Environmental Health and Justice Program

Program Manager: Kathy Sanchez 505-747-3259 x1203 kathy@tewawomenunited.org

Program Coordinator: Beata Tsosie-Pena 505-747-3259 x1203 beata@tewawomenunited.org


We work with tribal, local, national, and international networks and coalitions to…

Amplify the strengths of Indigenous women, their families, and land-based people of color to better protect our homelands from ecological harm and to grow beloved community

Facilitate reconnection with our everyday relationship to land, air, and water as sacred aspects of our collective wellbeing

Engage in local and International dialogue and activism on nuclear non-proliferation, human rights, and the rights of our Mother Earth, while integrating Tewa values and spirit-rooted environmental justice advocacy, policy change, and community education

We do this by:

• Sharing and demonstrating the knowledge of healing, protecting, and supporting environmental health and climate change adaptability through the creation of community gardens (such as the Española Healing Foods Oasis), heirloom seed libraries, non-GMO (genetically modified) seed exchanges, and traditional agriculture

• Creating shifts toward decolonization by upholding the values of sharing and abundance, nonviolence, economic, social, and gender equity and to support accountability to populations downwind and down river of the nuclear war weapons industrial complex in our sacred Jemez Mountains

• Increasing tribal and local advocacy of environmental issues and providing a forum for networking and education between members of impacted communities

• Carrying the energy and concerns of our communities into national and international networks

• Building community engagement to recognize “woman as the first environment,” and the interconnections between environmental and reproductive justice as well as the unique impacts on those most vulnerable in our Native communities

• Facilitating and increasing participation in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process


  • Española Healing Foods Oasis
    To educate the Espanola community on traditional rain water harvesting and dryland farming techniques through the design, construction, and care taking of an edible, herbal, medicinal landscape within a public park. To increase climate change impact resiliency and increase access to healthy, natural food and medicine, while shifting current perspectives to include maximizing use of our water resources. To strengthen community partnerships through participation and support of this project, increasing capacity for food justice organizing.
  • Gathering for Mother Earth
    This yearly gathering, founded by TWU in 1996 and now held by the Mother Earth Ecological Wellness Collaborative, was created to celebrate cultural ways of sharing love, healing, and gratitude for our Earth Mother and ourselves.
  • Owingeh Ta Pueblos y Semillas Seed Exchange
    Each year we take part in this gathering to celebrate the sacred traditions of farming and seed saving with the mission of continuing to be good neighbors and stewards of mother earth.


Protecting Those Most Vulnerable: Working towards social transformation through the following campaign: Protecting Those Most Vulnerable– When we protect those most vulnerable and our Mother Earth, we protect us all. We view women as a reflection of Mother Earth.  Protect Those Most Vulnerable Petition

  • Protecting and Healing Relations with Land, Air, and Water
    For over 63 years, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has been dumping and discharging its toxic and radioactive wastes onto Tewa ancestral lands. This has been devastating to our land, water, air, food, and the overall well being of our people and ways of life. This land is revered as sacred to our Peoples. The meaning of life can be found within the spiritual dimensions of our role as caretakers and healers of this place.

Recently, a sampling project was conducted in our homes to track contamination. Proof of major contaminants was found in our very own homes. Despite proof of this historical devastation, LANL continues to discharge and dump its toxic waste. Therefore, taking care of our Mother Earth and protecting all our relations. This cultural-based program emphasizes life-ways-Native-sovereignty and the two-world harmony-butterfly model of eco-systemic sustenance. TWU implements and teaches traditional Indigenous forms of healing medicines and foods to counteract the negative impacts that pollution and nuclear contamination have on our bodies, minds, spirits, lands, air and water. To work towards international non-proliferation and disarmament, we engage the UN’s policy of “no safe or friendly use” of nuclear weapons.

Intern’s LANL Research Findings Red Dust by Morgan Drewniany

  • Actions in Concert with Others: TWU, a member of Communities for Clean Water (CCW) and Gilbert and Kathy Sanchez, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Energy (DOE) and LANL for violations of the Clean Water Act. & NBSP; CCW is a network of organizations representing river, spiritual, and Acequia groups that have come together to hold LANL accountable for contamination to New Mexico water supplies. As a Tribal community living downstream of LANL, TWU is particularly concerned about the current and future health of our water, land and people. TWU has been organizing and educating our communities within the Northern New Mexico on these and other issues since its inception. CCW Petition

Recent Accomplishments

  • Host of annual Gathering for Mother Earth event to share information and practices regarding holistic, ecological, wellness approaches to environmental health.
  • Building community capacity and leadership development through our intergenerational Tres Rios/P’o Poje Geh Environmental Justice community group (TREJ) who specializes in art through activism.
  • Sponsored Spañapalooza youth event 2011-2013, and 2017
  • Community garden project with Santa Clara Pueblo Tewa Language Program 2010-2012
  • 2012: Helped revitalize the Española Farmers Market acequia and garden
  • 2012: Ongoing Development of TWU Community Heirloom Seed bank and Library
  • 2014: Community collaboration with Phase I and II of the Trinity Test Health Study as part of Las Mujeres Hablan network
  • 2016: Creation of Española Healing Foods Oasis
  • Community collaboration with the Los Alamos Historical Document and Retrieval Assessment project, with comments and contributions to the community summary and technical report as part of Las Mujeres Hablan


TWU is part of the following networks and coalitions:


In addition to our much-appreciated individual donors, we are grateful to the following foundations that support our work:

  • Continuous Pathway
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • First Nations Development Institute
  • McCune Foundation
  • Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area
  • Santa Fe Community Foundation / Protecting New Mexico Environment Fund
  • Seventh Generation Fund
  • US Fish and Wildlife Partners Program
  • Walmart Community Grant Program

Contact Us for More Information

Program Manager: Kathy Sanchez 505-747-3259 x1203 kathy@tewawomenunited.org
Program Coordinator: Beata Tsosie-Pena 505-747-3259 x1203 beata@tewawomenunited.org

We are also available to do the following presentations: The Two World Butterfly Model, Trauma Rocks, Environmental Justice spoken word and writing workshops.