My name is:
Sutton King, Nāēqtaw-Pianakiw.
My stomping ground is:
New York City.
I’m known for being:
An Indigenous rights activist.
I’m talking about:
The sovereign protection and regeneration of the medicines, ecologies and traditional knowledges Indigenous communities have honored for thousands of years.
You can find it at:
Before I started this work, I was (and still am):
Developing and scaling innovative solutions to improve Indigenous health equity across sectors. My focus centers on access and benefit sharing, culturally appropriate and equitable methodologies within technology, healthcare and business.
My interest was sparked when:
As an Afro-Indigenous woman, ceremonies and plant medicines have always been important to my way of life. As a survivor of gender-based violence, plant medicines have played an integral role in supporting my healing as well as resolving both historical and intergenerational trauma.
The idea behind it is:
The Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund (IMC Fund) is an Indigenous-led high-impact strategic fund created to ensure that Indigenous communities and organizations can succeed in their own bio-cultural conservation efforts. Through community-based assessment and an Indigenous led governance structure, the IMC Fund supports an integrated suite of bio-cultural conservation activities for five keystone medicines through empowering Indigenous organizations to conserve ayahuasca, bufo, iboga, peyote and mushrooms in their native territories.
I join the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund as a program manager of engagement and benefit, sharing, facilitating and operationalizing the-relationship between the psychedelic space, funders, media and Indigenous traditional cultures. I join the program management team to support the operations, educational, outreach and funding goals of the fund. I help support Indigenous communities with education surrounding Indigenous rights and access and benefit sharing and support the organization and external partners in the psychedelic space with education on how to adhere and implement biodiversity protocols within corporate strategy. In addition, I advise organizations—ranging from startup companies to philanthropies—on stakeholder models, access and benefit sharing through social impact investment and giving.
What makes it different is:
It’s Indigenous led: The IMC governance structure is designed to inclusively represent Indigenous leadership supported by Western expertise on the bio-cultural conservation for each medicine, the operational management of the fund and the spiritual integrity of its overall processes.
The Conservation: Committee is composed of indigenous community representatives. The committee interprets assessments, which utilize both traditional knowledge and scientific understanding, and translates these into a suite of highly leveraged projects, appropriate for each respective medicine. These recommendations are brought to the whole team for approvals. The Operations Committee is made up of the board and staff of the Fund and negotiates the logistics of each decision-making step and ensures the successful distribution and monitoring of funds and technical project support. Spiritual advisors weave prayers for the success of projects and for the future of each bio-cultural entity into ceremonies throughout the year.
My favorite lesser-known detail is:
Indigenous peoples do not call our medicines “psychedelics;” we call them plant medicines. They are a part of our kinship society and we see them as relative with a spirit.
I hope people walk away feeling:
In the right relationship with traditional knowledge communities and plant medicines.
Psychedelics are such a powerful tool because:
They promote the understanding of kinship. At the center of many of our Indigenous teachings lies the shared traditional cultural value of kinship. Kinship requires that all beings animate and inanimate be “good relatives” or work in relation with one another to achieve harmony and sustainability. Everyone affected by a decision had a say in it and leaders, who were primarily facilitators, were responsible to all the people. Through kinship, leaders ensured that everyone’s needs were provided for.
Many feel kinship for the first time when they use plant medicines or psychedelics. Within Indigenous world views, kinship is the bedrock of what the contemporary world has coined as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). As DEI practices move to the forefront, Indigenous communities have understood the need to center contemporary kinship practices as a means of achieving a just and sustainable world for time immemorial. Sacred teachings that have guided our ancestors through the violence of colonization and exploitation to survival are the same teachings that strive to protect Indigenous scholars through the trauma of acculturation within academia and corporate America.
It is through Indigenous ancestral knowledge and contemporary kinship practices that we are able to arrive at a communal place of healing. Creating a society based on kinship maintains equity and balance within mother earth.
Psychedelics have helped me because:
They helped me to understand the historical and intergenerational trauma of my family's lineage. Understanding that the trauma didn’t begin with me, but I have the resilience to end it.
The words I live by are:
I live my life by the seventh generation principle. The seventh generation principle is based on an ancient Iroquois philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future. Generally used with regards to decisions being made about our energy, water and natural resources, it can also be applied to relationships: every decision should result in sustainable relationships seven generations in the future.
One truth that is so important, but people don’t always realize is:
Indigenous peoples are academic and scientific. We just lead with the heart and spirit.