Page 1

Cultural Survival Q









Rights. Self-Determination. Resilience.

10 Years of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Vol. 41, Issue 3 • September 2017 US $4.99/CAN $6.99

s ep t e mber 2 01 7 V olum e 41 , Issue 3 Board of Directors President

Sarah Fuller vice president

Duane Champagne (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) Treasurer

Steven Heim Clerk

Nicole Friederichs Evelyn Arce Erickson (Muisca) Kaimana Barcarse (Kanaka Hawai’i) Jason Campbell (Spokane) Joseph Goko Mutangah Laura Graham Jean Jackson Ajb’ee Jiménez (Mam Maya) Lesley Kabotie (Crow) John King Stephen Marks Tui Shortland (Ma–ori) 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 Santa Fe Office Mailing Address 518 Old Santa Fe Trail, Suite 1-641 Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505 Asociación Sobrevivencia Cultural 6ta Avenida 5-27, Local “C” Zona 1, Sumpango, Sacatepéquez, Guatemala Cultural Survival Quarterly

Copy Editor: Jenn Goodman Designer: Contributing Arts Editor: Phoebe Farris Managing Editor: Agnes Portalewska Copyright 2017 by Cultural Survival, Inc.

Olinda Silvano, Shipiba artist, prepares to paint a mural in Lima, Peru (see page 4). Photo courtesy of Centro de Investigación y Taller Gráfico Shipibo-Conibo.

F e at u r e s

D e pa r t m e n t s

14 Rights. Self-Determination. Resilience. 10 Years of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

1 Executive Director’s Message

Miriam Anne Frank After more than two decades of grueling negotiations, the Declaration was adopted on September 13, 2007. Much progress has been made, but an implementation gap remains. Indigenous leaders speak about their reflections on the accomplishments and challenges of the Declaration. • It Is Time Governments Recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Contributions— Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

Olinda Silvano

6 Climate Change

Ho–ku–le‘a World Wide Voyage

10 Rights in Action

Mapping on Our Terms in Belize

12 Women the World Must Hear

It Is the Time of the People: María de Jesús Patricio Martínez

26 Bazaar Artist

• African Caucus Statement to the UN General Assembly—Agnes Leina

27 Grantee Spotlight

Writers’ Guidelines

• We Have Gained More in Latin America— Myrna Cunningham

ii • www. cs. org

• We Need Two Keys—Pavel Sulyandziga

• Not Enough Has Been Achieved— Les Malezer

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.

4 Arts

• All Indigenous Peoples Are Raising the Declaration—Mililani Trask

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.

View writers’ guidelines at our website ( or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Cultural Survival, Writer’s Guidelines, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238.

2 In the News

• The Declaration Needs Greater Awareness—S. James Anaya

Telling Stories in Wood: Amalia Palomino Jimenez Honoring, Protecting, and Defending the Salmon

29 Get Involved

Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

• We Will Work to Implement It— Grand Chief Edwarrd John

24 The New Voices of Nepal Community Radio

Angelica Rao Young women in Nepal are going against the status quo and paving the way for Indigenous women in radio broadcasting.

On the cover Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, speaks at opening of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. Photo courtesy of Shane Brown, GCG Media Team.

E xecut iv e Di rector’ S messa ge

Reflecting on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


s we reflect on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we must remember and honor the leaders and activists who have long advocated for the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous activists, whether from their homelands or in Geneva, New York, and other places, have made sacrifices over the past 30-plus years advocating for the Declaration. Today, we look back and realize the distance we have come in getting the Declaration adopted and the distance we have to go in its implementation. I think about the struggle and history of resistance of Native people in the United States, the stories in my family and community, the contemporary activism that began to emerge in the ’50s and ’60s, and the recent resistance at Standing Rock. This is one backdrop among many across the world influencing and shaping the Declaration. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is about our collective histories and lived experiences, our struggles and lives today, and future generations. It is a living document made of history, memory, hope, justice, peace, and spirit. In this issue of the CSQ, we have included interviews of leaders talking about the Declaration 10 years after its adoption. These individuals are among the many who have worked tirelessly for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Declaration. Victoria TauliCorpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, speaks to one success of the Declaration in saying, “The more significant development is the strengthening of Indigenous People’s movements, which has been supported by this process of having an international standard . . . because of these movements they were able

to increase their capacities to claim their lands and their resources.” Along those lines, with regard to countries in Asia and Africa, James Anaya, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples writes, “We have seen the Declaration animate Indigenous Peoples themselves to claim those rights even though the governments don’t recognize them as Indigenous.” Mililani Trask, Indigenous rights attorney, echoes these ideas: “One of the biggest changes is that now we have many Indigenous voices globally and regionally that are using the Declaration and integrating it into their work at home.” At the same time, as Les Malezer says, ”At this stage, 10 years since the Declaration was adopted, I am disappointed that not enough has been done by governments to form partnerships with Indigenous Peoples. . . . . Forming partnerships to advance rights is high on the agenda, but not much has been done, not enough.” Grand Chief Edward John states, “The challenges are still far greater than the positive changes that have been made. But, now people are using the Declaration as a very important framework, we need to pursue that. . . . We can’t let the foot off the gas. We need to continue to press it as hard as we can.” We would all agree there remains a great distance to go. Our demand for our rights, our resiliency, and our self-determination will take us there. In Spirit,

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

“The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is about our collective histories and lived experiences, our struggles and lives today, and future generations. It is a living document made of history, memory, hope, justice, peace, and spirit.”

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 Avexnim Cojtí (Maya K’iche’), Community Media Grant Project Manager & Indigenous Rights Radio Producer Jessie Cherofsky, Production Coordinator, Indigenous Rights Radio, Bazaar Program Manager Danielle DeLuca, Program Manager, Advocacy Program and Distribution Coordinator, Indigenous Rights Radio Shaldon Ferris (Khoisan), Indigenous Rights Radio Producer Sofia Flynn, Accounting & Office Manager Dev Kumar Sunuwar (Kumar/Sunuwar), Program Associate, Community Media Grants Project Melvy Lorena Medina Patzán, Development & Program Associate Maria del Rosario “Rosy” Sul González (Kaqchikel), Indigenous Rights Radio Producer Jamie Malcolm-Brown, Communications & Information Technology Manager Katharine Norris, Program Assistant, Bazaar & Indigenous Rights Radio Teresita Orozco Mendoza, Program Associate, Community Media Program & Indigenous Rights Radio Cesar Gomez Moscut (Pocomam), Community Media Program Coordinator Diana Pastor (Maya K’iche’), Assistant Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager Angelica Rao, Executive Coordinator & Community Media Program Coordinator Melissa A. Stevens, Director of Philanthropic Partnerships Jackie Tiller (Tlingit), Keepers of the Earth Fund Project Manager  Miranda Vitello, Development Associate Anselmo Xunic (Kaqchikel), Guatemala Freedom of Expression Rights Project Manager

Sobreviviencia Cultural STAFF (Our Sister Organization in Guatemala) Elsa Amandar, Project Coordinator Manuel Burrion, Bookkeeper

INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS Chantelle Bacigalupo, Olivia Bradley, Don Butler, Marina Chafa, Elise Czuchna, Renata Del Riego, Ekaterina Kupidonova, Alena Larsen, Kim Maida, Zoe Rimba, Cheng-Chun Yu

There are so many ways to

Stay connected Cultural Survival Quarterly

September 2017 • 1

i n t he new s Africa: Protect Sacred Sites to Realize Indigenous Rights, Says African Commission June

In its 60th Ordinary Session, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Africa’s most respected human rights institution, passed a resolution explicitly calling for states and businesses to respect Africa’s Indigenous Peoples’ ownership and governance of sacred natural sites and territories. The resolution emphasizes the need to strengthen Indigenous Peoples’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent and empowers the Commission to pressure African states to ensure implementation of the resolution at a national level.

Peru: Criminal Charges Pending Against 18 Community Leaders June

Eighteen Indigenous community leaders who supported the suspension of a Canadian-owned mining project in Santa Anna are facing criminal charges of 18-28 years in prison and a $2 million fine. The Bear Creek Mining Corporation has additionally filed a $1.2 billion lawsuit against the Peruvian state at the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes for its suspension of the project.

Peru: Hunt Oil Withdraws from Amarakaeri Communal Reserve June

After a decade-long legal battle, U.S.owned Hunt Oil has decided to pull out of the Indigenous territory known as Amarakaeri Communal Reserve in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. In 2005, Hunt Oil was given 90 percent of the territory by the Peruvian government without any consultation with the region’s Indigenous communities, which include the Harakbut, Machiguenga, Yine, and Mashco Piro peoples. While a major victory, Indigenous communities in the region still face threats of deforestation and water contamination from gold mining projects. 2 • www. cs. org

The alarming trend of violence against Indigenous populations continues in Bangladesh.

More Indigenous Involvement Demanded at World Intellectual Property Organization June

On June 13, during the 34th session of the WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, Indigenous Peoples’ representatives raised the need for consultation with Indigenous communities during negotiations affecting their rights.

Brazil: Indigenous and Environmental Rights Under Attack June

Three UN Special Rapporteurs, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Michel Forst, and John Knox, and the IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, recently denounced Brazil’s inaction toward guaranteeing the rights of Indigenous peoples and environmental rights.The UN experts condemned not only the Brazilian Congressional Investigative Commission’s call to reduce the legal powers of the National Indian Foundation, but also numerous draft laws that aim to weaken Indigenous voices in policymaking and energy development.

Bangladesh: Government Repeatedly Attempts to Wipe Out Its Indigenous Communities June

On June 2, an organized attack of a Bengali settlement burned and destroyed more than 300 Jumma houses in the villages of Manikjorchara, Battya Para, and Baradom. Just a day before the

incident, on June 1, Border Guard Bangladesh illegally searched the house of Areise Marma, president of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti political party, physically harassed his family members, and attempted to plant explosive materials inside the house. With anti-Indigenous attacks repeatedly happening, the party believes the government is attempting to destroy its leadership and to completely wipe out the Indigenous communities living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Guatemala: Goldcorp Closing Mine, Owes for 13 Years of Damages June

On June 26, the San Miguel Ixtahuacan Defense Front, representing communities in resistance to Canadian-owned Goldcorp’s Marlin mine, and the Pluricultural Justice Association of Guatemala (PLURIJUR), started a peaceful blockade of the cyanide-leaching mine in Guatemala. The protest is a response to Goldcorp’s neglect of its responsibility for health hazards and habitat destruction caused by the mining activities, which ended on May 30.

Indigenous Territories Integrated into Google Maps June

Google has announced that Google Maps and Google Earth now represent Brazilian and Canadian Indigenous territory labels and borders in a way that reflects the landscapes known to the local communities. With Canada and Brazil having roughy 2 million people who self-identify as Indigenous, integrating these territories is an important step to validating Indigenous land management.

Campaign Updates Belize: Our Life, Our Lands— Respect Maya Land Rights Full Participation of Belize’s Indigenous People Crucial to Achieving Sustainable Development Goals At July’s High Level Political Forum at the United Nations in New York, Belize presented its Voluntary National Report on the country’s progress towards realizing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The report details progress towards marine life protection, poverty, health, and gender equality, but fails to include Indigenous Peoples. In its review of Sustainable Development Goal 1, “No Poverty,” Belize claims that over half of the population of rural Toledo live in poverty without mentioning that the region is home to the Maya people. The report was developed without input from representatives of the Maya, despite significant importance placed on inclusivity in the development goals.

CANADA: Save Teztan Biny (Fish Lake)—Again! Drilling Permits Issued on Tsilhqot’in Lands as Wildfires Rage As wildfires rage across four out of six Tsilhqot’in First Nation communities in Canada, the British Columbia provincial government has quietly authorized drilling permits to Taseko Mines Ltd., a mining company that has made multiple failed attempts to launch a gold and copper mine on Tsilhqot’in territory. In the past two decades, the federal government has twice rejected Taseko Mines’ plans for open-pit mining plans in the area as a result of

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.

sustained organizing and mobilization by Tsilhqot’in Nation over social and environmental concerns. The recently authorized project is not only adjacent to the declared Tsilhqot’in Title Lands, but also located in a proven Tsilhqot’in Rights area. The Tsilhqot’in are challenging the permits in court and have filed for an injunction until the hear- ing, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has also advised that the drilling program is illegal. According to Chief Roger William of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nations government and vice chair of the Tsilhqot’ in National Government, “Our people are understandably angry and cannot believe that British Columbia would approve more destruction in an area of such spiritual and cultural importance for us. . . . We are confident that the Supreme Court will grant an injunction against any drilling activity by Taseko.” HONDURAS: Tell U.S. and Honduran Officials to Respect Indigenous and Campesino Rights European Development Banks Finalize Exit from Agua Zarca; Cáceres’ Daughter Attacked

 On July 6, two of the European banks financing the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam construction in Honduras finalized the removal of their funding for the project. Their exit was in response to the public outcry following repeated threats and violence against local activists opposing its construction, in particular the murder of Berta Cáceres, a well-known Honduran Indigenous leader who had dedicated herself to the protection of the land of the Lenca people. Two weeks after her death, Nelson Garcia, Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares

e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH) activist, was also murdered; on June 30, 2017, Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, the 26-year-old daughter of Berta Cáceres and newly-elected leader of COPINH barely escaped an ambush of assailants with machetes.

