Cultural Survival Q
The Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Paris Climate Change Talks
VOL. 40, ISSUE 1 • MARCH 2016 US $4.99/CAN $6.99
M AR C H 201 6 V OLUM E 40 , ISSUE 1 BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT
Sarah Fuller VICE PRESIDENT
Duane Champagne (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) TREASURER
Steven Heim CLERK
Nicole Friederichs Evelyn Arce (Chibcha) Alison Bernstein Joseph Goko Mutangah Laura Graham Jean Jackson Lesley Kabotie (Crow) Stephen Marks Stella Tamang (Tamang) FOUNDERS David & Pia Maybury-Lewis Cultural Survival Headquarters 2067 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140 t 617.441.5400 f 617.441.5417 www.cs.org
Indigenous delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP 21) demand Indigenous Peoples’ rights be included in treaty negotiations (see page 12). Photo by André Larsson
F E AT U R E S
12 “Annexed:” The Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the UN Climate Change Conference 2015
1 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE
4 INDIGENOUS ARTS: Native Fashion Now
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View writers’ guidelines at our website (www.cs.org) 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 Indigenous delegation at COP 21 climate change talks protesting in front of Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris (see page 12). ii •Larsson www. cs. org © André
Danielle Deluca, Miriam Anne Frank, Agnes Portalewska On December 12, 2015, in Paris, world leaders from 195 countries and the European Union came to a consensus on a legally binding agreement on climate change, but Indigenous Peoples were left out in the cold.
14 Indigenous Voices at COP 21
In Paris, Indigenous leaders speak out on hope for the future regarding climate mitigation.
20 Defending the Sacred: Tom Goldtooth
Copyright 2016 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.
D E PA R T M E N T S
Miriam Anne Frank Tom Goldtooth (Diné and Dakota), executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, was recently presented with the prestigious Gandhi Peace Award.
22 Indigenous Terra Madre Spotlights Custodians of Biodiversity and Foodways
Rucha Chitnis Over 600 delegates from 58 countries converged in Meghalaya, India in November to celebrate the ancient food systems, traditional knowledge, and biocultural diversity of Indigenous Peoples.
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6 WOMEN THE WORLD MUST HEAR Out Front: Women Speak Up at the First Central American Indigenous Community Radio Conference 8 CLIMATE CHANGE _ Malama Honua: “Caring for the Earth” 10 RIGHTS IN ACTION The Paris Agreement 26 BAZAAR ARTIST Ganna Nepyivoda 27 STAFF SPOTLIGHT Michael Johnson, Director of Development 29 GET INVOLVED United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE
Protecting Our Food, Our Environment, and Our Rights
n November, Indigenous people from around the world gathered at the Indigenous Terra Madre in India to showcase their cultural food systems and discuss efforts to protect their food sovereignty against the impacts of globalization. Many voices expressed the sacred relations and interconnectedness of people, animals, and the natural environment as a holistic concept of life at the center of food sovereignty. The Kenyan pastoralists referenced by Elizabeth Hacker “spoke very emotionally about being connected to their animals, about how the animals were their brothers and sisters, about how this was their life source.” As Helianti Hilman Najiib states, “If we look at Indigenous agriculture, it is based on spiritualism; the way humans interact with the divine…It means that we will not harm the soil, will not harm the environment, will not harm the other living creatures around us. It’s not about the volume of the productivity of their land, but whether the food is being blessed or not.” Finally, Dayamani Barla offers the reflection, “Mother Earth gives us so much. I saw a fallen tree that was birthing new life, life that was already taking the avatar of the forest. Indigenous Peoples always talk about community and collective rights. We know our survival is bound with the survival of nature.” This theme of human survival connected to survival of nature was echoed by the 250plus Indigenous delegates attending the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties (COP 21) in Paris, France, where world
leaders, environmental activists, human rights organizations, and other stakeholders sought to develop a universal legally binding agreement on climate change. Indigenous Peoples whose communities are the most vulnerable to climate change worked to ensure that the rights of Indigenous Peoples be included in the binding portion of the Paris Agreement. Sadly, they were not. As Cristina Coc aptly states, “Being people of Mother Earth, we recognize that it’s integral to ensure that Indigenous People’s traditional knowledge . . . is considered important when we think of development. It’s these forests, it’s these lands that give us sustenance, our way of life that are essential for the survival of future generations. It’s important to ensure that the voices and concerns of Indigenous Peoples, calling for the respect for the integrity of our natural world, be incorporated directly into the dialogues where it concerns climate change.” Reflecting on the articles in this issue of the Cultural Survival Quarterly, I am deeply appreciative of and indebted to our many brothers and sisters and the elders who continue to fight for our rights, our lands and territories, our languages, and our cultures on the front lines in their communities and in national and international spaces.
Suzanne Benally, Executive Director (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa)
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 Michael Johnson (Arikara/Hidatsa/Ojibwe), Director of Development Kaimana Barcarse (Native Hawaiian), Indigenous Rights Radio Senior Producer Avexnim Cojti (Maya K’iche’), Program Associate, Community Radio Program Ingrid Sub Cuc (Kaqchikel/Q’eqchi), Communications Assistant Jessie Cherofsky, Production Coordinator, Indigenous Rights Radio, Bazaar Program Manager Danielle DeLuca, Program Manager, Advocacy Program and Distribution Coordinator, Indigenous Rights Radio Sofia Flynn, Accounting & Office Manager _ Chelsie U‘ilani Kuali‘i (Native Hawaiian), Indigenous Rights Radio Fellow Maria del Rosario “Rosy” Sul González (Kaqchikel), Indigenous Rights Radio Producer Jamie Malcolm-Brown, Communications & Information Technology Manager Teresita Orozco Mendoza, Regional Coordinator, Community Media Program Cesar Gomez Moscut (Pocomam), Content Production & Training Coordinator, Community Media Program Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager Angelica Rao, Executive Coordinator Miranda Vitello, Development Associate Ancelmo Xunic (Kaqchikel), Community Media Program Manager
SOBREVIVIENCIA CULTURAL STAFF (Our Sister Organization in Guatemala) Elsa Chiquita de Pacache (Kaqchikel), Radio Producer, Community Media Program Ingrid Sub Cuc (Kaqchikel/Q’eqchi), Community Media Program Assistant Melvy Lorena Medina Patzán, Fundraising Associate Cesar Gomez Moscut (Pocomam), Program Director, Oscar Armando Xunic Rocal (Kaqchikel), Accountant
INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS Nicolette Archambault, Stephanie Borcea, Don Butler, Diana Estrella, Stephen Muntet, Shaina Semiatin, Lucas Tatarsky, Kristen Williams
THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO
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March 2016 • 1
i n t he new s USA: Yurok Tribe Passes First-Ever Tribal Ordinance Banning GMOs
Mexico: Indigenous Activists In Mexico Score Victory Against Monsanto
Brazil: Brazilian Court Suspends Belo Monte Dam’s Operating License
The Yurok Tribe, one of California’s largest tribes, unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting the harvesting or creation of genetically modified salmon, thereby ensuring the Tribe’s sovereignty in obtaining their food sources through traditional methods.
Monsanto’s plan to farm genetically modified soybeans on over 2,500 square kilometers of the Yucatan peninsula has been suspended under a Mexican constitutional law that requires consideration of Indigenous communities affected by development projects. Monsanto must now consult with Indigenous communities before being granted any future permits for GMO farming.
Brazilian courts have blocked energy production by the Belo Monte dam, the third largest hydroelectric dam in the world, until Norte Energia SA and the government meet previous commitments made to the region’s Indigenous Peoples. The dam is located on the Xingu River in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, and was weeks away from beginning operation.
Nigeria: ‘Landslide Victory’ for Ogoni Farmers as Court Rules Against Shell DECEMBER
The Court of Appeals in The Hague has ruled that four Ogoni farmers from the Niger Delta can sue Shell Corporation for causing extensive oil spills in Nigeria. The desecration on Ogoniland has resulted in non-potable drinking water, destruction of a mangrove forest, and numerous deaths attributed to benzene pollution.
Peru: Wampis Nation Establishes Indigenous Government In Peru DECEMBER
The formation of the First Autonomous Indigenous Government gives the Wampis Nation, which has been under threat from the advance of mining and oil companies, illegal logging, and palm oil plantations, protection over their ancestral territory.
Colombia: Indigenous Peoples of Yaigoje Apaporis Victorious Over Canadian Mining Company
Guatemala: Chixoy Reparations at Last: Checks Are In OCTOBER
Guatemalan Vice President Juan Alfonso Cifuentes Soria delivered reparation checks to 120 families as restitution for those who were massacred to make way for the Chixoy Dam. Additional funds will be provided to help mitigate the impacts on the Chixoy River Basin.
A long-awaited ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal affirmed that the Ottawan province discriminates against First Nations children by underfunding reservation agencies charged with ensuring child safety. The Tribunal issued a demand for radical changes to First Nations child welfare services.
United States: Historic $186 Million Settlement Reaffirms Sovereignty, Tribes Say
Malaysia: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate in Battle to Stop the Baram Dam
Since forming the Baram Protection Action Committee, the local Indigenous groups, the Kenyah, Kayan, and Penan, have been working tirelessly to halt the construction of a dam that would flood 90 percent of their ancestral land. The chief minister of Sarawak announced in January that the project would be suspended until further notice.
The Choctaw and Chicasaw Nations received a $186 million settlement as restitution for the US government’s mismanagement of 1.3 million acres of timberland belonging to the two Nations.
Canada: Supreme Court Reaffirms First Nations Consultation Rights
The Colombian Constitutional Court ruled that the Yaigoje Apapris resguardo, home to the Makuna, Tanimuka, Letuama, Barasano, Cabiyari, Yahuna, and Yujup-Maku Indigenous Peoples, has legitimate status as a national park. The ruling indefinitely suspends any gold mining activities in the park’s territory.
The British Columbia Supreme Court admitted that it failed to properly consult and accommodate First Nations on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, a project of twin pipelines from Alberta to British Columbia.
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Canada: Ottawa Found to Discriminate Against First Nations Children
Guatemala: First Trial for Systematic Violations of Indigenous Women JANUARY
Thousands of Maya Indigenous women were victims of rape, abuse, and sexual slavery during Guatemala's 36-year civil war. The crimes against humanity reached public trial on February 1.
Campaign Updates HONDURAS: TELL US AND HONDURAN OFFICIALS TO RESPECT INDIGENOUS AND CAMPESINO RIGHTS Indigenous Rights Gain Major Ground In Honduras In a major win for Indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples in Honduras, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a judgment in January declaring the State of Honduras responsible for the violation of collective ownership rights and the lack of judicial protection for Indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples. The case was brought by OFRANEH, the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, which has been working for years to defend the territory of the Indigenous Garífuna. The ruling extends protection to Indigenous Peoples across the country. Additionally, Honduras accepted seven recommendations in its recent Universal Periodic Review related to better implementation of the rights of Indigenous and Afrodescendent citizens.
CAMBODIA: HELP SAVE PREY LANG (“OUR FOREST”) Cambodia Must Involve Indigenous Peoples to Reach COP 21 Goals The Cambodian government recently outlined its ambitious goals for achieving the carbon reductions set forth in the recent UN climate meeting in Paris (COP21). A primary focus will be preserving Cambodia’s forest cover, increasing it from its 2010 level of 57 percent to 60 percent by 2030. However, the Prey Lang Community Network, a group of Indigenous Kuy communities who inhabit and protect the largest, intact
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.
lowland forest in the region have expressed concern over the ongoing intimidation and violence against members of the Prey Lang Network and illegal logging and export that remains rampant. CAMEROON: STOP PALM OIL PLANTATIONS FROM DESTROYING AFRICA’S ANCIENT RAINFORESTS AND LOCAL LIVELIHOODS International Civil Society Alarmed by Conviction of Environmental Human Rights Defender Cameroonian environmental defender Nasako Besingi was convicted by local courts in Cameroon of unlawful assembly in January, adding to a conviction last November on two counts of “propagation of false news” and defamation. Charges were brought by US-based agribusiness corporation Herakles Farms and its local subsidiary, SG-SOC Global. Besingi is the director of Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), which has been fighting alongside local communities to protect ancient rainforests of southwestern Cameroon from plans for a massive palm oil plantation. Since 2010, Herakles Farms has repeatedly violated communities’ rights to give Free, Prior and Informed Consent as they engaged in clearcutting of rainforests that communities have traditionally used for small scale agriculture and foraging. Besingi has been ordered to pay a fine or face up to four years in prison.
