Markie Miller, who received a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology from The University of Toledo in 2012, has been invited by the United Nations to speak before its General Assembly in New York City.
On Earth Day, Monday, April 22, Miller will be featured at the Ninth Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony With Nature.Miller and Crystal Jankowski of Toledoans for Safe Water will travel to the Big Apple for the event. Miller plans to talk about the rights of nature movement, which views nature as an entity that has legal rights.
The two women worked for the Lake Erie Charter Initiative passed by Toledo voters in February, recognizing a Lake Erie Bill of Rights. With it, Lake Erie’s right to thrive, exist and flourish is protected in contrast to its treatment as property to be debased for the financial gains of special interests, according to Miller.
Miller plans to talk about the rights of nature movement, which views nature as an entity that has legal rights.
“I am honored to represent my community and this initiative,” Miller said. “I’m passionate about community rights and rights of nature; to represent those movements on such an international platform is a humbling and rewarding occasion.
“I’ve found my place in the environmental movement and it’s exactly where I want to be.”
In an invitation, Maria Mercedes Sanchez, coordinator of the UN Harmony With Nature Program, wrote to Miller, “I take this opportunity to congratulate you for the key role you have played in the passing of legislation granting rights to Lake Erie.”
Lake Erie’s newfound legal status is part of the growing international rights of nature movement that has been adopted by various Indigenous groups, including the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin, the Ponca Nation in Oklahoma and, most recently, the White Earth Nation in Minnesota regarding protection of their wild rice fields.
However, the battle is not over as Lake Erie’s legal status will be challenged by the concentrated animal feeding operations in the Maumee River watershed, according to Miller.
“The life of the [Lake Erie Bill of Rights] is still uncertain, but one thing is for sure: We have made waves across the globe,” Miller said. “The story has received national and international attention — serving as a model for other communities looking to secure their rights and protect the very environments that sustain them.”
Miller, who received a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Idaho, is on the board of directors for the Ohio Community Rights Network and the National Community Rights Network.
When she graduated from UToledo in 2012, Miller was recognized as the Outstanding Anthropology Student, Outstanding Foreign Language Student (German), and Outstanding Graduate of the College of Arts and Letters.