Cultural Survival Quarterly 39-1

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Cultural Survival Q








Upholding Indigenous Rights Is Good Business

Vol. 39, Issue 1 • March 2015 US $4.99/CAN $6.99


M ar c h 201 5 V olum e 39 , Issue 1 Board of Directors President & board Chair

Sarah Fuller

Vice Chairman

Duane Champagne (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa)


Nicole Friederichs Clerk

Lesley Kabotie (Crow) Evelyn Arce (Chibcha) Alison Bernstein Joseph Goko Mutangah Laura Graham Steve Heim Jean Jackson Edward John (Tl’azt’en) Pia Maybury-Lewis Stephen Marks Stella Tamang (Tamang) Che Philip Wilson (Nga-ti Rangi)

Indigenous communities in Guatemala organize national protests and roadblocks on June 24, 2014 to bring attention to the continued discriminatory telecommunications laws and the mining and hydroelectric companies exploiting Indigenous territories. Photo by Angelica Rao.

FOUNDERS David & Pia Maybury-Lewis

F e at u r e s

Cultural Survival Headquarters 2067 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140 t 617.441.5400 f 617.441.5417

14 No Longer Business as Usual: The Financial Case for Respecting Indigenous Rights

Boulder Office 2769 Iris Ave., Suite 101 Boulder, CO 80304 Guatemala Office Calle Candelaria #5ª, Antigua, Guatemala Cultural Survival Quarterly

Copy Editor: Jenn Goodman Designer: Contributing Arts Editor: Phoebe Farris Managing Editor: Agnes Portalewska Copyright 2015 by Cultural Survival, Inc. Cultural Survival Quarterly (ISSN 0740-3291) is published quarterly by Cultural Survival, Inc. at PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Periodical postage paid at Boston, MA 02205 and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Cultural Survival, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Printed on recycled paper in the U.S.A. Please note that the views in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Cultural Survival.

Writers’ Guidelines

View writers’ guidelines at our website ( or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Cultural Survival, Writer’s Guidelines, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Cultural Survival recognizes that Indigenous Peoples have long been exploited by photographers and publications. This publication does not pay photographers for images and makes no money from publishing them. We also make a tremendous effort to identify every Indigenous individual in the images that appear here. From time to time, however, such identification is not possible. We apologize to the subjects of those photos and to any reader offended by the omission.

On the cover The community of Santa Cruz Barillas in Guatemala says “No” to a hydroelectric dam to be built by Spanish company Hidralia ii • Photo www. org DeLuca. bycs. Danielle Energia.

Madeline McGill The Indigenous Rights Risk Report quantifies the risks of investing in extractive companies that ignore human rights.

16 Saami vs. Metsähallitus Emily Sanders How the Saami of Finland brought down a logging giant and achieved corporate recognition of their rights.

18 Corporations and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Andrea Carmen The Third UN Forum on Business and Human Rights advanced the struggle for protection, recognition, and redress of Indigenous Peoples by corporations.

20 Changing the Way Business Is Done Agnes Portalewska Chief Wilton Littlechild speaks about the UN Global Compact, the world's largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative in the world.

22 On Solid–and Self-Sustaining– Financial Ground

CS Staff First Nations Development Institute advocates for Indigenous models of development and Native control of their own economic assets.

24 Opposing Meiliwan

Glenn Smith Meet the Indigenous activist who led a successful charge against a luxury resort developer in Taiwan.

D e pa r t m e n t s 1 Executive Director’s Message 2 In the News 4 Indigenous Arts Down to Our DNA: Frank Waln

6 Climate Change Hishuk Ish Tsa’walk: Everything is Connected

8 Rights in Action Unprecedented in Guatemala 10 Board Spotlight Joseph Goko Mutangah 12 Women the World Must Hear How We Make Progress, How We Have Change: Rebecca Adamson 26 Indigenous Rights Radio The Sound of Rights in Maa 27 Bazaar Artist Ousmane Macina 28 Get Involved 25 Years of ILO Convention 169

E xecut iv e Di rector’ S messa ge

Sovereignty and Economic Development


ndigenous Peoples around the world struggle to protect sacred lands, homelands, territories, and traditional livelihoods from corporate development activities and its adverse impact on Indigenous people and the environment. Strategies aimed at corporate responsibility and accountability to uphold human rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples are increasingly emerging through shareholder activism, Indigenous economic development, international instruments such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO 169, the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the UN Global Compact, and formal complaint procedures in the United Nations. This issue of the Quarterly highlights some of the important work occurring to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples through these mechanisms. Chief Wilton Littlechild and Andrea Carmen discuss advancing the struggle for protection and recognition of Indigenous rights and mechanisms for corporate accountability at the international level. As Carmen states, “The responsibility of States to be accountable for human rights violations caused by the corporations they license and the duty of corporations to respect human rights are relatively new and evolving human rights concepts.” First Peoples Worldwide advocates using a shareholder strategy based on a model they developed, The Indigenous Rights Risk Report, to expose shareholders to tangible risks in neglecting the rights of the nation’s Indigenous Peoples. As Rebecca Adamson says, “Corporations want to go where there’s the least risk, and if it’s working with us, we can be at the table directing the government to title our land, uphold our rights.” First Nations Development Institute promotes Indigenous models of development to mobilize the capacity of Native Americans to control their own assets. As the Institute’s president, Michael Roberts states, “the protection that

Indians and Indian Nations need is both economic and cultural. In the case of economics, Indians need to have sovereignty over their own economic destiny and their own economies. But economic sovereignty will never happen as long as there is economic dependency.” And as Indigenous people build and strengthen their development capacity, the Tla-o-qui-aht people remind us of the enormous challenges faced at the local level to hold on to traditional subsistence practices while addressing the need to adapt to climate change. Gleb Raygoradetsky highlights the development of one such community, which has been designed to support the natural and social systems making up the Clayoquot Sound while “hoping to strengthen local traditional subsistence, trade, and exchange models with newer elements of conservation economy.” On the other side of the world, Saami reindeer herders struggled for years to protect their forests, which are crucial to their traditional herding and cultural lifeways. Using some of the strategies mentioned above to assert their rights, they successfully negotiated preservation of 80 percent of demarcated herding lands. There is an inherent uneasy tension of Indigenous Peoples’ engagement in corporate discourse, participation in meetings, and formation of partnerships, especially as Indigenous people continue to experience devastating consequences of transnational corporate activity. So it is important to remember while we work to uphold our spiritual laws and cultural practices and protect and defend our sacred lands, that we bring to the table, as Roberts says, our capacity and the ingenuity to ensure our own economic, spiritual, and cultural well being.

Donors like you make our work around the world possible. Thanks so much for being part of Cultural Survival. Cultural Survival Staff Suzanne Benally (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa), Executive Director Mark Camp, Deputy Executive Director Kaimana Barcarse (Native Hawaiian), Indigenous Rights Radio Producer Ingrid Sub Cuc (Kaqchikel/Q’eqchi), Communications Assistant Jessie Cherofsky, Production Coordinator, Indigenous Rights Radio Danielle DeLuca, Program Manager, Advocacy Program and Distribution Coordinator, Indigenous Rights Radio David Michael Favreau, Bazaar Program Manager Sofia Flynn, Accounting & Office Manager Maria del Rosario “Rosy” Sul González (Kaqchikel), Indigenous Rights Radio Producer Jamie Malcolm-Brown, Communications & Information Technology Manager Cesar Gomez Moscut (Pocomam), Content Production & Training Coordinator, Community Media Program Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager Angelica Rao, Executive Coordinator Alberto “Tino” Recinos (Mam),Citizen Participation Coordinator, Community Media Program Miranda Vitello, Development Associate Ancelmo Xunic (Kaqchikel), Community Media Program Manager

Sobreviviencia Cultural Staff Antonio Gonzalez Chavez (Quiche), Director Elsa Chiquita de Pacache (Kaqchikel), Radio Producer, Community Media Program Ingrid Sub Cuc (Kaqchikel/Q’eqchi), Community Media Program Assistant Oscar Armando Xunic Rocal (Kaqchikel), Accountant

Sobreviviencia Cultural Board of Directors Ancelmo Xunic (Kaqchikel), President Cesar Gomez Moscut (Pocomam),Vice-President Angelica Cabur (Kaqchikel), Secretary Mark Camp, Treasurer Alberto “Tino” Recinos (Mam), Vocal

INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS Gabriella Aguilar, Asia Alsgaard, Bianca Annoscia, Cori Baer, Nora Berson, Don Butler, Febna Caven, Andrea Garza Erdmann, Alex Glomset, Brianna Gomez, Stephanie Guthridge, Stephanie Hon, Madeline McGill, Carley Minkler, Ahalia Persaud, Emily Sanders, Shaina Semiatin, Penelope Turner, Kristen Williams

Suzanne Benally, Executive Director (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa)

There are so many ways to

S ta y c o n n e c t e d Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 1

i n t he new s Canada: Quebec Court of Appeal Approves Lawsuit Against Rio Tinto Mining Company January

The Innu First Nations of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam and Matimekush-Lac John in northeastern Quebec and Labrador, Canada, successfully sued Rio Tonto’s Iron Ore Company of Canada for CA$900 million for intruding on Indigenous land and committing violations against the tribes since the 1950s. The victory against the mining project followed decades of refusal by Iron Ore to cooperate with the tribe for peaceful negotiation and settlement.

Ecuador: Indigenous Communities in the Amazon Take Chevron to International Criminal Court November

Indigenous Ecuadorians are continuing to fight for justice on behalf of approximately 80 communities in the Amazon rainforest who have been victims of Chevron Corporation’s toxic waste dumping in the Lago Agrio region. After years of refusing to abate pollution and pay the $9.5 billion fine ordered by Ecuadorian courts, Chevron now faces a formal complaint for crimes against humanity for inducing a public health crisis of high cancer rates and reported birth defects among area Indigenous residents.

Guatemala: Genocide Trial Against Dictator Suspended January

Former Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt’s trial for genocide and crimes against humanity has been suspended again. Though Montt was proclaimed guilty in May 2013 and sentenced to 80 years in prison, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court overturned the decision and the retrial has since been delayed due to a series of procedural motions. The retrial date was set for January 5, 2015, but was adjourned after the defense team accused the presiding judge of impartiality, forcing her to 2 • www. cs. org

Asociación Sobrevivencia Cultural Welcomes New Executive Director Cultural Survival’s sister organization in Guatemala, Asociación Sobrevivencia Cultural, welcomes Antonio Gonzalez Chavez (Quiche) as its new executive director. Asociación Sobrevivencia Cultural works with networks of community radio stations to promote Indigenous rights and fosters empowerment and support for the community radio movement in Guatemala. Chavez has worked with Asociación Mujb’ ab’l yol coordinating workshops and various networks of community radio stations. He also worked as a program assistant for the National Youth Council and as the regional coordinator for the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy in building the “Agenda for Political Participation of Indigenous Peoples.”

recuse herself from the trial. It is uncertain when the trial will resume or whether Montt will be required to attend.

Peru: One Indigenous Woman Is Victorious Against a Multinational Mining Corporation December

Maxima Acuna de Chaupe, an Indigenous farmworker in Peru, successfully prevented Colorado’s Newmont Mining Corporation from turning her land into an open-pit gold mine. The Yanachoca mine, vehemently opposed by Indigenous communities, would have contaminated the local lake and resulted in forced evictions. Acuna de Chaupe had been standing up to the project since 2011, refusing to vacate her land. On December 17, a Peruvian appeals court denied a lawsuit by the Yanachoca mine that sought to imprison her family for occupying their own property.

World Bank Incentivizes Governments to Violate Indigenous Rights December

The World Bank’s Safeguard Policies were criticized in December by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for its Draft Environmental and Social Framework incentivizing evasions of

Indigenous rights. Though the policies require Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from Indigenous commu- nities, the standards for mechanisms by which such consent is acquired are dubious and do not necessarily meet those set by international human rights statutes. For example, borrowers are allowed to opt out of FPIC in order to facilitate projects in countries that do not acknowledge Indigenous rights.

Indigenous Peoples Excluded from UN Climate Change Conference December

Among several criticisms of the 20th UN Climate Change Conference, which took place in Peru in December 2014, is the exclusion of Indigenous Peoples’ rights from the outcome document. An Indigenous Peoples’ caucus submitted several proposals to the negotiators, including recognition and respect for land rights, the creation of a climate fund for Indigenous Peoples, and Free, Prior and Informed Consent for climate related projects, none of which were accepted.