What Do the Sustainable Development Goals Mean for Indigenous Peoples? The High Level Political Forum at the United Nations in New York took place July 10-19 to discuss the first year of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Of the 17 goals relevant for Indigenous Peoples, only 4 out of 230 indicators specifically mention Indigenous Peoples; even these indicators conflict with Indigenous definitions of well being. The Indigenous Major Group has said that “the targets . . . do not fully reflect the special situations of Indigenous Peoples and could be detrimental for traditional economies that are based on subsistence and harmonious relationship with natural environment.” The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has also identified potential risks of the development goals, such as clean energy projects that encroach on their lands and territories, and recommends that “to avoid negative impacts, the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals needs to take place in conformity with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” Take action at take-action. Read more news at Cultural CulturalSurvival SurvivalQuarterly Quarterly September September2017 2017 • • 33

indi geno u s a rts

From La Selva Amazónica to the Concrete Jungle

A Shipiba artist and her Madres Artesanas collective transplant the dreams of their ancestors

A mural painted in tribute to Olinda Silvano by Elliot Túpac, a popular artist in Lima. Inset:

Olinda Silvano. Photo by Lici Ramírez

Cristina Verán


ima has long functioned as ground zero for a centuriesold process of “de-Indigenizing” Peru’s population, 83 percent of which are of Andean Indian descent when including those of mixed-race. Bloodlines mingle, languages are forgotten, and traditional practices fall away in the face of a persistent Eurocentrism that compels wave after wave of Indigenous Peruvians to choose between economic and cultural survival. In the neighborhood of Cantagallo, along the Rimac River near the city center, however, is a community founded by a group of displaced Shipibo-Konibo from the Amazon region of Ucayali. There, resident artist Olinda Silvano is at the vanguard of an aesthetic movement asserting an Indigenous identity that refuses to fade into urbanized obscurity. Under the tutelage of her grandmother, Silvano learned to weave textiles featuring the bold, geometric and maze-like kené designs typical of Shipibo-Konibo art forms. After relocating to Lima to make a new life in the big city, she continued this tradition along with a collective referred to as Las Madres Artesanas (the Artisan Mothers). A chance encounter on the street with a group of graffiti muralistas inspired the weaver to transform Shipibo designs into massive works of public art, giving her Indigenous people and their culture a visibility in Peru’s capital as never before. Cristina Verán: How would you describe your surroundings, the conditions you grew up in back in the Amazon? Olinda Silvano: We didn’t have material things; not clothing, not even soap. When I started learning these designs, at first I did not even have any paper on which to record them. I knew from a young age that I wanted to share my art, our Shipibo designs with the world beyond our village, but we just didn’t

4 • www. cs. org

have the resources needed to make that happen from within our community. And so I decided that when I grow up, I’ll leave. CV: When you came to Lima, how did it feel to be in such a crowded place, where Mestizos and Andinos (Indigenous Peoples from the mountain regions) are the overwhelming majority? Silvano: So many things happened to me when I arrived, a lot of humiliation, a lot of discrimination. The people have a lot of wrong ideas about Shipibos, thinking we are beggars, that we will offer our bodies to anyone for money. Eventually, I began to see that I could use my art as a way to educate them about the richness of our culture. CV: How do you think your people have been able to maintain a cohesive community with its cultural links and practices in tact? Silvano: Cantagallo is the continuation of our living culture, a community that carries its identity proudly, where being Shipibo-Konibo is not forgotten. One can find most anything pertaining to our cultural practices; we have midwives, traditional healers, even a group dedicated to the spirituality around ayahuasca. CV: When most people think of Peruvian textiles, they imagine the designs typical of the Andes from Quechua and Aymara communities, usually patterned along horizontal straight lines. Shipibo-Konibo kené is aesthetically distinct from that. What kind of an impression did it make when it started to become more commonly seen around Lima? Silvano: Well, when we would go out to sell our kené, people would ask us, “What does this mean? What significance do these designs have?” Some were quite rude, and would say

dismissively, “Your art is ugly, it has no meaning,” or that kené is artistically insignificant. They demanded we sell our items very cheaply or they would refuse to buy them. I became more resolved and determined that someday the people will truly come to know this kené of ours, to understand its value, and they will love it. And then, too, they will be willing to pay for them what they are worth. CV: How did you begin to conceptualize presenting the art of kené in mural form? Silvano: I must credit the late Professor César Ramos, an anthropologist who believed in this mission. He introduced me to many people involved in art, and so I was able to learn how to render the designs of my weaving with a paint brush. Soon after, people in that world began to call me and invite me here and there to paint. I started participating, with a few collaborators, in public art competitions. This insured that we would have a prominent space for our art—art that would speak for us as Shipibo-Konibo people. It announced to Lima: “We have arrived!”

ed train lines. We even brought our children out to help us in the process.

CV: You’re not only an artist practitioner and educator, you’ve also become a recognized leader in your community and beyond. What expectations do you have for yourself in that role?

CV: You’ve also become a kind of cultural ambassador, helping to share the art of kené not only beyond the Amazon but beyond Peru’s borders as well. Please share an experience of that.

Silvano: I’m currently president of the civil society organization AYLLU, which represents the women of Peru’s Amazon and Andes regions. It is not easy to be a leader for everyone, especially as a woman. My father told me, “If you have to work, it must be work that benefits not just yourself but the good of the community.” All the mothers in our community… there are single mothers, abandoned mothers, they need to feel supported, and this is also why I am also an educator, to teach our traditional textile weaving so that they can earn a better living. I also educate them about our rights under [ILO 169] so that we may exercise and protect them. I am very happy for the support in this of Congresswoman Maria Elena Foronda Farro, who represents the Amazon region.

Silvano: I was recently in Mexico City to give a public presentation and workshops at the prestigious Museo de Antropologia de Mexico on how we make our style of Amazonian textiles representing our collective, Las Madres Artesanas de Cantagallo. [I was] joined by designers Anabel de la Cruz and Fátima Quispe and fellow artisan Laura Sánchez. I actually gave a lesson to the Peruvian Ambassador at the opening event!

CV: Where else do you teach now? Silvano: I give workshops at Colegio Shipibo school for our own Indigenous children, and I also teach some courses with a more intercultural focus, for the larger community— including at La Católica and San Marcos Universities as well as UNICEF. I want the rest of Peru to know more about our Shipibo art—not only the work and materials required to create it, but also the cosmovision at the center of it all. CV: Tell us about a few of your favorite public art projects so far this year. Silvano: Well, we just finished an installation for the popular Kennedy Park in the district of Miraflores: a large-scale rendering of a typical Shipibo pottery jar adorned with our kené designs. Earlier this year I, along with my fellow artists Wilma Maynas and Silvia Ricopa [Alejandra Ballón, a Peruvian academic, is also part of their group], was commissioned to paint six of the massive concrete columns that support Lima’s elevat-

Olinda Silvano stands proudly in front of one of her mural paintings.

CV: What do you anticipate for the future of your community, given all the challenges it has endured since it was devastated by a massive fire last year? Silvano: It’s true, we lost nearly everything in the fire; so many of our homes, and of course a great deal of our creative products. It forced us to start our lives in Lima from scratch. I don’t know for sure what will come next, but, you know… estamos en la lucha. We continue in our struggle, and will keep making art, confident that Cantagallo shall be reborn from the ashes. —Cristina Verán is an international Indigenous Peoples’ issues specialist, research consultant, strategist, and multimedia producer. Her work focuses at the intersections of human rights, political engagement, the arts, and community development. She is a longtime United Nations correspondent and was a founding member of the UN Indigenous Media Network. Visitors to Lima can see the the murals of Olinda Silvano and the Madres Artesanas (many of which are in areas otherwise difficult for outsiders to access) through a private street art tour by Tailored Tours Peru:

Cultural Survival Quarterly

September 2017 • 5

c l i mat e ch a n g e

– – Hokule’a World Wide Kaimana Barcarse This article is the sixth 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 double hulled voyaging canoe) around the world.


s the first of the fleet of canoes escorting Hōkūle‘a enters the channel to Magic Island, many remember when Hōkūle‘a first left Honolulu on its first international leg of the World Wide Voyage in May 2014. A crowd in the tens of thousands, growing to an estimated 50,000 by the end of the day, have converged on Magic Island to witness this auspicious event. Almost everyone is bedecked in a t-shirt, hat, or traditional regalia signifying their connection to, or pride in, Hōkūle‘a and the World Wide Voyage.  Some remember the year before departure as the “official” start when Hōkūle‘a made her way around the Hawaiian island chain, stopping at multiple ports on each island to bid Hawai‘i a fond farewell and collect the love and aloha of Hawai‘i’s people, much like an islander will visit their immediate and extended family before embarking on a long trip. Some were there three years ago when Hōkūle‘a first left Hawaiian waters on the World Wide Voyage.  Some were present when Hōkūle‘a returned to Magic Island in 1976, on the return leg of its maiden voyage to Tahiti.  Everyone has a special connection to the canoe and this voyage. As for me, the World Wide Voyage started 10 years ago on a dock in Marinoa City, Fukuoka, Japan.  We were on the second half of the Kū Holo Mau, Kū Holo Lā Komohana voyage that first took us to Satawal in Micronesia to deliver the gift of a canoe to our teacher, Grand Master Navigator Pius “Papa Mau” Piailug.  The first half, Kū Holo Mau (Sailing to honor Mau), took the canoes Hōkūle‘a and Alingano Maisu from Hawai‘i to Satawal, where the Alingano Maisu would be presented to Papa Mau and the people of Satawal in a show of gratitude and humility to have been entrusted with such great

– le‘a, Hikianalia, and Faafaite pass in front Ho–ku of a motu (small islet) off shore of Huahine en route from Haapu to Fare during Leg 2 of the voyage. Photo by Danee Hazama.

