Cultural Survival Q
Sustaining Our Lands and Lifeways Protecting Sacred Lands
Vol. 42, Issue 3 â€¢ September 2018 US $4.99/CAN $6.99
Indigenous Peoples use or have management rights to more than a quarter of the Earth’s surface.
Se p t e b mer 20 18 Vo lum e 42 , Issue 3
Photo by Samuel Menezes.
Board of Directors president
Duane Champagne (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) Vice President
Steven Heim Treasurer
Jason Campbell (Spokane)
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
Copy Editor: Jenn Goodman Designer: NonprofitDesign.com Contributing Arts Editor: Phoebe Farris Managing Editor: Agnes Portalewska
F e at u r e s
D e pa r t m e n t s
12 Conservation’s Impacts On Indigenous Peoples: A Conversation with Vicky Tauli-Corpuz
1 Executive Director’s Message
Dev Kumar Sunuwar
4 Indigenous Arts:
UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples speaks about the obstacles and opportunities in implementing a rights-based approach to conservation.
14 Conserving Land for Future Generations
Agnes Portalewska Native Land Conservancy is the first Native-led land trust east of the Mississippi.
16 Stewards of the Land in Paradise Ka‘imi Hermosura Growing taro on the island of Kaua‘i comes with responsibilities to restore health to the land.
Cultural Survival Quarterly (ISSN 0740-3291) is published quarterly by Cultural Survival, Inc. at PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Periodical postage paid at Boston, MA 02205 and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Cultural Survival, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Printed on recycled paper in the U.S.A. Please note that the views in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Cultural Survival.
View writers’ guidelines at our website (www.cs.org) or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Cultural Survival, Writer’s Guidelines, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Cultural Survival recognizes that Indigenous Peoples have long been exploited by photographers and publications. This publication does not pay photographers for images and makes no money from publishing them. We also make a tremendous effort to identify every Indigenous individual in the images that appear here. From time to time, however, such identification is not possible. We apologize to the subjects of those photos and to any reader offended by the omission.
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6 Women the world must hear
Indigenous Women of Panama
8 Indigenous Knowledge
Elders Select Turtle Lodge as Their “Central House of Knowledge”
10 Climate Change: Historic Indigenous Gathering to Protect Mother Earth
26 Bazaar Artist Jabulile Nala
27 Youth Fellow Spotlight Ñusta Sanchez
18 Saving Our Way of Life in Alaska Elizabeth (Tis) Peterman
Copyright 2018 by Cultural Survival, Inc.
2 In the News
Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission is protecting Tribal lands and waterways for future generations.
28 Get Involved Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
20 We Live by the River, We Live by the Sea Eddie Haikau Huitarau Ahetaha people in the Solomon Islands are working to preserve their natural resources.
22 Created by Humans, Managed by Nature: The Sustainability of Indigenous Agroforestry Erik Hoffner Agroforestry is implemented worldwide by Indigenous communities, from the Lenca of Honduras to the Karen of Thailand, as a conservation practice.
On the cover Kaylena Bray (Seneca) and Jim Enote (Zuni) at Enote's field in Zuni, NM. The pair chronicled Enote's 61 consecutive years of planting as part of an effort to sustain traditional farming knowledge. Photo by Mateo Hinojosa, wovenpathmedia.com.
E xecut iv e Di rector’ S messa ge
Sustaining Our Lands and Lifeways: Protecting Sacred Lands
ndigenous Peoples have cultural and spiritual relationships with the land, forests, and ecosystems that are their homelands, and which have sustained their lifeways since time immemorial. This deep, intricate relationship of understanding and responsibility defines Indigenous Peoples’ identities and cultures and guides their stewardship through both traditional and new forms of sustainable practices. It is estimated that Indigenous territories contain 80 percent of the earth’s biodiversity. For Indigenous Peoples, conservation of biodiversity is an integrated part of their lives and viewed as an essential and functional part of the landscape in which they live. As extractive industries worldwide increasingly encroach on Indigenous lands, Indigenous Peoples are strengthening their efforts to resist these forms of development and protect their remaining lands and resources through legal instruments and systems such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous knowledge and management systems represent critical, yet untapped, resources in global conservation efforts. In this issue of the CSQ, we focus on efforts by Indigenous communities to protect Mother Earth’s remaining resources. Speaking to a conservation policy that has violated the rights of Indigenous Peoples, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, makes it clear that all conservation efforts must take a rights-based approach and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples. She writes, “Indigenous Peoples have their own traditional protection systems, they have their traditional governments where laws and policies regarding how to better protect territories are being shaped and enforced.” Additionally, securing land title by Indigenous communities is instrumental to effective conservation work. The case of Pueblo Chajoma’ in Guatemala illustrates how after
years of persistence, Chajoma’ people have successfully recovered their communal lands. Securing Indigenous Peoples’ rights to land and resources ensures greater ecological conservation. Ramona Peters addresses the need for an Indigenous perspective in conservation work. She states, “The disconnect between Western science and traditional knowledge has caused the land to be abused. Char- acterization of plant life only around what benefits humans can derive reminds me that Westerners have been charged with the mission to dominate the earth through the 1452 papal bull of Pope Nicholas V.” Redefining conservation through an Indigenous lens, Ka‘imi Hermosura speaks about the obligations of being a good environmental steward that stems from Native Hawaiian cosmology: “There are many responsibilities in growing taro, but also there is an exchange of mana, or chi, because you love to do it.” And Elizabeth (Tis) Peterman raises concern over the impact of large-scale mining on the Tlingit sacred headwaters and the resulting loss of food security, warning that “The short term gain of these mines is at odds with our long term survival. Mines and clean water are not compatible.” In order to create a sustainable future for biodiversity, conservation efforts worldwide will critically depend on the active and effective engagement of Indigenous Peoples. They will require a fundamentally changed view and practice of conservation that respects Indigenous lands and their lifeways. We must respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights to their lands and their traditional land use, knowledge, and science in order to protect our greatest resource for life—Mother Earth.
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, Bazaar Program Manager Danielle DeLuca, Advocacy Program Manager 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 Tobias Berblinger, Josamine Bronnvik, Jenna Brooks, Leah Gage, Brooke Gilder, Megan Heidel, Emma Himmelberger, Evan Klasky, Kim Maida, Allen Perez
There are so many ways to
Suzanne Benally, Executive Director (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa)
Stay connected www.cs.org Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 1
i n t he new s
Salmon run. Photo courtesy of JB Mellquist.
United States: Supreme Court Sides with Tribal Interests in Sovereign Immunity Case May
In a land dispute between a nonIndigenous couple and the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, the Supreme Court has ruled in the favor of the Tribe. The Court dispelled confusion stemming from the 1992 decision of County of Yakima v. Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakima Nation, ruling that Yakima could not be used to abrogate Tribal sovereignty.
United States: Supreme Court Affirms Native American Treaty Rights to Harvest Salmon June
The Supreme Court ruled to mandate Washington State to replace culverts that block the path of salmon to allow them to pass through. This decision upholds 1854 and 1855 treaties with 21 Western Washington Native Peoples guaranteeing a “moderate living,” a standard which relies on access to their first foods. The ruling also asserts the status of treaties as living documents that must be respected by the state.
United States: Native American Water Protector First to be Sentenced to Federal Prison for Pipeline Protests June
Michael “Little Feather” Giron, a water protector and member of the Coastal 2 • www. cs. org
band of of the Chumash Nation, was sentenced to 36 months in prison for his participation in the protests against the North Dakota Access Pipeline. Giron opted to take a plea rather than go to trial because of the hostility of jury pools in the counties where the cases are taking place. A motion for a change of venue was denied.
