The Waterfall Unity Alliance was formed in 2015 when traditional Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) leaders from the Akwesasne Reserve returned to their ancestral valleys to stand with local residents against the Constitution Pipeline, a major fracked gas pipeline in upstate New York.
The Waterfall Unity Alliance was part of a coalition of grassroots groups that successfully pressured the Governor's office to deny the pipeline’s construction permit in 2016, setting a historic precedent as the first time a State was able to stop a federally approved interstate pipeline.
The Waterfall Unity Alliance also pledged to work with local residents to address the decimation and dispossession of the original inhabitants of the Mohawk Valley. This foundational pledge continues to guide the work of the Alliance supporting the return of traditional Kanien’kehá:ka leaders to their ancestral land.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Song Keeper + Earth Activist
Bethany Yarrow sings music of power and praise. She is a song keeper, earth activist, and student of the spiritual traditions of the Americas. Onstage she is a mesmerizing, dancing spirit with a powerful voice and a living prayer for unity at the heart of her music.
"Music and activism have always gone hand in hand in my life -- like an ethical, moral, spiritual and sonic compass encoded into my DNA," says Bethany, who devotes much of her time to work addressing the climate crisis, land & water protection and building collaborative solutions to the existential threats of our time.
Steven Smith (Owl)
Environmental Law + Advisor to the Ramapough Lenape Nation
Owl / Steven Smith, Esquire, son of William Alfred Smith, Esquire, who spent his early childhood in the Ramapo mountains and grandson of Ira Smith, professor and educator from Hillburn, NY, given the middle name “Dennison” in honor of the Dennison family of the Ramapo Mountains.
Steven Dennison Smith received his bachelor of arts in political science from the University of California at Santa Cruz and his doctorate of jurisprudence from the University of California at Berkeley. Mr. Smith studied Mexican culture and history as a Pacific Rim scholar at the University of California for which he wrote an essay on an afro-mestizo community on the pacific coast of Mexico. Mr. Smith has traveled and lived extensively in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Guyana and Ecuador.
Mr. Smith has taught and lectured on a wide variety of subjects, including business law at Virginia Tech, science, technology and law for Virginia Tech and the University of Richmond School of Law, and introductory law for high school students. He has lectured on diverse subjects such as telecommunications policy, trade policy, environmental law, and the human rights of indigenous people. Steven Smith is a member of the California bar and Virginia bar of attorneys. Mr. Smith has assisted Navajo, Tohono O’odham, and Guyanese villagers with major environmental issues in national courts and before Congress and the United Nations.
Mr. Smith is currently an advisor to the Ramapough Lenape Nation.
Kanerahtiio Roger Jock (Bear Clan)
Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) leader
Kanerahtiio Roger Jock (Bear Clan) is a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) leader from the Akwesasne Reserve who carries a vision of return for his people to their ancestral lands in the Mohawk Valley of New York. Kanerahtiio has taught cultural awareness all over the U.S. for over 40 years as part of the White Roots of Peace Movement. He worked as an ironworker and foreman for several decades and is a leader in land and sovereign rights in the Akwesasne region.