Peter Dakota Spencer-McElhatton

Peter Dakota Spencer-McElhatton is a facilitator, organizer, and performance artist living in Portland, Oregon/Chinook Territory, where they were born and raised. Peter is a mixed-race person of Oglala Lakota, Roma, Jewish, and English ancestry.  They are two-spirit, trans, nonbinary, and queer. They are neurodiverse, navigating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, anxiety, and ADHD.

Peter learned facilitation and organizing through Theatre of the Oppressed in 2009 and has used it to translate community visions of just futures into reality countless times, in groups small and giant. Their work has spanned theatre, direct action, policy work, coalition building and electoral organizing– and sometimes the intersection of all these things!

At Basic Rights Oregon, Peter organized with trans and two-spirit people to remove health care exclusions targeting our communities. Their organizing worked to put trans and two-spirit people at decision-making tables, drafting our own policies and advocating for ourselves across the state and in tribal communities. They were co-chair of Our Families, a queer and trans people of color leadership cohort, and a member of a statewide two-spirit working group who helped produce a short documentary to share stories of two-spirit families.

Peter has also worked locally and nationally against environmental injustice and fossil fuel extraction.  They are part of the Indigenous Peoples Power Project (IP3) network, working to support and develop the capacity for direct action in Indigenous communities across Turtle Island. They have built their skills for facilitating and mobilizing through Indigenous movements for environmental justice, and helping organizations become active allies to Indigenous communities. Peter has trained and developed training programs for national activist networks at Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, and more.