Brazil: Thousands of Indigenous Peoples Converge on Brasilia June
More than 3,000 Indigenous people gathered in Brasilia, Brazil for the National Indigenous Mobilization, a five-day event that included mourning for victims of State violence and advocacy for Indigenous rights. Indigenous people called for the continued demarcation of their land and respect for their constitutional rights in the face of a government increasingly influenced by the interests of the agribusiness sector. Protests also targeted energy development and extraction projects.
Canada: Indigenous Rights Bill Passed in the House of Commons June
Members of Parliament passed Bill C-262 to implement the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The bill creates a legislative framework for cooperation between the Canadian government and First Nations, Inuit, and Metís Peoples to develop a national action plan for the implementation of the Declaration. While the bill has yet
to pass the Senate, this adoption is celebrated as a step forward in repudiating colonialism and providing justice for Indigenous Peoples.
Canada: British Columbia Fish Farms Will Require Indigenous Consent June
British Columbia is working to establish a consent-based policy for aquaculture farm tenure, which, guided by principles in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, requires the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous communities on fish farm tenures in their territory. Current tenures will be honored for four years, after which local First Nations must give their consent to renewal.
Nicaragua: Indigenous and Afro-descendant Peoples’ Case Opened Against the Interoceanic Canal June
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has opened a case against the Grand Interoceanic Canal of Nicaragua after Nicaragua failed to respond to its petition against the canal. Fifty-two percent of the canal route passes through Indigenous territory that is relied on for subsistence practices. The agreement per- mitting the canal’s construction establishes the lease duration as “indefinite,” and was obtained through coercive means, undermining the autonomy of the Indigenous Peoples in the region.
Advocacy Updates CS Condemns the Killing of Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez
CS Advocates for Indigenous Women in Mexico
Cultural Survival submitted an alternative report on the condition of Indigenous women’s rights in Mexico to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. The report highlights key injustices Indigenous women face in Mexico, especially concerning land rights, health care, and violence. Indigenous women frequently have difficulty acquiring and defending titles to their land; health care, especially gynecological, prenatal, and postnatal care, is insufficient while the practice of forced sterilization of Indigenous women continues; and Indigenous women face disproportionately high rates of human trafficking and assault in the process of migration.
Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, a 19-year-old Maya Mam woman from the community of San Juan Ostuncalco, Guatemala, was killed by a U.S. border patrol officer. Cultural Survival urges the U.S. Immigration and Border Control to respect the rights of Indigenous people and the rights of migrants under international and humanitarian law. Guatemalan officials have called for an exhaustive and impartial investigation into the killing, and for the U.S. to respect the rights of Guatemalan citizens held by Immigration and Border Control.
CS Condemns Trump Administration’s Immigration Policy June
Cultural Survival publicly condemns the Trump Administration’s dehumanizing rhetoric and inhumane treatment towards people in migration, and especially abhors the separation of children from their families at the border. Many of those currently crossing the border are Indigenous Peoples from Central America seeking asylum and attempting to escape domestic violence, gang violence, ethnic persecution, and/or State violence in their countries of origin. Cultural Survival denounces the criminalization of migrants and their characterization by the Trump Administration as sub-human. The Executive Order issued continues to disregard international standards by keeping children in detention, and fails to recognize and respect the non-nuclear family.
Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala Killed June
Francisco Manigua, Comité de Desarrollo Campesino (CODECA) vice president in the village of Divisadero Xalapan Jalapa, and CODECA human rights defenders Florencio Pérez Nájer and Alejandro Hernández García, were murdered within weeks of each other in a continuation of violence against Indigenous rights defenders that has been on the rise in Guatemala. Weeks earlier, the regional director of CODECA, Luis Arturo Marroquín (Xinca), was fatally shot, as were three other Q’eqchi human rights defenders: Ramon Choc Sacrab, José Can Xol, and Mateo Chamám Paau of Comité Campesino del Altiplano.
Mbororo Human Rights Defender Faces Charges in Cameroon June
Cameroonian courts have sentenced Mbororo human rights defender, Musa Ndamba, to six months in prison on accusations of defamation, a decision Ndamba’s lawyers are appealing. Ndamba is vice president of the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, working to protect the rights of Mbororo pastoralists in northwestern Cameroon and expose wealthy landowners’ corruption. Ndamba has been the victim of legal harassment for years, being called into court as many as 60 times. Cultural Survival and nine other organizations signed a letter expressing grave concern for the judicial harassment in Ndamba’s case. Ndamba has been released on bail while the appeals process is carried out.
International Support for Indigenous Radio Journalist July
In September 2015, Oscar Mejía (K’iche) was detained during a raid at a community radio station in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. Radio Swan Tinamit was raided on orders of the Guatemalan Public Ministry by 15 police officers. Police confiscated the broadcast equipment and arrested Mejía, whom they imprisoned for a week. The Public Ministry later added the false charge of “radio frequency theft.” A coalition of organizations agree that the Mejía’s guilty conviction one year later represents an incorrect interpretation of the Guatemalan penal code. On July 5, Sobreviviencia Cultural, Cultural Survival, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, and the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Clinic of Suffolk University entered an Amicus Curiae to the Constitutional Court of Guatemala to inform the magistrate’s understanding of relevant domestic and international law that apply to this case. Members of Sobrevivencia Cultural and Cultural Survival delivering an Amicus Curiae to the Constitutional Court of Guatemala. Photo courtesy of Cesar Gomez. Cultural Survival Quarterly
September 2018 • 3
indi geno u s a rts
Flambeau Seasons Phoebe Farris
elene G. Phillips is a member of the Lac du Flambeau band of Lake Superior Ojibwe in Wisconsin. She works as an assistant professor of Communication at the University of Louisville, Kentucky but “lives” in Waswaganing, WI. She is recognized nationally in the fields of journalism, communication, Native American studies, and performance, and is a gifted poet and storyteller whose creative writing reaches into the heart and soul of her beloved Ojibwe community. Phillips’ forthcoming book, Flambeau Seasons, beautifully describes ordinary, everyday life on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation, where life revolves around generations of extended families and the outside world is not that significant. Racism exists, but it does not define who the people are, who Phillips is. Her poems portray a people who spend much of their lives outside despite the weather. It is a life embracing the cold, not complaining about it. Some may live in so-called poor housing, but Phillips does not write about them as miserable or oppressed. Phillips’ family and friends do not act “traditional” in the way traditions are often stereotypically portrayed in movies or books, but they live what she calls an “Indian” lifestyle that can be understood in a subtle Indigenous way. When asked how she finds time to devote to creative writing with all of her teaching, research, and service responsibilities, Phillips responded, “Writing poetry makes up for the parts of life that are unfulfilling, linear, contrived, and uncreative. They are not so much poems as they are songs that must be sung, gifts that must be given, and words that must find soul. They are thoughts barely mentioned, swept under rugs, ignored, and squashed. I find them, wash them off, give them new life, and let them shine. It is my redemption, peace, forgiveness, raison d’ etre, and bagidanaamtowin, or breath.” Phillips dedicated her book to her parents for instilling in her “a love of words, writing, and creativity from the beginning.” She also wrote, “Like the loon’s call and dance, fragrant, indispensable, and virile, my parents’ love demonstrated that love conquers all, including isolation and racism. Just when you think pain is indescribable, a good heart grows larger and overflows to the parts of the earth where love is a rare commodity.” A notable selection in Flambeau Seasons is “i miss Lac du Flambeau.” It is a visual piece inspired by the izhibaganjiganan (birch bark bitings or scrolls) from the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. This poem won the 2013 Women Who Write International Poetry Contest, and was first published in Calliope 2013: The 20th Anthology by Women Who Write. The poetry in Flambeau Seasons is laid out in a graphic
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Photo by Michael Cunningham, University of Louisville.