RSPO Failing Its Mandate to Regulate Palm Oil Industry A new environmental report, Who Watches the Watchmen? demonstrates that the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, an industry oversight body established in 2004, is failing to address the harmful practices of many
palm oil companies. The Roundtable was formed to audit palm oil companies and establish the guidelines for sustainable palm oil production. As the industry has grown, it has been implicated in problematic business practices causing irreversible damage to the environment and Indigenous Peoples. Companies have been razing huge tracts of ancient rainforests to monocrop palm trees for mass production, virtually erasing all biodiversity in these forests and displacing Indigenous Peoples who live there, destroying both their lifestyles and livelihoods. Citing nine case studies as evidence, the report claims that auditors have failed to identify and address Indigenous land rights in areas where they have certified palm oil plantations, as well as failing to identify situations where companies are using trafficked labor, razing forests of high conservation value, and destroying crucial animal habitats. ETHIOPIA: STOP LAND GRABBING AND RESTORE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ LANDS Concession for Karaturi Land Grab Cancelled On December 28, 2015, Ethiopia’s Agricultural Ministry revoked its contract with Karuturi Global Limited, an Indian company granted a concession for 1,000 square kilometers of land to be developed for industrial agriculture for export in the Gambella region of southern Ethiopia, home to the Indigenous Anuak, Mezenger, Nuer, Opo, and Komo peoples. The concession was cancelled on the grounds that Karuturi had developed only 1.2 kilometers of land within the initial two year period of the contract.
Take action at www.cs.org/ take-action. Read more news at www.cs.org/news. Cultural CulturalSurvival SurvivalQuarterly Quarterly March June 2016 2015 •• 33
indi geno u s a rts
Walking Gracefully and Lightly Shaina Semiatin
Boots, 2013–14. Glass beads on boots by Jamie Okuma (Luiseño/ ShoshoneBannock) designed by Christian Louboutin. Photo by Walter Silver/Peabody Essex Museum.
xhibitions have the power to carry ideas, to challenge stereotypes, and to bring us to a deeper level of understanding about the world and ourselves. “Native Fashion Now,” currently on display at Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum, is no exception. The exhibition features almost 100 works by Native fashion designers and artists created over the last 50 years. Native American Art and Culture Curator Karen Kramer assembled the collection. “I noticed more and more this creative prolific expression as seen through the lens of Native fashion,” Kramer says of her inspiration for the show. “I wanted to show this great energetic movement in terms of contemporary Native fashion—to celebrate that creative expression and look at personal and cultural identity through that lens.” Broken into four unique thematic rooms—Pathbreakers, Revisitors, Activators, and Provocateurs—the exhibition guides participants through a fully immersive sensory experience that plays with light, space, sound, and touch. “The Pathbreakers are groundbreaking designers that changed the landscape of Native design in big ways,” Kramer explains. “The Revisitors work with traditional art that had been updated. They highlight the power of cultural exchange and the pulse of interaction and continuum. The Activators create streetwear, and the Provocateurs are experimental and conceptual; haute couture and one of a kind.” As participants weave their way from Pathbreakers to Provocateurs, each turn delights and surprises, shattering common notions of what Native fashion can be. Kramer notes, “I think that the general public expects a certain aesthetic when it comes to Native design, and getting people to let go of that
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is a challenge. Native fashion may occasionally have buckskins, beads, and feathers, but it goes way beyond that. Lighting, color, and space play keys roles in how the experience plays out.” The introductory room, featuring a Patricia Michaels cityscape dress and 30 or so handmade parasols sets the tone for the entire exhibit, pulsing with energy and whimsy. Michaels is a Taos Pueblo designer from New Mexico who has been working in the fashion industry for over 22 years. She quickly rose to prominence as a finalist on Season 11 of Project Runway. Though she didn’t win, she finished strong as the runner up, and was the first Native American contestant in the show’s history. Kramer connected with Michaels as soon as she received confirmation that Native Fashion Now was moving forward: “I introduced myself to her . . . she has been such a groundbreaking figure in the field of Native American fashion that I knew that we needed her involvement in the exhibition.” Michaels credits her family as primary among her many sources of inspiration. “My mother would make sure we went into areas of Southern Pueblos to see all the different ceremonies and dances,” she recalls. “Then my brother started a Pueblo Opera Program for youth, which paid for eight pueblo children to go see the opera on dress rehearsal night. Seeing the beauty and diversity of the opera since I was five, that gave me another level of exploration of garments and other cultures. And since my mother was a single parent, we’d have to do dances or performances at different political events or social gatherings. I would be back stage watching these other cultures sitting on the different layers of beautiful hand-embroidered flowers, or hand-painted silks from Asia. I always felt like my life was constantly being stimulated and full of visuals. So I don’t really think that I chose fashion. I think it chose me.” Recognizing early on how important Taos culture was to her, Michaels chose to live with her grandparents during high school to absorb as much as she could. “The preservation of my culture became really important to me. I could see the pride and the beauty of who I was, even if I wasn’t necessarily appreciated in grade school because I was the only Native American. When I was a kid, I always had to fight for my
L-R: Cape and dress from “Desert Heat” Collection, 2012, by Orlando Dugi (Diné [Navajo]); “My Ancestors” Suit, 2009–15. Digital print on wool by Tommy Joseph (Tlingit); Old Time Floral Elk Tooth dress, “Apsáalooke” Collection, 2014 by Bethany Yellowtail (Apsáalooke [Crow]/Northern Cheyenne) for B.Yellowtail; Totem pole dress by Isaac Mizrahi which inspired Patricia Michaels to become a designer.
place in existence. But I kept thinking, ‘Eventually I’ll be able to prove how beautiful my people are when everyone backs off.’ And sure enough, little by little, I did.” Michaels’ designs, both on and off the runway, are characterized by a sense of wonder and playfulness. She works with hand-dyed and hand-painted materials, and colors them with earth-friendly algae pigments and natural production methods. Her works often emulate or celebrate nature, pulling the viewers into a broader conversation; challenging how they can remain connected to their own stories as they grow. Michaels explains, “As I recognized that those were my values, I decided to create garments that had meaning behind them just like in our ceremonies. Garments meaning strength and inner self worth, and reminding us that those things aren’t always just made at one time—they’re acquired over time. So the things that I make will have that special sense of initiation into another part of your journey in life. As my grandmother said, remember that you not only represent yourself, you represent this family, this household, the pueblo you come from, the state you come from, the United States, and the human race. Everyone is equally as important, and you never know when we’re going to need one another. So walk gracefully and lightly.” Alongside Michaels’ stunning and evocative works, “Native Fashion Now” also features numerous pieces that challenge viewers to confront the concepts of cultural appropriation and cultural borrowing. One such piece, created by designer Isaac Mizrahi and originally worn by Naomi Campbell, takes inspiration from the formline designs of Northwest Coast tribes. The dress does not emulate traditional color schemes or patterns, but its inclusion in the show invites viewers to question its place within the broader narrative. When asked about the role cultural appropriation plays in contemporary Native fashion design, particularly when used by designers like Mizrahi and Ralph Lauren, Kramer said she placed more value on the dialogue itself: “Cultural appropriaALL PHOTOS BY SHAINA SEMIATIN.
tion has always been important for us to talk about, and we appreciate creativity and the fact that creativity comes from many sources. Over the course of doing research for this exhibition, it became increasingly clear that there were so many different ways to approach this topic. For [the Museum], we wanted to open this conversation.” Michaels had a similar response. “That same old conversation bores me, because it is up to the artist and the designer and the company to have the integrity to doing something inspired, to be a real designer, rather than just doing something that is a blatant copy. When I was in 8th grade and I saw Naomi Campbell wear that Mizrahi dress, I thought I died and went to heaven because finally I saw something that was done in a beautiful way—it made me feel that the world was ready to accept Native Americans in a glamorous way.” As for the opportunities available to aspiring contemporary Native designers, Michaels is optimistic. “Nowadays, we have every capability of moving forward in the industry as Native Americans. The diversity of a design—not just one person can do it, and more than one person should want to do it. If you’re going to honor something that’s beautiful and classic, then do it appropriately. Take the time. And if you don’t have the time, well, then, save it for a time when you do. Don’t be lazy, that’s all. Explore it. That’s what makes it fun. If you really want to enjoy what fashion’s about, then explore it.”
Visit Patricia Michaels’ website at: patriciamichaelsfashion.com or follow her on Twitter @h2opmwaterlily “Native Fashion Now” is on display at the Peabody Essex Museum through March 6, 2016. More information may be found here: pem.org/exhibitions/180-native_fashion_now
Cultural Survival Quarterly
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women th e wo r ld m u st hear
WOMEN SPEAK UP AT THE FIRST CENTRAL AMERICAN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY RADIO CONFERENCE “We must change the mentality of human beings to create new generations that understand, demand, support, and construct a new reality. Community radio is essential to...the strengthening and development of Indigenous communities and women towards the defense of their human rights.” — ADA VILLARRE AL , UNI VE RSI DAD I NDÍ GE N A D E LA C O S TA C A R I B E , N I C A R A G U A
Over 40 Indigenous community radio volunteers, including 20 women, from all over Central America shared their experiences. Photo by Ancelmo Xunic.
omen’s active participation and decision making in the conservative, patriarchal countries that make up Central America has been, and continues to be, limited. However, women are working together to make their voices heard with the help of community radio. In support of this vocalization, the First Central American Indigenous Community Radio Conference was held in Narganá, Comarca Guna Yala, Panama, on January 16–17. The landmark event aimed to weave together the shared experiences of Indigenous community broadcasters in Central America to form a regional network that fights for the democratization of communication and increased social, cultural, and political justice. Cultural Survival, along with partner organizations Fundación Comunicándonos, Asociación Sobrevivencia Cultural, AMARC Central America, and Voces Indígenas Panamá, hosted the conference. One of the principal objectives of this network is to increase and strengthen Indigenous women’s participation in
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community radio, and as such, to generate social change for the women living in these communities. The same community radio stations that support Indigenous communities in the region to defend their rights and the democratization of communication have provided a space for women to voice their concerns and discuss their issues on the air. However, this process is still in its initial phases, and much remains to be desired. As meaningful steps are made for gender equality in the Indigenous community radio movement in Central America, it is important to note the enormous barriers that dedicated women face in their attempts to participate in significant and lasting ways. “Acceptance of Indigenous women’s participation is a difficult process because as Indigenous women we are discriminated against, even in our own families and relationships,” said Elsa Chiquito, director of Radio Ixchel, Guatemala. “My strategy has been to spread the word on the importance of female participation in community radio, to talk about how good it makes me feel, and to highlight the changes that can be made with perseverance and raised awareness.”
Breaking Down Barriers
During the Conference, female participants discussed the limitations and challenges that they confront in exercising their right to freedom of expression. Even in relatively progressive spaces like community radio, women’s voices are often belittled and ignored. María Riquiac of Radio Ixmukane in Guatemala, explained that women are typically not the decision makers in community radio: “We have to wait until the men make decisions for us, so we want to have these spaces where we can make decisions for our radio and our communities.” Riquiac said she considers this network the perfect space to boost women’s leadership. The women’s passion for advancing their rights in their communities and beyond was abundantly evident at the conference. On day two of the conference, participants were given the opportunity to sign up for different discussion groups to tackle some of the most important issues and dilemmas faced by Indigenous community radio in the region today; the group on gender was the first to fill up. The youngest conference participant, 16-year-old Lesly Velásquez of Radio Planeta, Guatemala, commented, “As young women, we must take advantage of the spaces that we are invited to participate in to make our thoughts known. We are a fundamental part in creating a better future.” Mark Camp, Cultural Survival’s deputy executive director, added, “I am proud and honored to be a part of a team that includes so many amazing women. It is a pleasure to see them in leadership roles and, I hope, as role models for other women and men in the Indigenous community radio movement.” Cultural Survival’s executive director Suzanne Benally made it clear that equal participation of women and men was a must for the conference, a goal that was reached with the support of a generous grant from the Channel Foundation to support eight Indigenous women’s participation in the event. Benally’s vision was realized by the majority female coordinating staff of the event, who worked together to bring women’s voices to the table at every step in the planning phases. “Because gender goes beyond the rhetoric of 50/50 that government organizations and institutions speak of in their gender policies, it is important to promote women’s leadership and increased awareness for men in the network,” said Teresita Orozco, regional promoter at Cultural Survival.
