Environmental and Indigenous Rights Advocate Tara Houska to Discuss Her Groundbreaking Advocacy Work During Residency at Dickinson

Photo of Tara Houska standing in front of a body of water.

Tara Houska. Photo by Nedahness Greene.

The Rose-Walters Prize for Global Environmental Activism

Advocate for environmental and Indigenous rights Tara Houska will discuss her work as a tribal attorney, land defender and founder of the Giniw Collective during a special event at Dickinson. Her public talk will take place Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. in the Anita Tuvin Schlechter (ATS) Auditorium. It will also be livestreamed.

Houska is the 2023 recipient of The Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize for Global Environmental Activism. This annual $100,000 prize is awarded to individuals or organizations significantly impacting responsible action for the planet, its resources and its people. Houska, a citizen of Couchiching First Nation, is a prominent opponent of the Line 3 and Dakota Access pipelines and plays an active role in the movement to defund fossil fuels.

The Rose-Walters Prize acknowledges Houska's many accomplishments, including founding the Giniw Collective, an Indigenous women and two-spirit-led resistance dedicated to defending the Sacred, advocating for systemic change that respects Indigenous sovereignty, prioritizing land defense, traditional knowledge and divestment to protect the Earth.

As part of the prize, Houska is conducting a two-week residency at Dickinson, where she will visit classes and meet with student groups. She will mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Oct. 9 during an open house at Dickinson’s new Center for the Futures of Native Peoples.

Houska grew up in rural Ranier, Minnesota, across the border from the Couchiching First Nation in Ontario. She worked as a tribal attorney in Washington, D.C., clerking with the Obama administration, and then advising Sen. Bernie Sanders on Native affairs during his 2016 presidential campaign. She committed to full-time advocacy with a non-profit during the Dakota Access pipeline protests. Upon returning home to protect her people's territory from the Line 3 pipeline, she established the Giniw Collective.

Houska also co-founded Not Your Mascots, a non-profit promoting positive representation for Native Americans. She has contributed to publications including All We Can Save, The New York Times and Vogue. Houska’s daughter's birth intensified her determination to protect the planet. She believes in fostering a holistic and pragmatic movement, centering values that emphasize natural law, humility, empathy and the translation of words into action.

The Rose-Walters Prize has previously honored advocates including Elizabeth Kolbert, Mark Ruffalo, Bill McKibben and Lisa Jackson.


Published September 29, 2023