6 • www. cs. org

knowledge from such a humble man. As Hōkūle‘a left Satawal, Kū Holo Lā Komohana (Sailing into the direction of Lā-Komohana, off of West) began, tracing the path of our King Kalākaua as he sailed to meet with Emperor Meiji of Japan in 1881. King Kalākaua was the first monarch ever to circumnavigate the globe, a feat that he did not once, but twice, in 1881 and 1887: a foreshadowing of this voyage, perhaps?  As we worked on the dock in Fukuoka, we received sad word that Hōkūle‘a’s first captain to sail her to Tahiti, Elia “Kāwika” Kapahulehua, had passed away back in Hawai‘i.  After our crew offered up remembrances in the form of prayers, song, dance, chant, and stories, we reflected on our current voyage, and the first voyage of Hōkūle‘as some 31 years prior, and wondered what we had in store for the future.  It was dockside that our voyaging leadership began to plan out the next steps. We had talked about sailing around the world before. But now, there seemed to be an even greater sense of urgency.   When we got back to Hawai‘i a few months later, the leadership of the ‘Ohana Wa‘a (Family of the canoes) met at Nā Kālai Wa‘a‘s Hō‘ea site in Kohala, Hawai’i island, and Nainoa Thompson, head of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, laid out the first sail plan for the World Wide Voyage and elicited the support of the ‘Ohana Wa‘a to sail around the world with the idea of sharing Indigenous knowledge and wisdom from here in Hawai‘i in order to bring awareness of our planet, our “Island Earth,” of which we all have a stake in. And thus, a voyage was born. But this was no ordinary voyage.  It would take the next six years to properly research the route, rebuild the canoe, conduct sea trials, and train the huge crew that it would take to pull this voyage off.  Thousands of volunteers came forth to put their mana (spirit and power) towards preparing Hōkūle‘a for this next large chapter of her life.  This meant dismantling her down to bare hulls, and building her back up to be able to handle sea conditions in unfamiliar oceans, conditions unlike those through which we have been sailing over the last 38


A n E n din g, A B egin nin g . . .

years. Of these volunteers, a few hundred rose to the challenge to complete the rigorous training required to become a crew member on the voyage. This involved physical conditioning with a test that included physical exertion exercises, a timed mile run, and a timed mile swim. It also involved mastering basic seamanship skills, first aid skills, ocean survival skills, specialized Polynesian voyaging skills, a basic understanding of traditional Hawaiian non-instrument navigation, and mastery of at least one other specialized skill.   On the voyage, each crew member is responsible for at least one specialized assignment, along with pitching in on other roles from steering, to cooking, to fishing, to repairs and maintenance. I had the privilege of serving as protocol officer, education specialist, and navigator, although like every single one of my crewmates, we pitched in and did every job on the canoe that needed to be done. Once the dry dock was finished and the newly reconfigured Hōkūle‘a was launched, it was time for sea trials and crew shakedown.  A brief set of sea trials were conducted, and we made ready for the Mālama Hawai‘i voyage (caring for Hawai‘i). This was a voyage throughout the island chain, visiting numerous communities on each island and crossing every channel in Hawai‘i, which would serve as the final real life sea trial and crew readiness test before leaving Hawaiian waters. This inter-island voyage was not intended as a sea trial, but more so to visit each island and gather the aloha and mana of our people in order to take that with us as we travelled around the world.  At the conclusion of the Mālama Hawai‘i statewide voyage, Hōkūle‘a returned to O‘ahu for a final provisioning before setting sail on its first international leg. Next stop, Tahiti. As we circumnavigated the world over the last three years from May 2014 through June 2017, we traveled 42,000 nautical miles, stopped at over 150 ports in more than 23 countries and territories, and visited eight of UNESCO’s Marine World Heritage sites. When we left Hawai‘i in May, we headed to Tahiti where we stopped at all of the major French Polynesian

Welcome home ceremony. Sam Kapoi demonstrates the art of Lua (Hawaiian –li‘i ceremony, which has not been done in over 200 years. martial arts) in a Ka

Hawai‘iloa, carved from spruce logs generously donated by the Tlingit Haida people of Alaska, sails into port during the welcome home ceremony.

Cultural Survival Quarterly

September 2017 • 7

c l i mat e ch a n g e

– le‘a arrives under full sail to her homecoming celebration. Ho–ku Leahi stands majestic in the back ground.

A family member holds a picture of Leon Paoa Sterling and Joanne – le‘a. Both passed Kahanamoku, both from the original crew of Ho–ku away on the same day in 2010.

islands, with special visits to Taputapuātea on the island before coming back down to Florida for a final dry dock of Raiatea, and a first time landing on the island of Maupiti, before heading home. before continuing on to the Cook Islands with stops at Raro From the United States, we made our way through the tonga and Aitutaki. After leaving the Cook Islands we made Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, and onto the Galapagos our way to Samoa, first paying homage to the chiefly Manu‘a Islands.  From the Galapagos Islands we made our way back islands before stopping in American Samoa, then continuing into Polynesia by way of Rapa Nui. From Rapa Nui, we made on to Western Samoa. From Western Samoa we continued our way through the Polynesian Islands back to Tahiti where south to Tonga, then on to Aotearoa, the land of the long Hikianalia, Okeanos Marshall, and Faafaite joined Hōkūle‘a white cloud. After a dry dock in Aotearoa, we crossed the on her final leg of the World Wide Voyage, and sailed with Tasman Sea, our first time outside of the Pacific proper, us home to Hawai‘i. As the fleet of canoes neared Hawaiian arriving in Southeastern Australia and making our way waters, other deep sea voyaging canoes mobilized to meet north along the Northeast coast until leaving the continent the fleet at various points in Hawai‘i and sail with her to this for Bali, Indonesia. From Bali, we made our way west-southhomecoming at Magic Island. Makali‘i from Kawaihae-Hawai‘i west to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, then rounded the Island, Mo‘okiha from Maui, and Nāmāhoe from Kaua‘i all southern tip of Madagascar, where we intended to make set sail from their respective islands and joined our mother port, but were waved off in anticipation of an impending canoe, Hōkūle‘a, for her homecoming on O‘ahu. storm. I am brought back from my reflections as the pū (conch Our next intended stop was Richards Baai, the northernshell) blows once again, signaling the arrival of another canoe most port in South Africa’s East Cape. That plan was thwarted into the channel. The first canoe to arrive was the 70-foot by the storm that had closed the port on Madagascar, and Nāmāhoe of Kaua‘i, the largest Hawaiian made canoe in instead we found our canoe heading north to seek refuge, our fleet, and the most recently launched. Following anchored in the bay in Maputo, Mozambique. Once the Nāmāhoe was Mo‘okiha-o-Pi‘ilani of Maui, then Makali‘i storm subsided, we finally made our way to Richards Baai and worked our way south, port to port, until we The crew of Leg 2 pose for a reached Cape Town. In Cape Town picture upon arrival in Samoa, another dry dock was done to prethe final stop of that voyage.  –ina Paikai. pare the canoe for its first Atlantic Photo by Kamakanioka‘a crossing enroute to Brazil with a stop in Saint Helena. From Brazil, we sailed northwest to the Virgin Islands, then on to an epic visit to Cuba before making our way to the eastern United States, landing in Florida. From Florida, Hōkūle‘a made her way north up the eastern seaboard, mostly through the inland waterways, making many stops along the way in areas like Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, and as far north as Montreal and Nova Scotia 8 • www. cs. org

Okeanos Marshall Islands, recently built and launched in Aotearoa, makes her entrance in the channel to take part in the welcome home celebration before making her way to her new home in Micronesia.

of Kawaihae-Hawai‘i Island. The next canoe in was Hawai‘iloa, the canoe made from the spruce logs gifted to us by the Tlingit Haida tribes of Alaska so that we could carve a traditional canoe from single logs, as was custom in times gone past. Next in was Okeanos Marshall Islands, a short, single mast voyaging canoe perfect for interisland commuting and transport. Okeanos will be making its way to the Marshall Islands after the homecoming where she will gain a new home port. After Okeanos, our next visiting canoe arrived, Faafaite of Tahiti. Faafaite accompanied Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia on Leg 2 of the World Wide Voyage from Tautira throughout French Polynesia and onto Rarotonga before returning to her home port of Tahiti. Now that the homecoming escorts have entered and tied up as a flotilla, the stars of the show line up for an entrance. First up is Hikianalia, Hōkūle‘a‘s sister canoe and Pacific Ocean escort, who escorted Hōkūle‘a from Hawai‘i to Aotearoa at the beginning of the voyage, and who sailed to Tahiti at the end of the voyage to escort her home. Once all of the canoes were safely docked, the celebratory events were ready to commence. However, there was one last task to be undertaken before any celebrations were to be had. A warrior representing the canoes had to participate in a Kāli‘i ceremony, a ceremony that had not been done in over 200 years. In this ceremony the warrior first offers up oratory of the canoes travels and the braveness and compassion of its voyagers in the face of extreme conditions and the human element they faced as they sailed from place to place.  Once the oratory was concluded, the warrior had to prove his worthiness and the worthiness of those he represented by deflecting multiple spears hurled at him from different angles, and catching the last spear thrown. This feat was accomplished by crew member Sam Kamu Kapo‘i in superb fashion. As the ‘ōlelo no‘eau (Hawaiian proverb) states, He Wai ‘Au‘au, the task was “but a leisurely swim.”   The crews of this final leg then made their way to the tent for an ‘awa (kava) ceremony, speeches, song, dance, and presentations.  Although a small fraction of the crew were partaking in the festivities under the tent, the rest of the crew and hundreds of volunteers were busy caring for the tens of thousands of people who had come to be a part of this once in a All photos by Kaimana Barcarse (unless otherwise noted).

– le‘a perform an ‘aiha‘a (traditional dance) The crew of Ho–ku dockside in Uto, Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, during the 2007 – Holo La – Komohana. voyage Ku

lifetime occasion. An important responsibility was accepting the offerings for Hōkūle‘a and placing them aboard the wa‘a. The youth of Nā Pe‘a of Kona, Hawai‘i island offered the famous sun dried ‘ōpelu (a local mackerel) from their region along with kalo (taro root) to nourish the sailors and the canoe. Hinaleimoana offered up a soul-stirring chant. The ‘ohana from Ko‘olauloa offered up kapa cloth, leis for each canoe, and song and dance. The ‘ohana of Maui offered up a lei lā‘ī (Ti-leaf lei) a mile long. Every offering was replied to with the proper protocol, often matching the offerings. Much aloha was given and received on this historic day, a day not soon to be forgotten. We have an educational and informational symposium of the World Wide Voyage over the next three days at the neighboring convention center, but the voyage is not yet over. As we began the voyage with a sail around our islands to gather the aloha, mana, and support from our people to share with the world, so must we return the aloha, mana, and support we gained from the people of the world, and share it with our families that sent us off and took care of our responsibilities while we were gone. And once that voyage is over, we have many canoes here in Hawai‘i that need to sail to distant shores, who waited patiently and supported Hōkūle‘a, putting aside their sail plans to be a part of this epic voyage. As a mother sets the example and allows her children to follow suit and learn on their own, these canoes are chomping at the bit to follow in the footsteps of Māmā Hōkūle‘a, to sail to faraway lands over the deep blue sea and make her proud. —Kaimana Barcarse is the West Hawai‘i regional director for Kamehameha Schools, and the program director and lead DJ of Alana I Kai Hikina on KWXX-FM. Barcarse also serves on the board of directors at Cultural Survival and chairs the board of The Cultural Conservancy.

Visit for the original Hawaiian language version of this story. Visit Hjxa2p for previous articles documenting the World Wide Voyage.

Cultural Survival Quarterly

September 2017 • 9

r i ght s i n a ct io n

mapping on our terms Belize Maya Navigate the Promises and Perils of Victory Froyla Tz’alam


rustling in the trees and a jaguar walks into sight. Now, you probably don’t worry about jaguars when you survey your land, but for Crique Sarco village, it’s all part of the territory. Jaguars aren’t even the most dangerous threat—not by a long shot. Ever since the Maya of Belize won the right to legalize our lands, the shadow of extinction looms ever more starkly. While historians and tourists refer to the ‘lost’ Mayan civilizations across Central America, we have not disappeared. We still live through traditional governance systems that survived centuries of colonization. And yet the greatest triumphs of this Mayan generation could well be our civilization’s final downfall. The anthropologist Liza Grandia has a deep understanding of the dangers we face. She closely followed what happened to Maya communities in El Petén province in nearby Guatemala after the 1996 Peace Accords. According to Professor Grandia, the very process of land legalization can deal the fatal blow to Indigenous communities. In her research in El Petén, she found that something terrible happened in some communities. After finally receiving their property titles, villages just disappeared. The word ‘disappear’ is fraught with sinister meaning in Latin America. For the Maya of Guatemala, during the systematic attempt of genocide in the civil war years, disappearing meant a visceral, brutal erasure of individuals, hundreds of thousands of them. After the Peace Accords, a more efficient, yet haphazard, method of disappearance erases entire communities without wasting a single bullet. As Grandia wrote in an analysis of the impact of $62 million World Bank investment into Indigenous land titling,

“land demarcation is seen by many communities as the pivotal moment in their history.” High among the list of what she calls “the risks of uninformed state administration” are the imposition of uniform grids of plots that ignore communal land usage, along with the lethal transformation of a spiritual land value into a commodity exchange. Grandia describes a Guatemalan legalization process so bureaucratic—with as many as 43 steps—the State was left with more than 40,000 unprocessed land claims. The red tape was so thick that some waited years on end for property titles. Even once they had them, the grid system destroyed communal access to rivers, roads, sacred sites, shared grazing fields, and communal forests, along with the land distribution system based on usage. Western models of land management, such as boards of directors and administrative councils, replaced traditional governance. The Guatemalan Maya fell victim to a land rush of outsiders: large cattle plantations hungry for land and opportunistic banks with dubious agricultural credit schemes for impoverished farmers. Narco syndicates straight out blackmailed them. Stuck in a grid, unable to fully use all parts of their commons, a medical emergency was reason enough to cash out. It is estimated that at least 46 percent of all Maya land parcels in El Petén were lost in less than 10 years. At least 200 sacred sites were privatized. Our organization, the Sarstoon Temash Institute of Indigenous Management (SATIIM), has worked with Grandia since her early research on the Q’eqchi Maya in Belize and Guatemala. She provided testimony in support of litigation that eventually led to the Caribbean Court of Justice order that our lands be legalized. Her documentation showed that

Maya women learn how to serve as community surveyors.