Regional Commission with Women’s Leadership
The Central American Network of Indigenous Community Radios was officially launched on January 17 with the creation of the Regional Commission, which has representatives from each of the seven Central American countries (Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama). Within this regional commission, women assumed vital decision making roles in spite of social and cultural barriers. Carmela Xol Quiix of Radio Tzultaq´a Guatemala said, “Women should be in these spaces because we have the capacity, the wisdom, the maturity, and the initiative to take on important roles within our societies, organizations, and communities. In this way, our voices will be heard in order to advance towards a better future. It is not good enough to be present in these spaces; we must also assume important roles.” The equal participation of women and men was essential in the construction of the network, guaranteeing that both PHOTOS COURTESY OF GLENDA LOPEZ.
short term and long term goals respect and value the role of women in all levels of community radio. This network was propelled by a clear, intercultural focus on gender that is inclusive and respectful of women’s rights in distinct contexts; a focus that was made possible by the fact the 20 of the 42 participants at the conference were women, a rarity in these spaces. Lauris Diaz, a member of the Guna Congress and elected member of the commission, said, “For Indigenous women, the Central American Conference has been a space of inclusion. It gives us the vision that women should not only be in the domestic realm, but that we should value ourselves.” A long road remains before we can claim gender equality in the Indigenous Community Radio Movement. However, the creation of spaces like these, along with concrete actions that support women’s development in professional and social spheres, contribute to the advancement of women’s rights so that women do not only play supportive roles to their male counterparts, but are provided a space in decision making roles regarding the direction and content of their radio stations. Ingrid Sub Cuc, program associate and project coordinator at Asociación Sobrevivencia Cultural in Guatemala, concluded, “We must drive a policy that recognizes and respects the abilities and contributions of women and men in an integral way. We believe that this policy will ensure that women’s participation does not serve just to fill spaces, but to develop and generate equality from both perspectives.”
Top: Closing press conference L-R: Elsa Chiquito from Guatemala, Ada Villareal from Nicaragua, and Lauris Díaz from Panama. Bottom: Olga Ajcalón from Guatemala, Linelia Bacorizo from Panama, Rosa Concepción Ajanel Ajpacajá from Guatemala, and Lauris Diaz from Panama.
Learn more about the First Central American Indigenous Community Radio Conference here: goo.gl/ecnOLL.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
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c l i mat e ch a n g e
Ma-lama Honua: “Caring for the Earth” World Wide Voyage Leg 15–South Africa
The first landing of our beloved canoe on African soil was in Richardsbaai (Richards Bay) at the mouth of the Mhlatuze River. We were welcomed by the Natives of the area, the Tsonga and Zulu tribes, and exchanged song, dance, and words of greeting before welcoming them onto our canoe for a tour of this strange and small vessel that had sailed to their land. As Mālama Honua (Care for the Earth) is our mission statement, we were brought to the Isimangoliso World Heritage Park, where the natural and cultural resources of that land are protected. We were in awe of the natural beauty of the people and place, and as is our custom, we memorialized this moment in chant.
Captain and crew members take a coastline hike in Simon’s bay with Craig Foster.
Kaimana Barcarse (CS STAFF) This article is the fourth installment in a series documenting the historic undertaking of the three-year voyage of Hōkūle‘a, a full-scale replica of a wa‘a kaulua (Polynesian doublehulled voyaging canoe) around the world.
outh Africa is indeed an amazing place. It is the farthest shores that Hōkūle‘a is able to sail to on this World Wide Voyage. South Africa holds the antipode of Hawai‘i, the opposite side of the Earth. The only equal to this amazing land are its amazing Native people and its wonderful leaders of peace. The East coast of Africa is the most dangerous sailing that Hōkūle‘a was expected to traverse on the entire World Wide Voyage. It is along this coast that the infamous Agulhas current speeds south, roughly following the contours of the coastline. The low pressure storm systems that rush from south to north, coupled with the opposite flowing current, were our greatest concern, along with the continental shelf that breeds rogue waves famous for breaking large tankers and barges. Hōkūle‘a was not built to withstand these types of harsh weather conditions, so we had planned to travel this coastline during the low season. However, upon arrival in South Africa, we found that this season was unlike any other. Although we were going into summer, we were still experiencing winter weather. We set aside 30 days to travel from our first landing in Richards Bay to our final stop in Cape Town, a distance that would normally take only 7 to 8 days in perfect weather.
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Hōkūle‘a is the canoe that travels to distant seas The canoe that connects people and traditions from afar Hawai’i is the little coral, growing into an island An island continually growing as the lava reaches the sea Africa is the matured island, a vast and expansive island At the mouth of the Mhlatuze River we arrived Searching for the land of like values For the land that calls to us Isimangoliso is that wondrous land A beautiful land, a verdant land A powerful land, a land where caring for the earth lives Isimangoliso will be famous throughout our homeland Your name will live in our history You are Isimangoliso‘āinakamaha‘o, Isimangoliso of the wondrous land — haku ‘ia na Kaimanaonālani Barcarse — In Richards Bay we met the great folks of the NSRI-Sea Rescue volunteer organization, who are tasked with keeping mariners of the South African coastline safe. They shared freely with us their knowledge of the coastline and the weather patterns, giving us great insight on the safest times and conditions under which to set sail. There is no value greater than local knowledge of place. When the weather once again settled down we left Richards Bay and made for the quickest course to Durban, the second largest city in South Africa. There we were privileged to meet Ela Gandhi, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi. We visited several schools and sites that her foundation supports to care for those in need. We also met a group that teaches surfing to homeless youth to help heal and inspire them. We witnessed much homelessness and poverty, but also great acts of compassion. We left Durban for East London, but as we neared East London the safe window to continue opened up, so we continued on to Port Elizabeth, arriving before noon. As evening approached, so did a large storm with gale force winds clockALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF KAIMANA BARCARSE.
ing in around 65 miles per hour. In spite of the large storm, we were safe. We had followed the advice of those who knew the area and read the signs signaling the impending bad weather, and we were prepared. It was a short stay in Port Elizabeth before we let loose the docking lines and continued south. Our next landing was in Mosselbaai. There we visited the caves of our collective ancestors, the caves that mark the origin of thinking man. We, the youth of this Earth, made the trek to our original ancestral land, and we did it on our ancient ocean pathways. As we stood at the mouth of those caves, we were not Hawaiian. We were not American. We were not African. We were simply Human. As we left Mosselbaai, we learned that we had sailed the farthest possible from our home land of Hawai‘i; from here, every inch, every mile, would take us closer to our beloved home, no matter what direction. It is indeed fitting that we sailed to the farthest reaches of the Earth to find our ancestral land. We hoisted our sails, and sailed on. In the early morning hours we passed Cape Agulhas where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet, the southernmost point of Africa. We continued on to Simon’s Bay where we met Craig Foster, a filmmaker famous for his work with the Indigenous bush people of Africa as well as bringing attention to the rich and diverse ocean resources of that area. Some of our crew were able to go for a cold water swim to truly experience nature and the verdant underwater resources of the area.
We raised our sails again and left Simon’s Town for our final destination of Cape Town. Around midday we passed the Cape of Good Hope. In the spirit of Good Hope, we celebrated a little, thanked each other, shared hugs and breaths, and took some pictures to memorialize the occasion. As we got closer to the port, I had an unusual feeling. We knew the Wild Coast was the most dangerous coastline we would traverse, and the most dangerous leg of the voyage, but it hadn’t been overly rough. Why was I having this feeling? Was it just the sadness of the leg coming to an end? As we entered the port, we were cleared to the finger pier alongside Key 6 where a tent was being set up for our welcoming ceremony that would be hosted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. We were greeted with much Aloha and Ubuntu. I was humbled to meet the Archbishop and greet our families and supporters who traveled halfway around the world to meet us. Students from Kamehameha Schools and Hālau Kū Mana greeted us with song and dance, which was met with song and dance from local tribal youth. After the ceremony I met one of the workers who was setting up a huge white tent located on the opposite end of the pier from our welcoming that I had first seen as we were coming in. I learned it was to hold a memorial for 12 sailors and fishermen from a 138-foot fishing vessel who lost their lives after abandoning ship when their vessel took on water in high seas during a storm in False Bay—the same bay we had just left prior to arriving in Cape Town. Those strange feelings I previously had were instantly replaced with humility and enormous gratitude. Gratitude for the skill and foresight of our leaders; for the assistance, support, and knowledge freely given by our NSRI-Sea Rescue friends and other local knowledge holders; for those who supported us from home and afar; and to our God for keeping us safe through these dangerous waters. We arrived safely. We met our goals. Hōkūle‘a is ready to continue around the world. Life to Hōkūle‘a, Eō! Read this article in Hawaiian at goo.gl/ZOC6KI. Inset: Students of St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School near Cape Town meet with crew members (Kaimana Barcarse pictured) after a cultural exchange. More than 1,000 Tutu desks will be delivered to township schools in South Africa. Below: The crew keeps a sharp lookout approaching the Wild Coast on a downwind run.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2016 • 9
r i ght s i n a ct io n
Paris Is Burning . . . with Bold Acceptance Joshua Cooper
he Paris Agreement is accepted. However, we the people must push our political leaders to maintain the political will to accomplish its aims to protect our planet. The Paris Agreement, an agreement within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) governing greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance starting from 2020, was negotiated during the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) and adopted by consensus on December 12, 2015. The Paris Agreement adoption is motivated by a global movement prioritizing the environment as a major factor in world decision making, fostering a deeper wisdom and a genuine understanding that our lives depend on a healthy planet. Each paragraph represents climate change issues impacting entire communities and civilizations. Now, each community, country, corporation, and civil society association must participate in the mechanisms emerged from negotiations and finalized in the Agreement to counter the climate crisis facing us all. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres summarized the situation: “Climate change is for sure in this century the greatest threat we have ever faced regarding the existence of humanity.” Indigenous Peoples and the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a consortium of concerned countries that will be most directly impacted by climate change, were the major players in the Paris COP 21 process. The 1.5°C aspiration is the heart of the Paris Agreement’s success. Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, submitted by nearly all States, create a significant mechanism to measure our carbon and initiate innovations to meet the desired measures, while human rights is recognized as a fundamental means to measure climate change in people’s daily lives. These positive principles provide the reasons for acceptance of the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Process and Saving the Planet
A little more than a month from the opening of the COP 21 session, there was a 30-page text with 5 pages of brackets to be agreed upon. Two major movements decided to host events immediately prior to the Conference to prioritize positions for the Paris process. The Climate Vulnerable Forum, held in Manila, Philippines, is a South-South cooperation platform for participating governments to act together to push for 1.5°C. Additionally, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) hosted Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty: Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change on the eve of COP 21. 10 • www. cs. org
The 1.5°C campaign (#1o5C) was coordinated by the Climate Vulnerable Forum and CARE International to encourage support for a sensible, evidence-based strengthening to 1.5°C from the original 2°C climate goal. The campaign and Manila summit are recognized as crucial components to shift countries to agree to language of 1.5°C in the Paris Agreement. Ever since Copenhagen, the Climate Vulnerable Forum were strategic to secure language in the UNFCCC process. The final paragraph of COP Copenhagen was the thumbprint of Maldives heads of state measuring the difference in the lives of people on the planet. It became the Structural Expert Dialogue 2013-2015, with a report analyzing the half degree difference between the original and revised climate goals that provided the research behind the CVF movement. Saleemul Huq, Chair of the CVF expert panel, said, “We reiterated our strategy to ask for 1.5 degrees and tell the world this is our sine quo non. If we don’t get it, we don’t agree to anything.” One of the other most significant parallel spaces was the UNESCO-hosted conference, which recognized the value of Indigenous knowledge to combat climate change and as a strong voice with a new vision for the future of our planet.
