Cultural Survival Q
Vol. 42, Issue 1 â€˘ March 2018 US $4.99/CAN $6.99
M a rc h 201 8 V olu me 42 , Issue 1 Board of Directors president
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Nicole Friederichs Evelyn Arce Erickson (Muisca) Kaimana Barcarse (Kanaka Hawai’i) 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 www.cs.org 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
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Amazonian women from seven nationalities, including the Kichwa, Sápara, Shiwiar, Shuar, Achuar, Andoa, and Waorani, joined forces and marched together from their homes in the Amazon rainforest to Puyo, Ecuador, in defense of their rights. Photo courtesy of Amazon Watch.
F e at u r e s
D e pa r t m e n t s
14 Divest, Invest, Protect
1 Executive Director’s Message
Kim Maida Indigenous women lead a divestment campaign against funding operations that violate Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
18 Assets, Not Deficits: A Conversation with Sarah Eagle Heart Madeline Streilein As the CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy, Eagle Heart speaks about her journey and leadership in philanthropy.
20 Protecting Ancestral Tribal Lands and Waters
InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council A council led by women is working to protect the Wild & Scenic Eel River watershed and the fragmented remains of a 3,000-year-old rainforest in Northern California.
22 Language, Community, and the Environment: ʔiisaak is Key
Madeline Streilein Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation youth, Gisele Martin, is a language activist and storyteller working to maintain and pass on traditional knowledge in her west Vancouver Island community.
24 Indigenous Women in Media: The New Voices of Central American Radio
Teresita Orozco In Central America, a new group of women leaders are taking on radio production and radio journalism.
2 In the News 4 Arts Ánnámáret: Creating Music Inspired by Nature and Sámi Lifeways
6 Women the world must hear Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
8 Indigenous Knowledge Building Peace on Earth: Pauline Tangiora
10 Climate Change Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim: A Champion for Indigenous Peoples against Climate Change
12 Rights in Action Indigenous Amazonian Women Defending Mother Earth: COP23—Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples’ Platform
26 KOEF Grantee Spotlights 27 Bazaar Artist Mama Mochila
28 Board Spotlight Tui Shortland
29 Staff Spotlight Bia’ni Madsa’ Juárez, Maru Chávez Fonseca, Nati Garcia
On the cover Divest, Invest, Protect campaign delegates outside of Deutsche Bank in Germany before meeting with the bank. Fall 2017. Photo by Teena Pugliese. (see page 14)
E xecut iv e Di rector’ S messa ge
Indigenous Women Rising
ndigenous women are our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers; our aunties, daughters, and granddaughters, who span generations from the past to the future. Our mothers are timeless as they create and nurture life sustained in an ecology of the land, water, sky, plants, animals, and the spiritual world. They provide for the well-being of their families and communities and fight to protect their territories and homelands. They are medicine people, scientists, artists, activists, journalists, peacemakers, lawyers, traditional knowledge holders, and educators raising their voices and leading the way for change, justice, and sustainability for Mother Earth and humankind. At the same time, Indigenous women around the world face complex challenges as they struggle against poverty and economic insecurities, lack of basic services, discrimination and exclusion, misogynistic attitudes and beliefs, inequitable laws, violence, and disappearance. They are disproportionately victimized by the destructive forces of extractive industries, impacts of climate change, and structural injustice. To address these challenges, Indigenous women are demanding to be heard. They are standing strong in leading local and national movements, and participating in global processes to assert Indigenous Peoples’ rights, human rights, and the rights of women. In this issue of the Cultural Survival Quarterly, extraordinary women are rising up and resisting. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim speaks of bridging the lives of women in their local communities to the discussions of climate change: “Indigenous women are the most affected by climate change, firstly because they are the ones who are collecting food and water to feed their families. They are playing a big role in natural resource conservation and in protecting traditional knowledge. The women of the communities understand climate change because they are seeing it through all their work.” In the Amazon, Indigenous women are demanding the protection of their rainforests and territories, asserting their rights and voices in protest marches, government meetings,
and at international fora like COP23. As Sarayaku leader Mirian Cisneros states, “Our people are in our communities, while they are here making decisions for us. They are putting prices on us without fully comprehending that within our territories we exist as communities with huge wisdom, knowledge, science, technology. My message here at COP23 . . . is that we need to fight together [and] unite forces, because the States that are here speaking in our name are at a negotiating table where supposedly they are looking for solutions—but these solutions are for them, not for Indigenous Peoples.” In another arena, Indigenous women are targeting banks and financial institutions abroad and using divestment strategies to address Indigenous rights and human rights violations. As Michelle Cook, Diné (Navajo) human rights lawyer who led the Divest, Invest, Protect campaign, says, “I hope that the divestment work continues to carry the torch for Indigenous rights, illuminating the obscured economic architecture required to sustain harmful resource extraction and development in our ancestral lands and territories.” Meanwhile, at home in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Gisele Maria Martin is working to sustain her Nuučaanuł language; as she explains, “Just upholding our language could have significant repercussions because it’s such a culturally and ecologically informed language.” There are of course many more women to highlight, and I thank all of our sisters who stand courageously for life, carrying forth the spirit of our grandmothers to our granddaughters and the generations to come. As Māori elder Pauline Tangiora says to the children of the world, “Dream a dream, and you will get there, but it won’t come without hard work. If the world supports each other, it would be a better place.” In 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 Maru Chávez Fonseca, Program Manager, Indigenous Rights Radio. Sofia Flynn, Accounting & Office Manager Nati Garcia (Maya Mam), Indigenous Community Media Youth Fellowship Coordinator Dev Kumar Sunuwar (Kumar/Sunuwar), Program Associate, Community Media Grants Project Maria del Rosario “Rosy” Sul González (Kaqchikel), Indigenous Rights Radio Producer Bia’ni Madsa’ Juárez, (Mixe/Ayuuk ja’ay & Zapotec/Binnizá), Program Associate, Community Media Program & Indigenous Rights Radio 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’), Translator Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager Melissa A. Stevens, Director of Philanthropic Partnerships Jackie Tiller (Tlingit), Keepers of the Earth Fund Project Manager Miranda Vitello, Development Associate
Sobreviviencia Cultural STAFF (Our Sister Organization in Guatemala) Elsa Amandar, Project Coordinator Manuel Burrion, Bookkeeper
INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS Jackie Chen, Megan Davis, Alex Glomset, Tracy Lai, Diego Lopez, Kim Maida, Aine McAlinden, Toni Monge, Allen Perez, Madeline Streilein
There are so many ways to
Stay connected Suzanne Benally, Executive Director (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa)
www.cs.org Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2018 • 1
i n t he new s and the anticipated cancellation of the Tesoro-Savage oil terminal; Nestlé Waters North America’s decision to pull out of Oregon; and the denial of two shoreline permits, effectively ending the last proposal for coal exports in the Pacific Northwest.
Brazil: Court Revokes License for the Belo Sun Mine December
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Brazil: Government Announces End of MegaDam Building Policy January
The Brazilian government has announced it will no longer build hydroelectric dams in the Amazon basin. While shifts away from the mega-dam policy are a victory, experts warn that the area remains under threat from pressure to open conservation areas and Indigenous lands to agribusiness, mining, and infrastructure projects.
Indonesia: Tribes Push to Revive a Legacy of Sustainability January
The Ormu Wari and Nechiebe tribes in eastern Indonesia have ratified a village regulation that aims to formalize their age-old traditions of sustainable forestry, farming, and fishing. The new regulation stipulates customary fines on top of those imposed under national legislation, which the tribes say the government must do more to enforce.
U.S.: Tax Reform Bill Opens Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for Oil and Gas Drilling December
The tax reform bill passed by Congress in December 2017 will open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northern Alaska for oil and gas drilling. ANWR is known for its biodiversity and is home to many Indigenous com2 • www. cs. org
munities, all of which are threatened by the legislation.
Ecuador: President Commits to No New Mining Concessions on Indigenous Lands December
A two-week, 200-mile march comprised of Indigenous leaders and community members through the Amazon and the Andes ended December 11 in Quito, Ecuador, when President Lenin Moreno agreed to end new mining concessions in Indigenous territories and to reinstate an Indigenous bilingual education program.
Chile: Ancestral Lands Returned to the Rapa Nui after 129 Years December
On November 23, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet officially gave control of ancestral lands, including the famous moai statues, back to the Rapa Nui people via a local entity called Ma’u Henua. Though the island remains an annex of Chile, all future decisions will be made by the Rapa Nui people.
U.S.: Native American Rights Essential in Protecting Natural Resources in Pacific Northwest December
Environmental groups are celebrating the unexpected election of Don Orange for Port of Vancouver commissioner
A Brazilian federal court unanimously ruled to revoke the drilling license for Canadian-owned Belo Sun to mine the banks of the Xingu River, citing the company’s failure to address the impact of the open-pit gold mine on the Indigenous Juruna in the Environmental Impact Assessment. The court further ruled that Belo Sun must complete an Indigenous Component Study to measure the project’s specific impacts on the Juruna before licensing can be reconsidered.
U.S.: Trump Administration Lifts Protection from the Bears Ears National Monument December
The Trump administration reversed the 2016 designation of the Bears Ears region as a national monument in Utah. The decision to shrink the monument is the largest removal of federal land protection in the nation’s history. The Ute Mountain and Indian Tribes, Navajo Nation, Hopi, and Zuni tribes have filed a lawsuit against the executive order.
Nicaragua: Indigenous Yatama Party Suffers Loss in Elections November
The ruling National Liberation Sandinista Front (FSLN) swept the Yatama party in Nicaragua’s municipal elections. Yatama is the largest and only grassroots Indigenous and Afro-descendant organization on the Caribbean coast, primarily representing the Miskitu. The FSLN state party won 135 of 153 mayoral posts amidst accusations of unprecedented voter abstention, electoral fraud, and post-electoral violence.
Campaign Updates Global: Stop the TransPacific Partnership Trans-Pacific Partnership Moves Forward Without the U.S., Indigenous Rights On March 8, 2018, 11 nations are expected to sign the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty, despite outcry from Indigenous communities around the world. The treaty has been met with staunch opposition from citizens of the signa- tory countries, including Canada, Chile, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. In October 2016, the Council of Canadians Northwest Territories chapter issued the statement: “Advocates of the rights of First Nations are extremely concerned the government of Canada signed the TPP without consultation or consideration of the constitutionally protected, judicially recognized, and internationally enshrined rights of Indigenous Peoples.” The treaty will also have a heavy impact on Chile’s Mapuche people, as it fails to recognize or protect their ancestral lands. Ana Llao Llao, the Mapuche representative to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, has warned that “The logging industry is expanding in Chile due to free trade agreements, and its activities have a direct impact on the Mapuche people’s access to their lands and the biodiversity of their territory.” Human rights activists continue to fight the TPP’s ratification.
Peru: Force Oil Company to Clean Up Spills Human Rights Award Recognizes Those Who Have Fought to Protect Indigenous Peoples and Their Lands On December 12, 2017, four organizations were presented
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.
with the country’s annual Angel Escobar Jurado Award to Indigenous Peoples federations in the Peruvian Amazon: Federación de Comunidades Nativas de la cuenca del Corrientes (FECONACOR), Organización de los Pueblos Indígenas Kichwas Amazónicos de la Frontera Perú Ecuador (OPIKAFPE), Asociación Cocama de Desarrollo y Conservación San Pablo de Tipishca (ACODECOSPAT), and Federación Indígena Quechua del Pastaza (FEDIQUEP). The recipients were commended for their work fighting for their peoples’ rights to their traditional lands and livelihoods in the face of over four decades of oil extraction. On behalf of their communities, Indigenous leaders took the opportunity to highlight the corruption and abuses of the Peruvian government while also expressing optimism toward building a better future. Alfonso López (Kukama) from the Marañón River Basin, said, “We welcome all human rights defenders, and we reaffirm ourselves in this difficult struggle for rights, demonstrating that Indigenous Peoples can unite upon a common agenda, leaving aside our differences.” Amazonian Communities Issue a Declaration against State-Run Oil Companies Polluting Their Lands On January 16, 2018, the Indigenous Peoples’ organization OPIKAFPE made a statement about the government’s non-compliance in requiring State-run oil companies to alleviate pollution in their native Kichwa territory. A promised toxicology and epidemiological report on their land has not been delivered, despite government promises. This comes after a major oil spill in the area in 2015, after which the territory has not seen adequate measures carried out to clean
and protect the land. The declaration states: “This type of project deeply affects our lives; however, the regional government of Loreto and the Ministry of Transport and Communications have not consulted us at any time. . . . We clarify that the OPIKAFPE communities will defend their territory and will not allow these abuses to continue.” The group is continuing to pressure the Peruvian government for needed information, supplies, and protection. Cameroon: Stop Palm Oil Plantations from Destroying Africa’s Ancient Rainforests and Local Livelihoods Human Rights Defender Freed On November 27, 2017, Nasako Besingi was released from prison in Buea by order of a military judge after having been arrested two months earlier. Besingi has worked to defend his community of Mundemba from palm oil plantations and has led protests against the American-owned plantation Herakles Farms for their human rights violations against his people. Besingi is one of many activists in Cameroon whose actions have led to persecution by the Cameroonian government. He was held without bail and charged with insurrection and terrorism, which, if he had convicted, could have resulted in the death penalty. Besingi was previously arrested for conducting unlawful assemblies and defamation. His imprisonment follows a disturbing pattern of the Cameroonian government targeting peaceful human rights defenders under its 2014 antiterrorism law.
