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The mission of the Waterfall Unity Alliance is to protect the Schohairie Valley and all Earth, build alliances across movements & cultures, and create solutions to the existential challenges of our time.

WHO WE ARE

Board of Directors

Kawenniiosta Jock, Kanien’kehá:ka Wolf Clan, is an activist, land protector, master seamstress and artist. Kawenniiosta has helped develop traditional support, cultural teachings and language preservation within the tribe and is a traditional full-spectrum doula who uses indigenous methods and medicines. Kawenniiosta is an alumna of the Akwesasne Freedom School and is passionate about her people and culture. 

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Kawenniiosta Jock (Wolf Clan)
Orenhre'kowa Ki'taratakie

Board of Directors

 

Sandra Owén:nakon Deer-Standup is a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) from Kahnawa:ke (By The Rapids).  She has been involved in land defense and political activism for sovereign rights for her people since she was 6 years old. A mother, wife, aunt, great-aunt and grandmother, Owén:nakon has taught elementary and early childhood education in the Kanien’keha language for over 20 years.  She has been an educational administrator, curriculum writer and consultant; has published several published academic papers; and is currently writing her doctoral dissertation in education at McGill University. 

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Sandra Owén:nakon Deer-Standup

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Kanerahtiio Roger Jock
Kanien’kehá:ka Bear Clan Leader

 

Advisory Board

 

Kanerahtiio Roger Jock is a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Bear Clan Leader from the Akwesasne Reserve who carries a vision of return for his people to their ancestral lands in the Mohawk Valley of New York. Kanerahtiio has taught cultural awareness all over the U.S. for over 40 years as part of the White Roots of Peace Movement. He worked as an ironworker and foreman for several decades and is a leader in land and sovereign rights in the Akwesasne region.

Board of Directors

 

Bethany Yarrow sings music of power and praise. She is a song keeper, earth activist, and student of the spiritual traditions of the Americas. With a living prayer for unity at the heart of her music, she uses her voice to  help protect the land & water and build community & collaborative solutions to address the existential threats of our time. 

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Bethany Yarrow
Song Keeper + Earth Activist

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Jimmy Sumner

Board of Directors

 

Jimmy Sumner is a retired police officer of mixed Taino descent who lives in the Schoharie Valley. He has worked at the Old Stone Fort, has a keen interest in local history and is devoted to strengthening bonds of friendship and respect with the original inhabitants of the Valley.

Board of Directors

 

Sonya Armlin Roland’s family has lived in the Schoharie Valley since the 1800s, “I myself have some Mohawk ancestry, as do many of the people who have lived here for generations. It is an honor to welcome the Kanien’kehá:ka back home.”

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Sonya Armlin Roland

Steven Smith (Owl)
Environmental Law + Advisor to the Ramapough Lenape Nation

Board of Directors

 

Owl / Steven Smith, Esquire, son of William Alfred Smith, Esquire, who spent his early childhood in the Ramapo mountains and grandson of Ira Smith, professor and educator from Hillburn, NY, given the middle name “Dennison” in honor of the Dennison family of the Ramapo Mountains.

Steven Dennison Smith received his bachelor of arts in political science from the University of California at Santa Cruz and his doctorate of jurisprudence from the University of California at Berkeley. Mr. Smith studied Mexican culture and history as a Pacific Rim scholar at the University of California and has traveled and lived extensively in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Guyana and Ecuador.

Mr. Smith has taught and lectured on a wide variety of subjects, including business law at Virginia Tech, science, technology and law for Virginia Tech and the University of Richmond School of Law, and introductory law for high school students. He has lectured on diverse subjects such as telecommunications policy, trade policy, environmental law, and the human rights of indigenous people. Steven Smith is a member of the California bar and Virginia bar of attorneys. Mr. Smith has assisted Navajo, Tohono O’odham, and Guyanese villagers with major environmental issues in national courts and before Congress and the United Nations.

OUR HISTORY

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The Waterfall Unity Alliance was formed in 2015 when traditional Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) leaders from the Akwesasne Reserve returned to their ancestral valleys to stand with local residents against the Constitution Pipeline, a major fracked gas pipeline planned in upstate New York.

The Waterfall Unity Alliance was part of a coalition of grassroots groups that successfully pressured the Governor's office to deny the pipeline’s construction permit in 2016, setting a historic precedent as the first time a state was able to stop a federally approved interstate pipeline.

The Waterfall Unity Alliance also pledged to work with local residents to address the decimation and dispossession of the original inhabitants of the Mohawk Valley. This foundational pledge continues to guide the work of the Alliance supporting the return of traditional Kanien’kehá:ka leaders to their ancestral lands.

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