A Big Opening Day and Many All-Nighters
Bringing heads of state in at the beginning of COP 21 instead of the end was a calculated strategy. To coincide, the Pacific Islands States of the Climate Vulnerable Forum aimed to meet with President Obama to guarantee US understanding of the united position of the Pacific to aspire to achieve the 1.5°C. The Pacific Islands heads of state were able to secure the meeting and state its intention to push ahead for 1.5°C with hopeful support, or at least hope of not being blocked by the world’s superpowers. The Pacific Islands also coordinated a full day of conferences on Islands and Climate Change at the Tara Oceans and Climate Pavilion, focusing on Indigenous knowledge being fundamental to building adaptation strategies and local solutions among islanders. The conference’s focus was to foster synergy that would result in solutions for Pacific Island States rooted in Indigenous culture. The COP 21 parallel events, such as major annual forums, are spaces where many solutions are created. Former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, was a driving force at the Development and Climate Days, demanding inclusion of the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a major process to reach the Paris Agreement. On the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the city where it was adopted in 1948, the Human Rights and Climate Change Caucus, along with other human rights-based movements and Indigenous Peoples, were committed to ensure
Observers monitor the negotiations.
that operational paragraph 2 includes human rights and Indigenous Peoples language specifically. Campaigns were coordinated via social media, parallel side events, embedded Pacific civil society in state delegations, peaceful protests around Paris and in the actual negotiation halls, and late night meetings directly with diplomats. In the end, human rights made the headlines thanks to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, led by the current high commissioner, Robinson, and a delegation of UN special rapporteurs on various themes. Human rights should have been included as a cross-cutting principle in the preamble and operative part of the Paris Agreement. The Friends of the Principles, headed by Mexico Ambassador Luis Alfonso De Alba and Mary Robinson, spearheaded the diplomatic effort for inclusion of human rights in paragraph 2. There is ingenuity behind initiatives to guarantee human rights in the face of the climate crisis. The Commission of Human Rights in the Philippines accepted the claim against world’s biggest carbon polluters submitted by 15 NGOs, including Greenpeace Southeast Asia, and directly impacted community members based on a peer review study of the 50 companies responsible for the majority of global carbon emissions. Another important element of the Paris Agreement was the submission of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions by nearly all 195 members by the conclusion of the 2-week COP. Indigenous Peoples were central in the major global movement for climate justice and were recognized at the UN Development Program Equator Initiative. Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo noted that “Indigenous Peoples are the true civilized people” on our planet, and Jane Goodall recognized the contribution of Indigenous Peoples to guide the world.
we won’t reach the goal. However, the review process begins in 2016 with the 5-year review cycle for Nationally Determined Contributions as the first measure. Professor John Knox, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, said in a lecture prior to the Paris opening, “What happens after Paris is the big question. What will that mean for implementation and follow-up? How will the language be implemented?” As one French diplomat commented, “Paris won’t be the end of the story. It will be the beginning of a new one.” Figueres summarized the spirit and substance of Paris Agreement: “Paris is actually meant to be multi-decade process with a racketing up mechanism every five years to assess where they are and be able to bring higher efforts to the table.” To usher in this new era of implementation, Permanent Missions of France and Morocco hosted the side event From COP 21 to COP 22: International Geneva’s Mobilization Continues. Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said, “The Paris Agreement has the potential to put economies and societies on a path to green, risk-informed, and inclusive growth, and move our world towards a zero-carbon, sustainable future. The achievement of national climate targets must become one of the benchmarks of our success in pursuit of sustainable development.” On Earth Day, recognized by the United Nations on April 22, the Paris Agreement will be opened for signature at the UN headquarters. —Joshua Cooper is a professor at the University of Hawai’i, West Oahu, Kapolei and director of the Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights.
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions are significant and essential mechanisms to measure whether or not we reach the target of 1.5°C. Currently the math suggests ALL PHOTOS BY JOSHUA COOPER.
Read the Paris Agreement at: goo.gl/JV2mJO.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2016 • 11
Tom Goldtooth, Dallas Goldtooth, and Casey Camp Horinek conducting an Indigenous sunrise ceremony in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
“Annexed” The Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the UN Climate Change Conference 2015 Danielle Deluca, Miriam Anne Frank, and Agnes Portalewska
n December 12, 2015, in Paris, after two decades of climate talks within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), world leaders from 195 countries and the European Union came to a consensus in Paris on a legally binding agreement on climate change, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C and reducing carbon emissions across the globe. The 2-week long 21st Session of the Conference of Parties (COP 21) process also brought together some of the world’s largest corporations, environmental and human rights organizations, and grassroots activists to hash out international energy goals, standards, and implementation. Over 250 Indigenous delegates were present and advocated for the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the Paris Agreement. Hailed as “historic” and “a turning point for the world,” the deal reached its goal to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change, yet disappointed many Indigenous Peoples due to its ultimate failure to include legally binding references to protecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights and their sovereignty. Earlier drafts of the agreement included the protection of Indigenous rights in Article 2.2, which would have formed part of the text that is legally binding. But in the second week, this reference was annexed under direction from the European Union, Norway, and the United States. Despite active lobbying by the Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate 12 • w ww. cs. org
Change (the formal body of Indigenous Peoples recognized as observers to this process), the EU and US have been poised as two key players in the fight against Climate Change. But their lack of support for Indigenous rights will leave Article 2.2, and consequently, Indigenous Peoples, without binding legal or political clout. The references to the protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights were finally included in the preamble to the text, which crafts the framework for interpreting and implementing the operative section. COP 21 brought together over 250 Indigenous leaders from all corners of the planet, yet most of them were excluded from official negotiations. Chief Bill Erasmus, 28-year elected leader of the Dene Nation, voiced his frustration: “We have our own land, our own language, and our organizations and laws. We meet the criteria of a nation. We are a nation. Why are we not in that room?” Considering the challenges that climate change presents to Indigenous Peoples and the land and water-based responses required, Chief Erasmus’ argument strikes a chord. More than 370 million people worldwide identify as Indigenous, yet their leaders are routinely excluded from decisions that affect them.
The Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change
The Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change could not formally take part in the actual COP negotiations. However, they worked nonstop to influence the process, crafting and delivering position papers and making sure that governments gathered in Paris were clear on their demands. They organized ALL PHOTOS BY ANDRÉ LARSSON.
well in advance of COP 21, held a strategy session directly before as well as daily caucuses, and ad hoc strategy sessions throughout. They continually lobbied those governments opposing their positions and encouraged those supporting them.
The Indigenous Peoples Pavilion
Directly next to the official COP 21, the “Climate Generations Space” was set up for the general public to access. Within this arena, the Indigenous Peoples Forum organized the Indigenous Peoples’ Pavilion. Activities included hosting political discussions, cultural presentations, and press conferences. It was also used as a meeting space for those not able to access the official meeting and as a platform for educating civil society.
Many Indigenous Peoples decided to engage outside of formal COP 21 settings, taking part in the plethora of events and actions being held in Paris. Many peaceful actions were designed by the Indigenous Environmental Network, a grassroots consortium of Indigenous leaders and communities working for environmental justice. Their motto, “Defend, Protect, Renew,” printed on red bandanas, banners, and placards, made the Indigenous presence at COP21 highly visible.
The Red Line
“People discuss ‘red lines.’ We are the red line. We are the keepers of the land, protectors of animals, the seas, the air. We are the solution.”
Congress of American Indians, delivered the Forum’s speech, remarking that “Indigenous Peoples are those who least contribute to climate change, having safeguarded our traditional lands, territories, and resources for millenia. Because our lives are inextricably and intimately related to the natural world, every adverse effect on that world acutely affects our lives.” Ettawageshik highlighted the fact that the rights of Indigenous Peoples must be recognized, protected, and respected within a broad human rights framework and expressed their disappointment that this assurance was not included in the operative section of this agreement. United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Chair, Megan Davis, stated, “For Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be at the heart of any negotiation and implementation process. Indigenous Peoples saw the Climate Change Conference in Paris as an opportunity to push for stronger human rights wording not only in the preamble but also in the various articles of the agreement to ensure respect for Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Sadly, the agreement asks States to merely consider their human rights obligations, rather than comply with them . . . . It is essential that States are mindful of Indigenous Peoples’ socio-economic limitations as well as their spiritual and cultural attachment to their lands and waters and ensure their Free, Prior and Informed Consent in such processes.” — Miriam Anne Frank is an independent consultant to IPOs, NGOs, international organizations, and foundations. As an applied anthropologist, she lectures on Indigenous Peoples’ issues at the University of Vienna, Austria.
— Tom Goldtooth
To mark the end of COP 21, a series of civil society actions were planned. The Indigenous Environmental Network started the day with a sunrise ceremony for the global Indigenous community gathered there. They formed a circle directly in front of the religious center of Paris, the Notre Dame Cathedral —its placement both a strong political statement and visual testament to the endurance of Indigenous Peoples. Unbeknownst to the group, this location was also next to a military space. Despite explanations, the nervous guards quickly decided to bring this peaceful ceremony to a close. Undeterred, the group formed a human chain leading themselves to Pont des Arts, known across the world as the “Love Lock Bridge.” Organizing their own take on this tradition, the peaceful gatherers tied red strings to symbolically mark the Indigenous red line. They then unfurled a red banner, nearly stretching across the entire length of the bridge, to make their red line even more visible.
Reactions to the Paris Agreement
Although COP 21 was set to finish Friday, December 11, the closing plenary went late into the night, so the Paris Agreement was formally adopted on Saturday, December 12. A testament to their ongoing dedication, those Forum members still in Paris remained until the end of this late night session, delivering their final statement to an almost empty room. Frank Ettawageshik, representative of the National
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. Its objectives are to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system within a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change; to ensure that food production is not threatened; and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.
The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change IIFPCC is the Indigenous Peoples’ coordinating body recognized by the UNFCCC with observer status. It is an open platform for those Indigenous participants wishing to collaboratively engage in the negotiations and activities related to the UNFCCC processes.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2016 • 13
The following interviews were conducted with Indigenous leaders and activists from around the world in attendance at the Paris climate negotiations. We are thankful for their willingness to provide their perspectives. CRISTINA COC (MAYA) Maya Leaders Alliance Association (Southern Belize)
Photo by Danielle DeLuca.
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GRAND CHIEF EDWARD JOHN (AKILE CH’OH)
First Nations Summit, British Columbia
n Western Canada, one of the big issues is the extensive gas and oil development through hundreds of kilometers of Indigenous territories for overseas markets. Every pipeline (there are up to 17 being proposed) will come through Dakelh territory. We have some big concerns about this. We need to ensure our food security. Our people still depend on our land and territories for food, fish, berries, plants, animals, and medicines, like our ancestors did. We still rely on these resources and we don’t want that jeopardized, compromised in any way whatsoever. Another issue in the heart of this area of British Columbia is the extensive mountain pine beetle attack devastating huge areas of forests. Normally when temperatures reach about 40 below, it kills them off. But due to global warming, the winter
Photo courtesy of UNPFII/Broddi Sigurdarson.