10 • w ww. cs. org

Froyla Tz’alam, SATIIM's executive director, leads a mapping session.

The women of Crique Sarco have an important role in the community’s future land management decisions.

our cultural practices constitute an “eco-cultural logic” that is a “means to maintain and cohere community identity, not a pathway to ‘credit-worthiness’ or as land market participants.” Following the court order, we knew the government would not easily follow its explicit instructions to “create an effective mechanism to identify and protect the property and other rights arising from Maya customary land tenure, in accordance with Maya customary laws and land tenure practices.” We knew the cautionary tale of El Petén. So we needed to take the lead. Grandia recommended we contact a Guatemalan Q’eqchi group, Sa Qa Chol Nimla K’aleb’aal (SANK), in Alta Vera Paz who developed a land demarcation model based on customary land governance. SATIIM arranged a visit for our community leaders interested in learning more. They came back inspired. Crique Sarco was the first village to ask SATIIM to train them in SANK’s model. After much consultation, all residents of Crique Sarco signed a community resolution that SATIIM serve as their technical assistance coordinator. We brought SANK staff to train them in all aspects of mapping—not just the physical boundaries, but discussions of how land is used by individuals and the community as a whole according to their cultural practices and beliefs. It quickly became clear, however, that SANK’s model could not be copied and pasted over our reality. We culled knowledge from communities across the globe, such as the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (Indonesia), who are building a land registry in anticipation of national legislation just like we are. Our research lead us to Elinor Ostrom, a Nobel Prize winner whose “Governing the Commons” delineates the vital steps beyond mapping. Learning GPS technology is not enough. Maps are just the beginning, not the end goal. Her “Eight Principles for Managing a Commons” address the essential community decisions on the cultural rules that govern communal land, along with community monitoring and enforcement. After two years of intensive training, constant feedback, and negotiations, Crique Sarco finally has its maps. Now the real work begins. They need to elucidate—not necessarily ‘codify’ in Western legal jargon, but on their own terms— the ancient meanings of their lands. Their collective visions of communal land management will guide the politics of consensus maintained by ties of kinship and reciprocity. They need to discuss natural resource management, especially as their families grow. Most Maya communities in southern Belize are the de facto forest rangers of commu-

nal forests, now the last tracts of highly desired timber, such as mahogany and rosewood. While 70 percent of Toledo is forested, almost 20 percent has been lost. Logging companies are always on the lookout for an opportunity. At one point, the government handed over the entire Toledo district to a U.S. oil company in one giant concession. SATIIM is an Indigenous-led environmental organization in Belize created by communities in the Maya Golden Landscape. One of Central America’s last unbroken stretches of broadleaf forest, from the Maya mountains in the east to the Caribbean Sea, our forests play a crucial role in the defense of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef by preserving the quality of the water draining into it. When we Maya of Belize finally won recognition of our land rights, it was not from our own government, but the highest legal authority in Caribbean Community. After close to 20 years of struggle, we celebrate this victory, and more importantly, the induction of Crique Sarco as the first entry into Belize’s Maya Land Registry. On August 9, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, SATIIM hosted a chutamil (traditional gathering) that presented the Maya Land Registry, the Huhil Ch’och in Q’eqchi and Hu’umil Lu’um in Mopan, to the world, the government and the nation, and most importantly, to the Maya people. We know that the wolves, if not the jaguars, are at the door. With this knowledge, we celebrate a promise that invites all Maya communities to begin the process of communal land legalization with all its perils and pitfalls. —Froyla Tz’alam (Mopan Maya) is executive director of the Sarstoon Temash Institute of Indigenous Management in Toledo District, Belize.

A detailed map is just the beginning.

Cultural Survival Quarterly

September 2017 • 11

women th e wo r ld m u st hear

It Is the Time of the People MarÍa de Jesús Patricio Martínez Kim Maida


s the first Indigenous woman to run for president, María de Jesús “Marichuy” Patricio Martínez (Nahua) is making history in Mexico. Patricio was chosen as an independent candidate for the 2018 election during a convention in Chiapas that brought together the Mexican Indigenous Governance Council and the Zapatista National Liberation Army. This convention assembled 848 delegates representing 58 Mexican Indigenous communities and established the Indigenous

Council of Government for which Patricio is the spokesperson. For the Zapatista National Liberation Army, the move to enter electoral politics is a break from their historical strategy of working outside the political system. In 1994, the Zapatistas launched a campaign against NAFTA which soon made them “an international symbol of Indigenous struggle María de Jesús Patricio Martínez. and the fledgling antiPhoto by Duncan Tucker. globalization movement.” The struggle of the Zapatistas to advance the rights of Indigenous communities now fuels Patricio’s campaign to represent the most marginalized members in Mexican society. After the uprising of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, the community of Tuxpan was invited to participate in a national Indigenous forum held by the movement in San Cristobal de las Casas. This event marked the beginning of Patricio’s career as an activist in her community, as she was elected as the representative of Tuxpan because of her work in fighting machismo and in advancing the rights of her people. Patricio, a mother of three, was born in the Nahua community of Tuxpan, Jalisco in the 1960s. From a young age she observed how the women of her community, including her aunts and grandmother, treated the sick using traditional methods passed down in her family. In 1987, Patricio’s mother lost mobility from her waist down and treatment from medical specialists did not improve her situation. Only after seeking medical attention from traditional healers in her community was she able to walk again. This experience motivated Patricio to study traditional medicine in hopes of helping her community. Today she runs a traditional healing center in Tuxpan where she uses native plants and knowledge passed down to her from her elders to provide services to those who can’t afford medicine. In 2015, she was awarded for her efforts in preserving traditional knowledge and culture. Cultural Survival spoke with Patricio this past July. Cultural Survival: How were you involved in your community before the election? María de Jesís Patricio Martínez: My participation in the community begins with [my responsibility of] una casa de

Concejo Indígena de Gobierno campaign poster. 12 • www. cs. org

salud that we started in order to tend to the community with traditional and alternative medicine. That has been my work for more than 20 years, not just the practice of this medicine but also the organization of the community through workshops that we’ve given to strengthen the practice of this medicine. Together, different traditional medicos of the country held a national forum in defense of traditional medicine; it was decided in 2002 that it was necessary to pass this knowledge on to the children and youth. That has been my work in the community, defending that knowledge and working together with women to strengthen their participation in the process of reconstruction of communities. It is not only the role of men to participate but also women, especially with their wisdom that can be used in reconstruction. CS: What motivated you to participate in the election? MPM: What motivated me are the problems that are severe for our communities, like the imposition of mines. I don’t know how the government imposes and is able to strip minerals from communities. On top of that, the waste that is left by these companies. Also, the repression on the part of the government against attempts of the communities that fight against their dispossession such as disappearances, death, and incarcerations. Along with all the health problems that exist in the communities, there is no medicine or attention that is given to members of our community. Safety is also a problem, the narcos and the cartels that go hand in hand with the government. We see it as a strategy on the part of the power to destroy the community, to achieve that dispossession. Those are our primary problems, especially trying to dispossess communities of their cultures and imposing foreign ways on the community. All these problems motivate me to take on this great responsibility to participate; it’s the reason that Indigenous communities look to me. It’s another way to bring visibility to these problems and put them on the table for discussion and to facilitate the connection between Indigenous communities and civil society to unite and begin reconstructing Mexico, which capitalism has been destroying. Those are our intentions and what motivates us to participate. We think we have to use these tools of the power structure, not to end up like them, but in order to [articulate] the voices of the bottom and left, to advance Mexico from the bottom up. CS: How were you chosen to be the representative of Indigenous communities? MPM: There was a proposal to integrate the Indigenous Council of Government (CNI). The council members would be named by their communities through assemblies backed by an act. Based on that, a spokesperson was named by the CNI as well as by the Zapatista National Liberation Army who are our Indigenous brothers that come from different communities and who have been participating in the CNI. It was then at the assembly of May 27 and 28 of this year when the CNI met and a spokeswoman was chosen. The CNI and the Zapatista National Liberation Army discussed the proposal and both agreed and proposed it to me. Then the assembly decided and gave their approval and were in agreement. In that way, I was delegated the great responsibility of carrying the voice.

CS: How did you feel when they chose you? MPM: At first I was afraid because it’s something very big and I thought maybe I will not be able to do it, but then I saw that it was a task that had been entrusted to me by the community. I took it as a mandate from all the people that I have to carry forward as if they have given me another task. So there is a great responsibility that I feel and that I will take with pleasure because of the trust that the community has placed in me. And I think that it is not only me, but also the CNI that will be there, because in reality they are the candidate. We cannot register a group to participate; it has to be one person, so it was decided to appoint a spokesperson who would be registered. I had to get almost a million signatures to participate. CS: What are the goals of the CNI during this election and after? MPM: Our participation is for the purpose of bringing awareness to the real problems of our communities through Indigenous Peoples and their councilmen. Together we tour the country sharing and collecting information and the thoughts of the communities that we are going to visit. Therefore, our goal is not so much to reach power, but to take advantage of these tools of power so that Indigenous Peoples can bring their problems to light and to facilitate connection between Indigenous peoples and civil society. We want a different Mexico because how it is today does not favor people from below, the working people, the people of communities. Something new must happen, something that belongs to the people from below. The intention is that after 2018 there will be an organization in the country where a new Mexico can emerge. CS: What are the biggest obstacles facing the movement and what you want to do as a representative of your community? MPM: The big obstacles come from the repression that has rooted our proposal. In seeing the incarceration of one of the councilmen of Querétaro and the assassination of two brothers from the north of Jalisco who were also participating in the CNI...above all it’s the repression of people who disagree. And the other is that the same people of the communities are used by the power to put them against their own community. But we are aware of all those problems that can occur; we will continue despite what opposes us. CS: As the first Indigenous woman to run for president in Mexico, what message would you like to share with Indigenous communities all over the world? MPM: It is the time of the people. It is time that women participate in their communities, they are the ones that give life by having children and taking care of them. The active participation of women is necessary because they are wise and strong. I think that without the participation of women there would be a large gap. It is very important that we walk together, because that’s the way the Indigenous communities are; they are not just men, it’s all of us. And to work with civil society. It is time to unify all these forces so that we achieve the integral construction of all our peoples.

Cultural Survival Quarterly

September 2017 • 13

rights. SelfDetermination. Resilience. 10 Years of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Miriam Anne Frank

Since the 1970s, thousands of Indigenous leaders have come to the United Nations to advocate for their rights.


he United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was designed to affirm the inherent collective and individual human rights of Indigenous Peoples and address their rights related to culture, environment, health, education, economic, and social development. After more than two decades of grueling negotiations, the Declaration was adopted on September 13, 2007. It represents the most comprehensive international instrument setting the minimum standards for the promotion and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. During this process, an unprecedented degree of global solidarity amongst Indigenous Peoples was achieved. Perhaps one of the main outcomes of the Declaration process was the galvanizing of an international Indigenous Peoples’ movement, which is now actively pursuing its implementation at all levels.

The Declaration is not a legally binding instrument. However, under international law it represents the dynamic development of international legal norms and is an evolving standard-setting tool. At the national level, constitutional reforms can be seen as an essential step in governmental implementation of the Declaration. In Latin America, for example, the Declaration is reflected in various revisions to countries’ constitutions, including Ecuador, Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Although less explicit, it has also influenced the constitutions of Kenya and Myanmar. Bolivia’s incorporation stands out in its comprehensiveness by including Indigenous Peoples’ right to selfdetermination and self-government. The Declaration has also contributed to the finalization of the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Adopted in 2016, it is the first region-specific instrument designed to promote and protect the rights of the Indigenous Peoples. At the beginning

Photo by Shane Brown, GCG Media Team.

