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July 2000 - Matt Atkinson

I am a 29-year-old artist, musician, social worker, activist, and educator living in Oklahoma. I have college degrees in art, behavioral science, and social work, and at age 25 published a 530-page textbook documenting modern day Indian Rights issues. I play the cello, Native traditional flute, and Kurzweil keyboard and I am currently developing a rock music project called “Cointelpro” to expand awareness of Native American rights.

I work as a nonviolence educator in Oklahoma schools, teaching at-risk youth the skills of personal and social change through knowledge and group organizing. My office is in a local women’s crisis shelter, making violence and injustice very apparent in the issues I address. My model of youth development was tested by one Native American tribe in Oklahoma, and found to achieve the top results in the U.S. for American Indian community youth progress. This model of Indian community development is now being replicated by tribes across the U.S.

Descended from Canadian Ojibways, I was opened to the social needs of tribal people while spending a summer living and working with Winona LaDuke, an Ojibway activist and Green Party vice-presidential candidate in 2000.

My work to expose the United States’ genocide of Native Americans through ongoing nuclear waste poisoning of Indian lands is the focus of the “Freedom Fighter of the Month” designation. For several years, I have traveled to Indian communities where I have worked alongside local leaders to document the conditions of racial and environmental injustice which threaten Native American people. I toured and photographed the hidden dumps of uranium wastes which suffocate tribal lands, and authored research about the extent of America’s nuclear invasion of its Native peoples’ well-beings.

Since then, I have written articles for university law journals documenting the dishonesty of American laws as they pertain to Indian rights, and I volunteer for the Oklahoma Green Party, I was arrested during one-man protests of Home Depot’s ecological abuses, and I have also been the keynote speaker at Native American intertribal development conferences.

My wife and I are currently anticipating our most important struggle yet: at any day, we will give birth to our first child. Our son will be named Cheyenne River in tribute to the Sioux reservation in South Dakota where we were engaged. My screen name, “Akicita” (ah KEE chee tah) is a Lakota word meaning “Warrior”.

Photos provided by David Atlas and Maayan Zach

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