y communities consist of 39 communities in southern Belize and we are primarily focused on issues of land tenure security. We are looking to our government to recognize and respect our rights to our customary lands that we use and occupy. Our communities are subsistence agriculture farmers, and because there is a lack of recognition, because there is no political will to protect and secure our customary lands, our government continuously grants development concessions that have immediate impacts on our livelihoods. Being people of Mother Earth, we recognize that it’s integral to ensure that Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge, our knowledge as Maya people, is considered important when we think of development. It’s these forests, it’s these lands that give us our sustenance, our way of life and that are essential for the survival of our future generations. It’s important to ensure that the voices and concerns of Indigenous Peoples, calling for the respect for the integrity of our natural world, be incorporated directly into the dialogues where it concerns climate change. We need the governments to understand the links between our rights and our customary land use as the pivotal part of dealing with climate change adaptations. I’m very disappointed that Indigenous Peoples are not directly involved and do not have direct and easy access to come as observers into the main negotiation zone. And while that is a disappointment, I’m very happy that Indigenous Peoples have carved out a space for themselves here, right here where the negotiations are happening. Amongst ourselves we are able to highlight the concerns that directly affect our communities. The exchanges here with other Indigenous groups allow us to learn from them, to possibly adopt their solutions. We can also begin to create alliances and partnerships. I think that is one of the greatest functions of these kinds of conferences. The next step for us is to continue to advocate for our rights as Indigenous Peoples, to build alliances. We have taken great steps forward. We now have legal recognition of our ancestral lands. We are looking towards the implementations of those historic court decisions in our favor. We hope that other Indigenous communities that have similar land claims
can use this legal precedent to support their own land claims. We are looking forward to building sustainable economic development initiatives within our own communities. We cannot wait for states to do that for us. As Indigenous Peoples, we have begun to propose how it is we want to develop our lands and our natural resources in a way that does not threaten the value and the integrity of the Maya Cosmovision, that does not threaten our identity as Indigenous Peoples, and that does not degrade our environment that we so greatly depend on. Perhaps one of the things that is seldom understood is that we are stewards of our natural world. We do not see the environment from a capitalistic worldview where it’s for us to take and make money out of it. We see it as an incubator that gives us life. Our survival depends on our not disrupting, not disrespecting, not ignoring the importance of Mother Earth. We truly believe that if these negotiations on climate change are to be successful, they need to recognize that Indigenous Peoples have already developed solutions and interactions with the environment that does not threaten it. We truly echo the voices of many here who are advocating for the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples to be included when beginning to think of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
temperatures have been so warm they have multiplied and their numbers have exploded. It has devastated pretty much all of the pine forests in the north of British Columbia. We all know about the great lungs of the earth, the Amazon basin. What people don’t know is the boreal forest in Canada is as large or bigger than the Amazon basin, where most of the attention is focused. We call it ‘the carbon no one talks about.’ On the west coast there are initiatives in place and others underway with Indigenous Peoples engaging in carbon credit activities. Instead of logging in their territory, they are raising revenues from the use of their forests for carbon offsets. It’s an example of something that Indigenous people directly participate in and which directly benefits them without destroying the forest or the ecosystem. In the Paris Agreement there are provisions for carbon pricing as a way forward. This will be part of the new economy into the future. Following this conference in Paris there will be a meeting to develop a national plan to deal with climate change. The prime minister made that commitment here. He said in his speech to world leaders at the High Level plenary that Indigenous Peoples have been fighting to protect the environment for thousands of years, and it’s about time we joined them. That was for me a really good approach. We were able to influence that presentation. However, we have yet to develop the joint plans necessary going forward. The Paris Agreement is an important step forward. But will the commitments and actions be deep enough to effect and mitigate the necessary changes of climate change, or will it simply delay the inevitable?
We have lobbied hard to have the views and rights of Indigenous Peoples factored into the discussions and the agreement. Much of the debate is focused on the roles and responsibilities between the so-called developed countries and the developing countries. I listened to the leaders from the developing countries. They need finances to support their climate change commitments and initiatives. But we Indigenous Peoples in developed countries find ourselves in the same position as the developing countries: we are at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale. We don’t have the financial resources for mitigation or adaptation for climate change work. How do we rectify that? We do it through advancing our rights and exercising our responsibilities. You will see that in every one of our Indigenous communities, the first and foremost priority is to protect the environment. Article 25 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clearly spells out the ‘spiritual’ relationships that Indigenous Peoples have for and with the land and our responsibilities to future generations. The word ‘responsibility’ is on the flip side of ‘rights.’ As Indigenous Peoples with ‘observer status’ and without access to the main venue, we worked hard to be heard and seen at COP 21. Our key message was to ensure Indigenous Peoples’ rights were included in the purpose section of the Paris Agreement. It wasn’t. But it is in the Preamble. We will have to build on these utilizing other UN instruments, including the Vienna Convention, and we need to be proactive at the State and international levels to leverage the commitments made here in Paris.
Indigenous Peoples’ delegation at the Post-COP 21 Demonstration on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2016 • 15
HINDOU OUMAROU IBRAHIM
LENE KIELSEN HOLM
Coordinator of Indigenous Women and Peoples the Fulani and Mbororo of Chad and co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC)
Arctic Region Delegate
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Photo courtesy of iisd.
rofessionally, my work is focused on researching the human dimensions of climate change, working closely with communities on the ground. They have a huge knowledge about the environment so that they can tell us what kind of differentiated changes are happening in their environment. I think our holistic cosmology is preventing Indigenous Peoples from handling these issues the way the Western world has. I think the appreciation of the traditional knowledge, or, as I like to call it, the Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, such as the Sami knowledge, Maori knowledge, and other Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, is a differentiated kind of knowledge that can help Western science understand the dynamics of living resources. Globally, Indigenous Peoples have much more detailed information that can help Western science with their methods and ways of collecting data. They can help by bridging different ways of knowing. I think we can reach much better results than we are able to do today if Indigenous Peoples are part of this process. I think that civil society has been increasingly showing us what an individual can be doing in your daily life to help with climate change. Actions such as educating others, enlightening them as to how to live in a more modest way, teaching others about not spending too much energy, like putting the lights out when you are not in the room and sparing the water that you use. At the same time the population of the world is growing, and, in underdeveloped countries, where the population is growing much faster and their emissions follow this growing population, more statistics need to show where this kind of pollution is happening. This COP reminds me of the one in Montreal [and] the one in Copenhagen, but of course I hope there will be better results this time because they are really needed. We can’t spend 12 more years without doing anything because the newest science is telling us we should be more alarmed because of the failing permafrost. For instance, methane emissions are two times more dangerous to the climate and to the atmosphere, which will mean that the changes to the climate will accelerate even more. I think we should take these issues much more seriously.
Photo courtesy of Lene Kielsen Holm.
’m working on Indigenous Peoples’ rights on environmental protection and we are working with the three Rio Conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Desertification. In regards to climate change, the impacts that we are facing in the community is at two levels. First are the environmental impacts due to weather and seasonal changes. We have less rainy seasons, and we have more dry seasons, very long, sometimes up to nine months. In my community as Indigenous nomadic peoples, our ability to get to water and pasture is impacted by these changes. The second thing is the loss of species of vegetation and animals. The biodiversity is becoming less diverse in the last decade, and the problems are really increasing every single day. Every year is much more difficult than the years past. The impact is also on humans and our lives as it is impacting food security. There are more conflicts between the communities facing climate impacts because of the reduced resources we are fighting for. It is also becoming a crossborder and interstate conflict, as well as a political problem because we are moving from our country to the neighboring countries. There are fewer resources, less economies, less revenue, and increasing health problems. We are really seeing the problems at the grassroots level. My goal at COP 21 is firstly to continue to work on the political documents agreed upon with all seven regions of Indigenous Peoples. We have key messages: our first agreed upon message is to have Indigenous Peoples’ rights included in the document. Second is the recognition of Indigenous and traditional knowledge. Third is the participation in all levels of negotiations, but also in the implementation of any climate change projects. The last issue is the direct access of funding for and management by Indigenous Peoples. We are giving input at every negotiation and we are proposing the language for inclusion into the paragraphs being negotiated by the countries. We also are actively using the Indigenous Peoples’ Pavilion, where we have the biggest space to gather. The next step is to see that the Paris Agreement includes all of our demands. Once we have that, Paris is not the end but just the beginning. Then we can see in Morocco (the site for the next COP) and ongoing how this Paris Agreement can be implemented, such as at the international level through negotiations with all of the relevant mechanisms. Also important is its implementation at the national and local levels, where it can reach the communities who are really being impacted by climate change. This agreement should help with adaptation, mitigation, and with early warning systems.
Indigenous delegates marking the “Red Line” at the Pont des Artes in Paris.
(UDEGE, FROM KRASNY YAR, PRIMORSKI KRAY, RUSSIAN FAR EAST) Director of the Center for the Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CSIPN), Russia, co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC)
e are working for many issues related to Indigenous Peoples’ rights and democracy, but specifically when it comes to climate change it’s a threat and a challenge we are facing. That is why we are here at COP 21, because it’s getting more and more critical. We must be visible and vocal in this global negotiation. All Indigenous Peoples’ lives have included adaptation to worsening conditions, to climate change. It’s a long history, but it’s becoming more Sulyandziga photo courtesy of UNPFII/Broddi Sigurdarson.
and more unpredictable. This situation also affects traditional knowledge. That is why we have to talk about innovations in regards to the practice of traditional knowledge, to become more adaptive to the rapid changes. Traditional people still provide the knowledge to support our development, but we need to adapt for survival in order to move forward. It’s this unpredictability that impacts traditional activities like hunting, fishing, and traditional food security. It also causes more and more environmental disasters like forest fires and flooding that increase year by year. All of us came to Paris with the expectation and hope that we can reach a new global agreement. We are facing lots of challenges, and that is why we have to strengthen our coordination, our global solidarity, because some of the parties still oppose the approach by Indigenous Peoples— the human rights approach. I am satisfied [with the] Paris agreement because it will be translated into national plans of action, into national strategies. It’s not ideal, but the Parties came to political agreement at the end. The Indigenous Peoples’ voice, agenda, and position was strong and visible. Some key messages and demands are reflected in the final document. The next step is to follow up Paris and strengthen the Indigenous Peoples’ movement on both the national and international levels.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2016 • 17
TEANAU TUIONO (MA–ORI)
Photo courtesy of Allan Lissner/IEN.
enturies before Christopher Columbus got lost in the Caribbean, our people sailing the Pacific found islands they made home. Their skill was based on knowledge of the stars, sailing directions, and reading the waves and clouds to determine currents and predict weather. I like to think that we, the descendants of those early navigators, can draw on their prowess and commitment as we navigate the myriad issues of climate change. Our tipuna could read the environment; they observed the cycles of the moon, the sun and stars and how they influenced living things in the environment. They revised this knowledge over centuries, passing it down through generations. Anything that impacts the environment impacts these Indigenous knowledge systems. Half of the population in the Pacific lives within 1.5 kilometers of the sea. Few Pacific people will be untouched by climate change. Our agriculture, coastal systems, ecosystems, water resources, and economy are all at risk as sea levels rise and tropical storms intensify. Last year when I visited relatives in one of the outer islands, they talked about how the roof of their house just blew right
Chriapaq Executive Director Tarcila Rivera Zea makes her message clear. Photo courtesy of Climate Alliance Organizations. 18 • w ww. cs. org
off during Cyclone Pam. They shared their fear and anxiety of huddling beneath what was left of their home as the winds continued to blow. These events will only become more frequent as weather patterns become more intense over time. Adrift in a rising sea of political apathy and corporate selfinterest, at times it feels like we are holding back the rising tide with a bucket. When these areas are opened up to extractive industries like deep sea oil drilling, this impacts not only our rights but our knowledge and cultural systems. For me, the intersection of the aspirations of Pacific nations and Indigenous Peoples is a dynamic space where we can build solidarity in defense of our homelands. Without the engagement of civil societies, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, and people’s movements, we perpetuate anti-democratic processes. This is exactly what those that perpetuate fear and terror want. In terms of the COP 21 outcomes, the resolutions are 20 years too late. We cannot wait while States and corporations continue to play ping pong with Papatūānuku (Mother Earth). If I have any faith, it is in the Indigenous activists on the streets and in our communities who collaborate with our sisters and brothers in the UN processes. I believe in Indigenous Peoples’ movements in order to make positive change towards climate justice.
AILI KESKITALO (SAAMI) President of Saami Parliament in Norway
e Saami are the people of the Arctic, and research is showing that Climate Change is happening faster here than in any other parts of the world. We are here at COP 21 to give evidence on the climate change in the Arctic, but also to try and influence State leaders on topics that they may not consider technically related to the climate itself. We try to remind them that in this world there are [many] peoples and languages, and that it’s all affected by climate change. Do not forget that! Since we are politicians from the Saami parliament in Norway, we try to influence the Norwegian politicians and Norwegian delegations that are taking part in the negotiations. We also would like to say that isn’t only the rainforest when it comes to climate change; it’s also the Arctic areas. I think we are probably only in the early steps of detecting and documenting climate change in our areas. We see that climate changes are affecting our traditional livelihoods like fishing and reindeer herding. Luckily, we have Saami researchers working on systemizing traditional knowledge so that it can be used in resource and land management. I’m happy to hear that Norway is working on getting regular reviews on the upcoming agreement. I think that is the right step forward to not only have an agreement on what to do, but to check that it will really be implemented. At this Keskitalo photo courtesy of UNPFII/Broddi Sigurdarson.
stage we are still carefully optimistic about COP 21. It’s probably the most important meeting that we ever will have the opportunity to take part in. We hope to see a binding agreement between the states of the world and we hope to see emphasis in the agreement put on human rights and Indigenous rights.