14 14 •• www. www. cs. cs. org org

of 2017, Finland, Norway, and Sweden came to an initial agreement on a Draft Nordic Sami Convention, created to harmonize the rights of the Sami across those three countries. It is currently under review by the Sami Parliament. As was hoped by the legal community working on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the Declaration is quickly evolving into customary law. Since its adoption, it has been cited in several landmark legal decisions. One of the first achievements was in the historic Cal v. Belize case, where Maya went to court over concessions granted for the exploitation of natural resources on their territories without their consent. In this case, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Belize, Abdulai Conteh, upheld the Maya’s native title, recognizing customary law in their claims to traditional use and occupation, confirming that the title has legal protection under the Belize Constitution. More importantly, he explicitly stated that Belize must follow through on its obligations under the Declaration. He referred specifically to Article 26, Para 1: “Indigenous Peoples have the right to the lands, territories, and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied, or otherwise used or acquired.” In Aotearoa (New Zealand) the Declaration was used by the Supreme in Proprietors of Wakatū & Rore Stafford v. Attorney General which was considering an ongoing case regarding the claim by the Maori that the (British) Crown owed fiduciary duties in regards to their failure to reserve the agreed upon 15,100 acres for their benefit. Presiding Chief Justice Elias CJ specifically quoted Article 40, “Indigenous Peoples have the right to access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties, as well as to effective remedies for all infringements of their individual and collective rights. Such a decision shall give due consideration to the customs, traditions, rules and legal systems of the Indigenous Peoples concerned and international human rights,” when sending the case back to the High Court for determination. In Kichwa Indigenous People of Sarayaku v. Ecuador, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found that Ecuador had violated both international and domestic law, including the Sarayaku’s right to communal property, cultural identity and for failure to obtain their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). This in relation to the use of Ecuador’s armed forces to support the State Petroleum Company’s destruction of the environment and sacred sites of the Sarayaku. The Declaration is cited throughout this court case and the focus on FPIC will serve for other cases of development-induced violations. Since the passage of the Declaration, some key achievements have been made in various international fora addressing major issues of concern to Indigenous Peoples, such as climate change and biodiversity. Given the enormous and disproportionate impacts of climate change on Indigenous Peoples, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been a major focus of Indigenous Peoples’ attention. Using the Declaration as a tool, Indigenous Peoples garnered some results in the Paris Climate Accord, including the preamble where there was the first specific mention of the recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the importance of traditional knowledge for climate change

”In some areas we have bright lights shining, for instance there is widespread acceptance that Indigenous traditional knowledge contains secrets for healing illnesses and for addressing climate change. I really see integration of that into the effort to find solutions. People now realize the value of traditional knowledge.” — M ilila ni T rask ( K a naka M aoli ) , the f ormer Paci fic Re g ional represe ntative , P erman e nt Forum o n I ndig e n ous I ssues ( 2002– 2004)

adaptation. As highlighted by Hindou Omarou Ibrahim (Mboro), co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, a great achievement was made at the 2016 Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Marrakech where it was agreed that their Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice will operationalize a platform for the exchange of experiences and sharing of best practices of local communities and Indigenous Peoples on mitigation and adaptation in relation to climate change. “This process of negotiation with [the] full and effective voice of Indigenous Peoples has never happened in the history of the Convention,” Ibrahim said. The greatest amount of the Earth’s biodiversity is located in the traditional lands and waters of Indigenous Peoples, and is rapidly being depleted by extractive industries, deforestation, and the consequences of imposed development. As biodiversity stewards, Indigenous Peoples have much to teach the global community about sustainable practices and conservation. John Scott (Iningai), the Traditional Knowledge program officer of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), highlighted the implementation of the Declaration through the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020. The plan Cultural Survival Quarterly

September 2017 • 15

has fully integrated traditional knowledge, the customary sustainable use of biodiversity, and the participation of Indigenous Peoples. Specifically, Target 18 calls for the respect of the traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and emphasizes the need for their full and effective participation. Building upon the high profile gained during the Declaration process, Indigenous Peoples lobbied within the UN and successfully held the first United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September 2014 in New York. Its placement as a High-level meeting of the UN’s highest body, the General Assembly, was designed to further highlight the issues of Indigenous Peoples. The outcome document called upon the UN Secretary General, the highest officer of the UN, to take the lead on consultations and make recommendations as to how to enhance a coherent, system-wide approach to achieving the aims of the Declaration. It is clear that Indigenous Peoples will remain active to ensure that their rights are not just declared, but that action is being taken to implement and uphold them.

“The real issue is ensuring self-determination so that Indigenous Peoples can make decisions for themselves about their future, about their rights to the lands, territories, and resources.” — Les Malez er ( Butchulla / Gubbi Gubbi ) , coordi n a tor o f the Global I ndi ge nous P eoples ’ C aucus

Although accomplishments have been made since the Declaration’s adoption, a large gap remains between the formal recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights and their actual implementation. But, the Indigenous rights movement and its allies are continually uplifted by the resilience of Indigenous Peoples, and honor the tremendous sacrifices made to achieve the Declaration and the work still ahead in carrying out its fulfillment and realization.

“…over time the Declaration will become a greater source of awareness on the part of powerful actors, and it will become a stronger guide for the behavior for States and others to act in accordance with the terms of the Declaration.” — J ames An aya , the f ormer S pecial R apporteur on the rights o f I n di ge n ous Peoples ( 2008– 2014)

—Miriam Anne Frank is an applied anthropologist working as an independent consultant with a focus on Indigenous Peoples’ issues. Her clients include IPOs, NGOs, international organizations, and foundations. She is an external lecturer in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna, Austria. The following are excerpts of Indigenous Rights Radio interviews conducted with Indigenous leaders about their reflections on the accomplishments and challenges of the Declaration. 16 • www. cs. org

It Is Time Governments Recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Contributions Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Igorot) UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


n terms of legal frameworks, after the adoption of the Declaration in 2007, a few governments have adopted national laws that are reflected in the Declaration. There are a few countries in Latin America that have done that, in Africa as well. But it is not enough to adopt a legal framework. What is more important is how this framework should recognize the legal Photo by Broddi Sigurdarson. rights of Indigenous Peoples is really being implemented on the ground. In many countries, lands that Indigenous people traditionally own, a lot of these are being expropriated for other economic activities—mining, establishing huge mono-agricultural plantations, or conservation areas. There is still a continuing situation where rights to lands and territories are not respected, and the right to selfdetermination is not respected. Criminalization is now a big issue because many Indigenous people who are resisting displacement from their lands are criminalized with trumped- up charges filed against them and are spending a lot of time defending themselves in court instead of strengthening movements or their own communities. New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., and Canada were the four countries that did not vote for the Declaration during its adoption. At that time I was the chair of the Permanent Forum; finally we got them to say that they are adopting it in 2009 and that they are endorsing the Declaration. To a certain extent that kind of recognition and adherence to international standard is a good thing, because those four countries who didn’t vote for it came into the group. In some of these countries, like Australia, even before the Declaration there have been some laws that recognize some aspects of the lands of Indigenous people. In Australia, they have the Native Title Act, which gives Aboriginal Australians the possibility to claim their lands. In the U.S., reservations were established where they put Indigenous Peoples. The more significant development is the strengthening of Indigenous People’s movements, which has been supported by this process of having an international standard that regulates their rights. And because of these movements they were able to increase their capacities to claim their lands and their resources and to get the government to put resources to revitalizing Indigenous languages, putting Indigenous status centers in universities. There is much more intellectual ferment related to Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples are taking their destinies into their own hands and they are strengthening their own communities, but there is still a long way to go in terms of how to get their

Photo by Whitney Minthorn, GCG Media Team.

Therefore, they should be involved in making decisions and practicing these traditional systems, and they should be rewarded for it.

All Indigenous Peoples Are Raising the Declaration Mililani Trask (kanaka maoli) Attorney and Indigenous community advisor to Innovations Development Group


y expectation was that we would have first moved to integrate the Declaration into the work of the United Nations agencies and bodies, and that that would move faster than trying to get it integrated into some of the work with the UN and the States such as the Climate Change Convention. We’ve made some inroads there, but the Indigenous voice has been completely overlooked in the renegotiations of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. We are seeing that the Declaration is being honestly applied in some areas, like climate change and the Millennium Development Goals, but in other areas it has been disappointing. We continue to meet a lot of resistance, even within the UN system, as the Decolonization Committee and UN structure has flatly rejected the Declaration and is not really working in good faith to bring those standards into the decolonization framework. We did not see any effort to really work with Indigenous Peoples on the Nuclear Test Ban renegotiation, and it is a shame because the big victims of nuclear testing are Indigenous Peoples. We have some wins, but we also have some Cultural Survival Quarterly

Photo courtesy of

rights effectively implemented. One example is the Philippines; in my country, even before the Declaration was adopted we had already lobbied the government and they adopted the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, which allows for the titling of ancestral lands and domains. Since the adoption of the Declaration there has been an increase in the lands being given back to Indigenous Peoples and we have titles to these lands. There needs to be a serious effort to address the key obstacles to the weak implementation of the UN Declaration. One of the obstacles is that the rights of Indigenous Peoples are always at the lowest level of hierarchy of laws. The laws that are most effective support the rights of investors and corporations. The rights of Indigenous people should be consulted whenever projects or measures affect them directly, and their consent should be obtained when such activities are being done in their communities. That needs to be dealt with in most countries. What is happening is still the same thing where the government decides that this is their priority for national development, to extract minerals, to cut the forest, to develop the lands of Indigenous Peoples to become plantations; these are the priorities of the government and they never ask Indigenous Peoples for their views or their participation whenever such decisions are made. The consultation, the dialogue, the Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and their effective participation in decision making should really be in their hands. Secondly, the historical injustices that have been happening to Indigenous Peoples should be redressed. In my role as the rapporteur, I have seen a lot of favorable decisions by courts that are favorable to Indigenous people, but these are not effectively enforced. As a start, can all these governments where such cases have won, can they enforce and implement those favorable decisions so that the ones who have filed those cases can finally have justice? Thirdly, it is about time that the governments recognize the contributions of Indigenous Peoples in making this world a safer and more sustainable place. Data shows that forests and ecosystems that are better kept are found in Indigenous territories, which means that the Indigenous Peoples have been practicing sustainable practices for environmental management and development.

September 2017 • 17

indication that it is going to be an uphill battle with a lot of resistance from some of these political thematic areas.   One of the biggest changes is that now we have many Indigenous voices globally and regionally that are using the Declaration and integrating it not only into their work at home. For many years, the effort of the United Nations to create the standard and have it adopted was carried by a handful of people. We started at one time with Rigoberta Menchu and four or five others, and that’s all that was there in Geneva. By the time we ended there were several hundred. But when you consider the number of Indigenous Peoples, their organizations and communities and nations in the world, several hundred is nothing. Before the passage, few voices of the Pacific were there—a couple from Hawai’i, Australia, New Zealand— those were the big ones. Periodically, we saw voices from the rest of the Pacific, but with the passage of the Declaration that has very much changed throughout our region. I also see this elsewhere in Africa, in Asia, all Indigenous are raising the Declaration. And many of them are pursuing it right in their home base, they’re working with their people, they’re talking about the Declaration, why we need to implement these provisions for our own economic self-sufficiency. It’s really exciting to see Native people using the Declaration as a success, a document that they wrote and that they passed; they’re going home and they’re applying it to their own work with their people. There was a feeling at one time by many States that the Declaration was not going to be

anything other than a tool or a weapon for the Indigenous to use against States, against systems. But the big surprise for them, and I never doubted it myself, was that Indigenous Peoples in leadership would honestly internalize these standards, go back home and make sure that their own processes were more inclusive—really look at social development and realize that we have to move the ball forward for things such as education, health, affordable housing, and using that not only to organize our people but to go out and work with local government. You know that old phrase, “think globally, act locally.” But it first begins with us taking the standard that we adopted in our region. We’ve also seen how we can reorganize. Many of our leaders who were online are older, some have passed. We have vast distances and very little resources, so we need to look at how we can better create a representative body for the region, and the Declaration is coming to play in that was as well. We look to give voice to those leaders who truly live and work with their people. We cannot be represented by Pacific Island people who were born and raised in Europe. These kinds of debates are now coming to the forefront, and they’re based on the definition of self-determination and the empowerment of local Indigenous communities and leaders. We see it coming into play in many ways, ways that strengthen Indigenous Peoples, but also ways that are assisting local and national government in critical tasks like providing shelter, meeting educational and health needs. I think it’s a positive movement forward, but it has been very slow.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the result of two decades of hard work by hundreds of dedicated Indigenous representatives.

Photo by Shane Brown, GCG Media Team.

18 • www. cs. org

We Need Two Keys Pavel Sulyandziga (Udege) Member of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, Russian Federation

Photo by Broddi Sigurdarson.