Take action at www.cs.org/ take-action. Read more news at www.cs.org/news. Cultural CulturalSurvival SurvivalQuarterly Quarterly March March2018 2018 • • 33
indi geno u s a rts
Creating Music Inspired by Nature and Sámi Lifeways Ánnámáret
am Jussen Ántte Sálmmo Ánná Máret, Anna NäkkäläjärviLänsman. My artist name is Ánnámáret. I am originally from Inari, a central village of Sápmi in Finland, and my family’s roots go all the way back to Enontekiö. Eight years ago I got married, and now I am living with my family in a small northern village called Utsjoki. The landscape is totally different from Inari: Utsjoki is far more north than Inari and above the coniferous tree line. So, the birches I used to see through the window from my room in my childhood home aren’t there anymore. It is not easy to make a living here. You have to be creative, and especially in the traditional livelihoods you have to remember to respect nature and its spirit. I think a lot of people think that the old religion is not living anymore amongst our people. Could it be that it actually still is? As far as I have
considered it, we are spiritual people. It is natural; we don’t have to explain it to each other. The most important thing is nature, to respect it and to use only what you need, not more. I think we still live our lives holding strong to these principles, though modernization has changed our lives and society a great deal. However, I am not ready to think that we have lost our spirituality. I work as a musician. I sing, research, teach, produce, and consult. I have my own band, Ánnámáret Ensemble, and we have released two albums. I compose the music and write the lyrics in Sámi to the music I perform. I was originally trained as a classical clarinettist, and at some point I started to think about the life this path was offering for me. It was hard work and really inspiring, but I felt that my place was somewhere else. Somehow life carried me forward and I started to reach for different kinds of dreams. One dream was definitely to become a singer and know
Photo by Nadya Kwandibens, Red Works.
Ánnámáret. Photo courtesy of Anna Näkkäläjärvi-Länsman.
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Sámi vocal heritage better, so I started to compose my own music to get there. My music is inspired by the Sámi way of living and the nature around us. We fight great battles against colonialism, but there is also a great battle inside us to beat the colonialism within. Sometimes I think I write about things that are too ordinary and not sparkling at all, but in the end, those are the things that express life here realistically and have the most meaning for Sámi people. I think my texts are written to Sámi people all over Sápmi, and I hope people understand the hidden meanings in the lyrics. My music is influenced by a combination of styles. I started to do music with my cousin when we were children, and that is a starting point that you can still hear. It is a combination of traditional Sámi vocal music (yoik) and instrumentation. I listened to Nordic folk music a lot when I was a teenager studying music, and I think that it still influences me a great deal. I like to work with folk musicians. My compositions feature a strong Sámi vibe, but somehow it is put through an Ánnámáret filter that makes it both original and recognizable. I have been singing in the Sámi language since I was a child. I never thought about writing lyrics in Finnish, even though it is actually my mother’s language. Singing in Sámi and listening to Sámi music has been an important link to Sámi culture for me, especially when living outside the Sámi area. Singing in Sámi was a natural decision, and it is a rewarding feeling to create something new in the Sámi language. I am really happy that at the moment I have the opportunity to work with the vocal traditions of my people. I am researching some archive yoik recordings that I found recently from archives in Finland. Yoik is a traditional form of song of Sámi people; each yoik is meant to reflect or evoke a person, animal, or place. This has opened a new world for me. The world was really close and familiar for me also before this, but now I feel a stronger connection to my heritage. It is like getting a missing piece of me back, and hopefully at some point I can forward it to people that this affects as well. Listening to yoiks from the archives opens a window to the world people lived in a long time ago. You can hear the nature and the reindeer from the lyrics. It is mindblowing how the yoiker, only using a few lexical words in the yoik lyrics, describes the whole world and life. I see the tundra inside my head, I feel the cold in my body, I hear the wind blowing when listening to the old yoiks. One of my friends once described how listening to a talented yoiker can be a spiritual and healing experience. I have been working with Sámi music education for years. Currently we are establishing a special Sámi Music Academy in Utsjoki. The idea of the school is to educate Sámis in their own vocal music cultures, but also in general music subjects needed for working in the field of music. It has been great to work with students eager to learn about their music cultures and also with Sámi music professionals willing to share their knowledge about the vocal traditions. I have already learned so much during the process, and I will be learning more together with the students and teachers in the future. When we are teaching the Sámi vocal music styles in a systematic form, we have to be careful. There are a lot of things you have to consider when bringing an oral tradition to a general education. For example, not all of the traditional materials we know and find from the archives are suitable
Ánnámáret with husband and daughter. Photo by Carl Johan Utsi.
in teaching or performances. It is important to have constant dialogue with the Sámi society and the elders that have the traditional knowledge to find the way that this kind of education can work, so we can simultaneously maintain and revitalize the traditions. The greatest challenge for Sámi women and Sámis in general as a minority culture is how to be equal with the majority. We have so many educated and quick-witted professionals in many fields of modern society, but unfortunately if you make your ethnic background visible, often you are not taken seriously or you are not considered professionally equal. The Sámi community has been discussing lately about the freedom of speech as well; we have new theories about the fact that it is limited nowadays, for example in mainstream and social media. When I think about Sámi culture in modern society, I have to celebrate how amazing it is that the people didn’t give up their traditions or culture even if the pressure from the outsiders has been harsh at times. Sámi women have been equal with the men in society when considering, for example, owning reindeer or working. These days when the traditional way of living rarely exists, it seems that it is predominantly Sámi women who carry the responsibility of passing the traditions on to the next generations.
To hear Ánnámáret’s music, visit: annamaret.fi
Cultural Survival Quarterly March 2018 • 5 Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2017 • 5
women th e wo r ld m u st hear
Indigenous Women’s Rights Are Human Rights
Indigenous women demand to be heard at the March on Washington in January 2017. Photo by Jamie Malcolm-Brown.
he recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have brought to the surface the ugly realities women all over the world face daily. For many Indigenous women, that reality is even more acute. Indigenous women and girls are murdered and disappear at alarming rates. According to the World Bank, one billion women—one out of three women globally—will face intimate partner violence or sexual violence in her lifetime. Statistics on violence committed against Indigenous women remain unreliable and incomplete, while statistics that do exist are believed to vastly underestimate the true number of murders and disappearances of Indigenous women around the world. Indigenous women are disproportionately affected by violence and discrimination because of their intersectional identities that make them more vulnerable than other groups in society. Underlying factors of poverty, historic marginalization, racism, and legacies of colonialism have made Indigenous women frequent targets of hatred and violence. In Canada, Indigenous women are murdered at a rate seven times higher than non-Indigenous women. In the United States, the National Institute of Justice has released staggering statistics showing that 84 percent of Alaska Native and 6 • www. cs. org
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz Photo by Mídia Ninja
American Indian women have experienced some form of violence in their lifetimes, ranging from psychological to sexual and physical violence. Despite the gravidity of the situation, 38 percent of Indigenous women victims were unable to access legal, medical, and other services, underscoring a tremendous lack—and need—of resources to support victims. In September 2015, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, wrote in a special report on Indigenous women and girls that Indigenous women all over the world experience a “broad, multifaceted and complex spectrum of mutually reinforcing human rights abuses” due to their particular position of vulnerability amongst patriarchal power structures. Her report cited a variety of statistics further highlighting the dark reality facing Indigenous women. For example, Native American and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other women in the U.S., while 86 percent of reported cases are perpetrated by non-Natives; and Indigenous women in Canada are 4 times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women. The rate of these atrocities and injustices are not unique to North America: in Indigenous territories occupied by the Burmese army, the rape of Indigenous women is viewed as both “entertainment” and part of a strategy to demoralize and weaken the Indigenous population; furthermore, Tauli-Corpuz wrote, in Fiji, India, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, and Timor-Leste, militarized conflict over Indigenous land has led to gang-rape, sexual enslavement, and the murder of Tribal women. Cultural Survival Indigenous Rights Radio Producer, Shaldon Ferris, recently spoke to Tauli-Corpuz. CS: How do Indigenous rights and women’s rights intersect? Victoria Tauli-Corpuz: They intersect very naturally because
Indigenous People’s rights are dealing with the issues of discrimination and marginalization. In a similar way, the issues of Indigenous women are also about discrimination on the basis of their gender [and] the discrimination of Indigenous Peoples, so they have several layers of discrimination. Even in the issue of land rights, which is a key issue for Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous women are usually also discriminated against within their own cultures for things like owning property. CS: How has the landscape for women and girls changed since your 2015 report? Victoria Tauli-Corpuz: I know of Indigenous communities
All photos courtesy of MAPLE.