Campaign Updates Bangladesh: Phulbari Stands Its Ground Against Dirty Coal On November 26, the CEO of British coal company GCM Resources attempted to consult with local people in Phulbari and was met with angry crowds, resulting in his having to flee under police escort. The scheduled visit was followed by a two-day highway blockade in protest of the proposed open pit coal mine. Protests were also held in December at GCM’s annual shareholders meeting in London, where the company announced that government officials in Bangladesh have decided that the company holds no valid contract to continue business in the country.

Peru: Bids for Oil Extraction to Bring Trouble In Amazon Peru is in the midst of a bidding process for the largest oil concession in the country, Lot 192, located in the Amazonian region of Loreto. The current concession, owned by Argentinian company Pluspetrol Norte, expires in August 2015. To continue extraction the company must complete a series of requirements, including a prior consultation, which requires that the government consult with the traditional leaders from Indigenous federations of the four watersheds. The federations have demanded that Peru clean up the contamination that has accumulated from disastrous environmental practices over

Cultural Survival’s advocacy program launches international campaigns in support of grassroots Indigenous movements as they put pressure on governments and corporations to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of their communities.

the past four decades, including remediation, land titling, and compensation for the use and damages to their lands. UN Human Rights experts issued a warning in December 2014 during the Lima COP20 talks, saying Peru needs to do more to protect its citizens from environmental harm and prevent the recurrence of environmental emergencies affecting Indigenous Peoples. Argentina: Communities Protest Foreign Land Grabs in Iberá Harvard Continues Irresponsible Investing On November 27, a group of organizations representing local farmers, Indigenous communities, and environmentalists gathered in the capital of Corrientes, Argentina, to demand an end to the land-grabbing by foreign investors in the province. Corrientes has the highest percentage of land being sold to foreign investors, with approximately 12,000 square kilometers controlled by foreign corporations. In the Iberá region, more than 3,500 square kilometers are in the hands of foreign investors, including Harvard University, which invests in intensive monocrop pine and eucalyptus plantations that have virtually eliminated biodiversity in more than half of the wetlands, devastating freshwater levels and dramatically affecting the livelihoods of the Guaraní People. Despite numerous student and faculty divestment campaigns, petitions, protests, and a lawsuit, Harvard University is reportedly refusing to reconsider its holdings in plantations and fossil fuel industries.

Canada: New Prosperity Mine Project Officially Dead On January 14, Taseko Mines, a Canadian mining company that made two failed attempts to launch a gold and copper mine in Tsilhqot’in First Nation Territory in British Columbia, was granted an extension to an environmental assessment certificate to build an open-pit mine near Teztan Biny (Fish Lake). The original certificate was granted in January 2010 with the one-time right to extend for another five years if no substantial work had begun. Canada’s Environment Minister, Mary Polak, claims that the Environmental Assessment Office consulted with provincial government agencies and First Nations to consider “all relevant factors” before issuing the extension. The Tsilhqot’in National Government maintains that the extension was vigorously disputed and demonstrates a disregard for the Tsilhqot’in and the two prior federal environmental reviews that rejected earlier versions of the project. As the only First Nation with court-proven Aboriginal title, Tsilhquot’in leaders have made it clear to Taseko Mines that despite the certificate extension, the project will never be allowed to proceed.

Take action at take-action. Read more news at

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indi geno u s a rts

Frank Waln (center) marches with Honor the Earth at the historic Peoples Climate Change March in New York on September 21, 2014. Photo by Danielle DeLuca.

Down to Our DNA

Voice and Power in the Music of Frank Waln Shaina Semiatin


ne hundred miles southeast of Badlands National Park in South Dakota, on a plot of roughly 1,400 square miles, lays the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Home to 20,000 Sicangu (“Burnt Thigh”) Lakota people, the plot was first established in 1889 as part of the broader Great Sioux (Lakota) Settlement. Some mornings on the Reservation, when the fog is slow to burn off, it nestles in the rolling South Dakota hills and shrouds the land in silence. Yet beneath this silence beats the pulse of a people actively struggling with poverty, land rights, and natural resource extraction. As the challenges facing the Rosebud Sioux continue to grow, so too do tribe members’ approaches to advocating for individual and collective rights. Their advocacy encompasses not only political and environmental activism, but also the use of art, dance, and music. One creative voice that has quickly risen to the forefront is that of Frank Waln, 25, a Sicangu Lakota hip hop artist. Brought up on the Rosebud Reservation by a single mother, Waln has been mixing and 4 • www. cs. org

Frank Waln. Photo courtesy of Frank Waln.

creating his own music since the age of 12. He describes his musical journey as one that began as a form of catharsis, but eventually grew into something more: “I started making music because it made me feel good. It was how I made sense of the world, how I dealt with the world, how I dealt with my issues. I was just talking about my life to my lived experience, and to the nature of Indigenous people—our reality being shaped so much by government policy. My music became political whether I wanted it to or not, just because I was talking about my life and the history of my tribe. [For example], the feeling I get when I think about what the Keystone pipeline will do to my home and the future for me. Capturing the way that it makes me feel and putting that in a song so that no matter who you are, when you hear or see the song performed live, you’ll be able to feel that same urgency. I think that’s where art comes in—and music especially— in things like resistance against the pipeline. It brings an emotional element that’s very much needed.” The potential expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline affects not only the Sicangu Lakota, but also First Nations and ranchers across Canada and the northern plains states.

Should the pipeline expansion gain approval, it will likely result in widespread leaks of tar sand crude, polluted water systems, and elevated greenhouse gas emissions. In an attempt to push back against the pipeline expansion, Plains Tribes and ranchers have formed the Cowboy-Indian Alliance. Last fall, the Alliance hosted the Harvest of Hope protest concert, which featured headliners Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and Frank Waln. “It was a huge success,” Waln says. “There were about 9,000 people there. For me it was one of the best moments of my life, I’ll never forget. It was really cool for me as an artist to be put on that platform, with my message, representing my people.” Waln’s decision to become active in the anti-pipeline movement drew strongly on the historical legacy of the Sicangu Lakota: “For me, and I think for a lot of Indigenous folks, resisting this natural energy extraction on our treaty lands is just to get these countries—whether Canada or the US—to honor the original treaties,” he says. “How can America call itself the greatest country in the world if it’s guilty of genocide and it doesn’t even honor the documents that built the country? To me, that’s where Indigenous rights play into this. This is in the law, this is our land, we get to say what we want. And if we have to set up blockades to show the world that the US is screwing us over on these treaties, then we’re going to do it.” Waln’s connection to the struggles of his people serves as a prevalent theme throughout his music. In his song “Hear My Cry,” which features the haunting traditional vocals of Cody Blackbird, he raps: “I was born red, stained with the blood of genocide / Now all mascots, the only way I’m identified / Blackhawk, Red Skin, the image of our dead men / Dressed in the headdress, my people it’s depressing.” Yet to sequester Waln’s music into categories like “Native American Hip Hop” or “Protest Rap” seems unjust and oversimplified. His music actively addresses themes of environmental degradation, genocide, and injustice, but it also speaks to the pain and complexity of the human condition. In the song “AbOriginal,” he describes the moments in life when we feel powerless, seeing the things we love the most slipping away from us: “Feeling like/ The King of the Damned in the Kingdom of Sand / Building castles as my freedom expands /

Just to watch it fall down as the tides roll in / I’ve never seen a storm come with idle wind.” Waln plans to continue focusing on universal and authentic imagery, and says he is especially aware of the importance of a ubiquitous message as he prepares the release of his first full-length album. “The album I’m working on definitely has an overall story,” he says. “Creatively, with all the artists I’ve been meeting in the past year, the traveling I’m doing, the conversations I’m having, the way I’m impacting people’s lives, and the way they’re impacting my life; it’s all definitely influencing my music. But as far as content, I’m not making an Anti-Keystone XL album, I’m not making an Indian album, I’m making an album about my life—of growing up on the Rez, connecting with hip hop, and then using that, using my culture and hip hop, to really find identity and to find hope for myself and to become socially conscious. That’s the story I’m telling because that’s my life story. Definitely the pipeline and other Indigenous issues are going to play into that because it’s part of my story, but I’m not going to be pigeonholed into making an anti-Keystone album or a Native American album.” In this fundamental way, Waln’s music is a true reflection of its crafter, each track offering a complex weave of anger, pride, beauty, and strength. The very nature of its content lends itself to the lyrical and aggressive form of hip hop, which presents an ideal vehicle for Waln to share his message. “That’s the foundation of Lakota music,” he says. “It’s drums and storytelling and the voice, and how you use that voice. So I think when hip hop reached the Reservation, it was talking about stuff we were going through in a way that was familiar to us; familiar down to our DNA. Down to the music that our ancestors made.” Through the use of carefully sculpted poetics and power, Waln makes music that is accessible, but not easy. It demands of the listener what it demands of the rapper himself: the willingness to sit and to truly listen. “I like to tell stories,” he says. “I like albums that are cohesive projects, not just random stories strung together. I’m telling my story; I’m telling my life.” Frank Waln’s music is available on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Follow him on Facebook: and Twitter:

Frank Waln (left) performs at the Peoples Climate Change March in New York. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hoover for gardenwarriors

Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 5

c l i mat e ch a n g e

Hishuk Ish Tsa’walk (Everything Is Connected)

Tla-o-qui-aht People and Climate Change Eli Enns, co-director of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Tribal Parks.

Gleb Raygorodetsky


hen Canada created the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in the 1970s, the government did not consult with the Tla-o-qui-aht people and other Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, whose traditional territories it subsumed. Among many other negative consequences for Tla-o-qui-aht, the Park’s establishment erased any future options for their community to grow. But recently a deal was brokered to support an 86 hectare (nearly 1 square km) expansion of the Esowista reservation. Now, after a few years of construction, a new Tla-o-qui-aht community, Ty-Histanis, is springing to life. Over 170 single family houses, more than 30 duplexes, and a dozen or so elders’ units are planned, along with a school, health clinic, pharmacy, recreation center, and a bus hub. Most of it is yet to come, but the main infrastructure has been built, several houses raised, and some families have already moved in. The second of two Tla-o-qui-aht reserves, Esowista (and now, Ty-Histanis) is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia on the southern edge of Clayoquot Sound. Ty-Histanis was designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of more efficient heating, electrical, and mechanical systems. A central geothermal station makes it possible for each house to have radiant floor heating, an important feature in the region’s wet climate, especially now, when winter precipitation is expected to increase. Each household will also save money because it won’t be necessary to rely on electricity for heat. Most importantly, the expansion will allow people to relocate to safer, higher ground above the Esowista shoreline, which is increasingly being eroded by stronger and more frequent winter storms—the consequence of changing climate.