African Caucus Statement to the UN General Assembly Agnes Leina (Maasai) Executive director of Illaramatak Community Concerns, Kenya


he adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 was indeed a watershed moment in the history of the advancement of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. For Africa, it provided a strong basis and renewed impetus for Indigenous Peoples on the continent to assert their rights, opened up new policy spaces, and had far reaching impacts at the national level in some of our countries. Over the last 10 years, the Declaration has no doubt facilitated new frontiers of engagement and dialogue between Indigenous Peoples and national governments about Indigenous Peoples’ policies and programs, including framing certain positive actions in favor of Indigenous Peoples. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the regional body for human rights on the continent, had also adopted a policy framework that is in line with the Declaration and continues to have an advisory working group on implementation. Whilst appreciating that various African governments have taken positive actions to implement the Declaration nationally, including Namibia, Kenya, DR Congo, Congo Republic, Morocco, Chad, Burundi, Central African Republic, and Niger, many African governments are yet to give recognition to the rights of Indigenous Peoples in their respective Cultural Survival Quarterly

Photo by Broddi Sigurdarson.

t was some kind of victory [adoption of the Declaration], it was the feeling of having achieved something, having finally conquered the mountain. But although it felt like a victory, we still feel like we are stagnating in a lot of issues. The chapter of history that we are in right now in the Russian Federation might be the hardest for Indigenous people; it is the biggest struggle we have had to overcome yet. Although we all are aware of the struggle our people had to go through in the Soviet Union, today we struggle even more, this is an even harder time for us now in Russia. If the government will not change its position toward Indigenous Peoples, the 21st Century could be the last century that our people live through. We are not only Indigenous Peoples, we are a minority. We have 12 Indigenous Peoples that are less than 2,000, and we have 7 Indigenous Peoples that are less than 1,000. During the Soviet period there were certain structures in place. For example, if there were regions for hunting or fishing, those territories went to the Indigenous people right away on a natural basis without any constraints. Today that has changed. Back in the day those regions only went to somebody else if there weren’t any Indigenous Peoples living in those particular regions, but that is not the case anymore. Nowadays those territories and those lands are taken from the Indigenous Peoples—90 percent of all Indigenous Peoples have lost their lands. People can come and present a certificate saying whatever you hunt here, whatever you fish here, it’s ours. Indigenous Peoples don’t have the financial means to purchase the lands, so this is the situation now. My people used to be represented by eight groups; nowadays there are only four left, simply because they were taking away their lands. Within 30 years, four groups have simply disappeared. The Declaration is highly important, it is valuable. The Declaration is not our goal, it is simply an instrument to achieve our goal. The main goal is to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and their lands. Because everything else, the ways of life, the language, the culture, is bound to the land issue and land rights. This is why the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples represents a very important instrument to achieve that. It is the main issue to regain access to our land and resources, then based on that, protect our language, our culture, and our right to self-determination. In order to resolve the issues of Indigenous Peoples, we need two keys. One key is in the possession of Indigenous Peoples, and the second key is owned by the government.

But of course in order to achieve our goals, both parties involved have to be using their keys, otherwise it will not be possible to make progress. This is why we all have to go the way towards each other, we cannot go halfway. Indigenous Peoples already in the middle of the process have to understand that by having rights you also have to assume responsibilities. I think this is something that we understand; however, we are still expecting the government to fulfill their responsibilities today, and unfortunately today they are simply lying to us. A lot of measures have been taken like PR work and festivals, dancing... This does not really help us, it does not resolve the issue at all. Although I am not a member of government, I still think that both sides of government have to be prepared to start a dialogue. You should also be ready to help yourself; even if you need help to have the issue resolved by somebody else, you as an individual or as a society have to be prepared to assume responsibility and help yourself as well. This is how we can achieve fruitful goals together.

September 2017 • 19

special recommendation to the African states with reservations with the term “Indigenous” to make the implementation of the Declaration a priority.

Not Enough Has Been Achieved Les Malezer (Gubbi Gubbi/ Butchulla) Expert member on the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Australia


have been doing this work at an international level for almost two decades now, [and the Declaration] has been a highlight of my career. My involvement at the international level follows from the work I have been doing in Australia, where I was essentially looking at issues of racism and land rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples. It was impossible to make further negotiations with the government of Australia that was very negative about our rights. That is when I started looking internationally to see what could be done. I actually took formal issues up with Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), a treaty body that looks after

Timeline of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples November 20–December 1, 1995

August 18, 1971

José Ricardo Martínez Cobo is appointed as Special Rapporteur of the Study of the Problem of Discrimination against Indigenous Populations. The Cobo Report is presented to the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities (Sub-Commission) during its 1981–1983 sessions.

beginnings May 7, 1982

Sub-Commission establishes an annual Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) to take up work related to the Cobo Report.

20 • ww w. cs. org

August 26, 1994 July 1993

WGIP agrees on a final text for the draft Declaration and submits it to the Sub-Commission.

Sub-Commission Resolution 45/1994 approves the draft text without a vote and passes it on to the Commission on Human Rights (Commission).

A joint Indigenous People’ Caucus Statement calls for the immediate adoption of the Declaration as submitted by the Sub-Commission without change, amendment, or deletion. Only three governments indicate willingness to accept the text without changes.

Drafting & D ebating Phase August 27, 1985

WGIP formalizes production of a Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to fulfill the second aspect of its mandate “to give attention to the evolution of international standards concerning Indigenous rights.”

March 3, 1995

Commission Resolution 32/1995 establishes a Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights to elaborate a draft declaration (Working Group). The text is to be considered for adoption by the General Assembly within the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (1995–2004).

November 1997

Article 5 (Every Indigenous individual has the right to a nationality) and Article 43 (All rights are equally guaranteed to male and female Indigenous individuals) are provisionally adopted by the Working Group.

Photo by Broddi Sigurdarson.

countries on the continent and also integrate the Declaration as a basis for national development planning. The challenge, therefore, is to ensure that African governments develop elaborate and inclusive frameworks for the implementation of the core principles embedded in the Declaration, such as Free, Prior and Informed Consent, recognition of collective rights of Indigenous Peoples, and right to lands and territories, and ensure these are mainstreamed into national laws and practices. We note with exception the developments in the Republic of Congo regarding its national law on the rights of Indigenous Peoples; the 2010 Kenyan Constitution, which recognizes the historical marginalization of Indigenous communities and provides for the protection of their rights; the Namibian government response to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur; and the decisions of the Universal Periodic Review in relation to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The African Caucus calls upon the African governments to consider a working group be established at the African Union to track progress on the implementation and promotion of the Declaration in Africa; inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in the African Union Agenda 2063 regional development vision; the development of National Action Plans on the implementation of the Declaration at the national level, including aspirations of the Outcome Document of the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples; the adoption by the African Development Bank of safeguards based on the Declaration; the adoption of a UNESCO policy on Indigenous Peoples in line with the Declaration and also binding on the UNESCO treaties, including the World Heritage Convention; and

The Declaration Needs Greater Awareness S. James Anaya Dean of the University of Colorado Law School, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


y expectations have been held up in certain ways, and in other ways there have been some disappointments. There have been victories across the globe, and many cases in which Indigenous Peoples have used the Declaration to raise awareness and to create understanding about their rights and even movement towards the implementations of the rights articulated in the Declaration. In Belize, the Declaration was used just weeks after it was adopted by the UN General Assembly in litigation of a court case about Maya land rights. The Supreme Court of Belize referenced the Declaration in order to interpret that country’s constitution, and did so to affirm that the right to property under the constitution should be interpreted in line with the Declaration’s lands and resources provisions. The Court ruled in favor of the Maya people and their rights over their tradi-

November 20–December 1, 2000

The Inuit Circumpolar Conference and Saami Council deliver and lobby a joint statement indicating a willingness to consider changes in the Sub-Commission text if such amendments strengthen or clarify the text and conform to inter national legal standards. Guatemala and Mexico adopt a no-change position. With “no-change” groups in both government and Indigenous Peoples’ camps, any progress in the negotiations is effectively blocked.

November 28, 2006–September 13, 2007

November 29–December 3, 2004

Norway proposes that Guatemala and Mexico take over Norway’s responsibilities to facilitate consensus on proposed text amendments, forcing the two delegations to seek consensus.

At the General Assembly’s 61st session Namibia, acting on behalf of the African Group, tabled a proposal to postpone consideration of the Declaration to allow time for ‘further consultations’ essentially blocking its adoption. The main issue of self-determination was at the core of this move. Indigenous Peoples, led by their Global Steering Committee, and supportive governments, led by Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru, collaborated throughout the year, continuously lobbying to overcome some governments’ efforts to derail the Declaration.

appr oval perio d September 13–24, 2004

Representatives of New Zealand, on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland submit a comprehensive package of proposed changes to the Sub-Commission text. The majority of proposed changes are included in the text adopted by the General Assembly in September 2007.

Photo by Broddi Sigurdarson.

the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. While I was doing that work I came across other meetings that were happening with Indigenous Peoples, and particularly drafting for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In mid-1996, I attended my first meeting with the drafting working group and continued every year since then until the Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007. At that time, I was coordinating the Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus and spent one year in New York to advance the Declaration through the final stages to the General Assembly. At this stage, 10 years since the Declaration was adopted, I am disappointed that not enough has been done by governments to form partnerships with the Indigenous Peoples. When the Declaration was adopted, we thought this was a change in the political landscape; rather than Indigenous Peoples being suppressed and the government treating them as hostile, that this was an opportunity to come together to form partnerships to get things done. Forming partnerships to advance rights is high on the agenda, but not much has been done, not enough. And the second part, while there have been constant reports from the governments to improve the health, education, and employment of the Indigenous Peoples, that’s what governments have been planning to do since long before the Declaration. The real issue here is ensuring the self-determination so that the Indigenous Peoples can make decisions for themselves about the future, about their rights to the lands, territories, and resources. Self-determination is another high priority, and again, I don’t think enough has been achieved since the Declaration has been adopted.

December 5–16, 2005 and January 30–February 3, 2006

The Working Group ends its 11th and final session with 16 preambular paragraphs and 21 articles ready for adoption. Fundamental issues such as self-determination, lands and resources, the nature of collective rights, third party rights, and the rights of all other citizens still lack consensus.

implementati o n

September 13, 2007

The Declaration is finally adopted by the General Assembly with a majority of 143 states in favor, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States), and 11 abstentions.

Cultural Survival Quarterly

September 2017 • 21

tional lands. There’s a lot to be done in the future towards greater awareness about the rights of Indigenous Peoples as expressed in the Declaration. Across the globe on a daily basis, the rights affirmed in the Declaration are ignored or violated. My hope is that over time, the Declaration will become a greater source of awareness on the part of powerful actors and that it will become a stronger guide for States and others to act in accordance with the terms of the Declaration. One of the disappointments is in the UN system itself, in which in many instances deliberations do not follow the Declaration completely. We even hear States within the UN system at times wanting to retreat from some of the provisions of the Declaration. In the U.S., we have seen that under the previous Administration the Declaration was in many ways taken into account by certain government agencies. Ever since President Obama endorsed the Declaration on behalf of the United States and declared that it would be a guide for U.S. action with regards to Indigenous Peoples, we did see some initiatives along those lines including in regard to consulting with Indigenous Peoples, land claims, and certain cultural issues. In Latin America, we have seen the Declaration and also other international instruments concerning Indigenous Peoples, in particular International Labor Organization Convention 169, having an influence on government policy. For example, in the area of consultation with Indigenous Peoples, we see a number of countries in Latin America moving toward trying to develop adequate consultation mechanisms in line with the Declaration and ILO Convention 169. Unfortunately, in most cases those policy reforms have not been converted into action. Globally, I think we have a mixed situation because a number of countries outside the America region, particularly in Asia and Africa, decline to acknowledge that there are Indig-

enous Peoples in their respective countries or that the Declaration is relevant to their countries because they argue that all peoples are Indigenous. We have seen a number of countries in Asia and Africa simply avoiding application of the Declaration. That has been a disappointment and a point of concern. I would say, nonetheless, we have seen the Declaration animate Indigenous Peoples themselves to claim those rights even though the governments don’t recognize them as Indigenous. We have seen groups that were not formally recognized using the Declaration to claim their rights and have some success in having rights recognized. We see this for example in Kenya, where the Endorois peoples have had their land rights recognized through litigation, even though the Kenyan government has been very ambiguous about whether or not the Declaration applies or whether the Endorois people are Indigenous under the terms of the Declaration. The biggest challenge, I think, is simply the lack of awareness among government officials and among societies more broadly about the concerns and status of Indigenous Peoples and about the rights that have been ascribed to Indigenous Peoples internationally, including through the Declaration. A lack of awareness creates a situation in which the ongoing violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights and the remedies that are pointed to in the Declaration are simply ignored and Indigenous Peoples’ concerns are not addressed adequately. What really needs to be done is more than simply pointing to the Declaration in formal legal proceedings or in direct contacts with government leaders and agencies. There needs to be a greater awareness more generally within societies overall, because governments are responsive to the majorities within societies. Without broad social awareness about Indigenous peoples and their rights, we’ll continue to see a lack of action to address Indigenous Peoples’ concerns.