who have changed some of their inheritance laws to remove their discriminatory aspects against women; this has happened in my own community here in the Cordillera, Philippines, where women are equally given a chance to inherit land. Because of the conscious efforts of the Indigenous People’s movements to deal with discrimination against women, there have been a few changes. But I can’t say for certain [these have been] satisfactory. The changes are happening slowly, and because of the conscious efforts of Indigenous people and Indigenous women. CS: Have the statistics of violence against Indigenous women improved? Victoria Tauli-Corpuz: I cannot say for certain that it has
improved because I still receive a lot of reports of sexual violence against Indigenous women. Very recently there was this case of two Indigenous women in Bangladesh who were raped, and when the Chakma queen went to help them, she herself was aggressively beaten by the military. I think violence because of discrimination has not really improved in regards to race. I have come from Canada where the cases of missing and murdered women is still a very prevalent issue. But I think that things have also been progressing in a way we would like. CS: What do you believe is the catalyst for change? Victoria Tauli-Corpuz: First of all, the States who have
signed on to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women should put forth much more effort to ensure the rights of Indigenous women are respected and that this kind of violence doesn’t happen. In many cases I have seen, it is the police or military who are doing this violence against women. I think there needs to be a more conscious effort to stop violence because of gender discrimination and discrimination against Indigenous Peoples in general. There are many State policies that are still very discriminatory and the justice system is not available for Indigenous women to use when they become victims of violence. There has to be a lot of work done in terms of making the justice system more sensitive to issues of Indigenous women and Indigenous people as a whole. CS: What is the role of everyday people, particularly women, in this movement? Victoria Tauli-Corpuz: Indigenous women are becoming
aware of their rights both as women and as Indigenous Peoples; I have seen across the board, in every region and continent, Indigenous women organizing themselves and learning more about their rights and asserting these rights in the face of government and also in their own communities. Indigenous women are aware, self-organizing, and also training their counterparts in the communities to be aware of their rights and to empower themselves in the most effective ways. If I am an Indigenous woman who would like to see situations where we are equally valued and enjoying our rights, I should be active not only at the community level, but also at the global level. The number of Indigenous women’s organizations at the local level and Indigenous women’s networks has definitely increased; in Latin America, there are now very strong Indigenous women’s networks in Central America and South
America. In Africa they also have their own networks. I think the progress in terms of Indigenous women empowering themselves and building their own organizations is quite good, and I hope that it will be sustained. CS: In the 2015 report, you named weaknesses in monitoring systems and implementation in relation to Indigenous women’s rights and a lack of disaggregated data regarding Indigenous women as key challenges for the global community. Do these continue to be key challenges? Victoria Tauli-Corpuz: Yes, monitoring is still not at a satis-
factory level. Even disaggregating data on Indigenous people as a whole is not really happening in some countries. Secondly, in some regions, like Africa and Asia, governments don’t even recognize the existence or identity of Indigenous Peoples; therefore, the monitoring of what is happening to them isn’t taking place. Thirdly, the statistical systems in most countries are not yet in the stage where they are able to disaggregate data based on ethnicity or gender. You can have data on the extent of violence against women in general, but not against Indigenous women in particular, which many say there aren’t the resources for that. But Indigenous women are being trained to monitor within their communities to see what the situation is for themselves and to influence their own local government to change things. It is happening under the sustainable development goals framework to push the government to monitor what is happening to them. CS: What are some promising practices that have been implemented since your report? Victoria Tauli-Corpuz: There are now some Indigenous
women who are members of governmental women’s commissions. In the Philippines, they have the Philippines Commission on Women with members who are Indigenous women. There are [also] more reports being written on the situation of Indigenous women. For instance, I am getting good reports on how criminalization of Indigenous women is happening. That means that women who are resisting are filing criminal charges. Thirdly, there are many Indigenous organizations now that are undertaking their own programs and projects related to raising awareness on their rights, but also socio-economic projects that help them promote their own livelihoods and protect their [trades]. CS: Can you speak about Indigenous women’s leadership in the international arena in advocating for Indigenous rights? Victoria Tauli-Corpuz: There is now an international forum
of Indigenous women that has a committee composed of Indigenous leaders from the seven regions of the world where Indigenous People are found. This is a very active network, which is bringing Indigenous women to global leadership training courses and providing support to Indigenous women to strengthen their organizations and undertake their own socio-economic projects. They are bringing the women to take part in the UN Commission on the Status of Women, [and] there are a good number of Indigenous leaders coming from the regions of the world. This is a good development that should be fully supported. Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2018 • 7
i ndi geno u s k n ow le d g e
Building Peace on Earth Pauline Tangiora Kim Langbecker
orty-plus years of activism for environmental justice, Indigenous rights, human rights, and conflict resolution or reconciliation have taken elder Pauline Tangiora (Ngāti Rongomaiwahine) from her small community on the Māhia Peninsula of the North Island of Aotearoa (New Zealand) across the world to places as far flung as Mexico, where she has faced down militaries with Indigenous community members; Iraq, where she has comforted child victims of chemical weapons attacks; to the United Nations in New York and Geneva, where she advocated with the San from Botswana, all while supporting her own people in their fight for their ancestral land. Though there are few places she has not traveled to, Tangiora maintains she is most at home in Māhia: “When I come under the railway bridge and look across to Māhia, I think, ‘I’m home’.” Tangiora traces her call to justice to an incident she experienced as a young girl in primary school. “A quiet boy was sitting in the field having his morning tea, and these two girls came up to him and belted him. I went up to them and said, ‘You do it again to him and I will do it to you.’ We have to stand up for people who cannot stand up for themselves,” she says. Tangiora has a blended family of 14 children, 52 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren. She recognized that maintaining the balance between traditional values and 8 • www. cs. org
a modern life were critical to the survival of her culture, and equally so for the protection of the environment. She resisted receiving a ta moko (tribal marking) until she was in her fifties because she understood the cultural responsibility and significance associated with it. Ta moko is a sign of cultural identity and a reflection of the general revival of language and culture; having one means you have a great responsibility to your community in service. Tribal members are part of the solution and see the value in engaging the youth in positive activities and learning opportunities. At the same time, there is a deep sense of investment in the wisdom and knowledge that the elders carry. Tangiora is one of three activists recently presented with the prestigious International Bremen Peace Award from the Schwelle Foundation in Germany. Kate Dewes, who has worked closely with Tangiora in her role as director of the Disarmament Movement and Security Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, calls her “the leading kuia [Māori female elder] in the peace movement globally.” She is former president and current vice president of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Aotearoa; former regional women’s representative for the World Council for Indigenous Peoples; and a former Earth Charter commissioner. Currently Tangiora serves as ambassador to the Earth Council International and the 13 International Indigenous Grandmothers’ Council. She is also a member of the World Futures Council and the
Visiting Santa Fe Community College Trades and Advanced Technology Center in Fall 2017. L-R: Kim Langbecker, Stephen Gomez, Charlie Shultz, Jeremiah Star, Pauline Tangiora, Olga Asoli, Flordemayo, Mary Wilson, Luke Spangenburg. Photo courtesy of Kim Langbecker.
Māori Women’s Welfare League, and a patron of the Peace Foundation. Though she is a global citizen in the truest sense, some of Tangiora’s biggest accomplishments have come closer to home. Māhia is a small, rural community, economically depressed at one of the farthest points east on Earth. There has been a long-running land rights battle with the Crown for its abuse of rights and confiscation of Tribal lands. Tangiora was one of seven negotiators in the recently completed treaty settlement of $100 million NZD and social assistance package that came with a formal apology from the Crown in 2016. The Tatau Tatau Ki Te Wairoa administers the trust settlement on behalf of the beneficiaries, of which the Tangiora's Tribal community of Rongomaiwahine iwi are a part. These are primarily fisherpeople, and whales are sacred to their culture. There are currently over 4,000 claimants to this settlement. More than 30 years ago, Tangiora spearheaded such a campaign. This was an especially contentious battle because the Crown played a critical role in the outbreak of war and was known for its use of scorched earth tactics, which it ultimately acknowledged devastated crops, livestock, and food supplies. Consequently, generational and historical trauma continues to plague many Tribal people. The land rights settlement has proven to reap rewards far beyond the financial: as economic burdens have been eased on the families, children have begun to explore their history
from an Indigenous perspective. The past is remembered, but not dwelled upon. Ancestors are honored and revered for their role, especially Te Whiti o Rongomai, a Māori spiritual leader and founder of the village of Parihaka in New Zealand’s Taranaki region, who gave the world the passive resistance approach to fighting injustice famously adopted by Mahatma Gandhi. A renewed sense of cultural pride indicates progress. The Rongomaiwahine were forced to interact with the iwi and hapū (named divisions of iwi) of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa during these negotiations, despite their differences. “We are an iwi in our right, so it was a tough process working together,” Tangiora says, adding, “It is time to move on. We can’t let it rule our lives anymore. But history must be told of why Māori feel resentful after their land was confiscated. Pakeha [white New Zealanders] seem to think we have a lot of money, but that money needs to be used wisely. The trustees have to come together to decide how the people want to use the money for the people.” Another part of Tangiora’s advocacy efforts has been her work in the prison system for almost 50 years. She was instrumental in getting books for prisoners into prisons and has worked as an advocate about the effects of Māori children who have been in State care. “What worries me is the people who are left in there for 20 to 25 years, without any contact,” she says. “Prison is a terrible place to go, but it is also a place of hope. It does not matter if someone in your family has done something; you cannot throw them away. Better they come out knowing you cared enough to visit or write to them every week. A long time ago, I sent a card to a man in prison. Years later, one officer said to me, ‘You know this guy, that card you sent him 20 years ago, he carries around in a plastic bag in his pocket, and sometimes you see him sit outside and read it.’” More than half of the 8,000 prisoners currently incarcerated in New Zealand are Māori. Due to the lingering effects of colonization, most have issues with literacy, substance abuse, or come from a dysfunctional family with generational unemployment. Given the wealth of her experience and the extent of her advocacy work, it is no surprise that Tangiora is a sought-after speaker and representative at conferences and forums all over the world. On this global stage, she shares the traditional wisdom and knowledge of the Māori people while learning and sharing best practices from other communities who are experiencing similar issues. What keeps her going is her passion to leave the world a better place for the children and grandchildren. “Working in peace is hard work. But there are also many wonderful things: the friendliness, kindness, and warmth of people, and the trust they put in me.” Speaking to the children of the world, Tangiora encourages, “dream a dream, and you will get there, but it won’t come without hard work. If the world supports each other, it would be a better place.” —Kim Langbecker is an event producer and strategic development consultant working with social benefit organizations, and a partner in Terra Global Solutions, a B Corp that provides solutions for a sustainable future. Cultural Survival Quarterly
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c l i mat e ch a n g e
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim A Ch a m p i on f or I n d ig en o u s P eo pl es ag ai n st C li m at e Ch an ge Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim being interviewed at the Rising Voices conference in April 2017. Photo by Jamie Malcolm-Brown.
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Agnes Portalewska (CS Staff)
indou Oumarou Ibrahim is no stranger to international high-level policy discussions on climate change; she been participating for over a decade. As a 33year-old Indigenous woman from a Mbororo pastoralist community of Chad, Ibrahim made headlines when she was selected to be the speaker representing civil society at the April 22, 2016 signing ceremony of the historic climate agreement reached at the 21st UN Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC- COP21) meeting in Paris in December 2015. She is also a member of the executive committee of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee and a co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change. As the coordinator of the Association des Femmes Peules et Peuples Autochtones du Tchad (AFPAT), a communitybased organization working for the rights and environmental protection of the Indigenous Peule women and people of Chad, Ibrahim has experienced climate change firsthand. Peule Mbororo number an estimated 250,000 nomads in Chad who also practice subsistence farming in the Sahel region, a semiarid region of western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal eastward to The Sudan. “Climate change threatens our basic rights, our cultural values, and the very survival of these communities. For all Indigenous Peoples from any corner of the world, livelihoods are linked to natural resources— for our food and medicine, for everything. So, if there are floods or droughts, the impact is greater for us,” said Ibrahim, while also stressing the importance that traditional Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge can make to mitigation and adaptation. “Traditional knowledge and climate science are both critically important for building resilience of rural communities to cope with climate change, and Indigenous Peoples are ready to share their knowledge to help to mitigate and adapt.” At the Rising Voices: Collaborative Science with Indigenous Knowledge for Climate Solutions conference, in April 2017 in Boulder, Colorado, Ibrahim highlighted the importance Indigenous women play in observing and combating climate change: “Indigenous women are the most affected by climate change, firstly because they are the ones who are collecting food and water to feed their families. They also gather traditional medicine for the health of the communities. They are playing a big role in natural resource conservation and also in protecting traditional knowledge. In my communities and in my regions, women have the knowledge of the water protection, food collection, and land protection through observing certain kind of trees that have to be harvested
at specific times . . . they have to feed these trees in order to get a good rainy season. The roles these women hold are very important at the community level and also at the national level. “The women of the communities understand climate change because they are seeing it through all their work. Because we are cattle herders, we have milk. The women see during the dry season that the quantity of the milk is reducing from one liter, it is becoming just like one cup. They are not getting milk every day. They know that this is happening because of climate change. The elders who are holding the traditional knowledge, they are becoming few. To transfer it to the new generation, the mechanism has been changing a lot because young people are migrating from the communities to the big towns. But, some of them who are staying, they learn from the elder peoples where we use the trees.” Ibrahim also shared concrete examples of climate change in Chad: “We used to have three seasons: dry season, rainy season, and cold season. But now the cold season has disappeared; cold season for us it’s not snowing. The rainy season changed a lot because we used to have six to nine months of rain, but now it’s like between two and six months of rain, with heavy rains that are not regular. This is impacting the food security in all the lives of the people; it has created desertification and the loss of biodiversity, and our livestock too. In order to encourage sustainable management of the environment, Ibrahim co-developed a 3D mapping project with elders and herders. One of the key functions of the maps is to give voice to Indigenous Peoples in the national adaptation platforms and other national processes to promote peace, livelihoods, and biological conservation in the face of worsening climate instability, and to solve conflict connected to resource scarcity. She explains, “The 3D participatory mapping [allows] the elders to say all the history about when they were young, what exists there [now], and how the young people can protect the rest of the land. And they are very interested in doing that because they know it is their future and they have to take this knowledge. The 3D participatory mapping also helped to give voice to women in some conservative communities. But still it is not easy, because weather is changing and it’s impacting their mother tongue, transferring the knowledge from one community, from one generation to another one.” Every day in her work, Ibrahim fights to get Indigenous knowledge incorporated into climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. “Where our traditional knowledge and science meet, we say that climate science uses modern knowledge and the forecasting system. But for us, we are just using our information and other factors that we observe. And from this we create our own Indigenous knowledges to adapt. During the rainy season we eat the fruit; at the end of the rainy season, we take the fruit and we break it down. When we break it, we see the liquid inside. If the liquid is abundant, we know that the tree is predicting for the next year; that helps us predict if it’s going to be a good year or not. And we have certain kinds of lizards, when they have a lot of babies . . . in some years there are not a lot of babies because they are not sure of the next generation. That helps us to predict if we are going to have a good rainy season next year or not. If the wind is coming from the south to the north, north to south; if the wind is heavy; if the wind is dry; if it is hot . . . that helps
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim speaking at the launch of the Pastoralists Knowledge Hub at the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy, April 2015. Photo courtesy of FAO/Giulio Napolitano.
us to say if the rain is going to be heavy or not.” But, she cautions, “the elders who are holding the traditional knowledge are becoming few. To transfer it to the new generation, the mechanism has been changing a lot because young people are migrating from the communities to the big towns.” The question then becomes, “From all those knowledges, how do we transmit it to the international level? Because we know that at the international level they are discussing our future and we are not included. We have the Paris Agreement, we got into the preamble incorporation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Then we have Article 7.5, where they recognize Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge of adaptation to climate change. And in the decisions we have the participation of Indigenous Peoples and the rights of Indigenous Peoples. But the most important is Paragraph 135, the establishment of the Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge platform. This had been discussed during the COP22 in Morocco. As Indigenous Peoples, we say, ‘You cannot talk about us, for us, without us. We have to be at the table with you. Even if the government can negotiate, we have to talk ourselves.’ We won only because we sat at the table with them and we negotiated.” At the latest COP23 in 2017 in Bonn, Germany, much news coverage was dedicated to Indigenous activism. “Our strategies stand out,” Ibrahim says. “When we come out, we shout. We stand. We use media. We use the internet. We use every possibility that would tell them it’s important. Then, we use peaceful voices to go to ‘friendly’ countries and we organize the Indigenous Peoples’ dialogue between us and the friendly States. [We have] two days to show them clearly why we want to have Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, why we want to have Indigenous Peoples’ rights, where we want to have it, and how we are going to implement it. During two days we negotiate with them and they say, ‘We are going to support you.’ And then we create a network of people who support us, who advocate for us. It’s not easy. Still it’s a very big fight. But, we have to go through it.” Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2018 • 11
r i ght s i n a ct io n
Women of Sarayaku protest oil drilling on their lands. Photo courtesy of Amazon Watch.