6 • www. cs. org

Eli Enns, the great-grandson of Nah-wah-suhm (a public speaker and historian for Wickaninnish, the Grand Chief of the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation), is a political scientist with expertise in constitutional law and a longtime resident of Clayoquot Sound. Of the new community, he says, “As with everything the Tla-o-qui-aht people do, we have tried to apply our traditional teaching to achieve sustainable community development in Ty-Histanis, paying particular attention to climate change.” As part of a climate change adaptation design to deal with increasingly intense rains, over 40 percent of the land in and around the community has been left undisturbed. Several stormwater retention ponds have been constructed with new pavements made of porous material to allow water to seep through them, into the soil, instead of letting runoff overflow the community storm sewage system. The Tla-o-qui-aht people and their long-term partner, Vancouver-based Ecotrust Canada, also looked for ways to reduce the amount of fossil fuel used in construction and transportation of building materials. They have designed and built a model house incorporating Nuu-chah-nulth traditional long-house designs and local building materials as part of the “Standing Tree to Standing Home” program. Their hope is that this more energy-efficient traditional house model will become a preferred option for the new families moving to Ty-histanis from Esowista or Opitsaht, or even families returning to their traditional territory from other parts of British Columbia or the rest of Canada. “We have a constitutionally recognized Aboriginal right to be self-governing. And a part of our tradition of self-governance is to look after our traditional territory for the benefit of future ancestors. Now we have to find thoughtful, creative, and innovative ways of reapplying those traditional concepts and values in a modern context of natural resource management,” Enns says. Enns was profoundly affected by regular childhood visits to his father’s homeland, Clayoquot Sound, and seeing his great-grandfather’s house gave him an overwhelming sense of belonging and connectedness to the landscape, something that has guided his life and work ever since. “Several things came out of that experience for me,” he says. “The first thing was, ‘live under the heavens and upon the earth.’ And what that meant to me was to be aware of the sun and the moon cycles that govern our lives every day and every year, and act appropriately: simple.” With the establishment of Meares Island Tribal Park in 1984, Tla-o-qui-aht people began to manage their lands according to their traditional values. The Tla-o-qui-aht elders, however, were never satisfied focusing solely on Meares Island without bearing in mind their entire traditional territory, because of their understanding of Hishuk Ish Tsa’walk—everything is one, everything is connected. “You can’t disconnect All photos by gleb raygorodestsky

the Island from mudflats, and inlets, and rivers, and salmon,” says Enns. “So we always knew that we would need to go back to managing our whole traditional territory. [After] Meares Island, we focused on Ha’uukmin, the Kennedy Lake watershed, which became our first attempt to figure out Tribal Parks management based on our traditional principles.” The resulting Ha’uukmin Tribal Park management and land use plan informs proponents of development projects about what kind of activities are allowed in the Park before the developers approach Tla-o-qui-aht traditional territory. Following traditional practices and laws of their people, the areas least disrupted by logging and other development activities were set aside as traditional qwa siin hap, or “leave as is,” areas, similar to what scientists would call a conservation or protected area. Other parts of the Tribal Park that had been logged or affected in some other way, like the Kennedy Flats, are called uuya thluk nish, or “we take care of.” This is where certain types of economic development and ecosystem healing take place, like salmon habitat restoration. “Then the goldmine proposal came,” Enns recalls. “So we said, ‘No, you can’t do that’, and created the Tranquil Creek Tribal Park and the Esowista Tribal Park to protect our territory from mining. Now we have pretty much the entire traditional territory covered. But our salmon go out into the open ocean. Our responsibilities follow salmon, because what happens in international waters is going to affect what happens here. That is where we’re trying to get Indigenous voices into discussions about international waters and the management of the Pacific Ocean.” Climate change presents a particular challenge because the environmental conditions that had enabled the temperate rainforests to mature for millennia are simply no longer there. There is also not enough salmon to bring the necessary nutrients into the system to sustain the growth of ancient trees. Moreover, the increasing air and water temperatures undermine the future of those wild salmon species, like sockeye, that depend on cold water to successfully reproduce and grow. In partnership with groups like the Wilderness Committee, Ecotrust Canada, and Parks Canada, the Tribal Parks have chosen a path toward developing a conservation economy that is meant to support the natural and social systems making up Clayoquot Sound and serve as a foundation for ensuring the Tla-o-qui-ahts’ well-being. Though some traditional subsistence practices like whaling are no longer viable, the Tla-o-qui-aht are hoping to strengthen local traditional subsistence, trade, and exchange models with newer elements of conservation economy. “The most fundamental thing is water,” Enns says. “We need clean drinking water sources for ourselves and for the future generations, and it is one of the key resources that we have in our traditional territory in abundance. So, we intend to keep it that way. What we are doing in our climate change adaptation work now is basically preparing for the big crash. If the crash never happens, that’s fine. Because these are still things that need to be done. So we may be just creating a better way of doing things in the long run.” This article is adapted from a six-part series, “Everything is Connected: Tla-o-qui-aht People and Climate Change.” Follow Gleb Raygorodetsky on Twitter @ArchipelagoHope and Tla-o-qui-aht Park on

The mythical green sea serpent adorns the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks uniforms.

Tla-o-qui-aht people have built a model house incorporating Nuu-chah-nulth traditional long-house designs and local building materials.

Joe Martin, Tla-o-qui-aht master canoe carver, with a copy of a totem pole from Opitsaht.

Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 7

r i ght s i n a ct io n

Unprecedented in Guatemala Confiscated radio equipment is returned after united and informed community protests

Radio Juventud staff and volunteers examine legal documents after the raid.

“The most important element of Indigenous Peoples’ ability to claim [their rights] is to have informed and organized communities.” — UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Delegate

Ingrid Sub Cuc (CS STAFF)


n December 9, 2014, Radio Juventud, beloved by the rural community of Sololá, was raided during station volunteer Olga Ajcalon’s women’s rights and education program. The station has been serving Sololá for over 10 years and has greatly contributed to educating and informing the surrounding communities. The majority of its programs are broadcast in the local Indigenous language, Kaqchiqel, and counts women, children, elders and many youth among its listeners. Radio Juventud has joined the ranks of myriad other community radio stations raided by the Guatemalan Public Ministry because the current telecommunications law does not allow for non-profit community radio—despite its guarantee in the 1996 Peace Accords, the Guatemalan Constitution, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. For more than a decade, Cultural Survival’s partners have been lobbying the government for a legalization of community radio, with little progress. “I’ve heard of other stations being raided; I’ve just never experienced it myself,” Ajcalon said. “I’ve always believed that my work is necessary and fulfilling,

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but this raid forced me to believe that exercising my freedom of speech somehow meant I was committing a crime.” Around 10:30 a.m., two police trucks carrying about 20 policemen arrived at Radio Juventud asking to see the owner of the building. They were accompanied by 10 government officials who spoke to the owner while the police proceeded to cut the power at the location. All visible equipment was seized, including a computer, transmitter, console, and microphones; even pens, papers, and photographs were taken. The raid lasted just 15 minutes. “No one ever claimed that the station was theirs. We all stated that the station belonged to the community even when the police were there and rudely interrogated us. We proved to the government that when the community unites, no force can take it down,” said Ajcalon. Once the police and government representatives had left, Ajcalon proceeded to call Radio Juventud’s staff members. Staff agreed that the incident should be reported to the Indigenous municipal authorities in Sololá. Indigenous elders held a meeting at the Sololá Indigenous Municipality and reached the conclusion that Radio Juventud has been an important tool for the rural communities of Sololá, providing access to communication to many who would not otherwise have it. Alcalde Indigena Municipal (Indigenous mayor) Alberto Chumil Julajuj commented, “We are both shocked and offended that the government thinks they can make decisions without our consent. The radio is ours; it doesn’t just belong to the volunteers or the property owner, it belongs to Sololá, and we will not rest until our voices are heard and our needs met.” Recognizing that Radio Juventud has protected the rights of its community, the community decided to stand up and demand the return of all the station’s equipment. “This raid really showed us that we are a community. We were attacked and we turned to our community for help, which they gladly gave because they felt a loss that was their own. We all fought for our rights and for our radio,” said a station member. Non-profit community radio plays a critical role in the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of Indigenous people in Guatemala. Community radio stations broadcast in Indigenous languages and provide a vital and reliable source of news and information about health, human rights, development, the environment, and other issues critical to Guatemala’s Indigenous Peoples. Sololá’s Indigenous communities are informed of their rights as Indigenous people in part due to the efforts of Radio Juventud broadcasting the Indigenous Rights Radio programming produced and distributed globally by Cultural Survival. Around 3:00 p.m. on the afternoon of the raid, over 50 Indigenous leaders marched to the Sololá courthouse and demanded to speak to the judge who had authorized the raid. They cited Article 16 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Guatemalan Constitution, and the All photos by Ingrid Sub Cuc

“I was directing a daily radio program, providing a space for people who would like to request music, ask questions, or even provide an opinion on a certain topic. My coworker couldn’t run the program [that day] so I took over, which was a lucky move because she is underage and would have very likely been arrested. I heard my mother yell my name and say that I should get out of the [building].” — Radio Juventud volunteer Olga Ajcalon, just after police raid on the station The revised court order authorizing the return of confiscated equipment.

1996 Peace Accords in making the case for why the station is essential to their community and demanding a return of the seized equipment. The judge claimed that he had signed the order without understanding the effect it would have on the community. Indigenous authorities, radio volunteers, and community members began protesting in front of the courthouse around 4:00 p.m., demanding that the judge petition the Office of the Public Prosecutor and the National Police to return all of the confiscated equipment. The judge scheduled a hearing for December 10 with the Indigenous Municipality, the Office of the Public Prosecutor, and the National Police to identify the cause for the raid. But only the representatives from the Indigenous Municipality appeared at the scheduled hearing, and three hours went by before the judge announced that the hearing would be postponed given the other parties’ failure to appear. Nevertheless, against all odds, on December 11 the judge issued a ruling for the equipment to be returned. “I was very happy to hear that we had won the case and that we were getting our equipment back. It was unbelievable—it has never happened before! We are so thankful to organizations like Sobrevivencia Cultural, Associación de Medias Comunitarias de Sololá, and the Indigenous municipality that supported us through this whole process,” Ajcalon said. Don Santiago Ajcalon, radio founder, listener, and property owner, added, “Hearing the judge rule in our favor was really hopeful because we are used to the justice system shutting us down. Indigenous people in Guatemala have suffered for so long at the hands of the government, but now we might actually have a chance at proving them wrong.” On December 16, all equipment was returned to Radio Juventud. It was the first time equipment had ever been returned after a raid, setting a major precedent for community radio stations all over the country. However, when station volunteers tested the confiscated equipment in front of the Indigenous authorities, they discovered that the transmission console did not work. The piece necessary to fix it had to be imported, but Radio Juventud hoped to be back on air in February. “We are satisfied having our equipment back, but it’s also disheartening that part of it no longer works. We are so small and don’t make any profit, [and] we were told that our equipment would be fixed for Q10,000 (about $1,300),” Don Santiago said. “The government thinks they won, but we will come back on the air. We have to.”

Our Work Supporting Indigenous Voices


ince 2004 Cultural Survival’s Community Media Program has worked with a network of 80 community radio stations (including Radio Juventud) across Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize, organizing training workshops and exchanges to improve operations and content quality and providing stations with programming on a regular basis. The programming covers important topics such as Indigenous communities’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent; reproductive rights and education; and caring for the environment. Last year Cultural Survival’s Indigenous Rights Radio Program produced and distributed more than 300 radio programs in 20 languages to almost 1,000 radio stations in 55 countries, informing Indigenous listeners about their rights to land, culture, and freedom of expression. Indigenous communities that know their rights and are organized can make the impossible happen! Learn more about our work at

Community members rally in support of Radio Juventud in front of the courthouse.

Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 9

boar d s p o t lig h t

Indigenous Knowledge: The Key to Biodiversity Conservation

Joseph Goko Mutangah

J Our series spotlighting the work of our Board members continues with Joseph Goko Mutangah from Kenya, who is currently the principal research scientist and head of the Kenya Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge. He is also a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for the 2014–2016 period. His current work involves conducting, supervising, and managing different research activities and projects related to biodiversity conservation, agriculture, climate, and cultural heritage, including documentation and interpretation of Indigenous knowledge for environmental and biodiversity conservation, youth education, food, and nutrition. Mutangah holds a PhD in forest ecology, environmental, and natural resource management from the University of Wales, Great Britain; an MS in botany from the University of Nairobi, Kenya; and a BS in botany from the Honours School of Panjab University, Chandigarh, India.

