"This change in the weather will burn us, then freeze," sings Robby Romero, "there's a point of no return; we've got to face reality."
Those are just some of the striking lyrics from "Who's Gonna Save You," the new single by the Native Children’s Survival (NCS), of which Romero is founder. The song, which has been playing on Triple A radio stations around New Mexico since early August, tackles the alarming rate of climate change and how indigenous peoples are the first ones to be distraught by it.
“A majority of indigenous peoples live on the front lines at the point of impact,” Romero tells SFR over the phone on. “Indigenous peoples are the first to experience the unnecessary destruction of land and life and the devastating impacts of climate change.”
Climate change, Romero says, ruins the lives of about 370 million indigenous peoples around the world. For instance, the melting of Arctic ice caps results in Panama’s Kuna people suffering from the sinking of their islands. The permafrost is also thawing out, resulting in the interruption of the area’s “circle of life.”
Romero decided to debut his single in the Southwest because, according to him, it creates “horrific” problems, such as water shortage and wildfires, for the people living in the area. These are problems that greatly affect Native Americans.
“We wanted to actually break it here in the Southwest because it’s the heart of the Indian country,” he says.
The newly-released single accompanies a 10-minute “music picture,” a multimedia project that combines a variety of video clips, music and pictures that explore climate change’s effects in depth.
The plot revolves around Tracy Polk, Jr., a teenage Apache Peace Warrior with a skateboard and a knack for adventure, as he travels around post-Katrina New Orleans’ 9th Ward and the French Quarter. According to the piece, the tragic environmental state in the city is just how Native American elders prophesized it would be.
Thoughts from Hopi Elders, recording artists and street artists—including the infamously artsy Brit vandal Banksy—are also featured in the flick.
A prolific musician, Romero believes that today’s art—along with powerful boosts from social media and current technology—is a useful instrument in halting the spread of climate change and in preserving the rights of indigenous peoples.
“Art is an international language,” he says. “It is a way to express the primes you want to express in a way that’s very different from traditional political activism.”
Since its founding in 1989, Romero and the NCS have been using “the international language of music and film” for their activist purposes. The group’s first music video campaign titled “Is It Too Late” boldly tackled the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The video was streamed live from the Kremlin right before President Gorbachev addressed environmental issues in his speech at the 1990 Global Forum in Moscow.
United States Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has also praised Romero’s initiatives. Romero’s music “will help commemorate the United Nations adoption of the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples for years to come,” Pelosi writes in a letter to the musician.
With all the bizarre shifts in today’s weather—this summer has been one of the hottest in the past 100 years—Romero says that climate change seems really unstoppable. But he also believes that it’s never too late for change.
“We’re very close to the point of no return,” he says. “I think if we don’t wake up… we will spiral out of control. Change needs to happen very quickly.”
Earlier this year, NCS, in cooperation with Eagle Thunder Entertainment, started its Project Protect Awareness Campaign. The campaign aims to “take the indigenous global movement and bring it to the citizens.”
According to Romero, PPAC also aims to educate people about the overwhelming amount of dialogue happening in the United Nations about the issues.
“I don’t think people have access to, or even know what’s going on,” he says. “We want to create a social network for them.”
To help stop climate change, Romero urges the public to look up more information about this weather phenomenon, and to find “real solutions” instead of believing the more mainstream ideas, supplied by huge corporations.
“We need to educate ourselves and not be trapped to false solutions,” he says.
Fortunately, Romero is hopeful that climate change will be prevented from intensifying. But, of course, he also believes that it’s going to require some real hard work and personal persistence.
“We have an opportunity to reverse the situation, and it’s going to take a few scientists and traditional wisdom to put us back to the path of healing,” he says.
“Who’s Gonna Save You” is set to be released globally some time during the fall. Copies of the DVD/CD eco-package will be released this November as part of Native American Heritage Month.