Follow the Leader

“I’m working to protect our earth, our air, our water, and our atmosphere for my generation and generations to follow.”

Indigenous environmental activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez has been fighting for the planet almost all his life. He says his battle “is not just about the environment, it’s about our lives.” Trace his path from child activist to international voice for environmental justice.

1. The Beginning

Born in Colorado in 2000, Xiuhtezcatl is raised believing he has a responsibility to protect the Earth. At the age of 6, he gives his first public speech for Earth Guardians, an environmental organization founded by his mom. 

2. Getting Noticed

At 15, he addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations. 

3. Facing Setbacks

In 2020, Xiuhtezcatl and 20 other young climate activists file a lawsuit against the U.S. government for failing to protect young people from the effects of climate change. The lawsuit is dismissed, but Xiuhtezcatl vows to keep fighting.

4. Amplifying His Message

Xiuhtezcatl uses hip-hop to share his message that young people have the power to make change. “My peers give me a lot of hope for the future,” he says.