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oseph Goko Mutangah initially became involved in biodiversity conservation during the course of his research when he grew concerned about the deliberate degradation of natural habitats and loss of biodiversity in many Kenyan natural habitats, particularly indigenous forests. With other research scientists, he formed Habitat Restoration Initiative for Eastern Africa in 1998 with the objective of restoring degraded habitats in the region. The initiative later became a committee of Nature-Kenya, which operates under the umbrella of the East African Natural History Society. “Currently my interest and insights in ecological and habitat restoration is expressed through my newly formed African Center of Tropical Ecology,” he says. For the last 10 years, Mutangah has been in charge of the Kenya Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge. He explains the center’s activities: “We document Indigenous knowledge of food and medicinal plants with an aim to preserve and disseminate traditional knowledge attached to the natural biological resources, and how such knowledge can add value in the overall conservation and sustainable management of natural habitats and ecosystems. The change of lifestyles among many societies in the world has greatly influenced the change of culture, traditional rights and rites, and more importantly dietary habits. The modern trend of migration of local people from rural to urban and back, modern education systems, modern food diets and medical care, as well as environmental changes, have all significantly contributed in making Indigenous knowledge and cultural heritage not only vulnerable but seriously endangered. This threat of extinction of our culture and its embedded Indigenous knowledge has inspired me to work towards ensuring its protection and continued use in guiding the younger generation in our society towards sustainable utilization and management of our natural resources, including environmental protection.” He continues, “In Kenya, both the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service have realized they cannot successfully protect the wildlife in their natural habitats without involving the local people. Their past efforts and experiences have taught them the importance of joint management for effective and realistic conservation. For example, in regards to the Kenya Forest Service managed forests, the local communities are allowed limited access into the forests for extracting firewood and sustainable harvesting of grass as fodder for their livestock and medicinal herbal materials. This understanding and mutual respect ensures sustenance of the natural biological resources and improved livelihoods of the local Indigenous people living around the habitats of wildlife conservation areas.” Today in Kenya, Indigenous Peoples (particularly those that depend on forests) regularly face the threat of biodiversity loss, a factor that may affect their quality of life due to land degradation and deforestation. Mutangah sees the illegal extraction of timber, charcoal burning, and land encroachment as the major issues causing environmental degradation on Indigenous land. “Reduction of grazing land due to unplanned settlement and reduction of available water as a result of drying up of rivers are some of the factors that have threatened the lives of Indigenous people in Kenya. The Indigenous people cannot access important natural resources they used to enjoy, such as traditional foods and medicines, adequate water supply, game meat, and honey due to excessive exploitation of the habitats,” he says. Photos courtesy of UNPFII

Members of the 2014–2016 UN Permanent Forum (L-R): Raja Devasish Roy, Gervais Nzoa, Valmaine Toki, Oliver Loode, Maria Eugenia Choque Quispe, Kara-Kys Arakcha, Mohammad Hassani Nejad Pirkouhi, Joan Carling, Joseph Goko Mutangah, Dalee Sambo Dorough, Alvaro Esteban Pop, Edward John.

Still, Indigenous Peoples remain resilient and are fighting to regain and maintain their cultural lifestyles and ancestral land. According to Mutangah, the majority of Indigenous people in Kenya are pastoralists who used to own their land communally and have managed to maintain their designated grazing areas as intact as possible. However, Indigenous people who live in and around the forests, mainly as gatherers and hunters, are facing pressure to change their lifestyles. Mutangah says they are in constant discussion with the government, which sometimes evicts them out of the forest: “But the outcry of the affected people and that of the general public make the government sometimes withdraw or suspend its eviction orders. Both the pastoralists, who live mainly in dry areas, and the forest dwellers, have a very rich traditional culture of protecting the environment whereby they coexist with nature with little disturbance. This aspect has made these two groups of Indigenous people maintain their cultural heritage and the rest of the biodiversity without harming them to alarming levels.” Last year Mutangah began serving on the Permanent Forum as a government-nominated member. He considers the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples a victory in legislative achievement for Indigenous Peoples. On the local level, he points to Kenya’s new constitution (2010) in which the rights of Indigenous people in Kenya are enshrined. “This is one of the greatest tools Indigenous communities can use to claim and protect their rights,” he says, adding that pushing for writing of the policies regarding the rights and issues affecting the minority and marginalized people (Indigenous people) is currently going on through the National Gender and Equality Commission of Kenya, which is mandated to look after the welfare of the minority and marginalized communities in Kenya. Since becoming a member of the Permanent Forum,

Mutangah says, “we as members of the Forum have discussed many issues about Indigenous people globally and have passed many resolutions to the United Nations Economic and Social Council—especially resolutions that emanated from presentations and discussions of last year’s conference in April-May 2014.” He has also participated in similarly related local and international conferences and workshops, including the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (UNREDD), held in Arusha, Tanzania, and a workshop in Kenya organized by the National Gender and Equality Commission on Marginalized and Minority Communities in Kenya. Looking to the future, Mutangah says, “As an environmental research scientist, having worked with local communities for a long time integrating science and Indigenous knowledge, I look forward to those strategies that will improve the environment and at the same time improve the livelihoods of the local people. My specific goals include understanding species composition, population dynamics, and protection status of relic natural habitats in areas with heavy human pressure with an attempt of ecosystem rehabilitation. I am interested in the restoration of native tree species, especially those with economic importance in the community farmlands for improving environmental quality and community livelihoods. And I will continue working with local communities in achieving their environmental, social-cultural, and economic aspirations as well as their human rights—all geared toward efforts of reducing poverty and promotion of human dignity among Indigenous Peoples. Globally, the greatest tool Indigenous communities can use to protect their rights is to negotiate with the concerned authorities: having an open mind for them to be recognized, their rights respected, restored, and compensated where possible in areas where such rights might have been violated, whether politically, economically or socially. Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 11

women th e wo r ld m u st hear

How We Make Progress, How We Have Change: Rebecca Adamson Rebecca Adamson with a San elder in Botswana.

Agnes Portalewska (CS STAFF)


er voice reflects her passion. Her work reflects her commitment. Her legacy is an inspiration for many. Rebecca Adamson (Cherokee) is a businessperson and Indigenous rights advocate. She is the former director, president, and founder of First Nations Development Institute and the founder of First Peoples Worldwide. Born to a Swedish-American father and a Cherokee mother, Adamson grew up in Akron, Ohio and spent summers with her Cherokee grandmother in North Carolina. Reflecting on these early years, she says, “My journey and my vision has been driven by knowing we could solve our own problems and really wanting to listen to the ways our cultures helped us and supported our problem solving.” Early in her career Adamson was hired by the coalition of five Indian Controlled Schools in the country. As she tells it, “the schools sued [then-President] Nixon to release the Title IV Indian Education funds. Title IV provided funds for parental involvement, among other things.” With the release of that money, the Coalition of Indian Controlled Schools were able to help tribes start their own schools. “All of this dovetailed into the Indian Education Self Determination Act. After they won and then they hired me, and I got to work in our communities, and it was amazing.” She also worked to get the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance 12 • www. cs. org

Photo courtesy of FPW.

“Real successes have been primarily [achieved] by us, by Indigenous people. We have an ability to build the political machinery globally that we need to achieve change.”

Act of 1975 passed, giving tribes authority for how they administered the funds. Adamson’s background was in philosophy, a field she entered with “an undying belief that as Indigenous Peoples, we needed our own models. People constantly look at our systems and they talk about them being quaint. We get pushed back on two things: one is that the principles that I call ‘fundamental design principles’ are called romantic notions in Western thinking. But then they get caught up thinking that we’re saying individual Indians are better than individual Westerners. Both of those are just wrong. We [have] built systems that actually incentivize the good behavior.” Later, as she pursued a graduate degree in economics and “began really looking into the finances of it,” she says, “what really hit me was how all the models that we were taking out into our communities carried Western values— they weren’t our values. So I thought if we had a development process that really listened and brought the technical and the

resources together with the brilliant thinking and problem solving of Indigenous peoples, we would get new models.” This is how the idea for First Nations Development Institute was born in 1980. Initially, the primary purpose of First Nations Development Institute was to create a development process for Native people to do their own problem solving. The Institute created the land consolidation model, the tribal investment model, marketing, arts, food sovereignty, traditional food processes, agriculture, and the first microloan fund in the United States. The first 15 years were devoted to exploring Indigenous economics domestically, and the Institute began global outreach in 1994. Their first international field project grew into First Peoples Worldwide. Since 2007, First Peoples Worldwide’s Keepers of the Earth Fund has awarded nearly $1.5 million to Indigenous communities around the world representing 427 Indigenous groups in 53 countries. “Making that international transition has been extremely rewarding,” Adamson says. “It is magnitudes more difficult, more violent, and more discriminatory internationally, with what other Indigenous groups are facing. The grants are really what bring the energy and excitement and the heartbeat into our work.” She adds that the fund has supported projects that are “really struggling in dealing with huge global corporations and the pressure of being surrounded by the extractive industries and the governments that want the resources. In those cases we may be the only funder out there that is funding our communities to make their own decisions. One-third of our grantmaking portfolio had never had funding before. So we’re building those links back up to national and international groups so that we build that political machinery, bit by bit.” For Adamson, getting corporations and governments to respect Indigenous rights requires a multipronged approach. “In the long run I think the activist groups keep the heat on. Social media has absolutely been bringing attention to it. If corporations want to manage by headlines, we’ve got to get them headlines. The activist groups are doing good work on that. Legal and rights groups are trying to get legal precedents set. What hasn’t really been approached in all this is the market. That’s why First Peoples Worldwide did the Indigenous Rights Risk Report (see page 14), to try to get one more strategic tool out there that we could all use. I think it really will bring more power and augment what we’ve already got underway,” she says. Forward progress, however, isn’t always linear: “We don’t have a silver bullet anywhere. We could win a court case and the government decides not to uphold it. We could win an activist and media campaign, and as soon as the headlines die down they turn around and do it again. We make progress and then we slide back. [But] that is how we make progress and that is how we have change. “ After concluding its risk assessment of US-based extractive companies, First Peoples Worldwide is now turning its attention to Canada; Adamson estimates that about 70 percent of the global equity capital financing oil, gas, and mining comes from the Canadian exchange. “What we hope to do is bring the Indigenous groups in areas where we’re researching

together with the other groups in the areas we’ve already researched. That’s the idea, to really start sharing this information among ourselves,” she says. To aid in this information sharing, First Peoples Worldwide is currently developing curriculum on shareholder advocacy and planning to organize Indigenous shareholder advocacy leadership training centers in Indigenous areas where resource extraction is rampant, including two centers in Canada, one in Mexico, and one in Argentina. “We are organizing these centers so that our people in those places have the accountability they need to really negotiate and control their destinies with these corporations and with the government,” she explains. Getting resources and information to the grassroots is a must for Adamson. “Real successes have been primarily [achieved] by us, by Indigenous people. We’ve got thousands of grassroots groups out there, and we need to be able to link them with the international and national groups. We have an ability to build the political machinery globally that we need to achieve change. We need more local capacity. Funders right now tend to build somebody else’s capacity, to study us, to work for us, to be an intermediary with us, but never fund us.” She cites the adoption of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as a prime example: “We saw hundreds of thousands of dollars going out to non-Indigenous groups to do FPIC studies. The Indigenous groups are the ones having to figure out how to implement it, and yet all of the resources went to other folks to study us in doing it.” Adamson believes that Canada, at the epicenter of so many protests and recent controversies around FPIC and Indigenous rights, “is really the microcosm of all of this. What the First Nations have made [Prime Minister] Harper’s administration understand is they can stop his resource development agenda.” She also points to the Amazon region, which “has had the lowest bids on concessions in its history,” a cause she attributes directly to protests and work stoppages. “We can stop the production and the extraction of these resources and get heard, but it’s a path that could lead to violence, which in many cases has been a struggle for our lives,” she says. As the First Peoples’ risk report illustrates, in-country risk is one of the biggest drivers of corporate risk. “Corporations want to go to where there’s the least risk, and if it’s working with us, we can be at the table directing the government to title our land, uphold our rights,” Adamson says. “We are finding out through the risk report that it’s good business when countries uphold Indigenous rights. My hope is that we can get the results into the market quicker; that we can prove that countries that want economic performance have to uphold our rights to get it, and companies that want profit have to uphold our rights to get the profit. We’ve got to get that message out more and more.”