SOM CHANMONY Executive Director, Peace Bridges Organization, Cambodia
ur work is to support different groups, including Indigenous Peoples, who need to fight for their rights, their land, their homes, and their forests. The communities we work with have expressed great concerns regarding climate change. This year they have not had enough rain for their agriculture. In some other areas there are big storms destroying houses and schools. It affects particularly the poor families who have smaller homes easily destroyed by the strong winds. I think that Indigenous Peoples never cause any forest destruction. They always allow for the recovery of the nature or the forest. There is always a dependency between the Indigenous Peoples and the forest that they live in, so there has always been a balance between them. Their way of life, including relying on traditional herbs and medicine and non-timber products are proof that they are not harmful
to nature, that they are not creating any damage to the environment. It’s only the government and the private companies that come in and clear the forests and take their land away—that is when they start to have a problem with their livelihoods. Now they also have to deal with climate change. In regards to COP 21, I think there is a positive sign. I believe that this meeting allows for the opportunity for multistakeholders to express their concerns in relation to climate change. They specifically give room for Indigenous Peoples to tell their stories at the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion, such as their successes in dealing with climate change. However, I question how the COP can actually reach the country leaders. For example, in Cambodia we have a lot of beautiful dialogues here about the knowledge, experience, and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and how they have been both the victims and the solutions for climate change. But we haven’t had enough attention from our Cambodian delegates here at COP. They won’t bring home the necessary information for the reform or reinforcement of any existing policies back in Cambodia. I was told that some of the developing countries like Cambodia are coming out to this COP 21 only to negotiate for funds. These are to be given to governments in order to cope with climate change or to assist them with climate adaptation. However, once they receive this money, the question is still how they will actually implement solutions in their own country. To be honest, a lot of Indigenous Peoples don’t receive any benefits out of this money that is being provided. Whatever the good agreement that COP 21 has reached, it is only just in principle and hardly will be applied to a country like Cambodia. There has to be ongoing monitoring on how the agreement is being applied, in particular in developing countries like Cambodia, especially in regards to corruption. The people fear that there is no real political will to make any substantial changes.
Photo courtesy of Som Chanmony.
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS 1992–2015 JUNE 14, 1992 The 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (Rio Declaration) is adopted. It includes the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification are also adopted.
MARCH 21, 1994 UNFCCC enters into force. Countries that sign the treaty are known as “Parties.” With 196 Parties, the UNFCCC has near-universal membership. Parties meet annually at the Conference of the Parties (COP) to negotiate multilateral responses to climate change.
DECEMBER 11, 1997 The Third Conference of the Parties achieves an historical milestone with adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first greenhouse gas emissions reduction treaty.
FEBRUARY 16, 2005 Kyoto Protocol enters into force.
APRIL 20–24, 2009 Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change is held in Anchorage, Alaska.
DECEMBER 11, 2010 Cancun Agreements specify that global warming should not exceed 2°C above preindustrial temperatures.
DECEMBER 12, 2015 The Paris Agreement adopts a legally binding cap to keep global warming below 2°C but fails to include legally binding references to protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights and their sovereignty. Cultural Survival Quarterly March 2016 • 19
2008 International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIFPCC) formed.
Defending the Sacred
Photo courtesy of UNPFII/ Broddi Sigurdarson.
Tom Goldtooth (Diné and Dakota), the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), was recently presented with the prestigious Gandhi Peace Award. Named in honor of Mahatma Gandhi, since 1960 this annual award by the US-based NGO Promoting Enduring Peace is granted to individuals for “contributions made in the promotion of international peace and goodwill.” Under Goldtooth’s leadership, IEN, formed by grassroots Indigenous Peoples to address environmental and economic justice issues, has become one of most visible Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, at the forefront of issues such as the Tar Sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline. Fundamental to their success is a combination of strong ties to the communities they partner with, while being grounded by elders and uplifted by the dynamics of their engaged youth leaders. Miriam Anne Frank: How did you get into this line of work and what has your personal journey been? Tom Goldtooth: Being an activist really means having confi-
dence to speak out. The concept of confidence is very critical to us as American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and First Nations in Canada because of our history collectively as tribal peoples, we are not taught to be confident. My mother and stepfather always taught me to be confident and to be proud of who I am and to speak out. My mother was an activist in her own right. She worked at the Navajo reservation for a number of years and she was even asked to run the hospital by the Navajo Nation at Sanders. In my younger years I got involved in some activist activities like Peak Mountain and other American Indian Movement actions around the southwest that really helped me get a better sense of these social justice issues. 20 • ww w. cs. org
I ended up going to Arizona State University and enrolled in their engineering department with industrial design. Eventually I lost interest in going to school and instead began hanging out with the Indians in the Phoenix area. Ultimately the US government got a hold of me because the Vietnam War was going on. I had been on deferment as I was enrolled in school, however, once you dropped out of college they catch up to you. I then decided to enlist myself and get the kind of training and employment that I wanted. I enrolled in the US Army and signed up to be a financial specialist, basically paying the troops. I worked for Uncle Sam for about three years and ended up in Washington State. I got involved with activists there like Janet McCloud, one of the founders of the Indigenous Women’s Network. They were going through fishing rights issues. There was a lot of racism due to the fact that a lot of non-Native fishermen didn’t want the tribes to have any fishing rights. Fishing rights based on treaty rights became a big issue there, so I got to learn a lot about these conflicts. As military people we were trained in defense, so we had to do some training with the people there with terrorist types of threats. We then also helped to protect the tribe against racist attacks. So it was interesting years of activism. That is the kind of work I enjoy, being with our Native people at the grassroots level. We became familiar with how tribal government’s structures work and sometimes we had to negotiate with them. I gravitated towards grassroots activism and today I’m the director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, the grassroots Indigenous organization of frontline communities speaking for themselves.
What do you consider your biggest success and your biggest failure? TG: One of the biggest successes we have had is with the
Indigenous Environmental Network now existing for over 20 years. I am applying that accumulated knowledge that I have received since my youth, being open minded and open hearted to life within our Native community. Understanding the concepts of assimilation, acculturation, decolonization, colonialism, imperialism, militarization, racism, tribalism— all those things have helped me become who I am. My area of development was to look at how environmental protection needs to be applied in our territories. We’ve been able to mobilize a national and international network of Indigenous Peoples coming from the front lines of communities. We were successful in the strategy we used in the prairie lands and that we used in the United States when we shut down the Trans-Canada Keystone XL pipeline proposal. Here in Paris at COP 21 we have been successful in lifting up the voices of Indigenous Peoples using the tools of direct actions and media. It’s part of developing our global movement of “system change, not climate change.” We have come here to work with civil society and the French coalition. We are trying to have them better embrace our understanding for solutions rather than just accept technological or carbon-based solutions. Some of the failures weren’t directly related to our abilities. One issue is that there has never been [enough] funding for our work. Environmental justice back home is very different than philanthropy and social services. Tobacco or health programs seem to be able to get funding, but not our environmental programs. We at IEN are taking on some of the largest corporations in this world. And the system, or the metrics as I call it, constantly force us to compromise and negotiate terms with the polluters. One of the main principles designed on the early years of IEN, in the early ‘90s, is that we don’t make deals with the polluters. What is your assessment of COP 21 and the next steps? TG: For the COP, I have started to see a trend after the
Kyoto Protocol of what I coined as ‘corporate takeover.’ I have come to accept that we have to look at some of the root causes of climate change within Indigenous territories and that is
Tom Goldtooth at a direct action at COP 21 in Paris.
capitalism. One of the solutions coming out of the discussion on mitigation falls on what I call ‘climate capitalism,’ which are market-based solutions. It allows the polluters to pollute rather than to address the problem at its source. They can offset carbon by investing in conservation of trees in the global south where carbon credits are cheaper. They are now using the market system so that the people investing in the land are actually the polluting companies, the mining corporations, and the petroleum industry. A lot of communities don’t know that. So, for COP 21 this is a critical moment. This Paris Agreement probably won’t come out as a legally binding agreement, but voluntary. There is something extremely wrong with that, especially when it has been pushed to industrialized countries, as well as supported by economies in transition. What is the next step? TG: We don’t expect a strong agreement, so our strategy is to
build up a movement of resistance, a movement of transition, a movement of solutions. A movement that involves implementing the traditional knowledge from back home, bringing back our traditional seeds, building the concept of food sovereignty. If there is to be a form of energy development within our territories, we have to make sure that there are mechanisms for localized energy, for energy development on a small scale in our villages, in our communities and in our reservation. We have the last word—not the world leaders or corporations —to create space for Indigenous Peoples to stand with civil society to build a global movement that is solution-based and built around the concept of transitioning away from the fossil fuel economy.
How do you think we can best motivate people to care about protecting the planet? TG: The work that we are doing is addressing and developing
public education that helps the non-Indigenous world learn about the sacredness of Mother Earth. As Indigenous Peoples we have an understanding about our responsibilities and our role. We understand how we are here as the guardians and caretakers of the soil, land, nature, and life itself. So we want the world to have a better understating on how to address climate change and some of the ecological challenges that this planet is now having. We also challenge the legal paradigm based upon property rights and are moving to a new paradigm that recognizes the earth to the fullest, that respects the integrity and voice of Mother Earth. Our hope for the future is tied to the prophecies as Indigenous Peoples. Where I live, the Great Lakes, some of the neighboring tribes believe in the 8th generation, the 7th generation, the 6th fire, the 7th fire. I remain hopeful that the guiding light of the sacred ways have been given to our people and should be extended to the non-Indigenous people so they will also have a better connection to the earth. My prayers are that they will accept their responsibilities, to recognize and also defend Mother Earth. — Miriam Anne Frank is an independent consultant to IPOs, NGOs, international organizations, and foundations. As an applied anthropologist, she lectures on Indigenous Peoples’ issues at the University of Vienna, Austria.
Photo by Joshua Cooper.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2016 • 21
Indigenous Terra Madre Spotlights Custodians of Biodiversity and Foodways
SECURING THE BOUNTY OF MOTHER EARTH
n a precipitous mountain slope in Laitsohpliah, a woman from the matrilineal Khasi tribe grasped finger millet in her hands, a cereal cultivated in India for over 2,000 years that is teeming with calcium and protein. We were in Meghalaya, a state in Northeast India famed for its stunning biodiversity, dizzying mountainous vistas, and a beguiling name that means the abode of clouds. The visit to the village was part of the Indigenous Terra Madre gathering to showcase the profound agrobiodiversity and lively culture that is created and preserved by Indigenous Peoples around the world. More than 600 delegates from 58 countries converged in Meghalaya from November 3-7, 2015 to celebrate the ancient food systems, vast traditional knowledge, and biocultural diversity of Indigenous Peoples. International Terra Madre, also called International Mei-Ramew (Mother Earth in the local Khasi language), is a collaboration of the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty, Slow Food International, and North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS). “We need to trust in our wisdom,” said Phrang Roy, founder of NESFAS and a visionary Khasi advocate, who brought Indigenous Terra Madre to his homeland in the hills of Shillong. “What we wanted to combine is not just the question of taste, but that taste is the reflection of biodiversity. If we don’t have forests around our villages, our diets and our food won’t
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be there.” The five-day event included a conference, visits to nine Indigenous host villages, and concluded with a spirited food festival that exhibited the flavors of Indigenous food cultures across Northeast India and beyond. “Our food is pre-colonial, it is pre-GMO. It is ancient food, and ancient seeds. It is a food that is part of our soul and our spirit,” said Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabe activist, at the opening ceremony. She proceeded to talk about the resiliency of Indigenous food systems and the sacred connection Native Americans have with their foodways. Dayamani Barla of the Munda tribe in Jharkhand, India, concurred with LaDuke’s remarks. Barla has witnessed how land grabs and displacement of Indigenous Peoples in Jharkhand have devastated their food security, culture, and identity. She also led a long resistance that ultimately stopped the world’s largest steel company, Arcellor-Mittal, from displacing thousands of Indigenous Peoples and farmers with the rallying cry, Loha nahi anaj chahiye! (“We want grains, not iron!”) In 2013, she was awarded the first Ellen L. Lutz Indigenous Rights Award by Cultural Survival for her courageous resistance in the face of the ugly power of corporate might. Barla emphasized that the current economic paradigm is leading the planet to catastrophic climate change and eroding Indigenous rights. “If we are talking about strengthening food systems, we need to stop the displacement of Indigenous peoples,” she said. “Indigenous Peoples can’t imagine a future where nature is violated. We can’t realize food sovereignty when our lands, forests, and waterways are being destroyed.
Left: Dev Kumar Sunuwar of Indigenous Media Foundation from Nepal interviewing Dayamani Barla of India. Above: Indigenous women from Assam attending the Mei-Ramew Food Festival in Mawplang. Photos by Rucha Chitnis.