INDIGENOUS AMAZONIAN WOMEN Defending Mother Earth Miriam Anne Frank
n March 21, 2016, International Women’s Day, an Amazonian women’s alliance was born when Indigenous women from seven nationalities— Kichwa, Sápara, Shiwiar, Shuar, Achuar, Andoa, and Waorani—joined forces for the first time, marching together in defense of their rights, rainforests, and future generations. Over 500 Amazonian women, men, and allies made history as they descended on the streets of Puyo, Ecuador, chanting, “What do we want? Our rights and territories! Living forests!” Coming from remote communities, local towns, and provinces by foot, canoe, bus, and plane they came to denounce a newly signed contract between the Ecuadorian government and Chinese-owned corporation Andes Petroleum granting access to oil in Indigenous territories. Contrary to Ecuadorian and international laws, these communities were not consulted, nor had given their Free, Prior and Informed Consent for these oil activities. Steadily, Amazonian Indigenous women’s leadership continues to grow. Mirian Cisneros was elected president of the region of Sarayaku in May 2017. She recently gave a powerful intervention to Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno at a historic dialogue with Indigenous leaders. This meeting, a culmination of a 2-week, 200-mile march to Quito demanding an end to resource extraction on Indigenous territories, led to victory as Moreno declared an end to all “new” oil and mining concessions. In December 2017, Nema Ushigua 12 • www. cs. org
became the first female president of the Sápara nationality. After years of division, she secured government recognition for the Sápara federation, advancing their efforts to mantain their language, culture, and territory threatened by oil drilling. Highly vulnerable, with a population of less than 500, the Sápara are recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. “It is truly an honor to work in solidarity with Indigenous Amazonian women who are leading their people, and are also leading voices in the global movement to protect sacred territories, Mother Earth, and future generations. They truly inspire me,” said Leila Salazar-López, executive director of Amazon Watch, a California-based NGO working to stop Amazon destruction, advance Indigenous solutions and support climate justice. Last November, Amazon Watch accompanied a delegation of Indigenous Kichwa leaders from Sarayaku to attend the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany. Mirian Cisneros was joined by Kichwa leader Patricia Gualinga, known for her involvement in the historic Sarayaku v. Ecuador victory where the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of the Kichwas’ right to consultation prior to industrial projects on their land. They had come to promote their Kawsak Sacha “Living Forest” proposal, a comprehensive vision for living in harmony with the natural world based upon their ancestral practices. The Living Forests vision is vital for many reasons, most fundamentally that maintaining the ecological balance
COP23 of the Amazon is essential to Earth’s health and capacity to mitigate climate change. The Amazon, long playing the critical role of sequestering carbon, is now rapidly on its way to becoming a carbon source due to deforestation. “My message here at COP23 for the people, for allies of the world, is that we need to fight together [and] unite forces, because the states that are here speaking in our name are at a negotiating table where supposedly they are looking for solutions—but these solutions are for them, not for Indigenous Peoples,” Cisneros said. “Our people are in our communities, while they are here making decisions for us. They are putting prices on our natural resources, they are putting prices on us, without fully comprehending that within our territories we exist as communities with huge wisdom, knowledge, science, technology.” When Gualinga was asked to represent the global climate justice movement at the High-Level Segment at COP23, her impassioned speech contrasted sharply to those by heads of governments. “Climate change is not a business . . . we, the grassroots communities and Indigenous Peoples of the world, we have the real solutions. From the people of Sarayaku to Standing Rock . . . we are all fighting against destruction and for a decent life. We are fighting for climate justice!” On January 5, an unknown assailant threw rocks, breaking the windows of Gualinga’s home while yelling repeated death threats. Threats and harassment of Indigenous leaders, especially women, are on the rise. Undeterred, Amazonian women rallied in a press conference, expressing their solidarity: “We Amazon women are united and strong and have a lifelong commitment to the defense of Mother Earth. Although they try to frighten us, we will not be defeated, and we will continue to stand united in struggle, no matter the costs!” In response, the women are once again marching on International Women’s Day in Puyo. For more information, visit: amazonwatch.org/women. —Miriam Anne Frank has worked on Indigenous issues for IPOs, NGOs, international organizations, and foundations as an independent consultant, and teaches on these topics as a lecturer at the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Vienna.
Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples’ Platform
ndigenous Peoples from around the world Jannie Staffansson and gathered in Bonn, Germany to make their Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim. rd voices heard at the 23 Conference of the Photo by Jamie Malcolm-Brown. Parties (COP23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held November 6–17, 2017. It has been two years since the COP21 in Paris, and elected leaders around the globe have proven unwilling to take the bold, urgent action needed to respond to the climate chaos wreaking havoc on the planet. At COP23, Indigenous Peoples continued to advocate their positions both inside and outside the formal meetings they have limited access to. Although coming from vastly different regions and cultures, the importance of traditional knowledge in regards to climate change is a shared value. “Indigenous Peoples of Africa are facing climate challenges daily—loss of biodiversity, change of seasons where rainy seasons are shorter and dry seasons longer. For my people, as we are nomadic and semi-nomadic, we have relied upon our traditional knowledge as a basis for helping us cope with climate adaptation and mitigation for centuries,” said Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (Mbororo) executive committee member of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee. “The Arctic has been changing fast, and the Indigenous Peoples living there have been forced to adapt and rely on the knowledge they inherited by their ancestors, gained through a life close to the nature. The world needs to base its decisions on the best available knowledge there is. Indigenous knowledge is currently missing in these negotiations and excluding it is a loss the world cannot afford,” said Jannie Staffansson (Saami) of the Arctic and Environment Unit of the Saami Council. These young women leaders are active members of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), the Indigenous representative body focused on impacting the COPs. During the Paris conference the IIPFCC realized a small victory in regards to the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples’ Platform. This Platform was designed at COP21 to create a space to strengthen traditional knowledge and exchange lessons learned on reducing emissions, adaptation strategies, and building resilience. The parties at COP23 debated how much decision-making power they could concede to nonparty “stakeholders.” In the final decision, a shared chairmanship by state and local communities and Indigenous Peoples’ representatives was agreed to. According to Oumarou Ibrahim, who co-chaired the IIPFCC during the negotiations, the Platform is an opportunity for States to take part in the sustainable way of life of Indigenous Peoples. But, she cautioned, “this cannot be effective if Indigenous Peoples do not take part at the decision-making bodies of the UNFCCC where the real decisions impacting the lives of our peoples are taken. Being in the room where the negotiations happen is one thing, but taking the floor to argue and give evidence in order to take the right decisions is another.” She emphasized the need for the Platform to be open, inclusive, and created on an equal basis, but also said she remains worried that this platform could be used by various blocks such as the G77, the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations, to leverage exchanges on climate finance that could weaken the Platform. “In the Saami’s view, we need to be part of the UNFCCC processes not only because of our knowledge and holistic understanding of the ecosystems, but also because the whole worlds needs to be engaged in these important decisions about our Mother Earth,” Staffansson said. She highlighted that since the States cannot represent Indigenous Peoples, millions are left out of these negotiations. “We all have the right to be a part of these negotiations but we need to be collaborated with in a respectful manner. We are hoping that the Platform will be constructed in a way that is inclusive and will ensure benefit sharing; not [simply] a continuous extraction of our knowledge. The Platform needs to be based on the IPFCC principles of full and effective participation, equal status and representation in the Platform, and ensuring our self-selection processes,” she said. On the frontlines of climate change, Indigenous Peoples are clearly rights holders, not just stakeholders, in the UNFCCC. The hope of the IIPFCC is that they can increase their role in these intergovernmental talks and contribute to deciding their own future via mechanisms such as the Platform. Anne Frank Cultural—Miriam Survival Quarterly March 2018 • 13
Divest, Invest, Protect
Indigenous Women Lead Divestment Campaign Michelle Cook (Diné/ Navajo), LaDonna Brave Bull Allard (Standing Rock Sioux Lakota), Tara Houska (Anishinaabe), and Jackie Fielder (Mnicoujou Lakota and MandanHidatsa) in Norway, Fall 2017. Photo courtesy of Teena Pugliese.
s a continuation of the Standing Rock fight against extreme resource extraction and human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples, a divestment delegation led by Indigenous women traveled to Europe in the spring and fall of 2017 to meet with European financial leaders. Called the DIVEST, INVEST, PROTECT Campaign, the delegation seeks to protect the climate and defend human, Indigenous, and environmental rights through education, advocacy, and action that challenges financial institutions and injustices. The campaign is organized as a partnership between Indigenous women leaders and the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International. The delegations visited Switzerland, Germany, and Norway to urge financial institutions, including the Bank of Norway (DNB), Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Bank to divest from corporations and projects that cause Indigenous human rights violations all over the world. The delegations called for divestment at the corporate level from ongoing extractive fossil fuel projects such as the Dakota
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Access Pipeline, Line 3, and Keystone XL, all of which pose severe threats to Indigenous rights, sovereignty, lands, and ways of life. Far from over, the Standing Rock Movement continues as five Water Protectors face federal charges associated with protest camps in North Dakota. Dually motivated by this injustice and a desire to prevent future tragedies, the delegations are targeting the sources of funding that allow these development projects to occur. Through the leadership of Indigenous women who experience firsthand injustices against their communities, the delegations provided a unique platform for those most impacted to share their testimonies and demands with leaders who have the potential to foster systemic change. The delegation was organized by WECAN and led by Michelle Cook, a Dine (Navajo) human rights lawyer and Osprey Orielle Lake, who met while participating in the protests at Standing Rock. While in Europe, the women attended many high level meetings with government and bank officials and members of the press. During these meetings, the women spoke of the consequences of extractive projects that neglect Indigenous People’s right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent
as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The first delegation traveled to Switzerland and Norway in the spring of 2017 and included members Lake and Cook, along with Wasté Win Young (Ihunktowanna/Hunkpapa of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe), Sarah Jumping Eagle (Oglala Lakota/Mdewakantonwan Dakota), Autumn Chacon (Diné/ Navajo), and Tara Houska (Anishinaabe). As the largest oil and gas investor in the world and a global leader in human rights advancement, Norway was the strategic first choice to send the delegation. While in Norway, the Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation met with the DNB, the Norwegian Parliament, a delegation of Sami Indigenous peoples, and with Norway’s Sami President, Vibeke Larsen. By sharing the stories of their people and educating Norwegian financial leaders on the abuses facing Indigenous Peoples in the United States, the delegates were instrumental in helping to persuade DNB to sell its $331 million stake in the Dakota Access pipeline. Upon hearing the news of DNB’s divestment decision, Young said, “We are thankful that in Norway, DNB announced that it will financially divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline [DAPL]. While this is a step in the right direction, we continue to push the Norwegian Oil Fund and other financial institutions to divest from DAPL because of the human and civil rights violations that have occurred against the people and Indigenous communities at Standing Rock. Norway is a leader in the global community, and by taking this step to divest from the DAPL, their actions can cause a ripple effect throughout the world for the greater good.” Although grateful for DNB’s decision, Young highlights the importance of a continued fight to get other financial institutions to divest. Following the success of the first delegation, a second group composed of Cook, Lake, Houska, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard (Lakota), and Jackie Fielder (Mnicoujou Lakota/ Mandan-Hidatsa) returned to Norway to meet with the Norwegian Parliament in order to advocate for the inclu- sion of Indigenous rights in the guidelines of the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, one of the largest worldwide investors. After the delegation met with the fund’s ethics council in October, the council stated that it is now reviewing allegations that Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, may be breaching the fund’s investment guidelines related to the environment, human rights, and other issues. Only a month after the second delegation met with representatives in Norway, the Norwegian Oil Fund urged the government to divest from oil and gas companies, affecting $37 billion worth of investments. Cultural Survival spoke with Cook and Lake in December. CS: Please speak about your experiences at Standing Rock. Michelle Cook: Standing Rock was a game changer and a
clear example of the continued denial of Indigenous Peoples’ human rights in the United States, laying bare the danger and coercion they face when exercising their human rights in the second half of 21st Century. However, Standing Rock was simultaneously a place of power, regeneration, and emergence. Most of my time was spent organizing legal infrastructure
and resources for those encamped, a difficult effort still being coordinated and carried out by the Water Protector Legal Collective and many others. Osprey Orielle Lake: I was very honored to be at Standing
Rock on three different trips in the summer, autumn, and winter of 2016 to support the resistance efforts, bring supplies, and record interviews with Indigenous women at the forefront of the Standing Rock Movement. The women’s voices shone boldly with dignity, wisdom, love, and strength in the midst of horrifying and unlawful violence by state and corporate actors, including attacks by dogs, mace, water cannons, pepper spray, concussion grenades, and strip-searching those arrested during peaceful actions to protect water.
