From its local field operations in New York State and Washington, DC, Women is the First Environment Collaborative seeks to advance the reproductive justice agendas of American Indian women towards an expanded and revitalized reproductive justice movement. The First Environment program, founded by Katsi Cook (Akwesasne Mohawk) also intersects with diverse social justice movements through advocacy, communications and curriculum development.
This program is made possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation. The project works to develop American Indian youth leadership to encourage a new generation to protect and promote social justice in environmental, reproductive rights and Native rights arenas.
The legacies of colonialism, including historical trauma, multi-generational soul-wounding, the erosion of family and gender relations from the boarding school experience and the toxic contamination of subsistence life ways have forged diverse socio-cultural contexts from which Native American women must formulate opinions, ideologies, and solutions to the problems they face in everyday life.
From puberty into the childbearing years; into menopause and elder-hood, there is a need to incorporate and integrate biomedical knowledge, indigenous knowledge, ideas and practices (the “traditional”) in developing resources for community education, training and research.
Building from an empowerment model based in cultural survival, Women is the First Environment Collaborative aims to include a new generation of young American Indian women at risk who are most in need of ties to positive models in community culture.