OUR VISION

We are a collective of Indigenous organizers of the Great Plains working to resist and Indigenize colonial institutions, ideologies, and behaviors. Our homelands are located in the vast grassland of Turtle Island, situated between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River and stretching from the Northern Tundra to the Gulf of Mexico. 

OUR TEAM

Sikowis (Christine Nobiss), Plains Cree/Saulteaux

Founder and Decolonizer

Sikowis (Christine Nobiss) is Plains Cree/Saulteaux of the George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. At 19 she began her life's work of uplifting Indigenous voices when she got her first job at the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council in Fredericton, Canada. In 2015, she founded Great Plains Action Society as a way to increase Indigenous solidarity in Iowa City. It turned into a full-fledged organization during the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which led her to start Little Creek Camp in February 2017. From August 2017 to September 2020, she worked for Seeding Sovereignty where she organized at a national level.

 

As her heart is with her people and the land Sikowis is back with Great Plains Action Society where she can work at a grassroots level and a fully Indigenous-led organization.

 

Sikowis is also a speaker, writer, and artist. She believes that environmental and social justice work are inextricably linked and change will only happen when we dismantle corrupt colonial-capitalist systems and rebuild them with a decolonized worldview. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 2008 with a Masters Degree in Religious Studies (with a focus on Native American Religion and Culture) and a Graduate Minor in American Indian Native Studies. She fights for a better future for her two young children.

Sikowis@greatplainsaction.org

Trisha Cax-Sep-Gu-Wiga Etringer, Ho-Chunk

Operations Director

Trisha Etringer is an enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation who grew up in Elk Run Heights, IA and currently resides in Sioux City, IA. Trisha recently graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her BA in Psychology and minor in Mental Health. Her goal is to obtain an M.D. with an emphasis on Adolescent Psychiatry. The long-term goal is to work within Indigenous communities who suffer from high rates of suicide, alcoholism, depression, and historical trauma.

 

Trisha possesses an array of skills such as videography, photography, and drone operating skills. Trisha is a single mother of four children. She hopes to raise awareness about various issues that parallel with other indigenous communities such as #MMIR, extractive fossil fuel projects, and addiction.

tetringer@greatplainsaction.org

Jessica Engelking, Anishinaabe 

Media & Fundraising Director

Jessica Engelking is Anishinaabe; her mother an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. She has a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota, Morris; where she made us of the university’s American Indian Tuition Waiver. As an undergraduate, she was active in environmental and social justice organizations. Jessica received her master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Iowa. Her research interests included the philosophy of fiction, metaphysics, and logic. While in Iowa, she became involved in the efforts to protect the land and water. She continues to work with Great Plains Action Society from her residence in Minnesota.

jengelking@greatplainsaction.org

Ronnie Free

Research & Administration Director

Ronnie James is an Indigenous activist and organizer in Des Moines, Iowa.

He currently organizes with The Great Plains Action Society and Des Moines Mutual Aid, in addition to being a father and a pre-law student. He is involved in many Mutual Aid projects centered around food insecurity, racial and economic justice, and our houseless relatives. 

He has many years of boots on the ground grassroots organizing experience, all informed from an Indigenous and anti-capitalist perspective. Ronnie is pursuing a law degree to further these goals and believes that by having a law license he will be able to effectively protect the vulnerable and support the courageous.

ronnie@greatplainsaction.org

Lance Foster, Ioway

Elder Advisor

Lance M. Foster (Irogre: Finds What is Sought, Bear Clan), b. 1960, is a member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. Raised in Montana, he received a B.A. in Anthropology and Native American studies from University of Montana as well as an M.A. in Anthropology and an M.L.A. in Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University. He’s an alumnus of the Institute of American Indian Arts. He was the Director of the Native Rights, Land and Culture division of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a Historical Landscape Architect for the National Park Service, and an archaeologist for the U.S. Forest Service. He taught at the University of Montana -Helena College of Technology. He currently serves his tribe as THPO (Tribal Historic Preservation Officer), consulting for the tribe on environmental and cultural compliance, founded the tribal museum, is an Ioway language advocate, and NAGPRA officer. He is the author of The Indians of Iowa (University of Iowa Press, 2009), has appeared in several cultural documentaries, and has other publications. An artist and educator, he resides with his wife in White Cloud, Kansas.

Alton and Foxy One Feather

Food Sovereignty Initiative

Alton One Feather, Sr. is Hunkpapa from Standing Rock and Mnicoujou from Cheyenne River. Foxy One Feather is from Oakland, California, and is Chichimeca from Guanajuato, Mexico. Foxy and Alton met each other during at Standing Rock while defending the water. They are now married and share a passion for food sovereignty. They were the head gardeners at Wiconi Un Tipi for three seasons. Foxy expressed that her grandparents were migrant field workers, which inspires her to do this work. 

Alexandrea Flanders, Ho-Chunk

No Hearts Left Behind, Youth Intern

Hinikaragi - I greet you, my name is Alexandrea Lee Flanders, and I'm an enrolled citizen of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. My Indian name is Caxsep Zi Inga, which means Golden Eagle Woman. For most of my life, I lived on the Winnebago Indian Reservation. It wasn't until I went to college at University of Nebraska at Omaha that I had my first experience off of the reservation. I'm a Susan T. Buffett Scholar, and I currently serve as the president of Intertribal Student Council; which is the only Native American student organization on campus. I'm majoring in English with a focus of Creative Nonfiction, and I'm minoring in Native American Studies, and Tribal Management and Emergency Services. What I'm finding as I attend school at UNO is that it's important for us Indigenous students, and community members to stand together and raise our voices at the injustices that happen around us. We need to let people know that we're still here, and we aren't going away. We need to show support for one another. A teaching I've heard as I grew up was the saying "We're all relatives", and I truly think that every time I see another Indigenous person, it provides a sense of comfort in the world that we live in.

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History

Resist and Indigenize

Great Plains Action Society was formally created in August 2016 out of the No Dakota Access Pipeline movement largely fought at the Standing Rock reservation and throughout Iowa. However, founder, Sikowis (Christine Nobiss), had been building an Indigenous organization in Iowa for years prior, She has also been organizing in Canada since the age of 19 and in the US since 2005. During the NoDAPL resistance, Sikowis created a Facebook page called Iowa to the Camp of Sacred Stone in order to gather donations for the Standing Rock camps. The page grew into what is now a 501(c)4 non-profit organization. The society held its first official meeting on October 15, 2016

Using notions of Indigenous sovereignty and traditional ideologies, we strive for environmental and social justice which are two issues that cannot be separated. As our climate changes, more people will suffer and our mission is to help prevent the atrocities that are occurring to our earth and the people she nurtures.

We do a lot, but our heart is set on raising awareness about the devastating effects that fossil fuels and Big-Ag have on our environment while simultaneously promoting the development and implementation of renewable energy and regenerative, Indigenous farming practices. Iowa is the most biologically colonized state in the country and the number one contributor to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico due to commercial farming and commercial infrastructure projects. 

There are more than 14,000 Native Americans from various nations living in Iowa, but only one settlement- the Meskwaki. Due to the fertile and productive quality of Iowa's soil, settlers were extreme about moving Indigenous Peoples out of the area. For that reason, Great Plains Action Society seeks to coalesce the Native people and their allies in this state so we may act and speak with a collective BIPOC voice. Our aim, as the Seventh Generation is to work from traditional, cultural, and Indigenous perspectives thus recognizing that we are stewards for Mother Earth. 

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©2016 by Great Plains Action Society