“The birth of the group was formed kind of on a whim,” says Jo Ironshield, co-founder of Sage Sisters of Solidarity.
The group surged to the forefront of the Quad Cities activism community in 2016.
“It all started with the Dakota Access Pipeline that was going through Standing Rock that was going to be coming down through Iowa,” Ironshield says.
Ironshield is from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
She called up her long-time friend and now co-founder, Regina Tsosie.
“We just decided, okay let’s have a rally, let’s hold a rally. So I think within three days we started organizing, started calling people, supporters of our Native American community,” Tsosie says.
The women found hundreds of supporters in the Quad Cities while protesting the pipeline but their efforts on behalf of the Native American community span more than a decade through the Native American Coalition of the Quad Cities.
“This whole area here is rich with native history. We have the Mississippi River and the word Mississippi is Algonquin. The name Illinois, the name Iowa, those are also native names,” Tsosie says.
The Sage Sisters are still keeping an eye on legal proceedings related to the dakota access pipeline, but their work here at home still goes on.
The goal is to simply give their people a voice.
“A couple of times I’ve done presentations younger kids would say, ‘I thought you were all dead,’ and I’d say, ‘No, we’re alive and we’re still here, our culture is still thriving,'” says Tsosie.
And after more than three decades living in the QC, Ironshield and Tsosie feel that Quad Citians are listening.
“They know the work that we do, they know what we represent. It makes a big difference when you go to the grocery store and you have somebody stop you and thank you for the work that you do,” Ironshield says.
You can find out more about the group by clicking here.