#NativeAmericanHeritageMonth - Tom Goldtooth

Tom B.K. Goldtooth, born Bruce Kendall Goldtooth, is an activist of many facets for the Native American population. Apart from being one of the most identifiable Native American rights leaders, Tom Goldtooth also focuses on climate and environmental as well as economic justice.

Born in Farmington, New Mexico Goldtooth found himself naturally integrated into the Navajo Nation. His mother, Norma Bell Lee, is known as the first Navajo to obtain an undergraduate degree in microbiology and possibly the first Native American woman in general to accomplish the degree.

Coming from a well-educated background, Goldtooth followed up his mother’s academic success by enrolling in Arizona State University. The university lifestyle turned out to not be Goldtooth’s ideal niche and he enlisted in 1973. Later finishing his AA at a community college and deciding to move to the Navajo Nation, Goldtooth began to emphasize indigenous rights.

Not only working with people of Native American descent, Goldtooth has become a figurehead for indigenous people around the world. After almost three decades of dedicated work Goldtooth has established himself as one of the most proactive leaders in indigenous rights. In the resume are some of the most prestigious awards and organizations in his area concentration. In 2015, Goldtooth was awarded the Gandhi Peace Award. In addition, he is a member of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum, a board member of the Science and Environmental Health Network, a member of the Global Alliance on the Rights of Nature, a member of the Steering Committee of the Climate Justice Alliance and Coordinating Committee member of Grassroots for Global Justice, just to name a few.

After all the effort, time and passion Goldtooth has dedicated to the betterment of indigenous people it is hard to argue that he is one of the most acclaimed activists in his area. The culture of Native Americans and indigenous people around the world is what we all have stemmed from in modern day culture and it is vitally important that we preserve these cultures. We must recognize and respect the hard work, resilience and commitment that Goldtooth has put forth for his culture and those around the world; making this world a better, safer, more efficient place for indigenous people of all walks of life.

By Dylan Glicksman, Gladeo League Scribe