Cultural Survival has been working with Indigenous community radio stations to implement UNDRIP Article 16.

22 • ww w. cs. org

We Have Gained More in Latin America Myrna Cunningham (Miskita)

Whitney Minthorn, GCG Media Team.

President of Latin American and Caribbean Fund of Indigenous Peoples Development


We Will Work to Implement It Grand Chief Edward John (Tl’azt’en Nation) Canada


e are making progress at the international front. The Declaration is now embedded in many of the UN agencies that are part of the follow up, the Inter-Agency Support Group and the System-wide Action Plan. It is also included in the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. It is included in the 17 Sustainable Development 2030 Goals (SDGs). Countries have been using the Declaration. In a very important case [Proprietors of Wakatū & Rore Stafford vs. Attorney General] in New Zealand on land rights for the Māori people, the Declaration was recently used by the High Courts as an important reference to recognize the rights of the Indigenous Peoples. The challenges are still far greater than the positive changes that have been made. But, now people are using the Declaration as a very important framework, we need to continue to pursue that. We can’t let the foot off the gas. We need to continue to press it as hard as we can. There are incredible challenges in countries in Africa and Asia where Indigenous Peoples are not considered Indigenous. There is a major problem even by those state parties who have supported the Declaration. We need to work continuously each and every day to make the governments recognize and implement the Declaration. For example, in Canada, in 2006, at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Canada voted “No”; they voted against the Declaration. On September 13, 2007, they also voted “No.” The only country in the world that has voted “No” twice. We have been working with them, and pressuring them. Now, we have a [Trudeau] government that says we will implement the Declaration, we support it without qualification and we will work to implement it. Cultural Survival Quarterly

Photo by Broddi Sigurdarson.

fter 10 years, we have to recognize that in the cases where we have gained recognition as Indigenous Peoples with the right to self-determination, it has been much easier to advance the recognition of other rights. I think we have advanced, but at the same time we have to recognize that the adoption of the Declaration was in a very conflicted context at the international level; a context where neoliberal measures were taken in many countries where there is a model of economical development against Indigenous rights. In Latin America, a majority of the countries have recognized Indigenous Peoples, and there are favorable legislations that recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples. In Nicaragua, we have gained self-determination through the establishment of two autonomous regions in almost 50 percent of the Nicaraguan territory, where we exercise self-government through a multi-ethnic region. We have also gained land rights; over 30 percent of Nicaraguan territory has been recognized as Indigenous territories. In the case of Bolivia, the constitution recognizes the rights of the Indigenous Peoples as a nation. The coalition, or the composition, of different nations is the pattern of the Bolivian state. They have also established autonomy for different communities; they have established their first autonomous community through elections that are supervised by the national election body. In the case of Colombia, Indigenous communities have also gained rights to self-govern health and education in their territories. We can find in Latin America some cases in which Indigenous Peoples have been able to gain self-governance recognition. In some cases there is an advance of pluralistic legal systems where Indigenous administrations are recognized. We have gained more in Latin America compared to other regions, but things are not ensured because you may find in Latin America different tensions or conflicts between Indigenous Peoples and enterprises that have received concession from the governments to do mining and extraction in Indigenous territories. If we look at it internationally, in the last decade it has been very important to see the political wins of Canada and Australia to adopt the Declaration. Initially, these two countries did not support the Declaration. So just the fact that they have recognized and adopted it has been an important step. In the case of Canada, we have seen a switch in the government’s position in the last year. They are beginning to discuss with Indigenous organizations to address problems they are facing. In the case of Australia, there has been political discourse to supporting Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Recently, there was a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur to Australia,

and she was able to identify a lot of problems; for example, the high rate of incarceration of Indigenous Peoples in Australia. In the case of Africa, we have seen very little movement in relation to Indigenous Peoples. However, I would like to highlight that in Congo there is a forestry act that recognizes Indigenous communities; the constitution of Kenya also recognizes marginalized communities including pastoralists and nomads; and there was also the adoption of ILO Convention 169 by Central African Republic in 2010. The African Convention on Human Rights have been very open to discuss the fact that in Africa there are Indigenous people, and they also support them. In the case of Asia, we are also seeing in some countries there having negotiations regarding Indigenous rights. In Nepal, in the Philippines, there has been some movement. There are more possibilities to open avenues for discussions between governments and Indigenous Peoples in different countries.

September 2017 • 23

i ndi geno u s wo m e n

The New Voices of

Nepal Community Radio Workshop participants at the Basic Journalism Workshop (from left): Prem Kumari Tamang, Menuka Kumari Shrestha, Soita Devi Sunuwar, Gauri Thami, Sunita Tharu, Sampoda Yangyun.

Angelica Rao (CS STAFF)


eep in the center of the bustling city of Kathmandu, where life continues amidst the rubble of the 2015 earthquake that shook Nepal to its core, 30 women from 11 different Indigenous communities convened for a radio journalism training this past June led by Cultural Survival, Radio Namobuddha, and Indigenous Media Foundation. In Nepal, a country with 125 caste and ethnic groups, 59 of whom are officially recognized Indigenous groups and 123 spoken languages, Indigenous community radio is the main source of news, education, and information for many Indigenous Peoples. However, women’s presence in radio has been limited. Workshop par- ticipant Sampoda Yangyun, explains: “The idea is that men are the ones with the knowledge. They read the newspaper, sit in cafes, and have careers. Women are the ones who raise the families and stay at home. It’s hard to prove that you are worthy of having your voice heard.” Nevertheless, young women are committed to paving the way for Indigenous women in Nepal, who are determined to have their voices heard, and to bring women’s issues to the public realm and advocate on behalf of their rights often against the status quo. Over the course of the five-day workshop, participants learned about a vast array of topics ranging from basic journalism and the role of community radio to field reporting, news gathering and news writing, Indigenous women’s history in Nepal and the current tragedy of human trafficking, to technical skills such as program formatting, editing, and mixing. Sangeeta Lama, an Indigenous woman journalist with more than 25 years’ experience in the field, motivated participants with her story of overcoming adversity and rising 24 • ww w. cs. org

to the top of the journalism field in Nepal. “People don’t get involved in radio because they are pressured to . . . it is a passion, it comes from within,” she said. For Indigenous women, there are many barriers to overcome. In Indigenous communities in Nepal, a woman’s reputation is placed under fierce scrutiny; something as minor as sitting in a coffee shop to conduct an interview with a male figure can have grave consequences for a woman and her family’s reputation. In addition to cultural constraints, there are also security concerns for women journalists. Commuting to and from the radio station early in the morning and late at night, conducting interviews with men, and travelling to unsavory places to conduct interviews can be dangerous for women in the field. For Palpal Moktan Tamang, participant from Radio Kairan, these two barriers are often compounded. “It is a very long and potentially dangerous walk to and from the radio [station], so walking with a male colleague is necessary, but it isn’t acceptable for women to walk alongside men in public. I try to use the radio to open the minds of the villagers to these realities, but it is difficult,” she said. Lama asserts that this career choice is not for the weak willed. “It will take plenty of hard work, plenty of resistance against the status quo and plenty of perseverance and persistence over a long period,” she says. Luckily there is no lack of will for the women in this group. For many, working in their community stations has been a lifelong aspiration. For Asmita Ghising Tamang, having her own Tamang radio program has been a dream ever since she listened to a local Tamang radio station as a child and was inspired by literature programs in her native language. She was in seventh grade when she first started writing poetry, songs, and stories. “I always knew that I would make a great radio broadcaster, but I just didn’t have the skills or the trainAll photos by Angelica Rao.

ing. Now I know that I can do it. I’ve already filled out an application at the [station] in my village, and once I’m done here I’ll go back and show them my diploma,” Tamang said. Other participants already have their foot in the door at their local community station, but they dream of making an impact for women in their communities. Satisha Suwal, a young woman who has been working for just over a year at Radio Janasanchar in Bhaktepur, 25 kilometers from Kathmandu, explained that she wants to have a program that is focused solely on women’s empowerment. She said wants to see more women standing up for their rights and believes that a program would be a good way of inspiring them to do that: “As a woman, it can be scary to fight for your rights for fear of what society or [your husband] might say, but there are examples of women who are making changes in society. Change is gradual and it must happen at the individual level first. To see change, we must first change ourselves.” The participants in the workshop are women bringing about just this type of change. They are women who refuse to be limited to traditional roles and believe in their ability to break barriers, using radio as their tool. However, filling the void of professional women journalists available to work in radio is only half the battle. Another challenge is making radio a space that is inclusive of women, not just in the lowest positions, which they typically inhabit, but as journalists, station managers, and members of the governing bodies that make decisions about station programming and policies. Although there is a long road to equality for women in community radio in Nepal, four community radio stations funded by Cultural Survival’s Community Media Grants Program, took crucial steps to create more inclusive spaces for women in community radio. Radio Kairan, Radio Sumatlung,

Radio Likhu, and Radio Namobuddha took part in a two-day workshop aimed at developing policies for gender equality and social inclusion at their community stations. Through it, the women succeeded in attaining short paid maternity leaves, quotas for women’s participation in leadership and broadcasting roles, and responses to security issues, among other victories. Roshani Danuwar of Radio Namobuddha pointed out, “It is important to have things written down because then our rights are not left to the whim of whoever the station manager is at the time.” However, having written policies and women trained in journalism are only the first steps. Sampoda Yangyun, a participant who was accompanied by her 8-year-old son, highlighted how discouraging community radio can be for women. “They said I had a very nice voice, but that as a mother, I don’t have the time or the training to do what it takes to be a journalist.” She explained that with this training opportunity, she is confident that she will prove that she can do the work, and perhaps the station managers will be willing to give her a shot. Significant changes in gender equality and view on women as journalists need to take place for women to truly succeed, and these women feel confident in their role in playing a key part in this change. Sachita Singh Tharu, a new mother who is making her way back to community radio, said, “Women need the guts to break the cycle.” Tharu plans to develop an awareness-raising program to make girls realize their power, worth, and rights in society and hopes that through this and initiatives like it, her daughter’s generation will no longer face the same barriers. “I of course want my daughter to follow in my footsteps and be a radio journalist as well, but my dream is that she holds a leadership position in the radio.”

Women’s workshop participants after receiving their diplomas. Top row (from left): Sumi Darlami, Suchana Tamang, Angelica Rao, Menuka Kumari Shrestha, Sampoda Yangyun, Soita Devi Sunuwar, Sachita Singh Tharu, Sharmila Sunuwar, Keshang Lama Bhote, Asmita Ghising Tamang, Anita Chaudhariy, Bimala Sunuwar, Roshani Danuwar, Sunita Thami, Sarmila Moktan, Ful Kumari Tamang, Jagat Don, Satisha Suwal, Bawani Kumari Gurung, Dev Kumar Sunuwar, Laxmi Maharjan. Bottom row (from left): Gauri Thami, Pal Pal Moktan Tamang, Bidhya Tamang,Sonam Yangji Sherpa, Prem Kumari Tamang, Sujana Saru, Dolma Rai, Bikram Rai. Cultural Survival Quarterly

September 2017 • 25

B a z aar art i st: Telling Stories in Wood

Amalia Palomino Jimenez Retablo clasico.

Amalia Palomino Jimenez at the Plymouth Cultural Survival Bazaar in July.

Retablo clasico.

Cuadro retablo.