To learn more about First Peoples Worldwide, visit:

Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 13

No Longer Business as Usual The Financial Case for Respecting Indigenous Rights Madeline McGill

14 • www. cs. org

Photos by Tim Russo via Upside Down World


he cost of doing “business as usual” with Indigenous Peoples has a new spin in a recent report published by First Peoples Worldwide. The Indigenous Rights Risk Report: How Violating Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Increases Industry Risks finds that US extractive companies expose shareholders to tangible risks by neglecting the rights of the nation’s Indigenous Peoples. The report analyzes 370 oil, gas, and mining sites operated by 52 US-based companies on or near Indigenous land. Among the many eye-opening conclusions: 89 percent of these sites were found to pose a medium to high risk to shareholders and investors, and only 5 of the 52 companies have specific policies to guide them in positively engaging Indigenous Peoples. The report also quantifies many of the social risks posed by extractive industries, which, due to the difficulty of proving such grievances, had previously been difficult to evaluate. “The pushback on evaluating social risks, at least as far as the conventional wisdom goes, is that there are no quantitative metrics,” said Rebecca Adamson, founder of First Peoples Worldwide and co-author of the report. “Social risks are considered to be ‘intangibles,’ a word the market uses to ignore whatever it does not want to have to deal with, such as the environment. However, like the environment, we are seeing much more public pressure for corporations to be responsible for their footprints. The funny thing about ‘intangibles’ is how much attention they are getting in the market nowadays.” Now that attention is being granted to some of these issues, the next step is to incentivize companies to implement policy that recognizes these risks. The report states that “Indigenous Peoples are securing unprecedented recognition of their rights from governments . . . but these impressive legal gains are matched with chronic gaps in implementation, especially as they relate to resource extraction.” One of these gaps is the failure of many extraction companies to formally observe the land and human rights of Indigenous Peoples. Adamson believes that these injustices can be addressed by holding companies accountable not only morally, but also economically. “If you have bad credit you pay a higher interest rate. This is how the market works. So the idea behind the Risk Report is to quantify the risk companies encounter when they violate Free, Prior and Informed Consent and tie it to their cost of capital. That way a company that consistently violates Indigenous rights will be rated riskier than one that upholds our

In Honduras, Garifuna communities demand recognition of communal land titles despite constant military abuses.

rights, and therefore it will have to pay higher financing costs,” Adamson explained. The risk ratings are intended to incentivize companies to take action in a way that local, national, and international governmental bodies have not. The hope is that the report will speak to for-profit companies in a language they respond to: market value. “I don’t have much faith in either the national or international political leadership,” said Adamson. “Many countries are not implementing the Declaration, courts are slow to rule, and often rulings get ignored. [But] the activists are raising awareness and public pressure is mounting. Social media has helped catapult the issue into national and international attention. But the end game for corporations is still about keeping your stock price up, and there is no incentive to change yet. Using market mechanisms is a crucial void this report intends to fill.” The report states that action is currently taken to address social risks only if tangible, negative consequences arise. The report also finds that this reactive, fire alarm method of regulation is beneficial to neither party: “In the absence of market incentives for proactively addressing social risks, companies are not prompted to do so until things go wrong, and social risks become social costs.” The Indigenous Rights Risk Report strives to evaluate these risks both quantitatively and with respect to the most pressing human rights issues affecting Indigenous people.

Photo courtesy of Campaña Salvemos al Iberá

Photo by Danielle DeLuca

Examining 52 oil, gas, and mining companies listed on the Russell 1000 Index (an index that represents the 1,000 largest publicly held companies in the US), First Peoples Worldwide identified projects directly impacting Indigenous Peoples’ lands or rights. From there, they used five risk indicators (Country Risk, Reputation Risk, Community Risk, Legal Risk, and Risk Management) to rate each company from low to high risk, indicated on a scale of 1 to 5. Of the 330 projects assessed for risks associated with operating country, company reputation, engagement of Indigenous community, legal action, and risk management, 35 percent of those projects were rated high risk exposure and 54 percent medium risk exposure. The majority of companies were found to not be exhibiting adequate efforts to establish positive relationships with Indigenous communities. A full 92 percent of companies surveyed did not address community relations or human rights at the board level in any formal capacity. Companies such as Alpha Natural Resources and Southwestern Energy were given risk scores of 100 percent, while companies with risk scores of 50 percent included big names such as Chevron Corporation and Murphy Oil. Adamson said she hopes that the report will garner the attention of some of these corporations, which rely on intangible assets such as intellectual property, human and social capital, reputation and goodwill, and risk management in the valuation assessment of their stock. The purpose of the report, Adamson explained, is to link corporate accountability to Indigenous social costs such as overburdened roads and utilities, increased crime, housing shortages, and polluted waters. “In the case of Indigenous social concerns, there will be cultural practices, sacred sites, subsistence livelihoods—all crucial elements of the social costs we face when corporations come into our territories with or without our consent. By identifying and quantifying these impacts, Indigenous Peoples are better informed to make decisions and set development agendas on their own terms and corporations are better equipped to listen to those terms.” Along with exposing the worst offenders, the report also uncovered corporations taking positive steps towards increasing corporate social awareness. Conoco Philips, Exxon Mobil, Freeport-McMoRan, and Newport Mining all have board committees with community relations or human rights in

In Barillas, Guatemala, communities protest the construction of a hydroelectric dam.

their mandates. Exxon Mobil additionally has an active, independent external body to advise and evaluate its community relations and human rights performance. Such progress, while incremental, is a step in the right direction. Adamson believes that with a more unified front, true change could be realized in the relationship between Indigenous people and extractive industries. “Indigenous Peoples have the potential to set a major portion of the extractive industries agenda, but we have to be so much more united and organized,” she said. The data collected for the report found approximately 30 percent of current production coming from Indigenous lands, and up to 60 percent of future reserves located on Indigenous lands. “This is huge,” Adamson said. “If we were more united, we could harness the market forces and make sure it is no longer business as usual. United we could be sure we are all heard in the corporate boardroom, whether the answer is ‘no’ to development or whether it is ‘yes.’ Indigenous Peoples would be the ones determining the relationship they want to have with corporations.” To read the full Indigenous Rights Risk Report, visit:

In Corrientes, Argentina, protesters stand with Guaraní people in demanding that Harvard University protect the Iberá wetlands from destructive monocrop plantations.

Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 15

Saami vs. Metsähallitus

The Case for Corporate Recognition of Indigenous Rights

Logging of the forest area in Paadarskaidi in northern Finland by Metsähallitus posed a major threat to reindeer herding, which is central to Saami culture. Photo by Dutchbaby.

Emily Sanders


uccessful negotiation between Indigenous Peoples and profit-driven corporations requires copious diligence and time. The Saami reindeer herders of Finland campaigned exhaustively for eight years to achieve protection of their homeland’s ancient pine forests. The eventual preservation of 80 percent of demarcated herding lands in 2010 remains a landmark accomplishment and precedent-setting example for Indigenous communities seeking corporate recognition of their established rights. The only Indigenous people of northern Europe, the Saami have always maintained traditional reindeer herding as the central aspect of their culture. The free migration of grazing reindeer between cooperatively owned pastures takes place on Saami occupied land, 90 percent of which is owned by the government of Finland. In 2003 concerned Saami communities, along with Greenpeace, marked forest area crucial for herders. The land contains pine trees up to 500 years old, which act as an incomparably efficient carbon sink, and houses tremendous biodiversity including many endangered species. These once prolific, culturally cherished old growth forests were intensively clear-cut and siphoned off to paper and pulp

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mills primarily owned by Metsähallitus, Finland’s industrial forestry service, which relied on this domestic timber source for 75 percent of its production. Finland contains just 0.5 percent of the world’s forests; the remaining 5 percent of its old growth forests are primarily used by Indigenous Peoples. Metsähallitus’ unsustainable management practices, in conjunction with the government’s lax enforcement of legislation that would have preserved the old growth forests, posed a grave threat to Saami herders whose culture depended on close interaction with the forest ecosystem. Disregarding the area’s status as High Conservation Value Forests, Metsähallitus regularly practiced invasive clear-cutting and converted ancient forests to pine and spruce monocultures. Despite international human rights mechanisms such as Articles 13, 14, and 15 of ILO 169, which specifically protect the land rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Finland’s Reindeer Husbandry Act of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which states that the land “may not be used in a manner that may significantly hinder reindeer herding,” Saami herders found their livelihood strained. By ignoring Saami rights in favor of maximum profit, Metsähallitus’ unchecked logging resulted in the disruption of traditional pasture cycles, decimation of the central winter food source of hanging horsetail lichen for grazing reindeer, and according to assessments published by the Finnish Environmental Institute and Red Data Book for Finland, the endangerment of 70 percent of national forest habitat types and the near extinction of countless forest species. The government and the corporation repeatedly denied Saami requests for proper protection and demarcation of their vital forests in northern Lapland, failing to implement the already weak conservation standards of Finland’s Forest Act. Instead, Metsähallitus was merely asked to “collaborate” with reindeer herders—a process that was reportedly limited to informing cooperatives of when and where logging would occur, with no enforced obligation to obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent before the clear-cutting. Absent the promise of negotiation, Saami herders found themselves fighting an uphill battle against a corrupt conflict of interests: the majority of the logs cut by Metsähallitus were purchased by StoraEnso, a European paper supplier whose largest shareholder is the government of Finland. But the Saami were not alone in their struggle to reclaim their land. With help from Greenpeace and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, reindeer herders and the Saami Council mapped out areas that required preservation in order for herding to continue. Mattias Åhrén, Chief lawyer for the Saami Council, credits Greenpeace’s assistance for the campaign’s success. “They put up a camp in the area and basically tried to stop the logging activities physically by placing themselves between forest machines and the forest. This camp was then harassed by the

A rescue camp protecting Saami reindeer forest area in Paadarskaidi was established by Greenpeace in 2005 to protest the ongoing destruction by Metsähallitus. Photo by Greenpeace/Matti Snellman.

timber workers there, the employees of Metsähallitus. So of course, this conflict attracted media,” Åhrén said. Metsähallitus continued to deny Saami appeals to suspend logging pending the investigation of their practices, so eventually the UN Human Rights Committee was engaged to exert pressure on Finland. In 2004, the Finnish government was encouraged by the Human Rights Committee to negotiate with the Saami people and to “swiftly take decisive action to agree to an appropriate solution to the land dispute with due regard for the need to preserve the Saami identity.” During this time, three reindeer herders from the village of Nellim began preparing a lawsuit against Metsähallitus and the Saami Council took critical action to inform StoraEnso’s consumers of the dispute. “We analyzed StoraEnso’s customers and addressed them, particularly in Central Europe and Germany, and basically [told them] that StoraEnso was purchasing timber that had been cut in violation of the human rights of those reindeer herders that use the area and requested that they should not buy any products from StoraEnso. We also contacted larger states in Europe, and that resulted in the UK sending their parliamentary committee to Helsinki to meet with us to see whether the public in the UK should stop purchasing StoraEnso’s products,” Åhrén said. These actions prompted waves of demonstrations in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy, with consumers refusing to accept StoraEnso’s unjust business practices. In 2005, the lawsuit against Metsähallitus by Saami people from Nellim was settled temporarily by the UN Human Rights Committee through a logging moratorium. Even still, StoraEnso and its Forest Steward Council certifier refused to meet with the Saami Council and relevant NGOs before carrying out audits. In June 2006, StoraEnso released a finalized risk assessment claiming that with regard to FSC wood standards, Finland should be considered “low risk” and that disruption of the Saami homeland “does not concern the district.”

Protest banner on a vehicle used by state-owned Forest Park Service (Metsähallitus): Matsähallitus: What happened to sense and morality? Photo by Greenpeace/Matti Liimatainen.

It was Åhrén’s belief that the biggest motivator for consumers to boycott a product is becoming aware that a corporation has evaded a commitment to conducting business in ethical ways—in this case, by violating Indigenous rights. “We addressed these ethical indexes because StoraEnso was listed on a number of those, and basically said that StoraEnso should be de-listed because of these activities. A couple of these [indexes] initiated research and started to investigate the situation, and contacted StoraEnso saying that they were now subject to these investigations,” Åhrén said. Prior to the resolution of the lawsuits pending before the Human Rights Committee, StoraEnso, under intensifying pressure from dissatisfied consumers, announced in 2006 that it would no longer purchase any timber coming from disputed areas like Nellim. “It was quite effective,” said Åhrén of this victory. “When these corporations started to investigate StoraEnso they got really nervous, because if they should be de-listed from these indexes they would lose a large base of their investors, which would result in stock prices to fall.” From 2009 to 2010, Saami reindeer herding cooperatives entered into negotiations with Metsähallitus to establish protection for forests important to traditional herding. Ultimately, out of the original 1,070 square kilometers of land mapped out in 2003, approximately 800 were designated off-limits from forestry either permanently or for the next 20 years. “We have had other campaigns, but none as large as Metsähallitus and StoraEnso,” said Åhrén. “It is difficult resource-wise to pursue these types of campaigns. You have to really pick your fight, pick the symbolic ones. Take those that might then be used as precedents, otherwise you will have way too much work to handle.” Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 17

Corporations and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Advancing the Struggle for Protection, Recognition, and Redress at the Third UN Forum on Business and Human Rights Andrea Carmen


n 1990, the UN Global Consultation on the Right to Development declared that “the most destructive and prevalent abuses of Indigenous rights are the direct consequences of development strategies that fail to respect their fundamental right of selfdetermination.” Twenty-five years later, notwithstanding historic progress in the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the international arena (most notably the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), this statement still defines the reality for the majority of Indigenous Peoples. Today, the survival of Indigenous Peoples around the world continues to be threatened by corporate activity. This includes mining, oil drilling, damming, deforestation, toxic pesticides, proliferation by agribusiness, water privatization and appropriation, and a range of other activities carried out on or near Indigenous Peoples’ lands without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent. These activities are often undertaken in violation of legally binding treaties and agreements. They desecrate sacred places, undermine food sovereignty and traditional livelihoods, and jeopardize community and reproductive health with little regard for violations of these and other individual and collective human rights of Indigenous Peoples. The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) and other Indigenous organizations are engaged in the work of Special Representative John Ruggie, who was appointed by the UN Secretary General “to identify and clarify standards of corporate responsibility and accountability for transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights.” IITC has made several submissions urging the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples to ensure that their perspectives and experiences would be taken into account. IITC has also consistently underscored the vital importance of the Declaration as a framework for upholding Indigenous rights. In June 2011 the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution unanimously endorsing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights implementing the UN “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework proposed by Ruggie. This framework provided a global standard for preventing human rights impacts of business activity and providing remedies for victims. The Guiding Principles are organized under three pillars: the State’s duty to protect human rights; corporate 18 • www. cs. org

responsibility to respect human rights; and the need for greater access to remedy for victims of business-related abuse.

