Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


Women of All Red Nations (WARN) was founded in 1978 in San Francisco, California, and to date remains the most prominent activist Native American women's organization. warn advocates for Native American treaty rights and for social, economic, and environmental justice for Native American peoples. WARN was created at the height of Indian activism in the 1970s, when the virtually all-male national leadership of Indian activist groups became targeted by federal and state law enforcement agencies and courts. After the national American Indian Movement leaders were prosecuted and imprisoned by the federal legal system, women were called to the fore of Native American issues and WARN was born.

From its beginning, warn has sent spokespersons to international forums concerning colonialism, land struggles, energy resource protection, and Indigenous rights recognition. warn was instrumental in stopping the uranium mining that was planned for the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. The organization built coalitions with non-Indians so that uranium mining would never be conducted in lands sacred to the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people.

WARN also conducted a health study of the water on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which found that the groundwater system was highly radioactive. Since then, federal funds have been allocated for the construction of a safe drinking-water system, called Mni Wiconi, or the Water of Life, for the greater reservation area. WARN has worked on numerous issues relating to human health, specifically the epidemic proportions of Type II diabetes in Indian Country, as well as the terrible problems associated with fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effect.

Today, warn continues its advocacy, predominantly through the efforts of women's circles in local communities both on and off reservations. WARN's ongoing community organization and advocacy on issues affecting Native Americans at the grassroots level remain highly focused and effective.

Madonna Thunder Hawk Eagle Butte, South Dakota

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