26 • ww w. cs. org

Kim Maida


he Jimenez family of Ayacucho, Peru, has made a living making retablos, ornate wooden boxes that contain brightly colored figurines arranged in religious, historical, and everyday scenes, for generations. Retablos are an important part of traditional Andean folk art that serve as a means to tell stories. “We make ornaments featuring traditional festivals, Andean cosmovision, and the daily activities of the people of the Andes,” says Amalia Palomino Jimenez, a member of the family who has been vending at the Cultural Survival Bazaars for the past two years. Palomino learned the art from her grandfather, who repaired retablos in churches in his community. “My grandfather was recognized as a great master of the retablo ayacuchano. He made retablos and crosses. My mother learned this art in the workshop, helping to model and paint. In 1988, my whole family, including my grandfather and my parents, moved to Lima because of terrorism and civil unrest led by the communist militant group Shining Path in Ayacucho,” Palomino recalls. In Lima, Palomino continued making retablos in her grandfather’s shop where her whole family participated in making the folk art by mixing colors and modeling the figures, along with providing ideas and designs. For many families facing political violence in rural areas, selling retablos commercially in cities has become an important means of earning a living. Each retablo is made by hand using techniques passed down in the family. Palomino explains the process of making a retablo with its detailed figurines and bright colors: “We sculpt and polish the wooden boxes, then we paint the background and frames. Each piece of the retablo is made with dough that we prepare in the workshop, combined with plaster. We check the texture of the dough to see if it’s ready or not, then proceed to make each figure. Later we paint each figure, and once they have dried, we place them in the box with glue.” The decorations that surround the figurines within the retablo are made from natural and recycled materials. The whole box is then painted with aging liquid that is prepared in their shop. Historically, retablos have been used in Catholic churches in Spain and Latin America where they were placed behind the altar depicting religious scenes. Today, retablos are still used in the Catholic tradition, but are also used to depict traditional Andean life. In Ayacucho, where the Palomino family lives, retablos preside over livestock branding ceremonies. “These retablos include figures of saints, which families place in their houses to pray for protection of their livestock, for abundant grass, or for defense against damage caused by nature,” she says. There are several different types of retablos that can be made, including marco retablos, which are a wide square or rectangular frame in which the scenes are built in the frame with a space in the middle; cuadro retablos, which have scenes that take place in the main part of the wooden box, and the more ornate retablos clasicos, which contain a scene and have decorated doors that open and close with a decorated panel above. In Peru, where illegal mining and coca production affect the ability of Indigenous Peoples to continue their traditional ways of living, the craft of retablos are an important facet of achieving economic self-sufficiency. It is not just business, however. For Palomino, sharing these beautifully detailed retablos is a crucial way to share traditional art and typical life of Ayacucho with the rest of the world.

Join us at this Winter’s Cultural Survival Bazaars: December 9–10, Cambridge, MA • December 15–17, Boston, MA Visit and for more information.

grant ee sp o t lig h t

Honoring, Protecting, and Defending the Salmon Keepers of the Earth Fund is a small grants fund designed to support Indigenous Peoples’ community advocacy and development projects. Since 2007, the Fund has provided grants and technical assistance to over 350 Indigenous-led projects in 64 countries around the world, totaling nearly $2.5 million. Here we highlight a grantee project organized by International Indian Treaty Council.

Andrea Carmen


n August 4–5, 2017, representatives of 15 Tribal Nations from four countries (US, Canada, Mexico, Aotearoa/New Zealand) and five US states (Washington, California, Arizona, Alaska, Minnesota, Florida, and Puerto Rico) participated in the Second International Indigenous Peoples Gathering to Honor, Protect and Defend the Salmon, hosted by Chickaloon Native Village in Alaska and co-sponsored by the International Indian Treaty Council. Through a Keepers of the Earth Fund special initiative grant, the participants developed an action plan based on Free, Prior and Informed Consent to address imposed development, environmental contamination and government restrictions that impact their traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering territories and jeopardize the Ahtna Athabascan and other Salmon Peoples’ way of life. The participants also affirmed their cultural and spiritual connections to the salmon and to each other, presented information about current threats to salmon health and survival in their regions, discussed the importance of building interTribal consortiums and networks to strengthen their voices, and shared solutions based on traditional knowledge and practices as well as new sustainable technologies. On August 5, the participants adopted the Thank You Creator for Salmon Declaration by consensus, a proposal of 27 strategies to protect and defend the salmon and the ecosystems that sustain them, and to uphold the inherent and treaty rights that support Indigenous Peoples’ food sovereignty from community to the international levels. The Declaration emphasize the central importance of initiatives and responsibilities for action implemented by Indigenous Peoples themselves, including the transmission of traditional knowledge and practices to new generations. It concludes with the

statement: “We recognize that we are facing threats, but we also affirm our spiritual connections and commitments for ongoing and future work to ensure our collective survival. We will continue to keep our hearts and minds strong, understanding that the work to protect the Salmon and our Indigenous ways of life begin with us.” The First International Indigenous Peoples Salmon Gathering was hosted by the Yurok Tribe in 2013 on the Klamath River in Northern California. The next International Salmon Gathering will be hosted by the Upper Columbia United Tribes in Spokane, WA with the date still to be confirmed.

Hosts, participants, Tribal leaders, and presenters at the Salmon Conference.

—Andrea Carmen (Yaqui) is executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council.

Read the Thank You Creator for Salmon Declaration at Learn more about Keepers of the Earth Fund grant opportunities at

Cultural Survival Quarterly

September 2017 • 27

get i nvo lve d

A New Mandate

UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Joshua Cooper


he United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) explored its newly expanded mandate, added two Indigenous regional experts, and commemorated a decade of existence as it convened in mid-July in Geneva, Switzerland. A spirit of support for EMRIP was evident with Indigenous Peoples eager to engage to the full extent possible on the 10th anniversary of EMRIP and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The new mandate now permits suggesting thematic studies solely based upon EMRIP’s decision; encourages EMRIP members to visit two states annually; coordinates an annual agenda with additional global actors to promote and protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples through facilitating dialogue; and provides direct access to the UN Human Rights Council. EMRIP now can now ask questions and obtain answers and publicize its findings broadly, while previously its main task was to prepare an annual study on a topic chosen by the Human Rights Council. Additionally, EMRIP now has the mandate to request information from relevant parties and has both authority and funding to conduct country visits. It can provide technical advice regarding domestic legislation and policies relating to Indigenous Peoples and can report to the Council as needed. While the EMRIP chair continues under the leadership of Albert Barume, the Africa representative, the gender gap is

Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in session in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo courtesy of Irène Bellier.

28 • ww w. cs. org

gone, with four of the seven members being women human rights defenders. The Arctic and Pacific joined the traditional five regions at EMRIP, following the model of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.   At the most recent 10th session, the core challenges facing Indigenous communities were aggressive development, business intrusion, and climate change. Signaling the importance of the new mandate, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, opened the session with a Cree proverb: “Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” Hussein recognized the contribution of Indigenous Peoples to confront our current challenges, stating, “We are reaching the limits of the planet’s capacity to sustain damage. Indigenous Peoples have deep knowledge we would do well to heed.  We must safeguard the wisdom.”   EMRIP organized an ambitious agenda to offer assistance and advice to achieve the ends of the Declaration. On Tuesday morning, seizing upon paragraph 11, which calls for cooperation with National Human Rights Institutions, an interactive dialogue was held on Agenda Item 5 with representatives from Nepal and Mexico sharing examples of their engagement to implement the Declaration. EMRIP also hosted representatives of the regional human rights mechanisms from the Americas and Africa to share important cases in the commissions and courts. A core challenge is the role of corporations denying Free, Prior and Informed Consent and pursuing profits at the expense of Indigenous Peoples and the planet.  

The conversations continued into the record number of side events. At one side event, on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and the Impacts of Extractive Industries in the Americas and in Africa, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, noted, “I look forward to the day when the UN creates an instrument to deal with extraterritorial obligations for companies to respect, protect, and remedy. There is still a long way to go.” Barume agreed, “This is a global problem. It will require a global solution.”  In another side event, Indigenous Peoples ensured securing and growing the space at the UN Human Rights Council, following up on important resolutions relating to climate change and human rights with the incoming President of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties. Indigenous Peoples on the frontline of the climate crisis from Oceania and Asia met with the ambassador of Fiji to prepare for the COP23 in Bonn, Germany. EMRIP also continued its role regarding Indigenous Peoples’ participation in United Nations systems, providing opportunity for global conversation on the latest negotiations. Indigenous Peoples agreed that the current position of specific countries didn’t embrace the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples agreement. In the closing session, the first proposal for adoption was related to Indigenous Peoples’ participation in the UN Human Rights Council calling for further effort to facilitate in accordance with the Declaration.  Agenda Item 6 focused on the Ten Years of Implementation of the UNDRIP: Good Practices and Lessons Learned, and EMRIP invited the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Chair and Tauli-Corpuz to share suggestions. EMRIP’s location of Geneva was also utilized to reach out to important international human rights institutions of the core treaty bodies. The UN Human Rights Committee focusing on civil and political rights, and the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women each shared recent developments relevant to human rights of Indigenous Peoples and jurisprudence relating to individual cases reviewed through the Optional Protocol of each treaty, along with national reviews of States’ regular reporting on their human rights obligations. This is an example of EMRIP’s expanded role to facilitate dialogue to ensure fundamental freedoms for Indigenous Peoples.  The week concluded with EMRIP’s adoption of proposals for the UN Human Rights Council.  Beyond Indigenous Peoples’ participation as outlined in the Declaration, EMRIP focused on protection of Indigenous human rights defenders in light of the increase in violence and gross violations against them.  EMRIP also focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, urging states to support community-based monitoring and citing the importance of data to measure the global goals. National action plans were called for to achieve the Declaration, including treaty body recommendations. EMRIP also noted the Universal Periodic Review process, calling for the Declaration to be explicitly included in lists of standards for future sessions.  Finally, ideas were shared for the 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages in partnership with UNESCO and contributions were solicited for the UN Voluntary Fund on Indigenous Peoples.  One of the most important changes in the mandate is the country visits for EMRIP.  The visits are to facilitate dialogue

L–R: African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights representative; Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN special rapporteur; Albert Barume, EMRIP chair. Photo by Joshua Cooper.

The Path to a New Mandate The movement behind the mandate expansion was crystallized at the Global Indigenous Peoples Conference in Alta, Norway, in 2013, based on the regional preparatory process. The conversation continued at the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in the 2014 Outcome Document, specifically paragraph 28. Indigenous Peoples maintained pressure on States to ensure the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples could be exercised in UN member states with a resolution drafted at the United Nations Human Rights Council, coordinated by Mexico and Guatemala, which resulted in adoption of resolution 33/25 in September 2016.

and assist in the implementation of the Declaration. EMRIP aims to advance the acceptance of rights and achieve the ends of the Declaration by including all stakeholders in the State through country visits.  EMRIP’s ability to advance the articles of the Declaration will be part of country visit and also annual sessions; guidelines will be created for governments to guarantee the achievement of the Declaration through all of its tools.   The main purpose of the new mandate is to enhance engagement in the United Nations Human Rights Council for Indigenous Peoples as well as foster partnerships among policymakers at the State level. The main challenge for EMRIP with its new mandate was summarized by Hussein in his opening remarks: “How can we bridge what we say in rooms like this one with the daily grind Indigenous Peoples are forced to live?” EMRIP aims to accomplish this task through analysis, advice, assistance, activities, awareness-raising, and rights advocacy.  It aspires to build a bridge of trust between Indigenous communities, country institutions, and business circles by utilizing the full techniques outlined in Res 33/25 to unite all actors to realize Indigenous rights as it develops its role as a conductor of conversations and campaigns.  —Joshua Cooper is lecturer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for Pacific Island Studies and director of International Network for Diplomacy & Indigenous Governance Engaging in Nonviolence Organizing for Understanding & Self-Determination (INDIGENOUS). Cultural Survival Quarterly

September 2017 • 29

Photo by Teresita Orozco Mendoza.

On July 30, Radio Azacualpa in Azacualpa, Yamaranguila, Honduras opened its doors, thanks to your support.

Indigenous Communication is a Human Right! The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted 10 years ago, reflects global concern that Indigenous Peoples are frequently prevented from exercising their rights. The Declaration acknowledges the fact that Indigenous Peoples are organizing for political, economic, social, and cultural development, and that they have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct institutions. Communication, particularly when understood from a rights perspective, is imperative to the achievement of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Access to information, fair and balanced media representation, intellectual property rights, the right to own and control their own media, and the right to cultural diversity are essential rights for Indigenous Peoples. Every day, Cultural Survival works to make freedom of expression for Indigenous Peoples a reality through legislative work, advocacy, grantmaking, and capacity building.

Take action to promote the communication rights of Indigenous Peoples today!

Donate online at or call 617.441.5400 x18 Thank you for all you do. You make our work possible every day!

Profile for Cultural Survival

41-3 Rights. Self-Determination. Resilience.  

41-3 Rights. Self-Determination. Resilience.