The UN Working Group

In addition to adopting the Guiding Principles, the Human Rights Council established a UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises to carry out studies and oversee implementation at the country level. Along with issue-based studies and country visits, the Working Group organizes annual Human Rights and Business Forums where States, UN agencies, NGOs, and Indigenous Peoples review good (and bad) practices, present strategies for effective implementation, and highlight areas of ongoing concern. The responsibility of States to be accountable for human rights violations caused by the corporations they license and the duty of corporations to respect human rights are relatively new and evolving human rights concepts. However, even before the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were adopted in 2011, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the treaty monitoring body for the international convention of the same name, affirmed that both Canada and the United States are obligated to prevent human rights violations in Indigenous communities around the world by corporations licensed in either country. The continued lack of compliance by the US with this recommendation from the Committee was addressed when the US was reviewed again in 2013. The Committee made similar observations addressing the responsibility of Canada, in particular regarding the activities of Canadian mining companies carrying out activities that violated the rights of Indigenous Peoples outside the country in both 2007 and 2012.

Indigenous Peoples’ Participation in UN Forums on Business and Human Rights

From its first session in 2012, the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights has recognized that Indigenous Peoples around the world suffer from adverse impacts of corporate activity resulting in violation of a wide range of their individual and collective rights. At all three sessions of the Forum to date, Indigenous Peoples have been a key focus, although there is still no formal mechanism or permanent agenda item, as requested by Indigenous Peoples, to ensure their formal participation and full inclusion in future sessions. Chief Wilton Littlechild, Chair of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples addressed the

first session in 2012, and the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, were panelists at the second and third sessions. One of the Working Group’s first activities was a groundbreaking study exploring the challenges faced in addressing “adverse impacts of business-related activities on the rights of Indigenous Peoples through the lens of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.” Specific concerns raised by IITC at the third Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights held December 1–3, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, focused on the continued production and export by US corporations of highly restricted and unregulated pesticides banned for use in the US. This practice, permitted by current US laws, has had devastating, well-documented human rights consequences, including undermining reproductive health and causing over 25 documented deaths in Yaqui Indian communities in northern Mexico. IITC presented this concern in a side event organized by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and was invited to submit this issue for the Committee’s country review of Mexico in May 2015.

The United States’ National Action Plan

A key mechanism for implementation and a central focus of discussion at the most recent Forum is the development of National Action Plans by UN member states to promote implementation of the Guiding Principles. On January 14, IITC sent a written contribution to the US State Department for the development of its own National Action Plan, which was announced by President Obama in September 2014. It is targeted for completion, after a series of consultations around the country, by the end of 2015. The first consultation was held in New York City on December 15; upcoming sessions are planned for Oklahoma, California, and Washington, D.C. in February and March 2015. IITC’s submission followed up on issues raised during reviews of the US in 2014 highlighting corporate activities impacting the rights of Indigenous Peoples in and out of the country. These include laws allowing the manufacture and export of pesticides from the US that have been banned or deregulated in the US; violations resulting from corporate activities that cause the destruction, desecration, and contamination of Indigenous Peoples’ sacred and ceremonial sites, areas, and landscapes, including many located on what are now federal lands and in areas recognized as belonging to Indigenous nations under their ratified Treaties with the US; and lack of US compliance and implementation of the provisions and rights affirmed in its human rights obligations and commitments.

World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

The Outcome Document of the High Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly, also known as the World Conference

on Indigenous Peoples, further underscored UN member states’ commitments to uphold the rights affirmed in the Declaration. The Outcome Document adopted on September 22, 2014, included a commitment to the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent related to development activities. Based on the UN Guiding Principles Business and Human Rights, as well as the Concluding Observations of UN Treaty Bodies and the commitments made by States (including the US) in the outcome document, IITC made several recommendations to the US State Department urging the use of rights affirmed in the Declaration, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. IITC also urged that the national action plan affirm the rights contained in the World Conference outcome document to Free, Prior and Informed Consent; that the plan uphold the rights affirmed in the nation-to-nation treaties it concluded with Indigenous nations to interpret and guide its implementation of the UN Principles on Human Rights and Business; that it incorporate and implement the recommendations of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Covenant on Civil and Political Rights treaty bodies with regard to the protection of Indigenous Peoples’ sacred areas, sites, and landscapes; and that it include a commitment to take immediate steps to halt the production and export of pesticides and other toxic chemicals that have been banned for use in the United States. Although these recommendations are directed specifically to the US, similar recommendations can be made to other member states where corporate and business activities impact the rights and survival of Indigenous Peoples. The devastating effects of business and corporate activities upon the rights of Indigenous Peoples, their health, lands and territories, cultures, and ways of life, cannot be minimized. Neither can the responsibility or accountability of member states. —Andrea Carmen is the executive director of International Indian Treaty Council, an Indigenous Peoples organization with General Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council. Read the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights here:

Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 19

Changing the Way Business U N G lobal C o m pact Agnes Portalewska (CS STAFF)


orporations are increasingly recognizing the link between good business and respecting human rights. This is reflected in the more than 12,000 corporate participants and other stakeholders from over 145 countries in the UN Global Compact, the largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative in the world. The Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative spearheaded at the United Nations for businesses committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption. It is a practical framework for the development and implementation of sustainability policies and practices to help advance sustainable business models and markets.    In February, Cultural Survival interviewed Chief Wilton Littlechild (Cree) from Alberta, Canada. Chief Littlechild served two terms as the North American representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and is currently a member of the UN Expert Mechanism on Chief Wilton Littlechild. the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Photo by Broddi Sigurdarson /UNPFII. He also advocates for the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples’ rights at the UN Global Compact and the Business and Human Rights Forums. A common criticism of the UN system, including the Global Compact, is the lack of enforcement mechanisms. The Global Compact and the Human Rights Council’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are both voluntary processes. However, Chief Littlechild explains, “there are numerous possible safeguards which could be implemented by the Global Compact to prevent its signatory companies from committing human rights violations. Some of these options are discussed the in the Expert Mechanism’s Followup Study on the Rights to Participate in Decision-Making with a Focus on Extractive Industries, and its Comment on the Human Rights Council’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as related to Indigenous Peoples and the Right to Participate in Decision-Making with a Focus on Extractive Industries.” In order to promote human rights accountability at the corporate level, some of the key recommendations include the need for representation and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, creating and implementing corporate Indigenous rights policies, and establishing mechanisms for remediation.

Creating Effective Corporate Policies

Commitment to respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples should be reflected in a business enterprise’s policies. Chief Littlechild says that signatory companies to the Global Compact need to create and enforce a policy framework that assesses the risks and actual impacts on the rights of Indigenous 20 • ww w. cs. org

Peoples arising from their activities and business relationships, and should express their commitment to meet this responsibility through publicly available policy that is informed by relevant expertise; that stipulates the enterprise’s human rights expectations of personnel, business partners, and other parties directly linked to its operations, products or services; that is communicated internally and externally to these parties; and that is reflected in operational policies and procedures. Enterprises are also advised to assess company compliance with Indigenous rights and, where possible, include Indigenous Peoples affected by their operations.

Involvement of Indigenous Peoples

Effective engagement with Indigenous Peoples is fundamental. Employees at all levels must have an understanding of the content of Indigenous rights and be aware of international standards such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO 169, including the rights to participate in decision making and to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. Signatory companies can support mechanisms that ensure the right of Indigenous Peoples to participate by devoting human and financial resources to appropriate consultation mechanisms, establishing partnerships with Indigenous Peoples, and ensuring that corporate boards or advisory panels include Indigenous Peoples.

Human Rights Due Diligence and Remediation A human rights due diligence process should be established to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for how corporations address their impacts on human rights. The process should draw on independent human rights expertise and involve meaningful consultation with potentially affected groups. Enterprises that pose risks of severe human rights impacts should formally report on how they are being addressed, including publicly available annual reporting and voluntary assessment measures. Chief Littlechild also recommends that the Global Compact “ensure that signatory companies, where relevant, create the necessary mechanisms to ensure that grievances are identified and addressed in a timely manner.” As stated in Principle 29 of the Comment on Business and Human Rights, “Business enterprises should establish or participate in effective operational-level grievance mechanisms for individuals and communities who may be adversely impacted.”

Advising States

The Followup Study on Extractive Industries gives recommendations for potential safeguards in the form of advice to States and extractive industries. Chief Littlechild believes the implementation of these recommendations could help to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples by implementing them in the Communication on Progress. “In this process,” he explains, “the signatory companies of the Global Compact annually provide public disclosure to stakeholders on progress made toward implementing the 10 principles of the Global Compact

Is Done and supporting broader United Nations goals and issues. This serves to enhance transparency, accountability, drive continuous performance improvement, and provide a repository of corporate practices to promote dialogue and learning. Such a process would be particularly valuable, as those businesses which have not adequately reported to the Global Compact through the Communication on Progress are faced with being expelled from the Global Compact.”

Addressing Violators

When companies are in clear violation of international human rights standards, there are several mechanisms within the UN system for filing a complaint. “It should be recognized that Indigenous Peoples often face particular issues in accessing existing grievance mechanisms. This is not to say that there are no mechanisms for stopping the violation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Chief Littlechild says. These include the recently established Universal Periodic Review, which puts measures in place to stop the violation of international human rights standards. While the enforcement measures necessary to stop corporations from violating Indigenous rights exist largely under the control of a State’s legislation, there are some regional and international human rights bodies that may act to stop human rights violations within their jurisdiction. This involves mechanisms such as human rights tribunals and international or regional courts such as the European Court of Human Rights. In the Comment on Business and Human Rights, some valuable mechanisms and international institutions for obtaining redress and stopping violation of human rights are discussed in Articles 27, 28, 32, and 40 of the Declaration. In the ILO Convention’s monitoring process, complaints can be brought before a Committee of Experts. However, Chief Littlechild says, this only applies to States that have ratified the ILO Conventions. In addition, Treaty Bodies can issue general comments and issue recommendations through specific country reviews. Other avenues of recourse for Indigenous Peoples are human rights tribunals where they exist nationally or regionally.

Involving Cities and States

In 2001, the city of Melbourne, Australia proposed to allow cities to sign onto the Global Compact. The Cities Programme of the Global Compact has since expanded significantly and includes over 90 different cities across the world, focusing on collaboration among all levels of government, business, and civil society in order to enhance sustainability, resilience, diversity, and adaptation within cities and in the face of complex urban challenges.

Chief Littlechild says that although involving States in the Global Compact “could provide additional pressure on companies to be more cognizant of potential human rights violations,” it presupposes that the States have adopted legislation in support of these principles and rights, that they have a desire to pressure companies to conform to being cognizant of human rights violations, and that the States themselves are not complicit in the violation of these rights. For example, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination pointed out that Canadian companies abroad have been violating the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and that because the State charters these corporations, there is an extra-territorial jurisdiction to make these companies operate within the power of Canadian law. The Committee has made similar observations in reference to the US, concluding that the United States must “take measures to stop the violation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples by United States registered companies.”

Courtesy of UN Global Compact.

