On April 22-24, 2020, Native rock musician Robby Romero (Apache) will be one of the headliners of Mother Earth Day Live, a three-day livestream commemorating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, to be held this year as part of efforts to promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 22, 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 as International Mother Earth Day when the Bolivian led-resolution A/RES/63/278 was adopted. Today, there are approximately 476.6 million Indigenous people, belonging to 5,000 different groups, speaking 4,000+ languages, in 90 countries worldwide. It is estimated that Indigenous territories contain 80 percent of the earth’s biodiversity. Indigenous lands also hold unquantified megatons of sequestered carbon as 11 percent of the planet’s forests are under their guardianship. These regions face an unprecedented and rapid loss of biodiversity and climate change effects resulting from the fossil fuel-based industrialized global economy and natural resource extraction. Many traditional Indigenous lands have become biodiversity “hotspots.” For Indigenous Peoples, conservation of biodiversity is an integral part of their lives and is viewed as spiritual and functional foundations for their identities and cultures. It is no coincidence that when the World Wildlife Fund listed the top 200 areas with the highest and most threatened biodiversity, they found that 95 percent are on Indigenous territories. Indigenous Peoples and the environments they maintain are increasingly under assault from extractive industries such as mining, oil exploration, logging, and agro-industrial projects. Indigenous Peoples resist this invasion with tremendous courage and skill, but their protests are too often ignored by governments and corporations.
“After decades of warnings from us, the Indigenous Peoples, traditional and modern scientists, and nature herself, today we find ourselves in the midst of a man-made global crisis. The United Nations designation of April 22 as International Mother Earth Day provides an opportunity for its member States to honor the great laws of nature and our interrelationship with all living things — to create a safe and sustainable world, now and for the generations to come,” says Romero, president of Native Children’s Survival and leader and frontman of Native rock band Red Thunder.
Romero has been at the forefront of the Indigenous rights and environmental movement for decades advocating for Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth. Indigenous Peoples are on the frontlines of climate change and the ones most impacted. "Because the Indigenous Peoples live on the land, they feel the impact first. They feel the droughts, typhoons, cyclones, the receding ice, the loss of water, the hail, the snow, and other changing weather patterns that people have never experienced before. I'm from Siberia and I know that climate change has impacted my communities through weather patterns. It could be -41 one day and then it could go down to -15 the other day during the winter season. It's become very unpredictable, which affects the growing season and the animals. So the entire system is just collapsing and it's happening all over the world," says Cultural Survival Executive Director Galina Angarova (Buryat).
We live in a time where there needs to be a shift in mainstream consciousness. The COVID-19 epidemic has made it clear that we need to focus on collective wellbeing over profit and greed. "The simplification of wealth has led to the belief that money is the only solution, but there are multiple solutions to holding our space on this planet and being in a relationship and in equilibrium with it. [We value] having a multitude of relationships. That's why when we pray, as Indigenous Peoples, we pray for all of our connections and relations in the world. We pray not only with human beings but with the natural world. We do not objectify nature—animals, stones, birds, and rivers are our participants in this life, and they have an indirect relationship with us," says Angarova.
Mother Earth Day Live is organized by youth climate activists, and will feature a star-studded lineup that includes Joaquin Phoenix, Moby, Patricia Arquette, Jane Fonda, Robby Romero (Apache), Nahko Bear, Al Gore, Stacey Abrams in conversation with leading scientists and journalists about the ongoing climate crisis. Musical performances and DJ sets include Jason Mraz, Angélique Kidjo, Emily Wells, Aimee Mann, Ted Leo, Jack Johnson, Questlove, Talib Kweli, Beverly Bond, Madame Gandhi, Soul Clap and others.
Romero in his participation hopes to bring attention to Indigenous voices and the Indigenous rights movement for the protection of Mother Earth. He also hopes to bring awareness to the need for support of Indigenous led-COVID response in Indigenous communities and the need for Indigenous language materials.
Mother Earth Day Live will be live from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET on April 22nd, 23rd, and 24th at www.earthdaylive2020.org and accessible to watch on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch.