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Great Plains Action Society’s Theory of Change

Written by Sikowis Nobiss

Great Plains Action Society addresses the trauma Indigenous Peoples and our Earth have faced and works to prevent further colonial-capitalist violence through education, direct action, cultural revival, mutual aid, and political change. We believe that Indigenous ideologies and practices are the antitheses of colonial capitalism, and we deploy these tools to fight and build on our vision–tools that are deeply embedded in a culture of resistance. 

Indigenous Peoples in the US and around the world have created a culture of resistance, built on the frontlines, that is now a way of life. It can be found in our dancing, singing, clothing, art, and in our political motivations. For instance, the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) song was created out of the Red Power Movement and is sung at many of our cultural events and in our movement spaces, which are often one and the same. It began with the need to protect our homes and way of life from settler invaders, colonial militias, and imperialist governments. There is over a 500-year history of Indigenous resistance to the violent nature of colonial-capitalist genocidal and extractive practices. As stewards of the land, our ancestors saw right away that settler invaders, who were directly harming us, were also harming the environment and throwing the ecosystem off balance. The resistance is ongoing as long as genocide and colonization are perpetuated by the nation-state and its settler citizens. To be in a constant state of resistance is traumatic, hence why we suffer from intergenerational and historical trauma. Yet, it is necessary to protect our land, our people, and our ways from colonial-capitalist forces.

When we imagine a strong political infrastructure, societies built on compassion, and a regenerative economy, we see a focus on relationships and community. Contrary to this county’s notion of independent thought and action, we recognize the importance of relationships and community as the foundation for true democracy. Indigenous traditional societies and cultures are collectivist in nature and we find this to be a critical way of being as we face down the climate emergency and increased societal polarization caused by the adversarial structures of our current governing systems. Radical individualism only benefits the wealthy.

Unfortunately, we have a long struggle ahead of us–but we are up for the challenge. We have no choice. And so, we organize from the bottom up through grassroots and frontline efforts and we are informed by the communities that we serve and are a part of. This work has made it very clear that mutual aid is necessary for achieving our decolonized vision as radical love helps heal and activate more folks on the ground to get culturally, civically, and politically engaged. By empowering BIPOC, 2SLGBTQIA+, and Disabled folks to get involved in change-making, we are building faith in disenfranchised communities that currently lack trust in governmental institutions. Only through mutual aid and community-based organizing will we be able to increase genuine interest in social and climate justice matters, which affect everyday people. We also aim to get out the vote and increase political engagement as most of the big change we seek always comes down to legislation--even at the frontlines. 

The work that we do is often based on quickly having to respond to a situation--particularly in the realm of our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives crisis. New tragedies arise rapidly in frontline communities where resource extraction and colonial barriers directly correlate to violence, whereby Indigenous Peoples in the US and Canada have the highest murder and disappearance rates. When someone goes missing or is found murdered, it affects our communities greatly and it is necessary for us to respond quickly to these tragedies by helping families with our advocacy and Legacy Fund. Being a grassroots organization means we are able to pivot quickly in order to help when and where it is necessary, on top of our regular programming. We can only do this because we have a consistent presence in our communities and work in opposition to this country's notion of independence. The way we work, even through tragedy, allows us to come together as a community, lean on each other for support, and emerge more empowered.

Mission, Initiatives, & Methods of Engagement

Our mission is at the center of our work and is 

built upon community engagement and 

grassroots initiatives. Being true to our

mission has helped us define our 

work into three initiatives:

1) Protect the Sacred 

  • Ending the MMIR Crisis

2) Land Defense 

  • Climate & Environment

3) Representation 

  • Overcoming Whitewashing

We do this work through a variety of methods:

1) Utilizing Culture & Tradition

2) Mutual Aid Efforts

3) Education on Issues

4) Non-Violent Direct Actions

5) Increasing Political Engagement


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