Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, (his first name pronounced ‘Shoe-Tez-Caht’)  is a 16 year old indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and a powerful voice on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement. At the early age of six, Xiuhtezcatl began speaking around the world from the Rio+20 United Nations Summit in Rio de Janeiro, to addressing the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York. He is the Youth Director of Earth Guardians, an organization of young activists, artists and musicians from across the globe stepping up as leaders and working together to create positive change in their communities to address climate change and other important issues that will define our future.  

He is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Obama administration for their failure to protect the atmosphere and their future. He has worked locally to get pesticides out of parks, coal ash contained and moratoriums on fracking in his state.  

He has traveled across the nation and to many parts of the world educating, his generation about the state of the planet they are inheriting and inspiring them into action to protect the Earth. His movement has grown globally as youth lead Earth Guardian crews, working on the frontline to combat climate change. His work has been featured on PBS, Showtime, National Geographic, Rolling Stones, Upworthy, The Guardian, Vogue, CNN, MSNBC, HBO and many more.

In 2013, Xiuhtezcatl received the 2013 United States Community Service Award from President Obama, and was the youngest of 24 national change-makers chosen to serve on the President's youth council.  

He is the 2015 recipient of the Peace First Prize and the recipient of the 2015 Nickelodeon Halo Award. Bill Mckibben of 350.org calls Xiuhtezcatl "an impressive spokesman for a viewpoint the world needs to hear.”  

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“Xiuhtezcatl is a vital voice for our time. Combining art and creativity with passion, commitment, and clarity, he represents as well as models what it is to be the change our world and planet need. He speaks powerfully from and connects deeply with both the mind and the heart. I am in awe of who Xiuhtezcatl is and all he has already done at such a young age. No matter our age or background, we can all learn from him.”
- Julia Butterfly Hill
“An impressive spokesman for a viewpoint the world needs to hear!”
- Bill McKibben

"There are very few young people who have put so much time and effort into educating themselves and taking action on behalf of the youth of the world. Xiuhtezcatl's voice is one of a generation in peril, his environmental knowledge and commitment to halting Climate Change are unparalleled. We must take heed, we must listen to what he has to tell us about what the young and those unborn are asking of us all. We can hear from Xiuhtexcatl what we can do today for those who are yet to come." Mark Ruffalo

When Xiuhtezcatl takes the stage, people immediately stand in awe at his powerful message, then they inevitably start grooving to his amazing lyrics.  This is the kind of young man we need to make changes in our world and he does it in an engaging and genuine manner. – Ryan Van Duzer
“Hearing Xiuhtezcatl share his experiences as an environmental activist is a testament to the fact that young people are not the so-called future – they are the agents of change of today. Xiuhtezcatl speaks with immense conviction and his insights are an inspiration to all ages.” – UNICEF "Voice of Youth" Team







More About Xiuhtezcatl

As long as he can remember, Xiuhtezcatl has been connected to the natural world– the mountains, forests and rivers of Colorado. He was raised in the Aztec tradition in which his father taught him that as Indigenous people, they are descendants of the original caretakers of the land– the original activists before that word even existed. 

As he began to learn about the global crisis, he took action. Xiuhtezcatl has been on the frontlines of climate activism since he was six years old. He has worked throughout his childhood to get them to wake up and take action. He has worked with community leaders in Boulder and has collaborated with over 50 environmental organizations to eliminate pesticides from Boulder's parks,  achieve a fee for plastic bags, contain coal ash, and get a moratorium on fracking in Boulder County. Along with other youth, he is currently working on a statewide ban on fracking through a lawsuit he filed against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. 

Xiuhtezcatl gives presentations on fracking and climate change in schools and conferences nationally. His work on climate change has led him to become a youth plaintiff against the United States for failing to protect the atmosphere. To support this litigation, Xiuhtezcatl met with representatives from all three branches of government working to garner support and create a climate recovery plan based on NASA scientist James Hansen's work. Over eighty members of congress, including the Congressional Progressive Caucus, publicly supports the youth delegation. 

In 2012, Xiuhtezcatl was one of the youngest speakers at the RIO+20 United Nations Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He spoke on UN panels and side events, and had the honor of lighting the sacred fire with indigenous elders from Brazil. He is traveling and initiating international Earth Guardian crews around the globe to fulfill the Earth Guardians mission with crews in Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Mexico, and Brazil. 

Xiuhtezcatl is also a piano composer and has recorded his first album, "Journey." His music was first used in the documentary "Trust Colorado," which was shown in over 100 cities worldwide and received the 2012 Best Environmental Film Documentary of the Year. He also writes and performs original message-driven rap music to inspire and educate his peers through performances. He wrote and produced the Earth Guardians' new album, Generation RYSE. 


Current Projects

Rising Youth for a Sustainable Earth (RYSE)

Xiuhtezcatl envisions RYSE as a platform designed to empower youth to become climate leaders, train their peers, organize actions, and create a cascade of youth leadership across the globe. Guided by a Wisdom Council of seasoned activists and movement-builders—and along with the diverse 15-person RYSE Youth Council— Xiuhtezcatl is developing a model for widespread youth-led climate action


Awards & Accomplishments

2016 Children's Climate Prize

2016 Captain Planet Young Superhero Award

2015 Peace First Prize Award

2015 Nickolodean Halo Award

2014 Peace Prize First Award Finalist

2014 Brower Award FInalist

2013 Presidential Youth Council member

2013 Young Indigenous Warriors Award

2013 Youth Outreach Advisory Board (YOAB) Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Community Service

2013 International Giraffe Award

2013 Runner-up - Gloria Barron Prize

2013 Presidential United States Volunteer of the Year Award

2013 Indigenous Youth Environmental Activist Award

2012 International Eco Award

2012 Peace Maker of the Year Award

2012 Earth Savers Eco Award

2012 Peace Maker of the Year Award

2012 YOAB Certificate for Outstanding Community Service