tar paper shack The tar paper shack it was black; it was green, makadewaa idash ozhaawashkozi1 my mother took me there to visit him do you remember, mother? no one wanted you to take me there, there to visit, mawadish,2 there to visit the man, akiwenzii,3 who was so glad to see you, giin4 so glad to see us there to visit he acknowledged me he talked to me he asked me a question he listened to me he absorbed my response, my words, me he talked with me and my mom we were silent some, goshkwaawaadabi5 we looked outside, we were outside because the tar paper shack was not much more than a shelter it was inside and outside at the same time at the same time we visited we went there to visit the man at the tar paper shack constructed of outside and inside agwajiing idash biindig6 a convergence of the two 1 2 3 4 5 6
makadewaa idash ozhaawashkozi — black and green mawadish — visit akiwenzii — an old man giin — you goshkwaawaadabi — stay somewhere quietly or sits still or quietly agwajiing idash biindig — outside or outdoors and inside or indoors
Ojibwe Cousin Quilt [Excerpt) It hangs not by a thread but a memory and a promise
Waaswaaganing an eagle rises crickets mate chickadees chirp pine tree branches sway driftwood floats, sometimes the owls swoop dragonflies linger butterfly wings shutter waves lap to shore again, again fireflies dance on a midnight cloud some bear totter turtles teeter bobcats growl wolves wander deer dart and dash sunsets and sunrises loop loons lose their hearts in cries raccoons steal with their bandit eyes while evenings twinkle toads and frogs ribbit gentle waves smooth lake stones medicine rock juts above the water strawberry island and birch trees stand and sand beaches squish between my toes as I sink into the hum of home
style that makes her publication a literary and visual work of art. It is difficult to convey the feeling of Phillips’ works through words alone; a point she makes eloquently in “Poetry Is:” “Quite simply poetry is an exercise in listening to what’s not been said” — Phoebe Farris, Ph.D. (Powhatan-Pamunkey) is a Purdue University professor emerita, photographer, and freelance arts critic based in New Jersey, New York, and Washington, D.C. The poems excerpted here are from Flambeau Seasons.
Separately we are bits of cloth. Together we are a comforting blanket of protection, stitched together by the trials of life. We are sewn together by eight LaBelle women whose seams were stitched with patience. Fastened with threads of faith. Hemmed with heartfelt notions. Pocketed with kindness. Biased on forgiveness. Embroidered with protection. Faced with honor. We are our mothers' 50s gingham shirts. Polyester cotton broadcloth of a jingle dress. Satin taffeta and gabardine of a fancy dance shawl. We are our fathers' and uncle's itchy red and black plaid woolen lumberjack and hunting shirts. War and ribbon shirts. Vests and legging regalia. We are quilted with batting, a continuous loop, a grommet zig-zagged cuff, basting our broken reservation back together. Alone, we are jute and burlap, but together, an eyelet riveted river, aligned linen, and shared yoke. A brocade of flannelled and fleeced fabric. When we cotton to cut against the grain for seam allowance or dart on the wrong side of tension, bobbin’ on our own, locked into blind stitches of independence, we overlay, ruching each other. When broken, we use buttons, buckles, elastic, felt, safety pins, and twill tape; blanket, chain, running, saddle, and whip stitches; to mend and darn each other’s interfaced lining.
......... Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 5
women th e wo r ld m u st hear
Listen to our voices
indigenous women of Panama
Voces Indigena training participants, Panama City. Photo by Nati Garcia.
Nati Garcia (CS STAFF)
ntering Panama City, one may not know the rich history stored beneath the cracks of the sidewalks and paved roads, which, in 1510, absorbed the footprints of Rodrigo de Bastidas, who was sailing from Venezuela in search of new land and encountered the thriving civilizations of the Guna, Emberá, Wounaan, Ngöbe, Buglé, Bribri, Naso, and Dorasque peoples. Most Indigenous nations in Panama partially live on their ancestral lands as semi-autonomous reservations called comarcas. The Guna were the first to receive acknowledgement of their rights and are the most visible in Panama. The Ngöbe, Buglé, Wounaan, and Embera have also secured autonomous territorial rights in Panama, while the Naso and Bribri remain unrecognized. At a glance, the rich, biodiverse landscapes and the famous Panama Canal evince the appearance of wealth. But behind the lavish facade, there is another narrative. Over the years there has been increasing investment in natural resources from third parties on Indigenous territories, endangering the ecosystems and safety of Indigenous people that live there. Since the early 2000s hydroelectric dam construction has skyrocketed, with 24 operating projects and another 8 under construction. Illegal logging and mining operations have further scarred the land on which many Indigenous communities depend. It has been a constant struggle for Indigenous communities to defend their territories, and their resistance frequently results in violence and deaths. Still, Indigenous Peoples continue to resist via public demonstrations and legal demands for the implementation of the UN Declaration on
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the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the constitution of Panama. Indigenous women are often on the frontlines of these confrontations, vocalizing their rights: “We fight to recover,” said Antonia Morales Miranda (Ngöbe). “Forests are preserved if our cultures are preserved,” added Mitzy Cunampio (Embera) from the Piriati Torti community. Cultural Survival has been at the forefront in supporting the Indigenous Peoples of Panama. In 2016, Cultural Survival co-organized with Fundacion Comunicandonos, the World Association of Community Broadcasters (AMARC) of Central America, and Voces Indigena Panama, the first Central American Indigenous Community Radio Conference in Panama. Community media has been an expanding platform for many Indigenous communities in exercising their rights to freedom of expression. “One feels lost not to speak their native language,” explained Karen Bonilla Sam (Ngöbe) from Changuinola, Bocas de Toro. Radio has been a bridge for Indigenous communities in maintaining and revitalizing their cultures, identities, and languages, but there is currently no established community radio law in Panama. Legislation for radio and television is governed under Law Act No. 24, by which the public services of radio and television are regulated and other provisions are dictated. Although the telecommunications law provides two types of radio licenses, Type A for commercial stations and Type B for educational and culturally related stations, this law does not include community radio. In 2016, Cultural Survival, in partnership with AMARC and other Indigenous organizations, attempted to apply for a radio license. The application
was rejected, with the possibility for resubmission in two years. Voces Indigena, a movement formed by the Foundation of Promotion for Indigenous Knowledge and other Indigenous communities to strengthen the identity and recognition of Indigenous rights, intercultural inclusivity, and a democratic society, has been one of the leading organizations in securing legal radio frequencies. It is also the home of the Indigenous Community Communication Center. In May 2018, Voces Indigena held a training and networking opportunity for Indigenous women to build their capacity in journalism, community radio, and knowledge of the youth justice system in Panama City. Guna, Embera, Wounaan, Buglé, Ngöbe, Naso, and Bribri women leaders attended the training. The first part of the day was an orientation to the justice system in Panama and juvenile restorative justice presented by Alejandro Bonilla, Terre des Hommes Coordinator for the Indigenous Ancestry Justice Project. Ernelda Pitterson (Bribri) from Guabo de Yorkin territory in the province of Bocas del Toro, commented, “we want justice for our youth... we must revive our culture to revive our young people.” Arona Membache B (Embera) from Tierras Colectivos de Arimae in the province of Darien added, “ancestral justice builds a social, oral, and spiritual community. For this reason, we want to restore ancestral justice in our society.” For the majority of participants, it was their first time attending a training. The women were challenged to overcome their fears of public speaking and were encouraged to speak in their Indigenous language. For Ebodia Cension (Buglé) from Comarca Ngöbe-Buglé in the province of Chiriqui, it was a powerful experience: “For the first time I felt visible and recognized as Buglé. Many people think Ngöbe-Buglé is one Tribe . . . even though we live in the comarca and dress similar, we speak another language and have our own traditional practices.” The second portion of the day was training in radio broadcasting where Jose Bacorizo (Embera) facilitated tips on how to communicate in a radio station, and also led vocal exercises. During the last portion of the day, participants role played being on air live, each sharing a statement of personal truth along with a summary of what the juvenile restorative justice meant to them, both in Spanish and their Indigenous language. The results were inspiring. “My urgency is to support the Bribri community in rescuing the culture of my grandparents and grandmothers. It is a culture we cannot forget or let disappear. We have to recover the roots of our valuable identity, the identity that [sic] we have as Indigenous Peoples,” said Emilsa Sandra Cerrud Morales (Bribri) from Guabo de Yorkin territory. “Today’s youth have forgotten their culture and customs of our people. Restorative juvenile justice, as well as Indigenous justice, have similar objectives in reparation, rehabilitation, and recovery of youth, who are victims of legal and social conflicts. We can transform with care in valuing them for the benefit of future Indigenous Peoples and the country. Little by little, we can rescue the ones we are losing,” said Elisabeb Ester Jose Perez (Ngöbe) from Changuinola in the province of Bocas de Toro. “Our cultures and worldview are an inheritance of our identity as individuals in this society. The way we govern and how we have lived has been sustainable for the environment in maintaining our values, which are our rights that we must
keep. We all encompass the future generations. We must preserve it,” said Cunampio (Embera Piriati) from the collective lands of Alto Bayano in the district of Chepo, province of Darien. “I support the rights of Indigenous Peoples because we have many things that need support,” said Liseth Peña (Wounaan) from the collective lands of Airmae in the province of Darien. Peña is one of the handful of remaining fluent Wounaan speakers. As part of the comarca Emberá-Wounaan, the Wounaan hold strong political autonomy; however, an increasing settlement of non-Indigenous people are harming the ecosystem and jeopardizing their way of living.
Despite billions of dollars being poured into the creation of protected areas, the projects frequently are found to contribute to human rights abuses, conflict, and a loss of cultural diversity. “I support Indigenous Peoples’ rights because it is very important for the comarca. Our language and our culture is disappearing, which is everything to us. Little by little, we need to revive our identity again. Our rights unite each one of us so that one day the young people and children will have their own identity, the identity of Indigenous people,” said Betty Lida Archibol (Guna) from the Comarca Guna Yala in Panama City. Archibol was the youngest participant in the training and is a member of the Organizaciones de Mujeres Indígenas Unidas por la Biodiversidad de Panamá (OMIUBP), who are a Keepers of the Earth Fund grant partner. The last part of the training was the plenary and group dialogue in creating a board of directors for the Women’s Network of Communication and Development for Indigenous People in Panama. The goal was for Indigenous women to become proactive in the field of communications. Raquel B. Cunampio, coordinator of the Indigenous Women Network for the Rights to Communication, facilitated the discussion. Most of the participants were not familiar with the functionality of a board of directors or the legal process in securing a radio frequency, so a brief overview was given on the National Authority for Public Services and Telecommunication Law 24. By the end of the day, the selection of a Board was finalized, along with efforts in establishing a nonprofit organization to be able to apply for a frequency license. For Nilka Sanchez de Jimenez (Naso), the training was a positive experience. “We can continue to learn enjoyably while continuing to share our culture,” she said. The Naso people from the Terjdi Naso territory in Bocas del Toro face the threat of losing their ancestral territory because they are not formed under a comarca. This makes their territory vulnerable to third party investment projects, such as the Hidroecologica del Teribe S.A. dam, which was built in 2014 after 10 years of resistance. The training was also an opportunity to network with other Indigenous women leaders who are facing similar challenges, a space to be of witness, cultivation, and growth. As Cunampio said, “Our rights help to protect us so that we will not disappear. People have limits, and we also have rights.” Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 7
i ndi geno u s k n ow le d g e
Elders Across North & South America Select Turtle Lodge as Their
“central House of Knowledge”
Grandmothers and youth from the Anishinabe communities of Bloodvein, Hollow Water, Black River, and Sagkeeng arrive at the Turtle Lodge for the Zuguswediwin “Lifting the Sacred Pipe” Gathering, after walking 185 km from Bloodvein First Nation. Inset: Participants give thanks during a Giveaway ceremony.
Turtle Lodge The Turtle Lodge has become well known internationally as a center for sharing traditional Indigenous knowledge on climate change. In 2016, Manitoba elders gathered there, as requested by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs’ Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, to discuss their response to a proposed pipeline coming into their territory. The Elders developed a document entitled “Ogichi Tibakonigaywin— The Great Binding Law,” which outlined the natural laws, duties, and responsibilities that each individual is born with to take care of the land. In June 2017, Turtle Lodge hosted Indigenous Knowledge Keepers from across North and South America along with international climate change experts, who together developed 12 Onjisay Aki Climate Calls to Action focusing on actions to support ancestral knowledge, sovereignty, relationships, and transformation. For these efforts Turtle Lodge was awarded the Anne Lindsay Protecting our Earth Award by the Manitoba Eco-Network. In September 2017, Turtle Lodge hosted the Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and Scientists Gathering, co-chaired by Elder Dave Courchene and David Suzuki, which brought Indigenous approaches and teachings together with the climate change expertise of top Canadian scientists. 8 • www. cs. org
espected traditional elders from Nations across Great Turtle Island (North America) and Abya Yala (Mexico, Central, and South America) came together in the center of the North American continent in Manitoba, Canada from July 19–22, 2018, having traveled from their respective territories East, West, North, and from the South, all the way to the Inca. At this gathering, the elders formally acknowledged that they have selected the Turtle Lodge at Sagkeeng First Nation, Anishinabe Territory, as their central house of knowledge and their place of governance as Knowledge Keepers and traditional leaders of their Nations and Peoples, which honors and connects the network of elders and regions across the territories and from where their voice can be shared with all Peoples. The elders, most of whom are fluent in their original languages and knowledgeable in the ceremonies and teachings of their Nations and Peoples, were called together at the Zuguswediwin (“Lifting the Sacred Pipe”) National Elders Gathering, based on a dream received by elder Nii Gaani Aki Inini, Leading Earth Man (Dave Courchene) of the Anishinabe Nation. Courchene is the caretaker of Turtle Lodge, a sacred lodge he dreamed of over 30 years ago. It was built in 2002 by volunteers, mainly young people, using donated materials. In a dream he received while recovering from a major illness this year, Courchene had a vision of grandmothers from different Nations crossing a turtleembroidered yellow blanket, carrying medicines and a declaration of commitment to an elder carrying a sacred pipe for blessing, witnessed by the people. At the Zuguswediwin gathering, elders convened to discuss how to implement their nationhood and restore balance and wellness to their Nations and Peoples using their traditional ways. Young people and grandmothers from the Giigewigamig First Nation Health Authority All photos by Laura Cameron.
provided the inspiration, arriving at the gathering after walking 185 kilometers over four days through the communities of Bloodvein, Hollow Water, Black River, and Sagkeeng. They walked in reverence for their ancestral way of life based on close connection to land, air, water, and fire. Other youth shared dreams and visions they had received through fasting on the land. Delegates from national research bodies, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Canadian Institutes of Health Research were welcomed and permitted to present questions to the elders on how to work together to provide a framework for respectful engagement of Indigenous communities, brought to the gathering at Turtle Lodge by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Their questions were met with firm responses by the elders that they need to spearhead their own processes of sharing knowledge by setting agendas that are based on Indigenous values and priorities, determined through a ceremonial context, and based within their own house of knowledge: Turtle Lodge. Together the elders developed and ceremonially ratified the Zuguswediwin Declaration of Commitment of the Original Nations and Peoples of Great Turtle Island, a spiritual commitment to act in accordance with their ancestral laws and traditions. The declaration both begins and ends in the Anishinabe language. It is intended to be further translated into all the respective languages of the elders who signed it, after grandmothers carried it with medicines across the yellow turtle blanket in a powerful ceremony, passing it over to the pipe carriers at Turtle Lodge on July 21. On July 22, the elders and witnesses took the Zuguswediwin Declaration to Manitou Api (“Where the Creator Sat”), an ancient sacred site in the center of the continent, to be blessed by a sacred pipe that was commissioned in Ottawa in 2016 by a national group of elders representing the four directions. At Manitou Api, the group also honored their ancestors and placed the document in the water for its message to be symbolically and spiritually carried around the world. One of the elders, Allan White, from Whitefish Bay Anishinabe Nation, came forward with an instruction he had received in the ceremony that the grandmothers and elders will dream and gather at the Turtle Lodge at the same time next year, bringing those dreams for the people to understand the full meaning and power of vision that comes from dreams. The Zuguswediwin Declaration is being engraved into the hide of a buffalo and will soon be available for all to see at Turtle Lodge. — Sabina Ijaz, MD CCFP is volunteer coordinator at Turtle Lodge.
E xc e r p t f r o m
Zuguswediwin “Lifting The Pipe” Declaration of Commitment of the Original Nations and Peoples of Great Turtle Island . . . We are the Original free and independent Nations and Peoples of Great Turtle Island, and the true leaders of our homeland. In good faith we commit to exercising our birthright to live and implement our way of life. We humbly acknowledge our Creator, who has gifted our Peoples with knowledge of how to have a sacred relationship with Spirit and the Land. We humbly acknowledge the Earth as our Mother, the Source through which Life flows. We declare our full faith in the power of the Creator and our full faith in the love and abundance of life that Mother Earth gives. In good faith we commit to walk in the way of the Buffalo, who brings the Law of Respect—to give and to share. The Buffalo brings the gift of the Drum and the Pipe, the Drum that carries the Prayers and the hopes of the Nation, and the Pipe that holds the power to invoke the Spirit to come within our presence. We commit to walk in the way of the Eagle, who brings the Law of Love, which is the essence of kindness in the heart of all that is alive. The Eagle nurtures and heals the spirit and emotions through Ceremony. We commit to walk in the way of the Bear, who brings the Law of Courage, walking the Spiritual and Natural Laws. Mother Earth provides all we need to live a healthy life. The Bear teaches us how to live on the land, and introduces us to our vision quests, rites of passage and fasting in Ceremony, to connect our spirits with our physical bodies. We commit to walk in the way of the Sabe, who brings the Law of Honesty— kind words spoken from the heart. The Sabe brings medicine from the land for healing, including the sacred foods. The body is the lodge of the spirit, and needs natural foods, medicine and physical activity to stay healthy. We commit to gather our sacred medicines from the land and share them with each other. We commit to walk in the way of the Beaver. The Beaver brings Wisdom, knowing our identity as defined by the unique gifts given to everyone. We commit to use our gifts to serve the Nation in helping build a strong, healthy community. We commit to walk in the way of the Wolf, who brings Humility, understanding that there is one Creator for all, who loves each and every one equally. We humble ourselves to educate ourselves with the diverse unique knowledge that has arrived on our homeland, providing it complements and supports the values and rules of conduct toward each other and the land. We commit to walk in the way of the Turtle, who brings the Law of Truth. To live and know Truth is to walk the Spiritual Laws of the Creator and Natural Laws of Mother Earth, taught on the land, in our lodges and our ceremonies, using our languages. Living a spiritual life as human beings will bring peace, love and kindness into our world. It is in this spirit that we commit to build a community, reflecting our true identity, complete with the means to survive, creating our own currency for survival. This currency is based on the Seven Sacred Laws of Respect, Love, Courage, Honesty, Humility, Wisdom and Truth, relying on the spirit, the land and the natural seasons, for everything we need to survive. We commit to continue to build a strong foundation for our children, grandchildren, families and communities, and that foundation is based on the Seven Sacred Laws . . .
Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 9
c l i mat e ch a n g e Protecting Mother Earth Conference participants. Photo by Eriel Deranger.
Historic Indigenous Gathering to Protect Mother Earth Alexis Bunten “We will always be here to stand up. We will always be the voice that no one else wants to say . . . that’s who we are as the Indigenous people and the protectors here.” — Hanford McCloud (Nisqually), council member and co-host of the 2018 Protecting Mother Earth Conference
lose to 1,500 Indigenous representatives and their allies from across Turtle Island (North America) gathered from June 27–July 1, 2018, at Frank’s Landing on the Nisqually reservation in Washington State to attend the 17th Protecting Mother Earth Conference. The conference was co-organized by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Canadian-based Indigenous Climate Action, and hosted by the Nisqually Tribe. In addition to a large turnout of local Tribal members, participants came from as far away as Ecuador, Japan, Aotearoa (New Zealand), and Australia to connect with Indigenous leaders actively campaigning to stop the destruction of the planet. Equal parts relationship building, spiritual centering, organizing, campaigning, and information sharing, the Protecting Mother Earth conference modeled how to run a grassroots Indigenous event. Participants were invited to camp at the conference site, and all events took place outdoors under tents next to the mouth of the Nisqually river; everybody was welcomed. The conference grounds at Frank’s Landing Nisqually Wa-He-Lut School offered many spots to visit with new and old friends. The Nisqually Tribe took care of all attendees with three meals a day plus snacks and refreshments. Younger children enjoyed culturally-based art activities, and older youth took an active part in the workshops and discussions. I met with friends and colleagues of all different ages and backgrounds. My child played with my colleagues’ kids. We even met one of our Alaskan cousins for the first time. The underlying ethos of the conference supported relationships new and old. The conference began and ended with Nisqually leaders and representatives of the original signers of the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854 in welcome and closing ceremonies following 10 • www. cs. org
Northwest Coastal protocols. This set the tone for a respectful event, carried out in intention and balance.
The Power of Indigenous Resistance “We all have a responsibility to take care of this Mother Earth. . . . Because we knew and we understood our relationship with Mother Earth we must protect them [our salmon, berries, medicine, basket materials], but we also come with the intent of gratitude, to always remember to say, ‘Thank you. Thank you for giving their lives to become our food, our spiritual food.’ When we take something from nature, we always say thank you.” — Connie McCloud (Puyallup), cultural director of the Puyallup Tribe
The first day of the conference, I met up with a Diné grandmother I know. We talked about acknowledging intergenerational trauma and the healing that needs to take place part and parcel with Indigenous environmental justice work. As we shared a meal under a massive oak tree, she said, “One thing I have learned is not to say anything unless you are feeling okay. If you take negative thoughts and emotions into your work, it will come out in your words. It will affect the outcomes.” She was referring to the mind-spirit-body connection carried forth in Diné and other Indigenous Peoples’ ways of being and relating to Mother Earth. Nourishing the spirit and prayer is just as critical to protecting the planet as direct action, not just for Native-led campaigns, but for all environmental movements. This is why so many Indigenous environmental justice protectors turn to prayer first. Prayer has long played a deep role in Indigenous environmental organizing, but was perhaps only recently made public when the world witnessed water protectors and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in prayer at Standing Rock in 2016. Another lesson I took home from the conference was the power of convening. When Indigenous People from around the world come together, we are always reminded of what we have in common. We share similar traumatic histories
of colonization and ongoing genocide. Our nation states enact policies to marginalize and disempower us. We have the same experiences with mining, fracking, polluting, and paving of our ancestral territories in the name of development and progress. Case in point: while researching for an article I was writing on the topic of Indigenous Peoples and capitalism, I discovered that Rio Tinto corporation has driven Indigenous deaths and destruction of homelands in the name of natural resource extraction on every continent but Antarctica. Across the planet, Indigenous Peoples are fighting the same battles with the same corporations. These corporations are staffed by (mostly) men who don’t have a deep connection with the cultural landscapes being exploited, and don’t care. The camps they inhabit to rape the earth are also a breeding ground for drug abuse, human trafficking, sexual assault, and murder of Indigenous women. Fighting corporate goliaths whose land claims are supported by lawmakers feels overwhelming. But, when Indigenous grassroots leaders come together at events like the Protecting Mother Earth conference, powerful alliances are made. Knowledge and strategies to stop the rampant destruction of Mother Earth are shared. I left the conference feeling confident that together, we are strong enough to protect the planet so it can take care of us for generations to come.
Critical Conversations “Having this conference and having all of our people from across the great continent of Turtle Island come together to discuss ways and strategize ways to protect life, to protect water, to protect Mother Earth, is absolutely critical in strengthening those sacred hoops, in bringing our minds together.” — Eriel Deranger, executive director, Indigenous Climate Action
Plenary sessions focused the biggest environmental campaigns of our time, covering themes including the rights of Mother Earth, food sovereignty, and resisting extreme energy, encompassed within a ‘just transition’ framework to create new sources of well paid employment in healthy communities as we move towards a fossil-free future. Community and movement leaders led a diverse array of breakout workshops that took different forms. Many of the workshops were led in a talking circle style, inviting everyone to introduce themselves and contribute to the conversation while learning from movement leaders. Specific breakout sessions were dedicated to youth, intergenerational, and intersectional organizing through dedicated spaces. As I moved in and out of these spaces, I heard exciting and critical dialogues sharing truths, experiences, and strategies to address serious environmental threats. Though current crises, such as climate change, GMO monocrop agriculture, and ocean pollution were major themes throughout the conference, breakout sessions did not ignore ongoing issues that are not “in the moment,” and they offered good practices for organizing and building alignment with each other as Indigenous Peoples and allies. These topics included health and wellness, representation and storytelling, and the impacts of big agriculture and genetic engineering. I attended a fascinating breakout session about the current state of the battle to stop uranium mining, where I learned
about a successful strategy implemented by the Havasupai Tribe that brought together a coalition of Tribes along the Colorado River to prevent any new operations. This same strategy could be employed in similar fights against other extractive industries. I also attended a powerful panel featuring young Alaska Native activists openly sharing what climate change has done to their villages and broader ecosystems. I felt honored to hear firsthand the stories that aren’t readily apparent in the mainstream media.
The Current State of the Indigenous Environmental Movement “We’re here to come together and develop one voice as Indigenous Peoples, to stand with one mind in defense of the sacredness of Mother Earth. We are strengthening our sacred hoop of Indigenous Peoples from the four directions to build alliances and alignment that recognizes the territorial integrity of Mother Earth and Father Sky and the future generation of all people and life.” — Tom Goldtooth, executive director, Indigenous Environmental Network
The Protecting Mother Earth conference embodied the current state of the broader Indigenous environmental movement. For me, an overarching takeaway was that any solutions to environmental issues must address the interlinked crises of climate, economy, and democracy. Indigenous Peoples have never suffered the illusion that the United States (or other colonial settler states) is a fair, just, and democratic society. We have always known that greed and power drive the conditions under which we live our lives. We also recognize that Indigenous values and worldviews are often polar opposite to the logic of neoliberal late capitalism that drives the world’s greatest environmental catastrophes—including climate change. In order to stop, and even reverse, the rampant destruction of ecosystems, we must embark on a transformative pathway to change. We can’t just address the symptoms of the issue; we must also upend the underlying causes. These include our increasing disconnect from nature, our refusal to recognize the interconnectedness of the planet, and our growing sense of apathy towards our own communities. The Protecting Mother Earth conference also filled me with hope. Participants shared many stories of renewal and successes. Strategies that worked involved whole communities from the ground up. They focused on the importance of learning about the need to address internalized oppression and the need for culture and wellness. And they included plans for regeneration through strategies to detoxify, demilitarize, de-gentrify, and re-democratize our economies and communities. —Alexis Bunten, PhD, is the project manager for the Indigeneity Program at Bioneers, a proud partner of Cultural Survival. She co-organizes the annual Indigenous Forum within the broader Bioneers over the third weekend in October each year. This year’s Indigenous Forum will be October 19–21, and features an exciting lineup speakers sharing Indigenous approaches to coastline management, protecting our rivers, flexing sovereignty, allyship, a Just Transition, blood memory, and much more. Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 11
Indigenous Stewardship of Sacred Lands 12 • www. cs. org
Conservation’s Impacts On Indigenous Peoples
A Conversation with Victoria Tauli-Corpuz Dev Kumar Sunuwar (CS STAFF)
“Indigenous Peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources. States shall establish and implement assistance programmes for Indigenous people.” — UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Article 29.1
orldwide, approximately 40 to 50 percent of protected areas have been established on lands traditionally occupied or used by Indigenous Peoples. For decades, Indigenous Peoples have been shedding light on the negative impacts of the mainstream conservation movement, which largely has taken a “keep out” approach and ignored the contributions Indigenous Peoples have made to protecting the world’s biodiversity. It is no coincidence that 80 percent of the Earth’s biodiversity is found on Indigenous lands: it is because of Indigenous Peoples’ stewardship and relationship with the environment. The journal Nature Sustainability estimates that Indigenous Peoples, who make up approximately 5 percent of the world’s population, use or have management rights to more than a quarter of the Earth’s surface—roughly 14.7 million square miles of land in 87 political regions. Yet, about 70 percent of the world’s population does not hold a registered title to their land. In 2016, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, released a thematic analysis for the UN Human Rights Council on conservation measures and their impact on Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The report summarized the main concern: “Protected areas have the potential of safeguarding the biodiversity for the benefit of all humanity; however, these have also been associated with human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples in many parts of the world.” According to the report, only five percent of all protected areas practice shared governance of Indigenous
Peoples with local communities. A 2015 analysis undertaken by the NGO Rights and Resources Initiative of 21 countries where conflicts affect Indigenous Peoples in protected areas concluded that inadequate, inconsistent, and poorly implemented legislation is a key obstacle to advancing rights-based conservation. The analysis determined that “only 8 of the 21 countries enacted or reformed their protected area legislation related to community land and resource rights during this time period.” An underlying factor of this stark inequity is the rampant lack of recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to land and unsecured titles to land. A 2016 study by the Rainforest Foundation of 34 protected areas in 5 countries in the Congo Basin (Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo) found that Indigenous communities have virtually no tenure security over their traditional lands in any of those countries. The creation of at least 26 of the protected areas resulted in partial or complete relocation or displacement of local Indigenous and farming communities present in the area prior to park establishment. There was no reparation for the displacements. Of the 34 protected areas studied, 25 bordered with logging concessions, 19 overlapped with mining concessions, and 9 overlapped with oil concessions, illustrating another threat to conservation and Indigenous Peoples’ rights: the extractive industry. The report made several recommendations to States, including adopting necessary policy, legal, and administrative measures for the full recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples over their lands, territories, and resources as enshrined in international human rights law; complying with the duty to consult and obtain the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Peoples before the development of conservation initiatives that may affect their rights; supporting partnerships between government authorities and Indigenous Peoples to encourage intercultural engagement in order to build trust and collaboration in favor of shared goals of sustainable conservation; and establishing accountability and reparation mechanisms for infringements on Indigenous rights in the context of conservation and to provide redress for historical and contemporary wrongs.