CS: How did the Divestment Delegation come to be? Michelle Cook: My divestment work began in Standing
Rock in September 2016. When Indigenous women attempted to meet with the Bank of North Dakota to discuss loans to local law enforcement, they were unable to have a meeting to discuss their concerns. The delegation emerged from a basic need to provide space for Indigenous participation and civil dialogue for Water Protectors. The delegation provides tangible resources and safe opportunities for impacted Indigenous women to directly engage with banks and financial institutions to request accountability and divestment from companies responsible for violating their human rights and dignity. Financial leaders in Europe are largely ignorant of the state of law and human rights in the United States as it relates to Indigenous Peoples, primarily the existence of Tribal governments and treaty obligations with Indian nations. Moreover, these leaders falsely assume that the domestic law of the United States complies with and aligns with international human rights standards to which they are held.
Osprey Orielle Lake: The goal of the Spring and Fall 2017
delegations was to provide a platform for Indigenous women leaders to meet face-to-face with representatives of European financial institutions and insurance companies to expose injustices and directly share with these entities and the public, press, and government representatives exactly how their fossil fuel investments violate human rights and Indigenous rights, while also driving climate disruption. A major goal of the delegations was, and will continue to be, to put pressure on institutions to divest and participate in a variety of strategic platforms. Norway, Switzerland, and Germany have been the focus due to the fact that these countries are home to some of the largest institutions financing extraction across North America and around the world.
CS: Was it difficult to get banks to realize their role in causing Indigenous human rights violations? Michelle Cook: We are still advocating that Indigenous Peo-
ples are peoples with unique rights under international law, not risks to be insured against or special interests to be managed. Our mission is to humanize Indigenous Peoples and to teach the world how central the bank’s role is in sustaining projects and companies that harm Indigenous Peoples. We Cultural Survival Quarterly
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do that through the strategic use of direct engagements, personal narrative, video, and media. There is power in direct engagements. Many of the institutions are receptive to meetings; however, very few have followed through with our request for complete divestment from all the companies who are engaged in controversial conduct relating to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Some have ended project finance to DAPL, [but] very few have ended financing the corporate entities themselves. However, we do very much appreciate the banks and financial institutions that have divested and have made important steps in the right direction. A key issue is that banks and the policies presuppose that courts and U.S. law will produce fair and just decisions for Indigenous rights and victims. This is not always the case for many victims of Indigenous human rights violations in the United States. Osprey Orielle Lake: The goal of the campaign is not only
divestment, but also economic paradigm shifts that include investments in renewable energy technology and sustainability, and just, transparent, and accountable banking institutions—economic systems that are not detrimental to Indigenous peoples rights or the environment.
CS: How has Standing Rock provided a platform to educate the public and business sector about Indigenous rights? Osprey Orielle Lake: I think it’s really important to keep go-
ing back to what actually happened and to remember that this [campaign] is about people standing up for water, life, and their territories and land. We’re really trying to bring to light
these frontline struggles because they’re going to continue. A part of demanding accountability from financial institutions is showing them that this fight is not over. The delegation is a definite follow up to the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance effort, demanding accountability for what happened there and that the egregious injustices that occurred there must be responded to. Michelle Cook: I think one of the best things we can do is
educate people, but then what do we do with institutions that are educated and know about what happened at Standing Rock? Right now as a society, we have a hard time keeping our economic institutions accountable to the people; whether you’re an Indigenous person or a working class citizen, there are very serious issues of accountability presented here that concern everyone. That’s what I hope we can learn and take away from this, that the whole encounter at Standing Rock will actually bring some true legal and material change to the lives of Indigenous Peoples in the United States. I hope that that will take us somewhere new in terms of human rights in the United States.
CS: As a delegation of women, how is the perspective you bring to Indigenous human rights violations unique? Osprey Orielle Lake: Women have been fighting these sys-
tems of oppression for a long time, including extractive economies, dominant worldviews, and the institution of the patriarchy, which has put women’s rights, voices, mobility, bodies, economic power, and political power in a very detrimental situation. Indigenous women have met even further injustices and discrimination in the form of racism, colonization, and environmental impacts. At the same time, it is vitally important that we hear from Indigenous women because of what they have experienced for centuries. Their perspective on solutions, land-based knowledge and science, and what is vital for cultural transformation and economic and political social change speaks to the heart of a path forward for society overall. Indigenous women rising and being respected is essential, and we are witnessing around the world a rise of women’s power.
Norway and Switzerland delegation members outside of Norges Bank before meeting with Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, Spring 2017. L-R: Wasté Win Young, Sarah Jumping Eagle, Michelle Cook, Autumn Chacon, Tara Houska and Osprey Orielle Lake. 16 • www. cs. org
Delegates meet with Norwegian parliamentarians
CS: What are some of the biggest challenges you face advocating for Indigenous rights? What are your sources of hope? Michelle Cook: There is a desperate need for well funded
and specialized criminal and civil legal aid and support for Indigenous human rights defenders in the United States. Indigenous human rights defenders need sustained financial support and assistance in navigating the legal system as they continue to exercise their unique, sui generis rights relating to their traditional lands and territories. Accessible, effective, and culturally competent legal support for victims and this specific population must include knowledge and fluidity in customary law, tribal law, state, federal, and international law. The need for training, retaining, and growing more Indian lawyers and advocates who can work for the purpose of tribal self-determination and sovereignty with and for Indigenous Peoples is fundamental to providing access to justice to Indigenous communities. I hope that the divestment work continues to carry the torch for Indigenous rights and illuminate the obscured economic architecture required to sustain harmful resource extraction and development in our ancestral lands and territories. And I hope that we can use the encounter at Standing Rock to advance Indigenous Peoplesâ€™ rights in the United States into a safe, secure, and peaceful future. I also hope that the Indigenous-centered methodology of the delegation can be replicated and developed so that more Indigenous Peoples can directly participate and engage with the banks and financial institutions that impact their human rights, lands, and peoples.
Osprey Orielle Lake: In the pursuit of justice, we are calling
for financial and insurance institutions engaged in fossil fuel extraction and development projects to stop business as usual, given egregious violations against Indigenous Peoples and their lands and the urgency of climate change. If institutional guidelines that are supposed to uphold rights are not working, then we need to look systemically at how these guidelines must change and be implemented to take into account Indigenous and human rights and climate chaos. There is no time to lose, as climate disruption escalates and people around the world face life and death situations. WECAN is working to ensure that Indigenous women have the opportunity to speak for themselves directly to the institutions, governments, and policymakers whose decisions are harming their communities and territories through their continued investment in violent, destructive projects. It has never been more vital to listen to the voices of Indigenous women leaders who are often the backbone of their communities and movements. Together, with their voices at the forefront, we can restore the health of our communities, transition to clean energy, and seek justice for Water Protectors and those who continue to be impacted on a daily basis by fossil fuel development at Standing Rock and communities around the world.
To learn more about the Divest, Invest, Protect Campaign, visit: wecaninternational.org/ pages/divest-invest-defend.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2018 â€˘ 17
Assets, Not Deficits
A Conversation with Sarah Eagle Heart
Before the Women’s March on Washington in 2017, Indigenous women from across the country gathered in front of the National Museum of the American Indian as part of the Indigenous Women Rise movement.
Sarah Eagle Heart
arah Eagle Heart (Oglala Lakota) grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, raised by her grandmother and extended family. Her experiences range from teen activist and journalist to advocacy organization leader, including working for several years internationally as program officer for Indigenous Peoples and team leader for diversity, social justice, and environmental justice within the Episcopal Church. Currently she is the CEO of Los Angeles and Minneapolis-based Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP), which “educates and empowers a sacred circle of Indigenous Peoples and philanthropies to create healthy and sustainable communities for all.” Cultural Survival recently spoke with Eagle Heart about her journey and leadership in philanthropy. Cultural Survival: Please share the story of your work surrounding the “Warrior Homecoming” at your high school. Sarah Eagle Heart: This is really the beginning of my
CS: How did your experiences as a teen activist lead you to a career in philanthropy? SEH: I was going to be a journalist. As my career unfolded,
activism. I have a twin sister and we were really involved in school activities in Martin, South Dakota, which is a border town between Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Rosebud Indian Reservation. As juniors in high school, we noticed this homecoming ceremony where mostly white students were reenacting a drama called “ceremony” with Medicine Man and five warrior princesses and a big Chief. I remember both of us sighing heavily with disgust, deciding “We have to do something.” So, at age 16, we decided to protest. As an aspiring journalist, I was in a summer program for Native Americans in journalism and interned for two summers at Indian Country 18 • www. cs. org
Today. When the next summer came, we went on the radio, we told newspapers, and we just started telling the story. The community was so segregated at that time that many people on the reservations had no idea the event was even happening. We definitely encountered all the arguments that we hear today about ‘we’re honoring you, you should be happy.” Even at that young age we both knew that there was no compromise; there was no way to make that fiction palatable. We said no, and that led to four years of protesting. In our first year, we had folks from community organizations like Lakota Student Alliance and American Indian Movement that came to help us, and we held public forums and a march down Main Street. Being so young and facing all of these people that were outwardly angry for disrupting this 57-yearold tradition...we were threatened in school with, ‘we’re going to throw rocks at you, we’re going to throw eggs at you if you show up here.’ It was very traumatic and scary. It was our senior year of high school, so our friends we had all our lives were no longer our friends and there was all this tension surrounding us. But finally we succeeded. That experience taught me to trust the Creator, and that if you find the right people to support you, pathways open and change can occur.
I went from working in journalism to marketing and advertising at an Indian casino to a church denomination and then to philanthropy. As a young person I was covering stories on Tribal policy and issues affecting the community. It came very naturally that one of the core skill sets throughout every job I held was advocacy. I spent time in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ecuador, and Bolivia, learning about the issues that different peoples face. As a team leader in the Episcopal Church for seven years, I enjoyed finding the parallels between cultural histories and learning how to advocate for each other. The work that I did at the Episcopal Church is really applicable within the philanthropic space, and I have found success in
All photos courtesy of Native Americans in Philanthropy.
working with allies. I’m very humbled to have recently won the American Express NGEN Leadership Award, which collectively recognizes and salutes the trailblazing work of one next-generation leader whose efforts have had a transformative impact on a critical societal need.
Sarah Eagle Heart (left) with Taboo (center) from the Black Eyed Peas at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards.