Raising Awareness

In 2013 the Global Compact published A Business Reference Guide: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. While some progress has been made since its publication, more mainstreaming of Indigenous rights must happen. Chief Littlechild points to the example of ConocoPhillips, which has initiated executive training on the rights of Indigenous Peoples conducted by Indigenous leaders, and Talisman, a Calgary-based company that has developed a policy on Free, Prior and Informed Consent. “I like the Guide because it is very pragmatic and action-oriented,” he says. “There have been important and valuable recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and their interaction with business enterprises. Though it is difficult to measure whether companies have an improved understanding of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, we can say that these rights are now more often discussed and included in documents relating to business and human rights.” To read the full interview with Chief Littlechild, including experts from the studies and comments referenced in this article, visit:

Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 21

On Solid–and Self-Sustaining– Financial Ground CS Staff

Photo courtesy of FNDI


irst Nations Development Institute is a policy, research, grant making, and lending institution founded on the need to promote Indigenous models of development and to mobilize the capacity of Native Americans to control their own economic assets. The Institute’s current president, Michael Roberts (Tlingit), grew up in Ketchikan, Alaska, where he says he was privileged to be surrounded by ambitious, hard-working role models. The flip side of that experience was that he “got to see up close and personal the way in which the world was stacked against folks like my Indian grandfather and father. My father, in order to keep his moderately well paying job at the local mill, had to fold away his Indianness in a drawer every day and go to work.”    Roberts had to carve out his own path; in high school and even college, none of his instructors or counselors believed that Indians Michael Roberts could be much more than manual or semi-skilled labor. “When I got my MBA in finance back in the early ’90s, there were fewer than 500 Indian MBAs out there—less than 1 per Indian tribe,” he recalls. But the picture today is quite different, and changing rapidly, in large part due the existence of organizations such as the Native American Finance Officers Association and First Nations Development Institute. “When the founder and Board of First Nations surveyed the economic landscape of Indian country’s reservation economies 35 years ago, what they found was that the three-legged

Young Navajo students enjoy connecting with a baby goat at the STAR charter elementary school near Flagstaff, AZ. Photo by Kate Sorensen, STAR School.

stool that makes up a healthy economy was listing heavily because two of the legs were underdeveloped,” Roberts says. “Most reservation economies then, as they remain today, were dominated by the government sector—federal and tribal government. Noticeably missing, in most instances, was a robust for-profit/entrepreneurial sector and an accompanying nonprofit sector. This economic reality did not occur by happenstance, but by design. American Indian reservations resemble the colonies; a piggy bank for America to tap into when the Indians’ natural resources were needed.” Roberts believes that this economic reality “could be traced to the belief that Indians were not smart enough or capable enough to manage their own assets—or possibly the

Children prepare to practice the Buffalo Dance at Keres Children’s Learning Center at Pueblo de Cochiti, NM. Photo courtesy of FNDI.

22 • ww w. cs. org

fear that if they did, the economic interests that set US policy might lose the power and control that these resources presented. Contrast this to First Nations’ underlying belief that when armed with appropriate resources, Native peoples hold the capacity and ingenuity to ensure the sustainable economic, spiritual and cultural well-being of their communities.” Roberts describes the resulting economic development strategies forced on reservations as looking “like the worst of the failing Soviet-style central planning models; a one-sizefits-most model that failed to take into account the geographic, demographic, and cultural conditions unique to each of the 566 federally recognized tribes.” He says that the failure was the inability to recognize that economic success had to be driven by local thinking and local control. “Even if we take as a given that the US and its agent—the Bureau of Indian Affairs—were benevolent with regard to Indian country, it cannot be ignored that these thinkers and planners in the BIA did not believe that these Indian communities had the wherewithal to create anything of value themselves. The US government’s treatment of Indian country economic development was, and in some ways still is, paternalism at best.” Indian Nations are nations existing within the United States, and pressures to acculturate into the larger society are strong. For this reason, Roberts says that the protection that Indians and Indian nations need is both economic and cultural—and this is where the First Nations Development Institute comes in. “In the case of economics, Indians need to have sovereignty over their own economic destiny and their own economies. [But] economic sovereignty will never happen as long as there is economic dependency. At First Nations we believe that Indians win when they control their own assets. When Indians control their own assets and manage them according to their own beliefs and values, they do it better. So if Indians get to the finish line and ultimately control their own assets but get there without their culture and their cultural values intact, then we won’t be able to call this a win.” First Nation’s underlying belief is that Native peoples hold the capacity and the ingenuity to ensure their own economic, spiritual, and cultural well being. “Over the last 35 years,” Roberts, says, “our work has reflected that. At the end of the day, our work is responsive to the needs and the ideas brought to us by Indian communities throughout the country. We encourage those ideas. We fund them. We provide technical assistance and training to get it done. It is our early stage and (what might be considered by some to be) high-risk investment in community projects and a healthy helping of technical assistance that helps make these Indian community projects better.” One of the most exciting developments in Indian economic sovereignty in the recent past, according to Roberts, is the Community Development Financial Institution. “Because there are few other banks or formal financial institutions in reservation communities (fewer than two dozen among the nation’s 566 tribes), creating and sustaining Native financial institutions has proven to be an effective strategy in the development of local economies by enabling entrepreneurs and businesses, increasing homeownership, and empowering community members to reach their financial goals,” he says. Fifteen years ago First Nations Development Institute created its wholly-owned subsidiary, First Nations Oweesta

Bison herd at Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. For many tribes, bison are a symbol of spiritual strength and endurance. Photo courtesy of FNDI.

Corporation, with a mission to unleash entrepreneurship in American Indian reservation communities by nurturing an enabling environment for the growth of institutions that support small and medium-sized enterprises. This in turn creates new wealth opportunities for, and increases the assets of, reservation community members. In the late 1990s there were just two Community Development Financial Institutions in Indian country. Today there are more than 70, with another 50 or so awaiting certification. It is because of the existence of the Native financial institutions that businesses are being financed, financial education is being delivered, homes are being built and remodeled, and education savings accounts are being created. Roberts sees economic development as the greatest tool Indigenous communities can use to protect their human rights. “The world in which Indian nations exist, as nations within a nation, makes it really important that we as Indian nations have the economic strength to withstand challenge from the outside. In order to protect their remaining assets, tribes must have the economic wherewithal to fight the colonial mentality that continues to try to strip these assets from Indian nations and peoples. But in order to get this economic wherewithal, Indian tribes and peoples need to control the assets that they have retained title to. “We need to create an environment for both Indian country and the folks who are investing in Indigenous communities to be less risk averse. If we don’t want Indians to fail, then we’re going to have to be tolerant of just that: letting Indians and Indian projects fail. And when they do, the immediate reaction should not be to recoil and say ‘never again.’ The reaction is to ask what did we learn, and how do we make that same sort of investment a little bit differently next time; not to stop investing in the Indian sector altogether. “For me and First Nations, the goals are pretty much the same as they have been—look for innovative community projects in Indian country. Invest in them and support them in other ways. Learn from them. Seek ways to replicate and scale what is working. Attempt to bring more funders into these deals. [Because] as long as Indian Nations and peoples are dependent on funds from the federal government for their very existence, they will remain in a very precarious place.” Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 23

Opposing Meiliwan Glenn Smith


‘Amis activist Sinsing with her grandmother, Miarde, in the village of Fudafudak, Taiwan

If the hotel opens for business, we don’t even know if we will be allowed on what was once our beach. Will my older brother or father or uncles or mother be allowed to walk along the beach to visit neighbors on the other side? What effect will this hotel and the tourists have on the local ecosystem? It will destroy our old way of life. We consider ourselves—our tribe—and nature to be one and the same.” 24 • ww w. cs. org

n Taiwan, “Oppose Meiliwan” has been the battle cry of a wide-ranging coalition of eco-activists, Indigenous rights groups, and everyday citizens for more than a decade. Meiliwan, which means “beautiful bay,” comes from the Chinese name for the Miramar Resort Village, a five-star beachside property development at the tiny seaside hamlet of Shanyuan. In 2004, Taitung County awarded a 50-year contract to Miramar Hotel Co. for the project. Ever since, it has been a cause célèbre for tourism boosters and their opponents.    Sinsing is a 37-year-old resident of Shanyuan and an accidental activist. She is a member of the ‘Amis tribe, the largest group of Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples, and in her language her village is known as Fudafudak, a name that comes down from the ancestors. Some elders say it is that sparkling look of the sun shining on the sea. Others say it describes the glimmer of the sand on the beach, or the sight of sand drifting along the shore as it is blown by the northwesterly winds. But after all the publicity the hotel has received, everyone simply calls the village Meiliwan.    A decade ago Sinsing’s family received an eviction notice advising them to tear down their house and leave, with no explanation offered. Later she learned of the plans for the Miramar Resort Village and how her family’s home of 80 years occupied a parcel of land destined to become luxury villas in the 6-hectare resort complex. On October 28, 2014, as one of 14 plaintiffs in a case against Taitung County, Sinsing won a ruling by the Kaohsiung High Administrative Court to revoke the environmental impact assessment that allowed the developers to work on the site. The ruling was the latest of many court victories that temporarily halted construction. Despite a decade of orders to desist, however, Taitung County’s pro-tourism development authorities continued to grant construction permits to the developers and the Miramar Resort Village’s hotel stands nearly complete at the water’s edge. Your successful lawsuit was the latest to bring the Miramar Resort Village project to a halt. How did you get involved in the “Oppose Meiliwan” movement? Sinsing: I started out as a victim. Today I’m in the media spotlight because of the lawsuit. A local resident had to sign the court papers as plaintiff, so I signed my name. I got pushed out front. The effort to prevent the construction of the Miramar Resort Village has gone through many stages, and at every turn new groups of protesters appeared and somehow managed to work together. How did you learn the craft of dissent? Sinsing: In the village, we didn’t know anything about protesting. But we learned as we participated in meetings and events held by the environmentalists. Then artists from Taitung City joined this cause. From them, we learned how make banners and use words and images to communicate our message. We learned how to give speeches and hold talks at schools and social organizations. Then came talking to the press. We started holding press conferences; that required a press release, and I would be one of the people involved in that. Beforehand we would work on our message and decide how we’d answer questions when interviewed by the media. Was there any indication of legal action if some decided to resist the eviction orders and stay on their land? Sinsing: We wondered what would happen to some of the elders if they were forced to tear down their houses and leave. Where would they go and live? Would the government give them any All photos by Glenn Smith.

support? The eviction notices appeared out of nowhere. We didn’t even know who was behind them, and only later did we learn of the plans for the hotel. To authorities, it was like, ‘Ah, only a few households are being evicted, and some people will lose their vegetable gardens.’ It was as if none of us had been living here for generations. It was as if a new colonial power had descended upon us and come to rule us. Some say that the construction of the Miramar Resort Village highlights the lack of clarity over Aboriginal land rights in Taiwan. Sinsing: This hotel is seven stories high and has a multi-level basement. How could the government allow such a massive structure to be built on slope land facing the beach? It is right on Aboriginal land. If we Indigenous people want to improve our homes, it is not permitted. Our government’s land policy is strictly for the benefit of the wealthy, and is of no use to local people like us. To me, it seems that we, the people who live here, have no basic human rights. The developers did everything they could to evade regulations. The hotel was built without getting a prior environmental impact assessment. Everything was done completely backwards. They tell us that with the hotel here, we no longer need to rely on the natural resources of our stretch of shoreline for our livelihood and that we will all have jobs. But what kind of jobs will we have? Sweeping and cleaning, most likely. The young people who have stayed in the village do not have college degrees. They won’t be offered management positions. What other impacts has the Miramar Resort Hotel had on your culture? Sinsing: The ‘Amis have an oceanic culture that goes back thousands of years. Take, for example, our ocean worship festival. Every July our young men return to our village and

go down to the beach and study the waters and the animals that live in it, and learn the names of the rocks along the shore and reef. Some traditional names tell where food is to be found. How can this custom survive if we lose access to the beach? If the hotel opens for business, we don’t even know if we will be allowed on what was once our beach. Will my older brother or father or uncles or mother be allowed to walk along the beach to visit neighbors on the other side? What effect will this hotel and the tourists have on the local ecosystem? It will destroy our old way of life. We consider ourselves—our tribe—and nature to be one and the same.

The five-star Meiliwan Hotel now stands nearly complete in Shanyuan, despite massive community protests.

