Ski for Fire

Ty Olson in front of frozen waterfall
Ty Olson in front of frozen waterfall

Many Lakota families from the Pine Ridge Reservation face extreme winters on the South Dakota plains with no heat. In February, Ty Olson will ski the Minnesota-Ontario border in support of One Spirit’s Wood Program. This is one of the harshest winter landscapes in the United States with temperatures down to -40 degrees.

Donations to this cause may be made at the Ski for Fire website.

The Onaway Trust has supported many projects on the Pine Ridge Reservation. For an update on this project, see Projects.

See José Barriero on the climate emergency

See José Barriero explaining the contribution of an indigenous perspective to tackling the climate emergency at the Scientists Warming Europe pre-COP event:


This valuable and little-heard perspective adds to the other powerful contributions made at this event.  Talks by other speakers can be seen on the SWE YouTube channel.

An indigenous perspective on climate change

Contributing to the Planet in Crisis series of events, being held to prepare for the critical COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in 2021, the Onaway Trust was pleased to to be able to facilitate Dr José Barreiro to provide an Indigenous perspective on Climate Change.

Dr Jose Barriero

For fifty years, indigenous voices and movements have signaled the need for humankind to respect and value Mother Earth. As scientists measure the planet and ring alarms over the increasingly predictable horrors of climate change, indigenous seers and visionaries connect as well with central messages from the Mother Earth

José Barreiro is visible as an advocate of indigeneity, in a life-long mission to create understanding and application of an indigenous philosophy of localized community, valuing the human-land-nature relationship and the great range of eco-systemic knowledge of Native cultures. With appreciable contributions in his field of vision, Barreiro as writer, journalist, oral historian, as field organizer of major public events, as curator, as activist and scholar, as editor in chief, appears through forty years of social and human rights activism on behalf of Native peoples, from the early 1970s to the present, recognized for his consistency as communicator and advocate. Barreiro is a member of the Taino Nation of the Antilles.

José’s talk is now published on the Scientists Warning Europe’s YouTube channel.


Indians and Cowboys and the Amazon Rainforest

In the UK the term “Cowboy’ describes a crook who passes himself/herself off as a tradesperson.

In Brazil, the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro wants to take the lands of tribes living in the Amazon rainforest and give those lands to the agribusinesses and mining interests that funded his populist campaign to become President.

In the past year, half a billion trees in an area the size of Greater London have been destroyed by ‘forest fire’. Whilst in Brazil forest fires occur naturally during the dry season, their number in 2019 has increased by an unbelievable 84 per cent. Indigenous people and NGOs working on the ground report that “armed militia swarm into protected areas, and indigenous leaders who stand up to them are murdered”. Additionally, there are reports of planes dropping incendiary substances in order to start massive forest fires.

Bolsonaro, a climate change denier, would destroy the Amazon rain forest for commercial interests. His motives are the financial greed of his backers. The tactic he is using is much the same as that employed by the USA in the 19th century to get rid of its ‘Indian problem’: kill the buffalo on which indigenous people depend. In Bolsonaro’s case, just substitute ‘buffalo’ for ‘forest’. The Amazonian rain forest, one of the ‘Earth’s lungs’, is essential to preserving life on this planet. If we want a future to pass on to our children Bolosonaro’s insane ambitions have to be stopped.

Bolsonaro and his ilk are all about money, and that is his Achilles Heel. The EU is about to sign a trade deal with ‘Mercosur’, South America’s trade bloc, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The deal would create one of the biggest free trade blocs in the world, encompassing over 770 million consumers and a combined economic output of €18 billion (US$20 billion). Unless Bolsonaro reverses his genocidal and anti-environmental practices, this trade deal should not be allowed.

Onaway supports the petition by Avaaz to implore all heads of government in the West to put the wellbeing of the planet ahead of profit. Sign the petition. 

Learn more about the challenges faced by indigenous people from Raimundo Muro, a leader who is trying to protect the Amazon amid threats from farmers, logging and raging fires. Read the full story