CS: What role does philanthropy play for Indigenous communities? SEH: Philanthropy can and should play a big role righting the
injustices Indigenous communities face. Most of philanthropy lacks awareness and knowledge of Native issues across the board; most philanthropic efforts to improve the lives of men and women of color often overlook the distinctive needs of Native Americans, and funding to our community still remains disproportionately low. It’s imperative that we are there to build those relationships and educate. Philanthropy often follows a deficit-based model, rather than an asset-based model. One of our roles is to get more accurate research about our communities, which can also help inform philanthropy. We’ve intentionally worked with Indigenous scholars and found a way to develop research that highlights protective factors from an Indigenous worldview through our Indigenous Life Course. The limited research currently available in the philanthropic arena highlights deficits and the horrific statistics plaguing our communities like diabetes, violence, and criminalization, but doesn’t offer solutions—so we are already at a disadvantage. We also educate funders and work to create connections between philanthropy, nonprofits, and Tribal organizations. A good example of this is when we invited a group of funders to join us on a trip to Standing Rock, and this directly led to a $1.25 million donation to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe from the Wallace Global Fund. We are really proud of this accomplishment because the tribe trusted us to support them and it was important to us to see action as a result of our work. We continue to engage in developing innovative partnerships to raise the visibility of Native issues. CS: What was your involvement in securing funding from the proceeds of the book from the Women’s March? SEH: A year ago, several organizations came together under
Indigenous Women Rise to bring representation to the Women’s March in Washington. We worked under that umbrella to help raise visibility for Indigenous women’s issues. Through relationships, Native Americans in Philanthropy was able to create a social media movement with an amazing bandana designed by Native designer Bethany Yellowtail (Northern Cheyenne/Crow). Several members of Indigenous Women Rise served on the conveners’ table advocating for inclusion on the Women’s March Unity Principles, which addressed the diversity of participants and spoke to how they are impacted by a multitude of intersecting social justice and human rights issues. We were ecstatic when 1,000 women came together in prayer. It was so powerful to sing the Women’s Warrior song from our First Nations relatives to highlight the issue of missing murdered Indigenous women. We held a gathering the next day with nonprofits and organizational leaders to lay out their priorities. We also stayed in relationship with organizers of the Women’s March and were honored they chose Indigenous Women Rise to be one of three recipients for the
book proceeds of Together We Rise. The funds will go to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, which addresses domestic violence in our communities. CS: A lot of the work of Native Americans in Philanthropy concerns Indigenous youth. What are those initiatives? SEH: Following the Standing Rock protest we launched the
#GenIndigenous Fund, focused on supporting Native youth organizing, in partnership with the Minneapolis Foundation. We have another fund called Native Voices Rising in partnership with the Common Counsel Foundation. Native Voices Rising is specifically around civic engagement, voter registration, and advocacy. We’ve also been working with My Brother’s Keeper, former President Obama’s initiative to address gaps faced by boys and young men of color to ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. And we’ve coordinated thought leadership convenings to find out Native youth priorities and support them. We’ve also focused on narrative change and advocacy, including educational components like the Women’s March, or one of our new partnerships with Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas. Taboo recently won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Fight against the System and used his platform to raise visibility for Indigenous women. Other collaborators include John Legend, who, through his virtual reality project Rainbow Crow, tells an inspiring Indigenous story. One of the reasons why we work within the pop culture arena is because it’s a faster way to educate. Right now with social media we have been fortunate to work with some incredible people who can share their powerful platforms to make change. Engaging philanthropy and advocating for resources to support Native leaders, organizations, and communities are our priority issues. We believe that everything is connected, and we want to continue to carry our holistic worldview into all aspects of our work. In the future, we will continue to execute our plan through innovative research, philanthropic education, generating visibility, and advocacy campaigns. All of the intertwined work has really helped us gain a lot of traction in the philanthropic sector and move into a new area of action and healing. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to do the work that I do. To learn more about the Divest, Invest, Protect Campaign, visit: wecaninternational.org/ pages/divest-invest-defend.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2018 • 19
ribal Sinky o erT
u e s s Co
Protecting Ancestral Tribal Lands and Waters Photo by Hawk Rosales.
InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council
he Sinkyone Wilderness is located in Northern California, about 200 miles north of San Francisco. A place of great cultural and spiritual significance for Indigenous Peoples of this region, it comprises the southernmost end of the longest stretch of permanently protected coastal wilderness in the continental United States. It is the westernmost portion of the vast Sinkyone traditional territory that includes large portions of the Wild & Scenic Eel River watershed, the stunning mountainous “Lost Coast,” and the fragmented remains of a 3,000-year-old rainforest. Since time immemorial, the Sinkyone and neighboring Tribal peoples of these lands and waters have used responsible ways to care for this region’s sacred lands and waters. Tribal traditional practices produced much of the biological diversity and abundance of these ecosystems. Extensive systems of traditional protocols include management practices conducted with prayer and ceremony, such as the rotational burning of coastal prairies and woodlands to ensure health and productivity of important food and medicine plants; selective gathering of seaweeds and kelps, basket making materials, roots, berries, and myriad other plants; removal of berms at river mouths to enable salmon migration; careful transplanting of desirable plant and animal species; and rotational hunting and gathering of a multitude of animal species. Intimate knowledge of the natural world, informed by detailed cultural instructions for how to utilize, care for, and respectfully interact with all of nature ensured a life of balance for human people as well as the plant and animal relations. This was the Sinkyone way of life within the redwoods and tanoaks, and along the ocean for countless generations. In the mid-1850s, the Sinkyone and other California Indian peoples were violently confronted with invading multitudes of Euro-American settlers. Within 15 years, most of the Sinkyone were annihilated as a result of widespread massacres, slavery, forced relocations, starvation, land theft, introduced diseases, rape, impoverishment, and other atrocities. State and federal governments paid white citizens bounties for
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the scalps of Sinkyone men, women, and children, and many young people were sold as slaves to wealthy families throughout California. The U.S. Army removed survivors to concentration camps called reservations, which were established throughout the region. Sinkyone survivors married into other Tribal peoples of the region and eventually became members of several federally recognized Tribes now located in Northern California. Even in the face of this profound suffering and loss, however, the descendants of original Sinkyone Peoples retained their ancient connections to their traditional lands, to which they have continued to travel seasonally to gather traditional foods and medicines as well as to hold ceremonies and offer prayers. With the genocide of the Sinkyone people came the ecocide of the ancient Kahs-tcho (Redwood trees), considered by local Tribes as especially sacred. The people used various parts of the redwood in the manufacture of their houses, clothing, baskets, fish traps, canoes, and a host of other items. Commercial harvest of the old growth redwoods of the region began as early as the 1850s, but large portions of the ancient rainforest remained intact until the late 1940s when an enhanced type of bulldozer dramatically changed harvest methods and the rate of logging. Steep slopes that previously had been inaccessible were now open to unrestrained clearcutting. The ensuing rampage destroyed much of the original redwood ecosystem and set in motion a severe decline in the health and productivity of native salmon fisheries. This continued largely unabated through the 1980s. A long succession of commercial timber interests laid waste to vast acreages of redwood within Sinkyone and neighboring territories. These interests grew wealthy from their exploitation of the sacred redwood tree, while Tribal peoples who had lived upon and cared for these lands for millennia suffered many decades of economic impoverishment and oppression from societal racism and unjust governmental policies. Today, less than four percent of the region’s original old growth redwoods are still standing, with a few small residual pockets of ancient redwoods protected in national and state parks.
InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council —L–R: Jaime Boggs (Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians), Suzanne Romero (Hopland Band of Pomo Indians), Debra Ramirez (Redwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians), Mona Oandasan (Round Valley Indian Tribes), Buffey Wright (Sherwood Valley Rancheria of of Pomo Indians), Priscilla Hunter (Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians), Martha Knight (Pomo), Crista Ray (Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians). Not pictured: Mariah Rosales (Potter Valley Tribe) and Aimie Lucas (Cahto Tribe of Laytonville Rancheria).
During the late 1960s and ’70s, people disillusioned by consumerism and other ills of American society sought refuge and peace within the north coast’s rainforest. They soon were confronted by massive clearcut logging operations, as timber companies continued their expansion into previously unentered areas of old growth. These “back-to-the-land” people began organizing protests, sometimes chaining themselves to redwoods, as they blockaded logging sites. The movement grew as allies joined and lawsuits were filed. Some reached out to local Tribal people, and a crucial dialog began between Tribal community leaders and the environmental movement. Soon, Tribal members were joining non-Native activists and protesters at various sites on Sinkyone land threatened by logging. At the same time, a similar movement to halt logging of old growth cedar was beginning within Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation territory on the west coast of Vancouver Island in Canada, as well as in other locations throughout Tribal lands across Turtle Island (North America). A legal victory in 1985 (EPIC v. Johnson) opened the door for the eventual return of nearly 4,000 acres of traditional Sinkyone land back into the hands of local Tribal peoples. In December 1986, a Native peoples’ cultural land protection organization, the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, was formed in response to the planned divestiture of 7,100 acres of coastal Sinkyone land owned by the timber giant, Georgia-Pacific Corporation. The Sinkyone Council was founded by local Tribes that retain cultural ties to the Sinkyone region. It was established specifically to acquire and permanently protect the 4,000 acres from further commercial harvest, and as a place to reestablish and revitalize the traditional cultural lifeways of local Tribal nations, all of which have connections to Sinkyone lands and waters. The Sinkyone Council is a unique Tribal nonprofit consortium established by and for the benefit of its member Tribes, which have joined the Council through resolutions that designate Tribal delegates who will serve on the Council’s board of directors. It is comprised of 10 Tribes, all of which are federally recognized, sovereign Tribal nations: the Cahto Tribe of Laytonville Rancheria, Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Hopland Band of Pomo Indians, Pinoleville Pomo Nation, Potter Valley Tribe, Redwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians, Round Valley Indian Tribes, Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, and Sherwood Valley Rancheria of Pomo Indians. Strong collaboration and continued consensus on cultural and environmental goals have enabled the Tribes to achieve their original purpose in founding the Sinkyone Council and protecting sacred Tribal lands.
After a 10-year effort focused on gaining support and approval from state agencies and the public, in August 1997 the Council purchased the 4,000 acres of Sinkyone land from The Trust for Public Land, a national land trust that had stepped in to purchase and temporarily hold the property. The transaction, enabled by support from the Lannan Foundation and others, marked a historic return of local Tribal peoples’ presence to the land and its protection in perpetuity from future threats of development, industrial extraction, and fragmentation. Conservation easements legally protect the land’s cultural and ecological values in perpetuity. The Council has completed important work on native salmon fisheries restoration, watershed rehabilitation, backcountry hiking trails, protection of important cultural places, cultural-educational outreach, and promoting healing and traditional care for these sacred lands and waters. It holds traditional cultural gatherings, which are open to the public, on the land that bring together Tribal community members to enjoy and experience Sinkyone. It has played pivotal roles in helping lead marine protection initiatives and protecting local Tribes’ traditional gathering rights within the north coast’s Marine Protected Areas, and has taken a lead role in efforts to protect sea life and the Tribes from impacts of the U.S. Navy’s testing and training activities. And, it is contributing to current efforts to prevent offshore oil drilling recently proposed by the Trump Administration. The Council has long been blessed by strong Tribal leaders who have brought to Sinkyone their vast experience as traditional culture-keepers, environmental and cultural activists, heads of Tribal governments and programs, and community and economic development leaders. Currently, the Council’s board of directors is comprised of nine women and one man, demonstrating the ongoing contribution and commitment from the women of local Tribal communities. Within Indigenous cultures around the world, matriarchal leadership has always been paramount to the continuum of Tribal traditions, and to understanding and carrying out our responsibilities to respect and care for the Mother Earth. The Sinkyone Council and its member Tribes are thankful for the leadership of these Indian women, and we honor them for their many sacrifices, amazing leadership, and tremendous vision.
Contact the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council at: P.O. Box 1523, Ukiah, California 95482. (707) 468-9500.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2018 • 21
Language, Community, and the Environment ʔiisaak is Key
The majestic views of west Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Madeline Streilein “
hen you think about where are you in your body, are you in your head? Is that the center of your being?” submits Gisele Maria Martin in an interview with Cultural Survival. “It feels like in English, the center of our being is our brain. There are a lot of sayings in English like, ‘That person has lost their mind!’ or ‘They’re out of their mind,’ or ‘Are you crazy? You’re out of your mind!’ But when I think about it in our language, it feels like the center of our being is in our heart. And that is a really different place to come from than our heads. We go with our hearts and listen with our hearts to the rest of the world.” A citizen of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in west Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, Martin is a language activist and storyteller working to maintain and pass on traditional knowledge in her community. She actively advocates for language revitalization and is working to become fluent in the Nuučaanuł (Nuu-chah-nulth) language under the tutelage of Tla-o-qui-aht elder, Levi Martin. Parsing the difference in cognition and worldview between the Western languages she grew up speaking and the Nuučaanuł language of her people, Martin explains that language, community, and the environment are irrefutably intertwined in the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. “If I think about it in our language, community includes all the life forms that we are interconnected with: all the plants, the animals, and the spirits of the places. As I’ve been brought up in English and in French, I’ve been interested in a lot of things regarding our culture. But there have been a lot of times where I didn’t understand what I was trying to understand, like I’m looking at the world in black and white. As I’ve been learning our language, it’s like learning to see things in full color for the first time.” While the non-Native communities in Tofino say the biggest issues they face are tsunami and earthquake preparation,
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Martin says that the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation “has much more pressing emergencies happening right now—rashes of suicide, social problems, alcoholism, unemployment . . . it’s a colonial disaster that has been pretty relentless. I’m working with a local museum and right now they have a very colonial narrative about local history. [They] invited us to work with them and add Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation perspective to the museum. I was trying to wrestle with what we would put in there, because right now there’s nothing. A suggestion was, ‘just focus on early history.’ Early contact history?! It’s still now. ‘Early contact’ is still happening right now.” Furthermore, she says, “it is not just our issue. All the residents that are now living in our traditional territories, the non-Native community of Tofino; it’s an issue that they face as well, even though some of them might not know it. When we continue to use a language which is not ecologically literate, it has repercussions that affect all of us, and loss that affects all of us. For everyone here to live not just sustainably, but abundantly, we need to work that out.” Martin describes Nuučaanuł as an ecological language, and believes that “protecting our language is really integral in protecting the lands and waters that make up our identities as First Nations people.” She explains, for example, how Indigenous knowledge can be used in climate change mitigation by simply preserving their language and the lessons that it tells. “Just upholding our language could have significant repercussions because it’s such a culturally and ecologically informed language,” she says. “Our word for ‘tree,’ for example, is suč̓as. At first I said, ‘okay, suč̓as is tree and tree is suč̓as.’ But no, the names of everything in our language describe what they do or how they’re connected to the rest of the world. The word suč̓as breaks down to the verb suč̓as, which is ‘to hold,’ and the suffix ʔas, meaning, ‘on the land or of the land.’ So the Nuučaanuł word for tree, suč̓as, literally is ‘landholder.’ Imagine if all the logging corporations changed the name for All photos courtesy of Gisele Martin.
