Indigenous People's Day 2020: Confronting the Present: In Defense of Indigenous Territory Against Predatory Extraction

From Standing Rock to the Amazonian Rainforest, indigenous communities are at the forefront of today’s most important campaigns to contest the practices of transnationl extractive industries in order to protect sacred spaces and human rights. This panel features some of the leaders in the fight, both north and south.

Moderated by Benita Sampedro Vizcaya, Professor of Spanish Colonial Studies, former Associate Director of the Center for “Race,” Culture and Social Justice, and co-director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies program.

Translations for this session by Hofstra students attending a Latin American and Caribbean Studies course Elian Ramos and Evelyn Mejía


Patricia Gualinga, (Kichwa), Indigenous Rights Defender, community leader of the Pueblo Kichwa de Sarayaku (Kichwa People of Sarayaku), an indigenous community in the Ecuadoran Amazon.
Ruth Anna Buffalo, (Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara), legislator, District 27 North Dakota House of Representatives, Board Treasurer at National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, and Special Projects at First Nations Women's Alliance
Vilma Almendra, (Nasa/Misak, Colombia), Co-Founder, Tejijdo de Comunicación, Pueblo Nasa, Cauca, co-founder Pueblos en Camino.


Speaker Biographies:

Vilma Rocio Almendá Kiwenas, (Nasa/Misak, Cauca, Colombia), is a co-founder of the Tejijdo de Comunicación, a grassroots, internationally-recognized indigenous communication movement of the Pueblo Nasa, in the northern Cauca region of southwest Colombia. A long-time organizer and human rights activist, she is a contributor and co-founder of Pueblos en Camino. She is the author of Entre la emancipación y la Captura: Memorias y caminos desde la lucha Nasa en Colombia.





Ruth Anna Buffalo is an educator, community organizer and public health professional.  She is a volunteer to several local, statewide and national boards which focus on improving the quality of life for people.  She has served on advisory councils focused on women’s health, women’s leadership and local food systems.  She is a 2019-2020 Women’s Peacemaker Fellow, former Chair of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition and a 2017 recipient of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s 40 under 40 leadership award.  The Fargo Inforum newspaper named her among local leaders to watch in 2019. She was selected as the 2019 North Dakota Women of the Year by the ND Women’s Network.  Her consultant and independent contract work has included several nonprofit organizations.  Her work includes research and advocacy, community capacity-building and continued reconciliation efforts through education. Ruth hopes her efforts will contribute to policy changes in all levels of government for future generations.  She is a community advocate and works to inform the public of the electoral and legislative process.  Her passion is safe and healthy communities. Ruth is originally from Mandaree, North Dakota and currently resides in South Fargo with her husband and four children.  In 2018, she was elected to serve a four-year term in the North Dakota legislature representing the people of North Dakota as a Representative for District 27. She is a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation and a descendant of the Chiricahua Apache. Ruth earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (2002) and Master degrees in Management (2005), Business Administration (2010), and Public Health (2016). 

Patricia Gualinga is the International Relations Director for the Kichwa First People of Sarayaku. She has played an important role in the fight for indigenous rights. Patricia has been on the front lines of Sarayaku's struggle, a key protagonist in the recent historic Indigenous rights victory at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and an incredible leader of a rapidly-growing movement of women defending the Amazon. Gualinga is a spokeswoman for many environmental projects, and led the women's group of the Pueblo for six years. She worked to strengthen the organization of women in the Sarayaku community. In 2018, she joined the Climate Change Summit of COP23. She is a spokesperson for the indigenous-led proposal 'Kawsak Sacha', or 'Living Forest', that calls for legal protection of the Ecuadorian Amazon.


Indigenous People’s Day 2020: Join students, faculty and the community for an all-day exploration of the global indigenous movement and its centuries-long struggle for the defense of territory, culture, and the environment within the context of the many crises facing the planet.

This annual event is co-sponsored by the Center for Civic EngagementCenter for “Race,” Culture and Social JusticeHofstra University Honors CollegeLatin American and Caribbean StudiesOffice of Intercultural, Engagement and Inclusion, and the Hofstra Cultural Center.

Date: Monday, October 12, 2020

Panels include:

11:15-12:40 p.m.: Reclaiming the Past: Why Setting the Record Straight on Indigenous History and Colonialism is Necessary Today

12:50-2:30 p.m.: Confronting the Present: In Defense of Indigenous Territory Against Predatory Extraction

2:55-4:20 p.m.: Shaping the Future: On Why Decolonizing Cultural, Political and Social Spaces is a Must for a Sustainable World

Related Event:

Wednesday, October 14 @ 6:30 p.m.   “Never Forget” Talk Back: Dawnland

Advance registration is required; registrants will be sent a link prior to the event.

RSVP for Confronting the Present: In Defense of Indigenous Territory Against Predatory Extraction


In case you missed the live event, please see recording:

Indigenous People's Day 2020: Confronting the Present


Monday, October 12, 2020



Hofstra University Virtual Event
Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549-1000


Hofstra Cultural Center

Phone: 516-463-5669

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