If we want to sustain life on this planet, all people and social movements need to unite with the resistance of Indigenous Peoples.” One of the highlights of the International Terra Madre were taste workshops to showcase the incredible diversity of Indigenous food systems. At an insect tasting workshop delegates learned that there are over 1,900 species of edible insects on Earth, and that insects are an important source of nutrition for Indigenous communities in many parts of the world, offering protein, fiber, and “good” fats. First on the tasting menu was a delicious, spicy chutney of weaver ants prepared by women from the Siddi community in Karnataka in Southern India. The chutney was brought by Sunita Rao, founder of Vanastree, a seed saving collective of women, who tend to their food gardens in the forests of the Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot in India. The Siddis arrived in India centuries ago as slaves of the Portuguese. “Insects are delicious and have a flavor,” said Rao, nudging the delegates to taste with an open mind. Delegates also munched on carpenter worms, spiders, and grasshoppers. Cultural Survival’s Indigenous community radio partners from Nepal, Dev Kumar Sunuwar and Jagatman Dong, also joined the gathering. They said that it was crucial for Indigenous Peoples to frame their own narratives to highlight and preserve their food cultures. Sunuwar and Dong are about to launch the first Indigenous television programming in Nepal, where they hope to have cooking shows on traditional foods. “Earlier there was a lot of shame to reveal one’s Indigenous
identity. Now that we have produced our community radio shows in eight Indigenous languages, people are slowly starting to have a sense of pride,” Dong said. Slow Food International founder, Carlo Petrini, gave a passionate talk likening the industrial global food system to a criminal system, imploring that “We need to change this paradigm . . . we risk losing our history and our food heritage.” As a counter to the monoculture paradigm, International Terra Madre organized a food festival of prodigious size that exhibited an array of Indigenous foods—roots, tubers, greens, corns, millets, paddy, drinks, sweets, pickles, and hot foods. A dazzling performance of dance and songs followed, and the crowd was thrilled to hear Ko Meiramew, the theme song of the gathering that was sung in exquisite harmony by Indigenous musicians from Meghalaya. What made the food festival especially enchanting was a sacred grove at the periphery that wove a stunning, lush tapestry. We walked in contemplation and silence through the verdant, ancient forest. Reflecting on the walk, Barla commented, “Mother Earth gives us so much. I saw a fallen tree that was birthing new life, life that was already taking on the avatar of the forest. Indigenous Peoples always talk about community and collective rights. We know our survival is bound with the survival of nature.” — Rucha Chitnis is a photojournalist, writer, and founder of Changing the Narrative. Follow her on Twitter: @ruchachitnis
Cultural Survival Quarterly
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SECURING THE BOUNTY OF MOTHER EARTH
INTERVIEWS Indigenous Food as Medicine DAPHNE MILLER Physician and associate clinical professor at the University of California San Francisco Our bodies and the soil have very much the same needs. Foods that were traditionally grown together give us a full spectrum of nutrition; they give us whole proteins, very healthy low glycemic starches, and lots of antioxidants. The most important thing is realizing that the way that the foods were grown and the recipes that came from them have their own secret of healthfulness. Indigenous farmers follow the rules of nature. They farm in a cycle. They have a huge amount of biodiversity within their land, meaning that they use dozens of different kinds of seeds. They conserve water, they prevent erosion, they take care of the soil and allow it to rest, they farm often with animals. They do all these things that are not just organic, they are regenerative. I think that is the system that we need to start to learn from.
Indigenous Pathways for Wellbeing ELIZABETH HACKER Researcher and presenter We did research in Kenya and India about how individuals can create their own frameworks about well being. We found three really important things for Indigenous communities, all interrelated. One is basic needs, the fact that your material needs [must] be met. The second is social harmony, being connected with each other, a sense of belonging. And the third one is a cultural identity. Often we think of our basic 24 • ww w. cs. org
needs being met as the precursor to being happy; you need your basic needs to have been met, and then maybe you can experience the feelings of social harmony and cultural identity. Actually what we found is that those three, the cultural identity, social harmony, and basic needs being met, they’re interconnected. You can’t have one without the others. In Kenya, when we spoke to pastoralists, they not only needed their livestock to meet their basic needs, but a connection to their animals was really essential to their cultural identity. They spoke very emotionally about being connected to their animals, about how the animals were their brothers and sisters, about how this was their life source. Similarly, in terms of social harmony, when pastoralists work together, when agriculturalists work together, this creates a feeling that everyone is in it together. That feeling also helps people meet their basic needs because if you are able to work together, if you have trust in each other, you can also be resilient in times of difficulty.
Food Sovereignty WINONA LADUKE Native American environmental activist, economist, and writer You can’t say that you are sovereign unless you can feed yourselves. As Indigenous people, we have always fed ourselves. We took very good care of ourselves and our families, and the people that came to visit, the Europeans and the colonizers, we fed them too. And now today, we often no longer feed ourselves. We buy their food as we are not doing well. Because of it we are sick, we are fat, we don’t live as long, and we’re not healthy. Food sovereignty is important because it is the restoration of our strength. If we are not held hostage by other people’s food, we can make better decisions. If we are totally dependant on someone else providing us food, providing us money, providing everything for us, we are no longer our own masters.
GRAZIA BORRINI-FEYERABEND Global coordinator of Indigenous Peoples and Community Conserved Territories and Areas, ICCA Consortium based in Switzerland Food sovereignty is that the people themselves are the producers and the ones who eat. We have to be involved and in control of those policies and practices. The fact that other people may be in control of the land, the water, and the natural resources impedes our communities to have food sovereignty. We also need to be able to control the forces that control the broader ecosystem on even our conserved territories and areas. We need to be able as a community to say ‘No’ to things that come from the market system, from big enterprises, and sometimes even from excessive bureaucracies by governments. The world would be a better place and people would be better able to control their food and lives if each community could be in control of their territory and the areas in which they live.
Indigenous Terra Madre PHRANG ROY Organizing committee member of Indigenous Terra Madre
Dev Kumar Sunuwar of Indigenous Media Foundation from Nepal with Anneli Johnson of Slow Food Sapmi from Sweden.
Food Security DHRUPAD CHOUDHURY The Adaptation to Climate Change and initiative coordinator at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development We did an extensive survey across three countries, India, Bhutan, and Nepal, covering around 90 villages, [and] we found quite a lot of diversity in terms of crops. In terms of food security, there were enough resources, or at least sufficient resources that could meet the nutritional requirements of the people. When you look at the rural communities, accessibility is the main issue. Most of the areas you have to trek, there are no roads. Most of the communities are dependent on themselves. When we look at the larger picture of food security in the context of change, you need to have more crops, or more varieties of crops which are tolerant to the stress which is coming. We need to have more productivity in terms of unique land area. When you look at [Indigenous Peoples’] practices, many of them are very sustainable. They are dependent on the natural resources which are there. The practices take the philosophy of depending and working with nature. They are not exploiting resources, they are rather harvesting and managing resources. I think this is very important and this is something that modern science has to learn from and strengthen. So what we require is a blend of Indigenous technologies, practices, and knowledge, together with modern sciences.
Slow Food Movement ANNELI JOHNSON Slow Food Sapmi from Sweden Food we eat and produce should be good, clean, and fair. Slow Food Sapmi is the slow food movement within the Sami Indigenous peoples in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and part of Russia. ‘Good’ means good to look at and good to taste; ‘clean’ means it is pesticide free, clean, and natural; and ‘fair’ means it is both fair to the consumer and the producer. This is intricately linked to the endemic crops of the land. So whatever is local is good for us, because Mother Nature has been kind enough to give us what is important for us to battle what we are facing.
Indigenous Terra Madre actually started as a part of the slow food movement. The important thing for us is to share ideas together, whatever they are, no matter how small or how big communities may be, and come together and be inspired or be warned from our lessons. The second thing is that we have to let our people become more aware that our local food systems, the way we have cooked in the past, and the edible plants around us, even in the wild, they are more important for us, for our health, than all the medicines that we take. If we are able to convince our people to have pride in their own culture and landscapes and language, I think we will move ahead successfully. We have a number of challenges: the challenges of lands being taken away, our languages being reduced and marginalized, our culture being absorbed by mainstream activities. We want to highlight to the world that we are a distinct people. It is in the interests of the world and its diversity to maintain this.
Indigenous Food Production Systems HELIANTI HILMAN NAJIB Founder and CEO of Javara from Indonesia If we look into the Indigenous agriculture or food production system, it is based on spiritualism; the way humans interact with the divine really guides how they do the production. It means that we will not harm the soil, will not harm the environment, will not harm the other living creatures around us. It’s also not about the volume of the productivity of their land, but whether the food is being blessed or not. We believe that the food is being blessed by the divine. Indonesia in the last 30 years has been imposed upon nationally by the green revolutionists, by modern agriculture. And actually, the Indigenous communities are among the lucky ones because they live in remote areas and are not touched by the government programs, so they managed to keep intact their integrity in terms of food sovereignty. In most Indigenous communities, it’s more like a beautiful partnership: harmony among the family members. For example, if you look into the coconut sugar production by the [Indigenous] communities. It’s the husband who climbs the trees, collects the nectars, and the wife is the one who is cooking it and making it into sugar. So it is perfect.
Listen to full versions of radio programs on the Terra Madre conference at goo.gl/xajUqE.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2016 • 25
B A Z AAR ART I ST: R EBI RT HI NG T HE T R A DIT I O N O F P YSA NK AS
Ganna Nepyivoda and daughter, Anna. Photo courtesy of International Folk Art Market Online/ifamonline.org.
Meaning of Symbols • Sun protects from sickness, bad luck, and the evil eye • Stars mean life, fortune, and growth • Tree of life is a symbol of eternity of the world: roots in the dirt, the past; trunk and crown, the present; sky, the future; leaves and branches, immortality, strength, and persistence • Flowers express the female principle, denoting wisdom, elegance, and beauty
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anna Nepyivoda, a professor at the M. Boichuk Institute of Decorative and Applied Arts in Kyiv, Ukraine, represents the culture of the Hutsuls, an ethno-cultural group of Ukrainian highlanders. For centuries, the Hutsuls have inhabited the Carpathian mountains and are associated with the colorful and sophisticated craftsmanship of their embroidery, carpet weaving, and egg decorating. Born in the village of Vyzhnyi Bereziv of Ivano-Frankivsk oblast (province), Nepyivoda started learning traditional embroidery and carpet weaving at a young age from her mother. She later earned degrees from the Folk Arts College in Kosiv and the Institute of Applied Arts in Lviv. There she obtained her skills in the craft of leatherwork and pysanka (painted eggs), and has since managed to revive the almost-disappeared pysanka designs of her local community. “To refine the delicacy and fascination of original folk art is my spiritual commitment,” she says. The Hutsuls believe that the fate of the world depends upon the pysanka; as long as the custom continues, the world will exist. Each village in the Carpathians had its own pysanka patterns, symbols, meanings, and rituals for decorating eggs, which were passed down from mother to daughter through the generations. By the 1980s, however, the art of the pysanka had nearly been lost. Nepyivoda responded by researching and reconstructing these traditions, learning how to write on eggs with melted beeswax. She collected old Bereziv pysankas, read literature sources, and made reconstructions based on oral information. Pysankas are made using a wax batik method. Beeswax is scooped into the stylus and heated in a candle flame. (A stylus, known as a pysak, is a piece of thin brass wrapped around a needle forming a hollow cone and attached to a small stick with wire.) The molten wax is applied to the white egg with a writing motion, and any bit of shell covered with wax is sealed to remain white. The egg then gets dyed yellow, more wax is applied, and then it is further dyed orange, red, purple, and black. The dye sequence is always light to dark, and bits of shell covered with wax remain that color. After the final color is applied, usually red, brown, or black, the wax is removed by holding the egg next to the flame and gently melting it. With the advent of Christianity, the symbolism of the egg was changed from representing nature’s rebirth to the rebirth of man. The most important symbols used on pysankas in the Hutsul region include triangles, which symbolized clouds or rain; quadrilaterals, symbolizing a ploughed field; spirals, the mystery of life and death; and dots, representing stars. Cosmological, floral, and animal motifs also are used to adorn the egg. Pysankas are typically made to be given to family members and respected outsiders during the last week of Lent, Holy Week, before Easter. To give a pysanka is to give a symbolic gift of life. Nepyivoda considers it her mission not merely to preserve and revive ancient traditions in her own works, but also to strengthen public awareness through advice to women in her community and by teaching her students. Her efforts are now continued by three young artisans working in Bereziv style, and she offers free master classes on pysanka writing for anyone who wants to learn the art. “Unfortunately, now once-widely spread Hutsul crafts are degenerating under the pressure of cheap mass production,” she says. “The danger of erosion of authentic designs and coloration is serious. Further evolution of this tradition through its new interpretations is one of the pillars for the tradition’s survival.” Check out our upcoming schedule of Cultural Survival Bazaars at www.bazaar.cs.org. July 30–31: Tiverton, Rhode Island. Other locations to be announced.
s t af f s pot lig h t Left: Michael Johnson with wife, Kara, and daughter, Maggie. Right: Michael at the “Nation to Nation” exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Photo by Montoya Whiteman.
