Dr. Kelsey Leonard

By July 26, 2021August 8th, 2023Featured Artists

As a water scientist and protector, Dr. Kelsey Leonard seeks to establish Indigenous traditions of water conservation as the foundation for international water policy-making.

Dr. Kelsey Leonard is a water scientist, legal scholar, policy expert, writer, and enrolled citizen of the Shinnecock Nation. Her work focuses on Indigenous water justice and its climatic, territorial, and governance underpinnings for our shared sustainable future. Dr. Leonard represents the Shinnecock Nation on the Mid-Atlantic Committee on the Ocean, which is charged with protecting America’s ocean ecosystems and coastlines. She also serves as a member of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board of the International Joint Commission. Dr. Leonard has been instrumental in safeguarding the interests of Indigenous Nations for environmental planning, and builds Indigenous science and knowledge into new solutions for sustainable water and ocean governance.


I wear you to pray
For humility
For Power
In the sway of my skirt
I can feel my ancestors tug
Gentle resurgence of love
Carrying millennia of tradition in each step
keenly aware of the way
this imperial cloth brushes my thighs
Yet balanced with the vibrancy of my ribbons
cut, ironed, and sewn just right to breathe
Indigenous knowledge into my existence
so when the other looks at me
They look confused
But still I stand
Humble in prayer
in Power
in Resistance
Building waves of survivance
With my sway
So that my babies unborn are awakened in a world that claims
Their spiritual existence
And on the days when I am tired and weak
My sway
soothes my weary soul
And reminds me that
I am descended from warriors
I am a carrier of tradition
And am their living breath eternal
with each sway of my step
I am Love.