The first WECAN Indigenous Women's Tongass Delegation speaking with policy makers in Washington D.C., March 2019
Photo via Melissa Lyttle
Dear Friends and Allies,
Global forests and forest communities are under great ecological stress and outright assault. Fires continue to blaze from the Amazon to Sub-Saharan Africa, and political leaders continue to impose neoliberal economic models that are dangerous and violent for people, forests, climate, and the planet. We are living on the edge of a tipping point, one where the decisions of a few are leading us all toward irreparable climate disaster. We know that keeping our forests intact, as well as defending and uplifting the voices of frontline forest defenders is crucial at this moment in time, and is an effective and central part of the solutions needed to resist current attacks and to build the future we seek.

Climate scientists are calling for the protection of forests due to their abilities to stabilize the climate, sequester carbon, and provide a home to unique bio-diverse ecosystems. In addition to other WECAN International programs, our "Women For Forests" program is critical for elevating the voices and solutions of women working on the frontlines of forest protection as we experience ecosystems worldwide under threat of destruction.

From November 11 - 15, a WECAN Indigenous Women's Tongass Delegation will travel to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the protection of over 9 million acres of ancient old-growth forest, and the continuation of the Roadless Rule, an important measure to protect Alaska's Tongass National Forest, which falls within the traditional territories of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Peoples.

The Tongass National Forest has been called "America's Climate Forest" as it is the single most important national forest for carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation in the U.S. Recently, the Trump administration unveiled a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that will devastate long-standing protections against logging and road-building in the Tongass National Forest, which will further harm our global climate and threaten the livelihoods of Indigenous and local communities and the cultural survival of Indigenous peoples.

The Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) is honored to facilitate this Delegation where we will meet with members of Congress, committee staff, USDA, and the Forest Service to address current attacks on forest protections. WECAN has been working in the Tongass for over three years, and this is the second time we have had the honor to organize a delegation of Tlingit women traveling to the U.S. capital to fight for the protection of their forest homelands. To learn more about the inaugural delegation that took place in March of this year, please watch the video below.
Tlingit Women Advocate During Historic
Delegation To Protect The Tongass Rainforest
Continue reading to learn more about the members of the November 2019 Indigenous Women's Tongass Delegation and what you can do to support the Tongass. Please consider donating to support our advocacy efforts in Washington D.C.
Take Action to Protect the Tongass | WECAN International

The WECAN Indigenous Women's Tongass Delegation and allies understand the gravity of the issue and are united in calling for support of the current Roadless Rule and its protection of the Tongass.

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Adrien Lee, WECAN Tongass delegate in her homelands
Photo via WECAN International/Katherine Quaid
Kari Ames, WECAN Tongass delegate in her homelands
Photo via WECAN International/Katherine Quaid
Adrien Nichol Lee, Tlingit
President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 12, keeper of Tlingit cultural education,
WECAN Tongass Delegate
Adrien Nichol Lee is Tlìngit Chookenshàa living in Hoonah, Alaska year around. She is President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 12. Adrien and her family harvest from the Tongass to prepare for the long winters, and while she has spent the past seven years in management work, she has also dedicated herself to pursuing her grandmother’s footsteps in cultural Tlingit education.

Kari Ames, Tlingit
Alaska Native Voices Cultural Heritage Guide, keeper of traditional life-ways,
WECAN Tongass Delegate
Kari Ames is of the Tlingit Nation. She grew up and lives in Xuna Kaawuu (People of the North Wind) also called Hoonah, which is a small town of 800 people on Chichagof Island in Southeast Alaska. Her Tlingit name is Dee Yaa, and she is Yeil Raven moiety of the Lʼuknaxh.adi (Coho Salmon Clan) from the Frog House. Kari is currently working for Alaska Native Voices as a Cultural Heritage Guide in Glacier Bay National Park. She is deeply involved in her culture — weaving the past and the future together, living and learning as much as she can about her culture including traditional singing, drumming, hunting and gathering of plants.

Delegates Adrien Lee and Kari Ames will travel to Washington D.C.
“I am part of the WECAN Tongass delegation going to Washington DC. I am an Indigenous women of the Tlingit Nation of the L’uknaxh.ádi, the Coho Salmon Clan under the Raven moiety from the Frog House. I am deeply rooted to this land for thousands of generations as a steward of this land. We have been here since time immemorial our elders say, and I follow the footsteps of my ancestors. The women here are strong, they hunt and gather not just the men. The current Roadless Rule needs to be strengthened and not weakened in any shape or form, and it needs to be coded into permanent law. We must keep the Tongass out of the hands of the Trump administration who is seeking to remove protections. In the Tongass, there are innumerable fish and game populations, and unparalleled recreational and business opportunities. Fishing and tourism are billion dollar industries, which Southeast Alaska economies are based upon. This affects our cultural and Indigenous rights to protect Haa Aani, Our Homeland. I am a strong Tlingit woman here to stand for the Tongass, and be the voice for the Aas Kwaani, the Tree People. This is our way of life to fight for our Indigenous rights as Human Beings that live by the Forest and Tide, the Tlingit.”