Michael Johnson | Director of Development Stephanie Borcea
eet Michael Johnson, Cultural Survival’s new director of development. He has more than seven years of experience as a successful fundraiser for national Native American nonprofit organizations, including the American Indian College Fund and the Notah Begay III Foundation, and as a senior program officer working with at risk young men and environmental stewardship at First Nations Development Institute. On his new role with Cultural Survival, Michael said, “I am honored and excited to be part of the Cultural Survival team. I see so much potential for our programming to continue to make a real difference in the lives of our Indigenous brothers and sisters across the globe.” Michael grew up in Parker, Colorado but spent summers and family vacations with his relatives on the Fort Berthold reservation in North Dakota where he and his family are enrolled members. His matrilineal grandmother, Marilyn Youngbird, and his mother, Susan Johnson, have always been great advocates for Indigenous rights and proud members of their tribe. His father is of European descent, and his mother is of mixed Indigenous descent (Arikara, Hidatsa, and Ojibwe). The oldest of four children, Michael spent his childhood playing baseball and football with his brother and friends, camping and fishing with his father’s family, and being outdoors in the great state of Colorado. Observing his grandmother’s work as the first executive director for the Commission on Indian Affairs and his mother’s work as a tribal liaison for the Forest Service, as well as her strong activism in the American Indian Movement during his youth, ignited Michael’s passion to fight for the rights and livelihoods of his people and all Indigenous Peoples. After
graduating from the University of Colorado-Denver magna cum laude with a focus on classic philosophy and political science, he transitioned from for-profit to nonprofit work as a development officer for the American Indian College Fund, an organization whose mission to create educational opportunities for Native youth is close to his heart. Michael believes that many issues facing Indigenous communities stem from the lack of representation and meaningful participation in issues affecting them. “While issues of culture and language revitalization, land rights, education, and economic prosperity are all very important, I believe these and other issues Indigenous communities face in modernity boil down to the lack of political agency these communities experience,” he said. “Many Indigenous people lack the freedom to fully exercise their rights, capacities, and self-determination. Indigenous communities must continue to demand meaningful representation, ownership, and authority in issues affecting our lives.” Michael believes that it is important to make Indigenous issues “accessible and known for people and institutions that share a passion for rights, culture, and traditions.” While Michael gains inspiration from all aspects of life, he is particularly motivated by his daughter, whom he credits with inspiring him to create a better world. He looks forward to helping uplift the voices of Indigenous leaders and bringing stories of Indigenous perspectives, advocacy, and grassroots solutions to the supporters of Cultural Survival. More than anything, he anticipates Cultural Survival to be an important voice in “supporting the momentum of self-determination for Indigenous Peoples around the globe.” Contact Michael to find out ways you can get involved with Cultural Survival at email@example.com or 617-441-5400 ex. 20. Cultural Survival Quarterly
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get i nvo lve d
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Joshua Cooper
he United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has evolved into one of the most significant annual sessions of international affairs for Indigenous Peoples to shape the agenda, speak out for rights, and secure specific language in the adopted agreements. While the ink on the Paris Agreement is still drying, it is imperative to understand the international climate change institution and begin preparing for Marrakesh in November 2016. Over the decades, Indigenous Peoples have increased their input in international negotiations, sharing the traditional knowledge and necessary actions the world must collectively take to avoid catastrophic conditions for Indigenous communities. Indigenous Peoples’ contribution improved the Cancun Agreements, as well as the Durban Outcomes and Doha Climate Gateway. In the Warsaw Outcomes and most recently the Paris Agreement, the Indigenous voice has been valued in order to protect our common home—Mother Earth.
Scope of Work
Today, the 196 parties to the UNFCCC meet annually at the Conference of Parties (COP) in host countries usually in November/December. In between the annual sessions that generate global attention, there are crucial conferences to attend that follow up on agreements and draft text to be adopted at upcoming conferences. Bonn, Germany hosts the many meetings between February and the next COP. The main meeting to prepare for and participate in for the upcoming COP is in May. If warranted, there is usually one session in the fall prior to the COP to bracket text on documents being negotiated by nations. Indigenous Peoples can attend committees and mechanisms based on the focus of their advocacy. There are committees meeting on adaptation, finance, as well as loss and damages. There are mechanisms focusing on technology and finance, with main funds such as the Global Environmental Facility and Green Climate Fund as well as a Special Climate Change Fund, Least Developed Countries Fund, and Adaptation Fund. Upon participation in the annual COP, one can assess which committees and mechanisms are significant to one’s advocacy relating to climate change.
Prior to the COP, it is imperative to host community conversations in one’s own homeland to provide accurate information about the process and potential results. Community conversations allow one to field priorities and forge consensus on positions that should be raised at the upcoming COP. It is 28 • ww w. cs. org
also excellent to propose a followup community conversation after the COP and agree on potential dates to promote accountability and propose specific actions to implement the international agreement through local initiatives. There are a couple of options to organize immediately prior to the COP. Preparatory meetings are planned based on geography and major constituency groups. Regional meetings prior to the COP allow activists and advocates to discuss and determine common positions. Also, major groups representing the environment, farming and agriculture, Indigenous Peoples, business and industry, labor unions, local governments and municipal authorities, academic institutions, and women and youth gather from all over the world to set strategies and prioritize specific subjects at the global gathering. It is important to develop positions on proposed text and to draft language and determine a strategy to demand inclusion at the COP negotiations. Preparation is significant to be able to share one’s story and state specific results one aims to accomplish by attending and actively participating in the COP. The latest copy of the text being negotiated should be read and fully understood. One can also draft potential amendments beginning with desired language to accomplish aims and bottom lines to not fall below. Creating a social media strategy is also beneficial to amplify one’s message during the climate summit.
On the Ground
The COP is the heart of Indigenous Peoples’ engagement at the UNFCCC. It is where the world meets and one can connect with other communities facing similar situations. Bring a bundle of brochures and cultural tourist treasures bearing a message of protecting the planet with contact information to connect after the conference. It is essential to bring printed materials to distribute. The two-week sessions are nonstop negotiations and a network of nations and NGOs coming together on the world stage. Be ready to be in one building before the sun rises and way after it sets. Every day begins early in the main negotiation area with multiple caucus meetings divided into regions and thematic topics. One might be moving between a couple every day, receiving briefings from leadership providing updates and urgent tasks. Then there are the main sessions with the delegations declaring their position and proposing specific amendments to the bracketed text. Every evening it is imperative to meet again in multiple caucuses to connect and coordinate actions to be ready for the continued negotiation until the COP concludes. There is always an official civil society space connected to the main Conference. Sometimes it is closer to the venue and the voices can be heard by decision makers. There are many ALL PHOTOS BY JOSHUA COOPER.
events to engage in around environmental justice. There are always panel presentations, film screenings, and fully equipped booths with televisions to view inside the negotiations. The civil society space offers a great place to partner with other movements protecting the planet. Many projects are born out of the optimal organizing in the parallel civil society process. There are many more opportunities for organizing geared around genuine philosophy and practices believed to provide best practices that can benefit our planet and people. The Cities and Regions Pavilion brings together elected officials responsible to govern at the closest level. Mayors, municipal officers, and governors are the major participants, with plenty of opportunities for community organizers to discuss the future of sustainable development. The philosophy at this pavilion is local communities and municipalities are where daily living practices will be transformed; to truly think global and act local. Development and Climate Days is a two-day annual event held at every COP since 2008. The informal space brings together development practitioners to share strategic actions through plenary and parallel sessions featuring themes of radical adaptation, disruptive social change, sustainable development, and food security. It is a must to attend for development communities to address new approaches in adaptation. This event engages everyday practitioners with policymakers promoting sensible and sensitive solutions tackling the climate crisis at its core. Global Landscapes Forum is an excellent exchange of environmental information, with over 40 sessions covering topics in specific thematic areas developed prior to the COP. It usually happens for a couple days and includes many informal dialogues facilitated by civil society on imminent issues in international affairs. There are also hundreds of NGOs and UN agencies, programs, and funds sharing latest knowledge with ample documents to acquire. Solutions COP is a corporations-based approach providing big business with a chance to sell humanity on market and technology driven international initiatives. It is worth spending a day wandering among the booths and speaking directly to corporate representatives, asking common concerns about business-as-usual models. The People’s Climate Summit brings together faith associations, labor unions, and human rights NGOs in international solidarity to show another world is possible through social activism. The Summit offers alternative voices and a viable direction for sustainable development through exchanges in debates, workshops, documentary screenings, and living models of climate centered advocacy. ArtCOP is a global festival of cultural activity on climate change bringing together artists, activists, authors, advocates,
and analysts to exchange experiences. There are visual arts and exhibitions including musical performance and literature readings with events for the family to join the global discussion on the future of our common home. Action is the core principle for ArtCOP. The Equator Prize has become the Academy Awards for activists where communities are applauded for their adaptation activities. Here, Hollywood meets human rights, as ingenuity is rewarded with recognition and grants to guarantee the planet is saved, village by village, through the vision of the people living on the frontier of the climate crisis. The civil disobedience is one of the most exhilarating experiences at COPs, with NGOs and people’s movements engaging in campaigns that illustrate the main issue through symbolic protests. It is great to propose an action and watch humanity generate support that results in civil resistance that actually defends human and environmental rights.
Left: An Arctic woman plays a concert to UNFCCC delegates with audio powered by bicycle peddling. Middle: Youth participate at the Indigenous Peoples’ Pavilion. Right: The Earth Guardians, who won the UNESCO contest for best song, performing live.
If one isn’t able to attend in person, it is possible to participate virtually via social media. The live webcast allows one to watch the speeches and follow the main actors in the actual sessions. The live press conferences are also valuable to watch. One can also follow Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, LinkedIn and Flickr of the UNFCCC, and also major players from Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, to the powerful civil society players. The final action of the annual COP is to host a community conversation following the Conference where one can report back and explain all the media headlines seen on television and in newspapers to community members. Also, it is essential to develop community responses and organize opportunities to utilize the results for the benefit of the community. COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco is less than a year away. Now is the time to create a campaign to engage in the many parts of the COP process to ensure Indigenous Peoples’ rights and our Mother Earth is a core component of the annual global gathering. —Joshua Cooper is a professor at the University of Hawai’i, West Oahu, Kapolei and director of the Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights. To find out more about the UNFCCC, visit: unfccc.int/2860.php.
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Support the Voices of Indigenous Women! Active and meaningful participation by Indigenous women in decisions affecting their lives and families is limited in many communities. Whether suppressed through traditional culture or colonialism, the oppression of Indigenous women, their voices, and worldviews has been to the detriment of Indigenous movements. The engagement of Indigenous women in the movements that affect their lives is desperately needed. In Central America, Cultural Survival, along with partner organizations Fundación Comunicándonos, Asociación Sobrevivencia Cultural, AMARC Central America, and Voces Indígenas Panamá, have officially launched the Central American Network of Indigenous Community Radio. In addition to strengthening Indigenous women’s participation in community radio, the principle goal is to use a radio to generate social change for the women living in these communities. Cultural Survival is proud to support Indigenous women. We are honored by your support of the Indigenous communities we partner with, and we ask for your continued support as we work to ensure that the voices of our mothers, sisters, and women leaders are heard.
Indigenous radio journalists (L–R): Carmela Xol, Caroline Morales, Olga Ajcalón, Elsa Chiquito, María Riquiac Morales, Rosa Concepción Ajanel Ajpacajá, and Lesly Velasquez Velasquez.
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