mission.

Indigenous Women Around the World Speak Up About Climate Action

In Brazil, Célia Xakriabá (Xakriabá People), Nara Baré (Baré People), and Sônia Guajajara (Guajajara People) have all been among the first Indigenous women to become prominent voices in national politics, either as activists or congresswomen. In 2023, they have been at the forefront of multiple struggles faced by Indigenous Peoples, most notably the fight against the ‘Time Frame’ bill – Marco Temporal, among other threats. The bill proposes to limit the demarcation of Indigenous lands to territories occupied before October 1988. But this ignores Brazil's dark history of forced displacement of Indigenous Peoples.

Célia Xakriabá is the first Indigenous woman in the history of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais to be elected as Federal Deputy. She has spoken about how the Indigenous women's struggle to have access to social organizations, public office, and deliberative spaces dates back centuries. "Now it's time to pave the way, because along with us, I want many others to come,” she said in an interview with the Brazilian NGO Instituto Socioambiental.

Across the globe in the coastal Sámi community of Unjárga-Nesseby in northeastern Norway, Gunn-Britt Retter (Sammi) is a professor and current Head of the Arctic and Environmental Unit for the Saami Council. She works to apply Indigenous knowledge to climate change, biodiversity, and natural resource management. “Climate change happens two to three times faster in the Arctic,” shares Gunn-Britt.

In Chad, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a member of the Mbororo Pastoralist People, is an expert in the adaptation and mitigation of Indigenous Peoples to climate change. She is an advocate for the greater inclusion of Indigenous Peoples and their knowledge and traditions in the global movement to protect all life on Earth. “When you are born an Indigenous person, you are born an activist for the environment,” says Hindou.

Join us today and every day in uplifting these and the other inspiring Indigenous women leaders featured in THRIVING PEOPLES. THRIVING PLACES., and download the artwork to share here.


The global campaign THRIVING PEOPLES. THRIVING PLACES., which launched in 2021 on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, highlights Indigenous women leaders and uplifts them through artwork. Original portraits were commissioned in partnership with Amplifier from Washington, D.C.-based artist and illustrator Tracie Ching (Kanaka Maoli) and designed in collaboration with Cindy Chischilly (Diné).