Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s Autumn Harry embraces opportunity to travel the world
This story was first published in the June 2017 edition of First Nation’s Focus.
WADSWORTH, Nev. — Autumn Harry understands the importance of educating the public on environmental issues — especially within her Native communities.
Harry is an enrolled member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, environmental activist and University of Nevada, Reno, Class of 2017 graduate.
Harry, 24, will spend her summer traveling across the country and Peru to focus on different pollinator species.
“This opportunity came up right after graduating, and gives me the chance to travel to different places and do research on things directly related to what I have been studying,” Harry said. “I am very fortunate to have this opportunity coming right out of college.”
Harry may have just obtained a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Sciences from UNR, but she has had a lifetime of environmental preservation.
Growing up on the Pyramid Lake Reservation, she spent a lot of time in the field with her parents, Norman and Beverly Harry, who worked at Sheldon Wildlife Antelope Refuge.
There, they taught her about different conservation values through the trips they would take together.
Harry said that is what sparked her interest in plants and wildlife, and how to protect and preserve them for the future generations.
Fast-forward to high school and even her early years at UNR, Harry was presented with numerous opportunities to broaden her horizons with internships.
She completed eight different internships throughout the course of her college career, each playing a vital role in her development and growth as not only an activist, but as a person.
“In the future, I hope to be in a role where I can help provide education to our younger generations,” Harry said. “We need our younger generations to really be involved with helping to maintain all of our resources. It is a critical step to educate our youth in order to preserve our culture, resources, and to preserve our home.”
Harry’s first internship was located on the Navajo Nation, where she helped with the air quality control program.
She spent the summer going throughout the reservation to monitor air quality and how air pollutants directly affect the people who live there.
She then worked with Winona LaDuke’s “Honor the Earth” program in Minnesota. Her summer was focused on educating people about anti-mining, anti-fracking and anti-pipeline work on Native lands and territories.
Harry said working with LaDuke is what gave her the initial push to become involved with activism.
For the last two summers, Harry worked with the rural villages of Alaska Natives. Throughout these experiences, she was able to have conversations with residents about climate change, gaining first-hand knowledge of how they are dealing with fluctuations of the Alaska coastal regions.
The climatic changes in these areas are astounding, and because of global warming, entire villages and communities have had to make plans to relocate to totally different areas, Harry said.
“These experiences have helped me get involved within my own communities,” she said. “Now that I have graduated, I am going to take a break for a while to really focus on what I want to study; specifically, where I am able to gain knowledge where I will directly benefit my own community.”
Harry will spend her summer working with the Rocky Mountain Environmental Sustainability Project, or “Pollinator Hot Shots,” as they like to call themselves.
The group’s goal is to focus on different pollinator species during research projects at several locations across the American West this summer.
The project will culminate with a three-week project in Huascaran National Park in Peru.
The group will then present their research at the Ecological Society of America’s annual conference on Aug. 6-11 in Portland, Oregon.
Jarrette Werk (Aaniiih) is a journalism student at the University of Nevada, Reno, who worked this summer for the Sierra Nevada Media Group as an intern, writing and taking photos for First Nation’s Focus.
USDA Rural Development Nevada State Director Phil Cowee said he is pleased to have the Washoe Tribe as one of 47 communities included in the national program.