Tauli-Corpuz further urged conservation groups to respect and support the rights of Indigenous Peoples as recognized in international human rights law and enhance their ability to engage in conservation by advocating for recognition of their collective rights; to develop mechanisms for solid partnerships for regular and continuous engagement with Indigenous Peoples, including ensuring their full and effective participation in designing, implementing, and monitoring conservation initiatives; to support Indigenous Peoples with their own conservation initiatives; and to ensure culturally appropriate complaint mechanisms. In addition, she wrote, donors should require and monitor conservation organizations to adopt and practice human rights policies and support Indigenous Peoples’ own conservation initiatives, and UN agencies like UNESCO should reform the Operation Guidelines, address the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopt procedures for FPIC, and improve monitoring of conservation practices on Indigenous Peoples. Conservation groups should also use their leverage to advocate for Indigenous rights and promote a rights-based approach. Cultural Survival recently spoke with Tauli-Corpuz. CS: What are the current issues Indigenous Peoples are facing with conservation efforts? Victoria Tauli-Corpuz: The situation of Indigenous Peoples
in protected areas and conservation areas is not very good because Indigenous Peoples are still victim to the government deciding that their traditional territories should become protected areas. This is an injustice, because Indigenous Peoples are the ones who have been protecting these areas even before the governments came into the picture and they have shown that they are able to protect these areas. But they are subjected to all these kinds of human rights violations. This is, of course, very much related to their rights over territories and resources, as well as their rights to participate in making decisions that affect them. There are also violations of Free, Prior and Informed Consent because they are not asked whether they would like those territories to be designated as protected areas. In the process there are also Indigenous Peoples who have been relocated, and there is no compensation for them. That kind of injustice continues to happen. What do you see as the fundamental reason for conflicts stemming from conservation efforts? VTC: It’s mainly a conflict over how the government regards
the lands of Indigenous Peoples, because when States were formed, they made laws that all the lands belonged to the government. Many Indigenous Peoples don’t agree with that, because these lands are the territories which they have cared for since time immemorial and where their cultures and identities have emerged from. When States make a claim on the forest for its “protection,” they are doing it in violation of that right. But they are also doing these kinds of actions because of a discriminatory mindset that thinks Indigenous Peoples cannot protect those lands. They refuse to see that Indigenous Peoples have their own traditional protection systems and governments where laws and policies regarding how their territories are being shaped and protected are enforced. Many governments don’t like to look at that because there’s a feeling of superiority; that the government knows best.
Can you comment on the obstacles to legal ownership of collective lands? VTC: Indigenous Peoples are facing a lot of challenges.
Number one, many of them are still being evicted and their houses burned in the name of conservation. For example, in the case of India, the government expanded tiger sanctuaries and have displaced the Baiga and Gond. We have situations in Africa where protected areas have been created and the Pygmies who depend on and live in these forests have been displaced as well. Those are some of the reports that I have been receiving, as well as Indigenous Peoples not being able to go into protected areas to do their traditional practices like hunting and gathering and beekeeping, or to get to the traditional medicines that they use. All of these activities are being denied to them because they are considered protected areas and nobody is allowed to go there. How do international laws help protect Indigenous lands? VTC: I am suggesting to governments that they should abide
by their human rights obligations like respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands and territories and respecting the right of self-determination; that they should be included in decisions regarding taking protected areas and that they should continue to practice their livelihood and cultures and maintain their sacred sites. In other words, I am calling on the governments to adhere and comply with the human rights obligations that they have signed onto, as well as the obligations to environmental conventions. The Convention on Biodiversity, for instance, says that Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices should be supported by governments. Indigenous Peoples should be consulted, but the other thing is to look at how to redress these kinds of injustices that Indigenous Peoples continue to suffer from, what kinds of redress mechanisms have been put in place by governments as well as conservation organizations so that they will be able to be brought back to their traditional territories or be relocated to lands that are equally valuable to the lands they were displaced from, among others. These kinds of injustices need to be addressed. Article 29 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says that Indigenous Peoples’ rights to continue their conservation activities should be allowed. There are several articles on Free, Prior and Informed Consent that say any decisions regarding the use of their lands should obtain their FPIC. ILO Convention 169 says as well that consultation needs to be done with Indigenous Peoples before any policy or administrative action is being taken that will affect them. Awareness of these laws is key. What can Indigenous Peoples do? VTC: Indigenous Peoples really need to strengthen their
capacity to use existing mechanisms to be able to pressure the governments to do the right thing in terms of complying with their obligations. But they should also strengthen the possibility of doing their own monitoring and evaluation of existing protected areas, and to make reports that expose rights violations to the general public so that more pressure will be exerted on the State and conservation organizations that are responsible for these kinds of developments. Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 13
Conserving Land for Future Generations Nemasket River, MA, most important herring run. Photo courtesy of Native Land Conservancy.
Agnes Portalewska (CS STAFF)
ative Land Conservancy (NLC), based in Mashpee, MA, describes itself as the first Native-led land trust east of the Mississippi, with a mission “to protect sacred spaces, habitat areas for our winged and fourlegged neighbors, and other essential ecosystem resources to benefit Mother Earth and all human beings.” Founded in 2012 by Ramona “Nosapocket” Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag) with startup grants from Fields Pond Foundation and the Island Foundation on the principle that all land is sacred, NLC aims to partner with other land conservancies, provide Indigenous wisdom to protecting natural resources, and have an interest in protecting ancient village sites, planting grounds, and hunting and fishing campsites of their ancestors. Native Land Conservancy organizes annual events to highlight Eastern Woodlands Native American cultures and histories of the lands they are preserving through activities such as co-walking adventures, which are open to the public. Other projects include canoe trips following traditional Wampanoag and Nipmuc water routes, as well as the annual Herring Run Clean Up, organized before the ceremony to welcome the herring coming in upstream. Native Land Conservancy’s current land holdings are located in Sandwich and Barnstable, MA and several more are in the process of negotiation. In an effort to gain more access to places of cultural significance and inspire local oral traditions to preserve land stories, NLC also has been negotiating cultural respect agreements with local communities and other land conservancies. The agreement with the town of Dennis, MA, signed between NLC and Dennis Conservation Trust, was the first of its kind in the Eastern U.S., and allows NLC to conduct cultural practices on the land. Cultural Survival recently spoke with Ramona Peters, NLC founder and chair, former Cultural Survival board member, and Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal historic preservation officer. 14 • www. cs. org
Cultural Survival: How is the Native Land Conservancy different from other conservancies, and what is unique about the Indigenous approach to conservation? Ramona Peters: Giving land back to Indigenous care sends
a powerful message. There is a lack of diversity in the national land trust community, and NLC is the only Indigenous land trust in Massachusetts. We are Native-run, meaning the board of directors will always be Native and will help assure that an Indigenous perspective on land use and management is exercised on lands we protect. The opportunity to serve on the NLC board is open to all Tribes, while membership to the Conservancy is open to everyone, Indigenous or not. We have spent most of our lives outdoors along the rivers, bays, pine woods, and knolls. We were instructed by our elders to regard all living things with respect. We are blessed with amazing treasures; plants, minerals, and animals that have offered medicine and food to our people for thousands of years. Cultural differences are to be expected, but the disconnect between Western science and traditional knowledge has caused the land to be abused. Characterization of plant life only around what benefits humans can derive reminds me that Westerners have been charged with the mission to dominate the earth through the 1452 papal bull of Pope Nicholas V. Worldview obviously shapes a culture and individuals, so we shouldn’t ignore what has happened to this continent since colonization. Thankfully, some walk to a different beat. There’s heavy politics and capitalism running through the framework of American land conservation. The privileges of time and money have eluded most of us to even sit at the table to listen. We’re grateful that there are still vast amounts of protected acreage living safely, despite the varied motivations to conserve.
