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.
Sikowis (Christine Nobiss), Plains Cree/Saulteaux
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.
Trisha Cax-Sep-Gu-Wiga Etringer, Ho-Chunk
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.
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 Indigenous I.O.W.A. from her residence in Minnesota.
Research & Administration Director
Ronnie Free is a pre-law student in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was born and raised.
He currently organizes with the Des Moines Mutual Aid Collective, which has a few ongoing projects including a weekly free food store (which was founded by the Des Moines chapter of The Black Panther Party and has continued to this day) and solidarity work with the unsheltered relatives that camp within the city. The collective recently waged a successful bail fund operation for those arrested in the events surrounding the murder of George Floyd and bailed out dozens of protesters in Des Moines and surrounding cities, as well as secure pro bono legal representation to many.
He has a strong interest in criminal justice reform and wider social justice in general, all informed from an Indigenous and anti-capitalist perspective, as well as many years of boots on the ground grassroots organizing. 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.
Lance Foster, Ioway
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.