How did the protest become a nationwide cause? Sinsing: Our courts say the hotel project is an illegal development, but the government acts as though it is legal. To everyday people, that is unfair. Taitung County is promoting tourism and claims that tourism will make everyone’s lives better. [And] our village is not the only place where this is happening. Developers have drawn up plans for resorts all along the east coast. To us and to the outsiders who have joined our protest, our thinking is that if the developers can get away with building an illegal hotel complex here in Fudafudak, then the same will happen along the entire east coast. This coast is not just for us local people, it is for everyone. People from all over Taiwan come here to vacation and enjoy the beauty of nature...the mountains, the forests, the beaches. If the developers’ plans come to fruition, all of this will be lost. The trees and natural vegetation have been bulldozed, and the stream running down to the beach was diverted. The original habitat has been destroyed and cannot be restored. This is an illegal hotel and it should be torn down. If we let this illegally developed hotel be built, what are we going to tell our sons and daughters? — Glenn Smith is a contributor to the Cultural Survival Quarterly residing in Taiwan.

To read the full interview, visit:

Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 25

i ndi geno u s r ig h ts ra d io

The Sound of Rights in Maa The staff at Radio Mayian. Photo courtesy of Radio Mayian.

Danielle DeLuca (CS STAFF)


ultural Survival’s Indigenous Rights Radio program brings stories of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to listeners around the globe. From short public service announcements to investigative, documentarystyle podcasts, Cultural Survival’s Indigenous radio producers share content with Indigenous community radio stations to help communities become informed and organized to protect their rights. This past January, Cultural Survival sponsored the first radio program on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) ever to hit the airwaves in Maa, the language spoken by the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania. Mayian FM, a national Maasai radio station in Kenya with the largest base of Maasai listeners in the country, hosted an hour-long talk show on the topic of Free, Prior and Informed Consent and Indigenous land rights in Kenya. The show’s host, Emmanuel Kisemei, was joined by three experts on Maasai culture development who debated the issues on the air. “Cultural Survival has come a long way as one big supporter of the Maasai people in Kenya, and with the radio talk show on Free, Prior and Informed Consent in the Maasai language, the Maasai will be equipped to demand adequate consultations in all development activities being undertaken on their land and territories,” commented Daniel Ole Tenaai, a listener who phoned in to the program. The program was recorded and will be shared with other Maasai radio stations around the country. Another local listener also raved about the program: “This talk show is the perfect New Year gift for the Maasai. It has come at a time when our land is the focus of exploration for oil, gas, geothermal, conservation, and new urban development. All this is done without any due consultation of the communities. We wish this program runs on a weekly basis.’’ 26 • ww w. cs. org

Maasai communities have been the victims of forced eviction from their lands many times in recent history to make room for safari and hunting tourism, national parks, and a World Bank-funded geothermal project. But listeners also considered how the concept of FPIC could be applied on the micro level. “This has come at the right time when Maasai women and children have been rendered landless and poor by men who sell off their land without consulting members of their families. FPIC will help inform, educate, and empower Indigenous women to stand up and be heard,” said Rahab Kenana, an Indigenous Maasai woman from Kenya. We need your help to meet the needs of Indigenous communities who want more radio programs about Indigenous rights broadcast in their native languages. As another caller told Mayian FM, “We are asking for support in ensuring that the program on FPIC is run on Maa radio once or twice every month. The more the people hear the message on FPIC, the more they demand for consultation and adequate information on any investments that are done on their land.”

Listen to Indigenous Rights Radio programs here:

Ba za a r ven d or : crafting metal

Ousmane Macina Penelope Turner and Asia Alsgaard


rom a young age, Ousmane Macina was fascinated by the jewelry making process, observing his father melt, twist, and hammer pieces in his workshop. While he says he was initially more of a nuisance than helpful, he gradually honed the necessary skills for the trade. By the age of 18 he started working independently on his own pieces, and by 22 he had learned most, if not all, of the skills that had been passed down from one metal worker to another. For 10 generations, Macina’s family has created and sold a wide range of jewelry in Mali, West Africa. They utilize gold, silver, and brass to create necklaces and earrings that incorporate symbols of the Fulani Empire into their work. Originally a nomadic group, the Fulani partially settled in the Sudan, flourishing during the 19th Century and leaving behind a rich tradition of metal working. In order to create a piece, a Fulani toned (anvil) and fulah (hammer) are used to twist the metal. These twists make it appear as if many small wires had been intricately melded together to create the final product. Traditionally the jewelry is used in formal occasions such as marriage ceremonies, births, and during Ramadan. For instance, Fulani earrings have historically been used as a visible indicator of the prestige and wealth of their owner, a substitute for having to carry paper money. Now, these and other earrings are worn for both casual and formal events. Due to political instability stemming from outside occupation, Mali has seen a decrease in tourism within the region—forcing artisans to look for outside markets. Macina is one of a limited number of artisans from the area able to sell his work outside of West Africa. In the mid-2000s he began travelling to the United States to sell his jewelry, also taking along pieces crafted by other artisans unable to travel with him. While in the United States, he goes to arts festivals including the Santa Fe International Art Folk Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Cultural Survival Bazaars in Massachusetts. Macina uses some of the funds raised from sales at these art festivals to teach the trade to local men and women at an artist center in Bamako, West Africa. Not only does this promote the continuation of the craft, but it also opens up a traditionally restricted trade to women, allowing them a new possible source of income. Macina’s work builds on the cultural fluorescence of the Fulani Empire in craft, design, and trade, while working to make it contemporary. He simultaneously promotes the skill of metalsmithing as a viable source of economic income for West Africa while perpetuating the cultural diversity that is represented in the work of so many other West African artists.

Utilizing the symbols of the great Fulani empire in Mali, Macina creates graceful designs of twisted gold and silver wire filigree and granulation. Photos courtesy of International Folk Alliance/Bob Smith.

Don’t miss our upcoming Bazaars: July 17–19, Falmouth, MA July 24–26, Tiverton Four Corners, RI For more information, visit

25 Years of ILO Convention 169

The International Labour Organization meets annually in June at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Joshua Cooper For almost a century, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has focused on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. For half a century, there has been an international convention focusing exclusively on the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, including land rights. Twenty-five years ago, when the UN recognized the necessity to reform and craft a new convention that would evolve with public international law philosophy, it created a new convention on Indigenous and tribal Peoples—the first of its kind in world history—Convention 169, the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention. The ILO is the only specialized agency to survive the League of Nations, which we know today as the United Nations. Founded in 1919, the ILO has always included Indigenous Peoples on its agenda for justice. In the 1920s, the ILO initiated studies investigating labor conditions of Indigenous and tribal workers. In recognition of the subjugation of Indigenous Peoples to the colonial work force around the world, they were included in the groups protected under ILO Convention 29 focusing on forced labor. For decades, the ILO’s efforts included multifaceted actions of creative programming, publishing research, and adopting international standards recognizing Indigenous rights in specific conventions. In 1951 the ILO Committee of Experts on Indigenous Labour suggested a plan to solve some aspects of the problems facing Indigenous Peoples, an impetus that led to the creation of a 20-year program in the Americas in 1952. This program would ultimately serve as a model for future program collaborations of various specialized UN agencies, and even regional organizations such as the Andean Indian Program. Covering some 250,000 Indigenous people in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, it brought together other UN agencies such as the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and UN Educational Scientific and Cultural 28 • ww w. cs. org

Organization. It also led to the publication of a comprehensive study of the core social and economic conditions facing Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, Indigenous Peoples: Living Conditions of Aboriginal Populations in Independent Countries. A historic step for human rights of Indigenous Peoples was the articulation and adoption of an international convention guaranteeing the rights of Indigenous Peoples in their living and working conditions. The Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 107 was adopted in 1957, covering a range of human rights issues such as working conditions, health, education, and land rights. The comprehensive coverage of these rights is particularly significant, as it was the world’s first attempt to codify Indigenous rights in international law through a binding convention. A major concern about ILO 107 was the assimilation philosophy that dominated the mindset of humanity at the time. But, the paternalistic philosophy of the previous century slowly receded as Indigenous Peoples convinced international organizations of the possibilities for their cultural and political contribution to global progress. At an ILO Meeting of Experts in 1986, at the behest of Indigenous Peoples, there was discussion of revision of the original convention. The evolution of the 20th Century world, and worldview, is reflected in the amendments of ILO 169. The first step in what became a two-year revision process was sending out questionnaires for the three bodies of government, employers, and employees. The troika role of governance in the ILO is significant for Indigenous Peoples, who usually participate through employee representatives. First Nations in Canada, for example, responded to the questionnaire through a labor union and continued this partnership in the actual negotiations, suggesting language that eventually appeared in the ILO convention negotiation text. At the actual adoption in 1989, Indigenous Peoples were allowed to participate through the Canadian Labour Congress. Cree advocates came into the hallways during the negotiation to share what was happening inside and to receive advice on legal language to insert into the convention text. In this way, Indigenous Peoples were able to monitor the meeting and also draft articles to reverse the All photos by joshua cooper.

Khmer Krom advocates explore the importance of human rights mechanisms during a Universal Periodic Review training in Vietnam.

assimilation perspective while working toward the right of self-determination. The language of ILO 169 is markedly different from 107, recognizing that it “takes the approach of respect for the cultures, ways of life, traditions and customary laws of Indigenous and tribal Peoples who are covered by it. It presumes that they will continue to exist as parts of national societies with their own identity, their own structures and their own traditions. The Convention presumes that these structures and ways of life have a value that needs to be protected.” ILO 169 is a binding law holding governments accountable to Indigenous Peoples’ rights. However, Indigenous Peoples’ advocacy for full recognition of the right of self-determination was a political compromise; “Indigenous Peoples” appears in the convention text, but a footnote qualifies the term’s meaning in international law. The ILO insisted that the issue of self-determination was being taken up at the UN and that it wouldn’t precede the UN in creating new standards. In the meantime, Indigenous Peoples continued coordinating global advocacy for their rights and increased their involvement in international human rights instruments. Today, 22 States have ratified ILO 169. States cannot make reservations when ratifying; they must accept the entire convention. They are allowed one year to conform in areas of concern, at which point they must report to the ILO Committee of Experts on Recommendations on their realization of the rights in the convention. Besides the ILO, the report is also sent to an organization of employers at the national level, who have a right to respond. The government also sends the report to trade unions, which have the right to comment and respond to specific paragraphs. Indigenous Peoples generally participate in the process through the trade unions. Every comment or citation of violation is taken into account in a process that is repeated every five years to monitor the implementation of the rights in ILO 169 for each State that ratified it. Of course, if there is a clear violation recognized by the ILO Committee of Experts or a credible report citing specific abuses, the five-year cycle can be abridged. The result of an observation of a convention

violation is published in the Committee of Experts report and goes to the annual ILO Conference Committee on the Application of Standards each June. In order to get the Committee of Experts to take action on a citation or violation, it is important to submit the report before the end of September. This can be done during the annual UN Human Rights Council September session where resolutions are adopted on Indigenous Peoples. While in Geneva for the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples report to the UN Human Rights Council, it is possible to walk up the hill to file a report with the ILO. The Committee of Experts (currently 20 members but set to expand to 22 members) meets annually in November-December. The report, which should contain objectively researched information citing the violation of Indigenous rights under ILO 169, should be submitted every September. The government record of response is nearly 60 percent. The Committee of Experts can demand that governments respond to their direct request about their inquiry coming from the trade union based on Indigenous peoples’ claims. If the response is not adequate the request can also be published publicly and sent to the ILO Conference Committee meeting at the Palais des Nations in June. Like many similar instruments and institutions, ILO 169 is designed to put continual pressure on governments not respecting the rights enshrined in the convention. While ILO Conventions 107 and 169 are the main international instruments to focus on, there are others such as Convention 111 on discrimination and Conventions 138 and 182 on child labor. The ILO offers technical assistance and capacity building, including in-country assistance on the application of the convention to ensure States are in compliance and Indigenous rights respected. It is essential for Indigenous Peoples to explore the opportunities of engagement to realize rights through ILO 169, the only legally binding convention on the rights of Indigenous Peoples in international law. —Joshua Cooper is a professor at the University of Hawai’i, West Oahu, Kapolei and director of the Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights.

States that have ratified ILO 169 • • • •

Argentina Bolivia Brazil Central African Republic • Chile • Colombia • Costa Rica

• • • • • • • •

Denmark Dominica Ecuador Fiji Guatemala Honduras Mexico Nepal

• • • • • • •

Netherlands Nicaragua Norway Paraguay Peru Spain Venezuela

To read the ILO 169, visit:

Cultural Survival Quarterly

March 2015 • 29

Stand with us to advance the rights and cultures of Indigenous Peoples. “What Cultural Survival has done for the Maasai no other organization has done. CS has brought these issues to light.” Ben Koissaba, Maa Civil Society Forum, Kenya

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