trees to ‘landholders’ in their documents, and talked about them and thought about them that way. They’d say, ‘oh yeah, we’re just going to cut down all these landholders here and hope there’s no landslides after!’ I find that over and over again, the teachings that are encoded in the words are huge.” To Martin, the process for language revitalization is just as important as the path one chooses to take. “It’s just like when we walk down a trail in a forest: we can all walk down the same trail, but if we’re going at it with big tractor boots on we’re going to have a really different experience than if we’re going barefoot. And the impact is different for who is coming behind us also.” This consideration for process is largely influenced by ʔiisaak, one of the highest laws in the Tla-o-qui-aht culture. “ʔiisaak has been translated as meaning respect, but really it can be described and translated in many different ways. A more accurate way of translating it is ʔiisaak is to be observant, to appreciate, and to act accordingly. When we are observant, it is not just watching with our eyes and ears and taking down data in a notebook, but listening with our whole being, listening with our intuition, and our gut as well. Being observant, appreciating, and acting accordingly, those three things together is the practice of ʔiisaak. The most basic part of it is self-respect.” Serving at various points as a language immersion camp facilitator, a Nuučaanuł Language class coordinator, and an outdoor field school cultural educator, Martin attends local schools to assist with Nuučaanuł language learning. Through these roles she has been exposed to the best, and worst, practices for language revitalization: “At some conferences I’ve been to, they’ve talked about how in school when kids learn
language on computers it’s just repetitive: press a button and learn a word. [But] it doesn’t stick with them; they have no emotional connection to that word. The word just kind of goes in their head and goes out. Whereas, if you’re eating a fish head with your grandpa, and he puts one of the eyes on your plate and it’s also a medicine, and he says ‘qasii!’ you’re going to remember that a lot more, and the emotional feeling.” Today Martin works with youth on Vancouver Island to encourage Nuučaanuł language and cultural learning. “To activate youth to be proud of their culture we have to include them,” she says. “One thing I want to say to them is don’t feel bad. We’ve survived. We’ve survived a lot; we’ve survived a relentless kind of colonial disaster. If you can’t speak your language right now, or if you feel like you can’t understand it, or you feel silly because you don’t know what red symbolizes in our culture, or why a canoe has a prow that looks like that, or anything about our culture that you don’t know, don’t ever feel bad. We are survivors of an incredible history and carriers of incredible history; you have your whole life to learn ahead of you. Just don’t give up and don’t ever feel bad for learning or needing to learn.” For all of her advocacy efforts, Martin is not the only individual working to maintain the Nuu-chah-nulth language and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations teachings; she emphasizes that she works alongside members of her community contributing in various ways to this preservation movement. “One of my cousins’ wives has homeschooled her kid and worked really hard to do a lot of Nuučaanuł language immersion in her homeschooling with him. Now she’s bringing out a lot of that work to our community and working on making an app for our language, which is amazing. There are other women working in preschools who are really helping with language revitalization as well. I often tell people, ‘this is my university! The land is my university!’ Some of the elders in my community, and even the kids, have taught me so much and guided me. They’re my teachers. The land itself is my university, and that’s ongoing.”
Gisele Martin in her element. Gisele Martin with mentor and Tla-o-qui-aht elder, Levi Martin. Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2018 • 23
indigenous women in media
The New Voices of Indigenous Central American radio Teresita Orozco (CS Staff)
“ n my 12 years of doing community radio, I had never had the opportunity to produce my own radio pieces. This was a task delegated and assumed by men, and therefore I came to think it was something complicated. However, now with this workshop, I learned not only how to do radio production, but also realized that there is nothing that a woman cannot do, if approached with dedication,” said Petronila Ch’umilkaj Tax, a radio volunteer from Radio La Niña in Totonicapán, Guatemala. Indigenous women in Central America continually experience discrimination based on their ethnicity and gender. Although Central American economies vary, Indigenous women are worse off economically and socially than any other group in the general population, as they experience a deficit in access to education, healthcare, and political participation. The human development indexes of many countries confirm that the socioeconomic gap between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people is even more prominent when comparing Indigenous to non-Indigenous women. In the field of community radio, there is no exception. Indigenous women have almost always been relegated to
the lowest level tasks and excluded from decision making,
with the largest gender disparity remaining at the decisionmaking levels. This means that women’s voices are not taken into account regarding programmatic content, economic sustainability, or strategic planning. As a result, most Indigenous community radio stations lack content promoting gender equality, addressing issues that are of interest to women, or educating on women’s rights. Over the years, Indigenous women community broadcasters from across Central America have expressed their concern for, and interest in, the advancement of Indigenous women’s rights, while recognizing the limitations of their own cultures where women are often discouraged from participating. After years of women’s activism, increasingly radio stations are acknowledging of the importance of female participation. Cultural Survival believes in promoting Indigenous women’s voices and leadership, especially in media. In 2017, 167 Indigenous women from Central America and Nepal took part in trainings in radio production and radio journalism organized by Cultural Survival. Last fall, with the support of the Channel Foundation, Cultural Survival’s Community Media Program wrapped up a training project aimed at strengthening the participation of Indigenous women in
In Guatemala — L-R: Rigoberta Gonzalez, Erika Oxom, Laura Ajcalon, Petronila Ch'umilkaj Tax, Lorena Cabjanal, Alfredo Rax, Magdalena Ixquiactap, Alicia Yaxcom Orozco, Daysi Bartolo, Delia Maquin.
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All photos by Sharri Abbott-Keller.
community radio in Central America. Two sessions were held in September, one with ten Guatemalan women in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and the second in Managua, Nicaragua with ten women from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The goal was to increase the knowledge of women in journalism and radio production and plan a path from empowerment to leadership. As a result of the trainings, several women produced their own radio programs for the first time. The two trainings offered playful exercises aimed at re-evaluation of concepts surrounding female bodies and capacities as women and human beings, fundamental to raising women’s self-esteem and strengthening leadership skills of each of the participants. They also gave the women space and time to reflect on their roles and daily lives, especially in their roles as Indigenous women journalists, where they have the opportunity to be voices for social change in the fight against gender discrimination, racism, and human rights violations. In order to bring the participants together, staff had to consider the long distances many had to travel, which posed difficulty for some of the women to leave their remote communities with little access to public transport, along with the scrutiny from their relatives for so-called abandonment of their chores as women. In order for Vilma Washington of Radio Wangki Tangi, the voice of the women in Waspam, Nicaragua, to leave her community, she had to travel 20 hours in poor conditions to arrive in Managua. Despite facing similar challenges, many women said that they felt liberated by the simple act of leaving their communities and were thus enabled to overcome their fears. In Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, from September 6–8, 10 community journalists from Totonicapán, Sololá, Quiché, Sacatepéquez, Alta Verapaz, and Huehuetenango gathered in September to learn, share, and practice their professional skills. Facilitator Alfredo Rax Coc, who was sensitized to the gender approach, was warmly received by the women. “It is good for us to have the support of Rax and to know that there are men who respect our rights and are willing to support us,” said Erika Oxon of Radio Nimlajacoc. The night before commencing a workshop on community feminism, led by Lorena Cabnal (Xinka), community feminist and co-founder of the Association of Indigenous Women of Santa María Xalapán, a major earthquake shook Mexico. In Quetzaltenango, it was felt with an intensity of 7.8. The earthquake caused much fear and resulted in evacuations from the hotel into the streets in the middle of the night. However, the women found their desire to talk about their realities as Indigenous women was stronger than their fear. “It was interesting to listen to Lorena and learn from her,” commented Rigoberta Gonzáles from Radio Ixchel. “Often people and society create divisions between women, which mark our relationships. We learned to respect plurality and how not to be part of the patriarchal system that weakens through division. We often undertake struggles for material goods and forget the many assets we possess—our bodies and our knowledge.” Gonzáles also stressed that this training allowed her to renew her strength to continue her struggle as a community journalist. To wit, Cabnal added, “The journalists are the ancestral tabaleras, the community spokespeople. They fight a daily struggle with manifestations of the machismo and the criminalization of
In Nicaragua — L–R: Lauris Hernandez, Sarita Mendoza, Maria Santos Lopez, Esmeralda Leiva, Bessi Ramirez, Maria Fracisca Diaz, Keilen Blanco, Teresita Orozco, Vilma Washington.
their work. Community feminism contributes from its own view, promoting equity and living well for women and peoples.” The second training, which took place from September 17-21, 2017, in Managua, Nicaragua brought together 10 women community journalists from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama to learn how to use an open source editing program, Audacity, and produce and edit their own radio pieces. “Fear can paralyze us; knowledge can frighten fears,” said Francisca Díaz (Lenca) from Honduras, who, at 52 years old, had never touched a computer. Although she has more than 5 years’ experience as a community journalist in Radio Taragual in La Pedernal La Iguala, she had never been given a chance to produce her own programs until now. Díaz spoke of her dream to be a doctor, but said she did not have the opportunity to go to school. It was due to her need to communicate with the radio audience that propelled her to learn to read and write. Today, Díaz is an inspiration for young women, now serving as a doctor of traditional medicine through her community radio program, “The Medicine Truck.” Although the participation of women in most community radio stations is still not widely deemed as a priority, there have been some positive changes. Both the directors of local community radio stations and other organizations that partner with Cultural Survival in the Central American Indigenous Radio Network have begun to consider women’s participation as something positive and as an asset. As a result of the trainings, there are 20 radio programs available on women’s issues produced by the participants, addressing issues of importance to women and Indigenous Peoples according to the context of each community and respecting the cultural practices of each region and country. These programs will be aired at the women’s home radio stations, enhancing the programming of each station. In addition, the women who participated in the workshops are equipped with a greater sense of hope, knowledge, and empowerment that will drive them forward in their work. As many participants pointed out, being able to name to certain social injustices is an empowering first step to identifying and working toward their solutions. Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2018 • 25
K eepe rs of t h e Ea rt h F und
KOEF Grantee Spotlight
he Keepers of the Earth Fund provides small grants designed to support Indigenous Peoples’ community advocacy and development projects. Since 2007, the Fund has provided nearly $2.5 million in grants and technical assistance to over 350 Indigenous-led projects in 64 countries around the world. Cultural Survival announced two calls for proposals this year. In July, the call for proposals on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and self-governance funded 14 inspiring projects totaling $68,112. The second call for community development projects will fund an additional 10-12 project in the coming months. We are pleased to highlight a few of the projects that have a specific focus on Indigenous women: Organización de Mujeres Indígenas Unidas por la Biodiversidad de Panamá (OMIUBP) (Panama) Keepers of the Earth Fund supports OMIUBP’s project, “Strengthening the governance system of the Kuna and Embera Indigenous Peoples through the Law of Consultation and Free, Prior and Informed Consent in Panama.” The group will carry out two workshops with Kuna and Embera authorities and Indigenous women on the 2016 law passed in Panama, titled the Law of Consultation and Free, Prior Informed Consent, which was passed without consultation or consent of Indigenous communities. The workshops will guide the traditional leaders in learning about the content of the law and sharing their opinions about it, as well as assist them in analyzing implications for implementation. The workshops will also examine the international framework for FPIC and discuss and cases where Indigenous Peoples have succeeded in its implementation internationally.
