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Indigenous Environmental Network

The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), established in 1990, seeks to address environmental and economic justice issues by building capacity of tribal communities and governments to protect sacred sites, natural resources, and related health outcomes with economically sustainable practices.

Quick Stats

  • Partners with communities and grassroots organizations to address environmental justice challenges and racism.
  • Identifies food sovereignty as part of its larger analysis on climate change, tribal sovereignty, and the exercise of treaty rights.
  • Provides minigrants, information sharing, and capacity building to support positive environmental outcomes in Native communities across North America

Conversations Opening the Way to Action

Tribal organizations, leadership, youth, and community members gathered from across the country in 1990 to identify common environmental issues affecting Tribal lands and to work together to begin developing solutions. This conversation and those that followed formed the basis for the Indigenous Environmental Network, which works to address an array of environmental challenges affecting Native waterways, lands, and communities, including a history of external actors actively releasing municipal, nuclear, and hazardous waste on tribal lands and imperiling the natural resources on those lands. Thirty years later, IEN continues hosting this meeting annually as the Protecting Mother Earth Gathering in order to provide a platform for educating, training, and developing strategy on environmental justice issues impacting Native people across North America. Through these continuing engagements, the portfolio of IEN’s work continues to expand while much of this work directly relates to environmental outcomes, whether through providing grants mitigating mining activities or helping tribal communities engage with environmental policy, IEN continues to partner on agriculture and food projects as they are inextricably connected to the land and resources IEN strives to protect. The IEN Indigenous Food Sovereignty Program and related work has helped share the story of what food sovereignty means for Northern Minnesota Native communities, create at least one local learning garden, and start a commercial kitchen for farm to school and food businesses in Minnesota.

IEN’s commitment to remind people that indigenous people have a deep understanding of the solutions to problems of food, health and the environment, and staying steadfast to that message has been very important. Acknowledging the power and insights and practices of indigenous communities fuels and sustains the movement.

Indigenous-Led Environmental Justice

IEN amplifies the importance and sacredness of food sovereignty, which also includes the effects of global warming, nationally and internationally, using indigenous ways to combat the environmental, economic, and social issues of today. IEN works with indigenous communities to respond to the suffering of environmental injustice and racism. They work to tie grassroots communities together to recognize they are not alone, and to develop solutions and strategies together.
For more information, please contact Indigenous Environmental Network.


Senogles, Simone. Interview by Sarah Ballew, Headwater People. 7 June 2019.
IEN Family of Sites. Indigenous Food Network.