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In celebration of Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month, we invite you to join the Center for Civil and Human Rights as we hear from activists, leaders, and legal advocates about the fight for native rights.

Grandmother Grace Smith Yellowhammer,Billy Sparks and Michael Simanga will lead the audience through topics of the battle for clean water and the Dakota Access Pipeline and representation of indigenous nations on the United States map.


About the Panelists

Billy Sparks has over thirty years experience working with Native leaders, elders and elected officials.  Billy is a pipe carrier and received his first chanupa pipe from Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe for the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Nation. His family refused to go on the Cherokee Trail of Tears and stayed behind to protect elders and children who could not travel. In 1996, Billy helped establish the first Native American desk at a major political party at the Democratic National Committee and conducted cultural awareness training sessions around the country for campaign workers.

Dr. Michael Simanga,Georgia State University, Ph.D., is an activist cultural worker, artist and scholar in African American art and culture as an expression of identity, forms of resistance and transformation.

Grandmother Grace Smith Yellowhammer, Dine (Navajo) Elder, Founding Mother of the Prayer Vigil for the Earth. Grace has represented Indigenous issues to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, at the United Nations and with Congressional representatives in Washington, DC. At the conclusion of the first Prayer Vigil for the Earth in October 1993, Grace insisted that the event go forward encouraging the co-founders, Betsy Stang, David Berry and Sharon Franquemont, to carry on the annual work. She offered deep thoughts on the event’s purpose and suggested we gather together to become One Mind, One Voice, One Heart, One Prayer.

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