Red Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas: Tejiendo Derechos por la Madre Tierra y Territorio (RENAMITT) (Mexico) RENAMITT is a network of Indigenous women from across Mexico who work to defend Mother Earth and Indigenous territory. Their project includes two workshops to develop strategic plans on the implementation of a consultation policy in Mexico that will document how consultation is currently taking place in the country, specifically regarding consultation with Indigenous women, and make a comparative analysis to successful consultations in other regions. Based on their findings, the group will produce a series of radio programs in three Indigenous languages (Wixarika, Odami, Nahuatl) covering FPIC for broadcast via community radio in the areas where consultations are currently being implemented: Jalisco, Chihuahua, Guerrero, and Morelos. The women say, “Because of our historical continuity, Indigenous women must be included in decisions regarding the use of our lands and territories.” Red Regional de Mujeres Siuamej Tayolchikauanij (Mexico) The Regional Network of Women, Siuamej Tayolchikauanij, is a network of Indigenous and campesino women that defends their lands and recuperates traditional food production methods. Keepers of the Earth Fund support their project titled, Mujeres Defensoras En Red: Un Enfoque De Equidad En La Defensa Del Territorio. Through a series of workshops, they will share the successful example of the community Cuetzalan del Progreso, whose strong self-governance structure and demands for consultation has successfully pushed back against transnational mining, hydroelectric, and other unwanted projects on their lands. The women’s network will share this experience, while adding to it a focus on gender equality within self-governance structures that has been lacking. They will highlight the positive role that Indigenous women play in defending their lands even from their own backyards, within their families, and within themselves. To learn more about the Keepers of the Earth Fund, visit: www.cs.org/koef.
The women of Red Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas: Tejiendo Derechospor la Madre Tierra y Territorio (RENAMITT). 26 • www. ww w. cs. org
Blasina Izquierdo Torres spins sheep's wool using a tool hand carved by her husband.
B az aa r a rt i st: Spinning the Futures of the Next Arhuaco Generations
Florinda Torres Torres guides young women in the art and skill of mochila making.
At nine months pregnant, Maria Cecilia Armenta Villafañe shows off two of her creations.
he Arhuaco community of Ati Gumake is located nearly 10 hours by foot or horseback into Colombia’s coastal mountain range. As a result of this remote location, artisans rely on stores and third party vendors that frequently take advantage of the community’s limited accessibility. Mama Mochila, organized collectively by Indigenous artisans Yolima Esther Torres Torres and Maria Cecilia Villafane Armenta, alongside co-founder Anna Andreyevna Gouznova, has been working towards a new vision for Arhuaco artists: one where dignity and inspiration define both the creative and business processes. Mama Mochila has made it possible for Arhuaco women to be fairly compensated for their skill and the time involved in mochila making. Mochila means “bag” in Spanish, and is the word used to describe this traditional Arhuaco craft. “There are about 50 families in Ati Gumake, meaning Sacred Land of the Snake,” Gouznova explains. “Women artisans offer their crafts, handmade bags, for sale through Mama Mochila. The mochila is made from wool spun by hand with symbols representing elements of the Arhuaco culture. This is a generational craft, passed down through mothers and grandmothers. Mochilas are considered a woman’s expression of intention and love for her family, community and nature-based spiritual beliefs,” she says, adding, “creating a mochila is a metaphor for the process of creation and symbolizes a woman’s spiritual development. All Arhuaco women learn to make mochilas and develop their own style over time. Mochila symbols represent Arhuaco values in culture and nature.” Gouznova describes the process of mochila making: “Every mochila starts with raw wool. Women and girls in each family come together to wash the wool in a nearby stream. Once the wool is dry, it is carded by hand to remove any plant material that may have been trapped in the fleece or any discolored wool clumps. Next, the wool is spun into a single strand yarn with a tool made from native wood, handmade as well, by male relatives. The yarn is then spun into a double strand with yet another handmade tool. With the yarn ready, mochila making begins. Using a large needle, the artisan begins with a single loop, stitching other loops along the edges, creating the round base of the mochila. Once the base is complete, the artisan will begin to use a complex geometric technique to create the desired symbol. The strap is handwoven. From start to finish, one large mochila can take more than a month to make.” Arhuaco people see themselves as guardians of the natural world, tasked with ensuring that Mother Earth is treated with dignity and respect. Together, Arhuaco communities protest and work to change legislation that undermines the critical importance of a healthy environment. The Arhuaco are active in negotiating land rights, permits for industrial development, and grants to support Arhuaco communities. Arhuaco people also farm and grow all their own food, making them vulnerable to climate change. “Last year we had to buy almost all of our food, even malanga, a typically easy to grow vegetable. There was no simply no rain!” exclaimed Rosalia Izquierdo, a Mama Mochila artisan. The Arhuaco are working to become more secure in the face of climate change by investing in irrigation systems and rethinking crop planning. “Artisans working with Mama Mochila know that their talent is valued and admired around the world,” says Gouznova. Even more so, she says, “Arhuaco women feel their craft and skill is at last being recognized as an outstanding tradition of cultural art. There is a tremendous sense of pride and self-confidence that fills artisans when they know their work is valued and appreciated by people all around the world. The Cultural Survival Bazaars offer a strong foundation for Arhuaco women and the next generation of mochila makers.” To learn more about Mama Mochilla, visit: www.mamamochila.com Join us at this Summer’s Cultural Survival Bazaar: July 28–29, Tiverton, Rhode Island. Visit bazaar.cs.org and facebook.com/culturalsurvivalbazaars for more information. All photos courtesy of Mama Mochila. Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2018 • 27
boar d s p o t lig h t Protecting the World’s Biodiversity
grew up under my maternal ancestral mountain, Tararua, spending much of my childhood exploring our rivers, beaches, and forests,” says Tui Shortland (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Raukawa ki te tonga), who hails from Aotearoa (New Zealand). “I was named Tui because when I was born, the Tui, a bird that plants the small seeds in the forest, was going extinct. This, I believe, was not only a cultural indicator of my environment, but it also set me on the path to protecting and promoting living in harmony with Mother Earth.” Shortland recognizes that climate change is the biggest issue faced by Indigenous communities today; as she explains, “not only are the impacts of climate change already being experienced by many, such as sea level rise, but also the violations by the fossil fuel industry on Indigenous Peoples’ territories and livelihoods. A large part of my work is focused on raising the visibility of marginalized Indigenous communities issues’ and promoting Indigenous rights and traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices as solutions to the management of climate change.” Shortland has worked with Indigenous authorities, leadership, and land trusts in environmental management. She assists eco-business development and has been involved extensively with the United Nations in regards to Indigenous biological diversity, serving as a Pacific regional representative. Shortland is currently working with the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity, a collective of representatives from Indigenous governments, Indigenous NGOs, and Indigenous scholars and activists that organize around the Convention on Biological Diversity and other key international environmental meetings to help coordinate Indigenous strategies and participation at these meetings by providing advice to governments and attempting to influence the interpretations of government obligations to recognize and respect Indigenous rights. “My elders, who have been my mentors, have taught me humility, strategic thinking, activism, and resilience, and I constantly draw inspiration from my Indigenous comrades in the movement,” Shortland says, adding, “I have recently returned home from the COP23 where I worked with the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change on the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform. We were able to have the COP adopt a decision on the Platform that includes our principles of full, equal, and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples; Free, Prior and Informed Con“
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All photos by Jamie Malcolm-Brown.
sent; and funding and selection of positions through our own Indigenous processes. Our next work will start straight away.” As the director of Te Kopu Pacific Indigenous and Local Knowledge Centre of Distinction, Shortland focuses on traditional knowledge and customary use of biodiversity, cultural health indicators, Rongoā (traditional Māori medicine), and Māori cultural values of the environment and traditional ecological knowledge. Some of her career highlights include turning an iwi Resource Management Unit around to be self-sustaining; working with the Karen people of Thailand to develop a monitoring framework and map their territories based on their medicines and hunting practices; and most recently, developing a successful process to assist scientists and Indigenous Peoples to work together in benefit sharing of biological resources. Shortland is managing director of Awatea Services, a collective of Indigenous environmental managers working in Indigenous communities for Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, non-government organizations, and local and central governments in various parts of the world. A specialist in traditional knowledge of forest and inland waterways biodiversity herself, Shortland describes her work as “establishing stakeholder and community collectives for catchment management, environmental policy, and traditional knowledge indicators for monitoring programs.” As part of this effort, she has created a sacred sites database for her Tribe, along with biocultural community protocols that established a framework for co-authoring with researchers coming in to study her Tribe’s territory. She also works as a co-founder of Native XP, which is a global Indigenous tourism platform operating in over 30 countries to build cross-cultural understandings and alleviate poverty through Indigenous enterprise and entrepreneurship. On her newest role as Cultural Survival board member, Shortland says she is “keen to support the work of Cultural Survival and lend my skills and networks to the aspirations of the Board.”
Tui Shortland being interviewed by Indigenous Rights Radio Producer Shaldon Ferris.
s t af f s pot lig h t Cultural Survival is excited to announce the addition of three talented women to our staff. Bia’ni Madsa’ Juárez
(Mixe/Ayuuk ja’ay and Zapotec/Binnizá) is program associate for the Community Media and Indigenous Rights Radio programs. Born in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, she grew up in two towns and cultures, Juchitán (Zapotec) and San José El Paraíso (Mixe). Since childhood, Madsa’ has been a part of the Indigenous resistance movement in Mexico and many local social organizations. “I am a biologist who loves to work with people. I received an undergraduate in biology from Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Xochimilco. I have been working doing transdisciplinary research in my own Mixe community. For my master’s thesis in tropical ecology at the University of Vera Cruz, I conducted research about the relationship between tree diversity in coffee plantations and community organizations. My family produces organic coffee and is working to build a coffee project to improve their product and keep their shade coffee plantation thriving.” Currently living in Oaxaca, Madsa’ says she is “happy to work with Cultural Survival so I can continue to be involved more directly in land and Indigenous rights protection in Oaxaca and Mexico.”
Maru Chávez Fonseca
is the Indigenous Rights Radio program manager. Chávez grew up in the region of Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz, Mexico. At age 15 she migrated to Mexico City to complete her studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. During the era of Perestroika, a political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s, Fonseca received a scholarship to pursue her studies in journalism at Moscow State University in Russia. She has devoted the last 20 years to designing radio communication strategies with a feminist and human rights approach. In particular, she has been dedicated to strengthening community and
Indigenous media and the participation of women in media in exercising their right to freedom of expression. Besides working as a radio journalist and human rights defender, Chávez enjoys the company of her daughter, dogs, and cats.
Nati Garcia (Maya
Mam) is Indigenous Youth Community Media Fellowship coordinator. Currently living in Ixtahuacan, Guatemala, Garcia was born in a refugee camp in Campeche, Mexico as her family fled Guatemala in the 1980s due to the military genocide operation that targeted Indigenous communities. At the age of 3, her family received refugee status in Canada, and she grew up on traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples: sḵwx-wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (TsleilWaututh), and xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. Her experience as a marginalized Indigenous youth inspired her in advocating for Indigenous sovereignty and self-autonomy. Garcia is an interdisciplinary artist who holds sacred spaces through movement, play, and creativity. She practices her spiritual gift when working with resilient children, youth, and women displaced in society. Over her five years of experience as a facilitator, youth counselor, and community builder, she has helped individuals develop a sense of self-worth and integrity. She is enlivened by opportunities to explore authentic exchange, leadership, world-bridging, social justice, and youth empowerment. Garcia has worked with a variety of intergenerational, intercultural, and youth-focused organizations within Canada and hopes to continue on this path in collaborating, teaching, learning, and performing on an international level. Her dream is to return to Guatemala and bridge relations with Indigenous youth through collective media. She says she feels her role as the project coordinator for the Indigenous Youth Community Media Fellowship is the stepping stone to making her dreams come true and becoming part of the global community with Cultural Survival.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
March 2018 • 29
Making Change Happen, Together! Every day Cultural Survival partners and actively supports Indigenous Peoples in claiming their rights. We succeed because of the commitment of people like you. With your support, we awarded 14 grants totaling $68,113 last year as part of the Keepers of the Earth Fund’s Self-Governance/ Free, Prior and Informed Consent Initiative to support Indigenous communities in their advocacy efforts. One of our grantees, Federación Binacional del Pueblo Zápara of Ecuador and Peru, is working across borders to improve the living conditions of their communities and ensure the survival of their language and culture. In the face of recent oil concessions granted by the government of Ecuador, their project seeks to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to determine strategies for protection of the territory; hold workshops with community members informing them on the details of the concessions; and instruct community members on how to document human rights violations or environmental impacts that are witnessed. Cultural Survival was ONLY able to assist 10 percent of the projects that applied for funding. We want to fund more critical projects. That is why your support is so very important. Please make a gift today!
L e f t:
Women of the Zápara
Nation in Ecuador.
Donate online at cs.org/donate Call us at 617.441.5400 x18 Thank you for all you do. You make our work possible every day!