Matt Remle (Hunkpapa Lakota) – is a community organizer, educator, father and writer.
His Lakota name is Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Charging Thunder), who was his many times Great Grandfather from the late 1700’s. Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Charging Thunder) was a Winter Count keeper for the Hunkpapa Lakota and was the Grandfather of Rain-in- the-Face, Red Thunder and other grandsons’ who battled the U.S. military in Red Cloud’s War 1866-1868 leading the Lakota and allied tribes to victory. They also fought at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Matt has been involved with community organizing around social and environmental justice issues since the 1990’s, including organizing around WA State’s raising the minimum wage initiative, against the WTO when it met in Seattle, opposing the Iraq War, supporting efforts to free Leonard Peltier, against the Patriot Act, and more.
From 2000-2004, he was the lead organizer for the Seattle based Community Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ), which addressed the adverse impacts of the siting of toxic and hazardous waste facilities in Seattle’s low-income and communities of color. CCEJ led successful campaigns at shutting down a medical waste incinerator located in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood and the closing of Long Painting’s paint and sand blasting facility located several feet from residential homes in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood.
In 2012, he drafted a resolution and lobbied the Washington State Board of Education to end the use of Native American race based mascots in the state’s k-12 public schools. The WSBE passed the resolution in 2012.
In 2014, he wrote a resolutions for both the city of Seattle and Seattle School Board to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Since then, he has worked with several communities around the country in drafting and supporting efforts to abolish-Columbus Day in their jurisdictions.
“We sought to show the power our communities possess when we come together unified under the belief and knowledge that what we do today is both work to heal past generations and lift the spirits of our future generations.”
~Matt Remle on the efforts to pass the Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution
The same year, he worked with others in getting the Marysville School District to adopt and mandate the teaching of the Since Time Immemorial Tribal Sovereignty Curriculum, a Native focused curriculum developed the State’s tribes to bring the correct history of the regions tribes into the public schools, as well as, teach about current tribal issues, tribal governance and tribal sovereignty. The curriculum is now mandated for all WA State public schools.
- In 2014, Matt was awarded Seattle’s Individual Human Rights Leader Award.
- In 2015, he wrote a resolution that was passed by the Seattle City Council that addresses the genocide and historical trauma stemming from the American Indian Boarding School era. The resolution calls on Congress to engage in Truth and Reconciliation with Tribes over the Boarding School policy.
- In 2016, he authored a City of Seattle resolution to oppose the construction of the Dakota Access pipelines.
- In 2017, he co-authored/organized a City of Seattle ordinance to divest Seattle’s $3 billion per- year account with Wells Fargo due to their financial backing of the Dakota Access pipeline.
- In 2017, he co-authored a City of Seattle resolution to prohibit any bank who funds Tar Sands pipelines from bidding on city contracts.
- In 2017, Matt was named the National Indian Education Associations Educator of the Year.
In addition to working for the Marysville School Districts Office of Indian Education (2004- present) as a Native liaison for Marysville Pilchuck high school, Matt is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire.com. Through LRInspire he runs an on-line Lakota language program for people to learn to speak the Lakota language. To further promote the learning of the Lakota language he has run evening classes for community members.