Kari Ames, Tlingit
On November 14, in addition to the WECAN Indigenous Women's Tongass Delegation advocating in Washington D.C., Wanda Culp, Rebekah Sawers, and Ernestine Hanlon-Abel , will represent the WECAN Tongass Delegation at a public hearing in their home of Hoonah, Alaska. They will provide testimony and statements in support of the Roadless Rule and the Tongass.
Wanda “Kashudoha” Culp, Tlingit
Activist, artist,
WECAN Tongass Coordinator
Wanda "Kashudoha" Culp is an Indigenous Tlingit activist, advocate, and hunter, fisher and gatherer of wild foods, born and raised in Juneau, and living in Hoonah, Alaska. She is the mother of three children, and is recognized as a storyteller, cultural interpreter, playwright, and co-producer of the film Walking in Two Worlds. As of 2016, Wanda has united with WECAN as a Regional Coordinator, revitalizing initiatives to protect the Tongass Rainforest and the traditional rights and life-ways of the regions Indigenous peoples.
Rebekah Sawers, Yupik
Indigenous Youth Educator,
WECAN Tongass Delegate
Rebekah Sawers is an Alaskan Native Yupik and a mother, a daughter and an aunt who now lives in the Tongass and works with Indigenous youth in educational programs in Hoonah, Alaska. Her husband and daughter are Tlingit, and Rebekah is part of a collective of women who are working to protect the Tongass Rainforest.
Ernestine “Kasyyahgei” Hanlon-Abel, Tlingit
Master weaver, and old-growth advocate,
WECAN Tongass Delegate
Ernestine "Kasyyahgei" Hanlon-Abel is Tlingit Raven Dog Salmon living in Hoonah, Alaska. She is a master spruce root and Chilkat weaver and spends each spring and summer gathering roots from the Tongass. She is an advocate for the forests and has spent decades fighting against industrial-scale logging and for the protection of the old-growth trees within the Tongass National Forest.
The delegation to Washington D.C. is joined by

Osprey Orielle Lake
Founder and Executive Director of the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International, and Delegation organizer.
Katherine Quaid
Communications Coordinator, Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International
Photo on Left: Osprey Orielle Lake (right) with Wanda Culp (left), Tlingit activist and WECAN Tongass Coordinator during a program trip to Wanda's home of Hoonah, Alaska. Photo via WECAN International/Katherine Quaid

Photo on Right: Katherine Quaid speaking at a recent action during the World Bank annual meeting in Washington D.C. Photo via SustainUs
Please join us in protecting over 9 million acres of ancient forest, defending the climate, and standing with Indigenous land defenders and all forest protectors by supporting WECAN International's campaign to protect the Tongass National Forest!
The period for public comment on the current Roadless Rule exemption is open from now until December 16, 2019. Please join us today in submitting a public comment in support of keeping the Roadless Rule intact in the Tongass National Forest.
Consider supporting the WECAN Indigenous Women's Tongass Delegation's advocacy efforts in Washington D.C. and in our local organizing in the Tongass. Your donation will go toward ensuring the voices of Indigenous women and allies are heard throughout the halls of Capitol Hill as the delegation meets with policy makers and continues to work locally.
The Tongass is the world's largest temperate rainforest, sequestering millions of tons of carbon in its old growth forests. If industrial scale logging and deforestation is allowed in the Tongass it will impact everyone on the planet - please share this important campaign with your family and friends, and invite them to take action!
On November 14, the U.S. Forest Service will hold a public hearing in Washington D.C. to hear testimony on the proposed Roadless Rule exemption in the Tongass National Forest. This is the only public meeting being held outside of Alaska! Please come out, meet the WECAN Tongass Delegation, and join us in speaking up in support of the Tongass.
Beginning in the 1950's, aggressive, controversial commercial logging clear-cut large areas of the Tongass National Forest, negatively impacting the forest and the local Indigenous Peoples who are tightly intertwined with the dynamic ecosystem. Logging in the Tongass destroyed sacred sites of the Indigenous Peoples of the region, damaged areas of traditional and customary use, and harmed watersheds and rivers as well as the global climate.

After years of advocacy, the 2001 National Roadless Rule was implemented, which protects upwards of 58 million acres of national forest lands from further development, virtually preventing old-growth logging; roadbuilding; and coal, gas, oil, and other mineral leasing. The rule has always had tremendous public support, and continues to do so with a 2019 poll finding three-fourths of the general public in support of the Roadless Rule.

In 2018, just as the Tongass began to heal, Alaska's congress members petitioned for the U.S. Forest Service to consider exempting the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule. Since, the U.S. Forest Service and Trump Administration have been working to open the Tongass up to further old-growth logging and extraction, with revelations that President Trump exerted pressure to allow new clear-cuts in the Tongass . As parts of Alaska are warming at roughly twice the rate of the rest of the planet, maintaining an intact Tongass ecosystem is critical to providing climate change solutions for the U.S. and international climate efforts. Learn more about the Roadless Rule and the WECAN "Women For Forests" program in the Tongass on our website.
For the Tongass, the Earth, and All Generations,
The Women's Earth and Climate Action Network
(WECAN) International Team