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Tara Houska

Tara Houska is a citizen of Couchiching First Nation, a tribal attorney, land defender, environmental and Indigenous rights defender. She is thefounder of the Giniw Collective, an Indigenous women, two-spirit-led frontline resistance to defend the sacred and live in balance. Tara Houska has beensactive in resisting the Line 3 oil pipeline, the Dakota Access pipeline, and is involved in the movement to reclaim Land Back and in defunding fossil fuels. 

Human rights defenders in the USA work to promote and protect political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. Through their work they promote and protect a variety of human rights issues and the specific rights they defend include: the right to adequate food and shelter; the rights of immigrants; freedom from arbitrary detention; humane prison conditions; freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sexual identity, class or nationality; freedom of expression and of the press; labour and employment rights; the right to peaceful assembly and protest; the right to legal representation; abolition of the death penalty.

HRDS in the USA have been subjected to acts of harassment, intimidation, death threats, stigmatization and restrictions have been placed on their freedoms of expression, assembly and association. Some defenders have also been dismissed from their jobs and been prevented from earning a living, are subject to spurious legal proceedings, and have been arrested, detained, placed under house arrest, beaten and been victims of violent and armed attacks. Whilst most people working for human rights in the USA can do so freely and safely those most at risk were those working for the most vulnerable groups and those working to challenge entrenched economic and social power.