CS: What are some of the projects you have worked on? RP: The most exciting project we’re accomplishing is rescuing
the ancient Wampanoag Muttock-Pauwating village site in Middleborough, MA, which contains evidence of Indigenous
occupation dating to as many as 7,500 years ago. The site is essentially still intact, and represents a powerful and sacred place to the Wampanoag. This is the second time that the NLC has committed significant funds toward the purchase of a property for preservation. About 12 or 13 years ago during the beginning stages of a housing development, artifacts and 3 burials were discovered. Eventually the village footprint was uncovered and 56,000 artifacts were removed. It’s taken an enormous effort to raise the funds to protect this village site from total annihilation. The town of Middleborough, NLC, and the Archaeological Conservancy are each contributing over $100,000 toward the rescue. We’re closing on the purchase at the end of August. We’ve also hosted students from UMass Boston Women’s and Gender Studies and Environmental Studies programs to help with cleanups in the Spring. It’s been a very positive experience to work alongside college students that come from different parts of the country. And we’re kicking off the canoe trips in Wakeby Lake (Mashpee Pond). Cape Cod is pretty fragile—we’re basically like a sand dune sticking out into the Atlantic. We’d like to bring greater awareness about the springs and the fresh water under the Cape. If the lens of fresh water gets punctured by salt water, or if it gets polluted, there’s nothing we’ll be able to do to recover. Cape Cod is a world renowned location that has a lot of unwise and untidy visitors who stay for a month or two during the summer. We know we have to take protective measures and offer educational outings. NLC is also interested in protecting land outside of Cape Cod. We’re finding ways for Native people to have access to special locations that may have been village sites or ceremonial grounds. Sometimes we know there are cultural features on privately owned land and we want to be able to go there as a group. If there are cultural resources there, like different medicinal plants or renewable resources that we’d like to be able to forage for, or harvest seeds, we want to do that as well. When it comes to land reclamation practices, planting indigenous seeds is something we are interested in doing. The lack of indigenous grasses has created a lack of habitat for the quail, partridge, and pheasants that used to be our neighbors. By vacuuming up indigenous seeds wherever we can find them, we can then spread them in our reclamation projects. Our first donation was a white pine forest, Qâqunôhqus‘ee K‘âut (Tall Pine Tree Place), in Centerville, MA. One of our male board members takes men there to connect with these specific trees. White Pine has a great medicinal effect on men that need some energetic smoothing out when they are nervous or experiencing hostile feelings. CS: What kind of work have you done with other New England Tribes? RP: We were recently invited to the University of Maine to
talk about our cultural respect agreements with the Wabanaki Confederacy of Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Abenaki. Many Tribes in Maine still subsistence hunt and fish. As far as hunting goes, you go where the animals are, but they can’t always do that because of properties being private or owned by conservation groups. Since that’s true, they could craft a similar agreement as ours to gain access to hunting grounds. A cultural respect agreement can be made, especially if they’re interested in going where petroglyphs are for ceremony or educational purposes.
I have seen a Penobscot map that showed dozens of special land spaces that had incredible stories attached to them. I remember a story that talked about a place where a hungry human being first learned how to make arrows for hunting from a magical creature—the story eventually leads you to a quarry where the superior rock for arrowheads is located. It’s pretty amazing. Of course, we also talked about the dangers of putting exact locations of sacred places on a map where people could find them and do harm. CS: What are some of the challenges you have faced? RP: When land is put into a conservancy, it becomes public
land for light recreation so you can walk the trails. When we go as Native people to do a ceremony, go blueberry picking as a big family, or if we go scalloping or to gather beach plums, we attract attention. The last thing we want is to have a ceremony disrupted by police or for our children to witness r acism in action. This is why it’s become necessary and important to have a cultural respect agreement, for special access to the property even if it’s open to the “public.” The unreasonable fear of seeing brown people in the woods is something that I have had to talk openly about among land trusts. Our first cultural respect agreement at Chase Garden Creek in Dennis gives us access to 250 acres of marshland. This agreement is only for five years because the majority of their board members were wary of having an agreement with Indian people. This tells us we need to mingle more with our allies It’s easy to stay within our comfort zone among our own people, but this behavior has contributed to ignorance and fear. For example, an elderly woman in South Mashpee wanted to bequeath her land on one of the small islands to NLC. Shortly after she informed her neighbors, she got emails and phone calls from them telling her to not allow Indians on the island. The emails said that she shouldn’t trust us, that it would draw more of us around their houses, and the ridiculous notion that we’d build a casino on the island. We are a land conservation group; that’s our whole purpose, but people are ignorant about this. She was going to stay with us all the way regardless of her neighbors, but we had to drop the effort after we were warned that the town selectmen were going to vote against allowing her to have a conservation easement. I attempted to engage with members of the board of selectmen. Three of them were actually hostile to me; another wouldn’t respond at all. We have had to face some powerful racism. I wasn’t expecting that level of abuse of power from Mashpee town officials. We had a similar experience in the town of Yarmouth when we offered $50,000 to help their local land trust purchase a parcel that we see as culturally significant and the town officials declined to accept our involvement. CS: What is next for the Native Land Conservancy? RP: Within six months we’re going to gain four more parcels
of land of varying sizes from different towns. We’ve been promised a wetlands area in Yarmouth, which has cultural and historical value. Two weeks ago we received a bequeathment to a Cotuit property with a small cottage. There are five different organizations looking to make cultural respect agreements with us. We also hope to get off the Cape a little more with the land acquisition. We need more visibility. We’d like to exist as an organization for at least 500 years into the future.
Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 15
Stewards of the Land in Paradise Ka’imi Hermosura tending the family's sacred garden at Royal Patent 6642, Wainiha, Kaua‘i. Photo by Mac James.
e would wake up before the sun, my father, my mother, my brothers, and I. Sometimes we would go to the beach first, to gather shells and observe the fish. Later we would go to the taro patch as the sun was still coming up and feed our pigs, check the water areas, and start to tend the taro patches. If we were going to pull taro, we would all go together to harvest and prepare it. There is a special method of taking it out of the ground so that we wouldn’t damage the cuttings, or huli, which were to be planted after. There was always plenty to do on the farm, from weeding to clearing waterways, tilling the taro patches, and most of all, balancing the irrigation for the desired amount of water in each patch according to the growth stage of the taro. Those would be the everyday chores in our love relationship that we had with our farm and our land, which sits at the bottom of one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world: Namolokama, the mountain in Hanalei. There are many responsibilities in growing taro, but also there is an exchange of mana, or chi, because you love to do it. In our cosmology, the stillborn elder brother of man is haloa, the progenitor of our sacred staple crop, kalo (taro). An abundance of life-giving water is considered wealth, because with it, the taro is irrigated. As Konohiki, we have responsibility for land distribution and agricultural use in order that the land may be productive, the taro may grow, and the nation will survive. The traditional watershed management system is overseen by the headman of the ahupua‘a (watersheds), or Konohiki. I was instructed from birth to take responsibility for safeguarding the production and perpetuation of land and sea resources in the watershed and given the hereditary knowledge needed to fulfill that responsibility.
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We are heirs to Royal Patent 4885 in Waioli, Hanalei, which is deeded from King Kamehameha V to the Konohiki, a family of overseers of the land. This is an allodial title, inalienable in perpetuity, but we were evicted from our lo‘i, the farmland that we grew up in. We were the only Native Hawaiian family farming in that part of Hanalei Valley, and the Hanalei Poi Company owners at the time, Bino Fitzgerald and Hobi Beck, had our lease terminated. That separated a lot of our families; not just our immediate families, but everyone else whose routine and daily lives depended on this exchange and flow. During that time in the early 2000s, they were hybridizing many varieties of taro and creating a market for them. The hybrids were not suitable for the growing conditions and not desirable for eating, but the crop yield was much higher, so it appealed to the corporate interests. We went through a couple of years trying to hold on to our lease and our land to occupy the place. Eventually they issued the eviction of our family from the land. My father and my brothers had all our equipment, all the time we put in, our love, blood, sweat, and tears that went into the place as we transformed the taro patches into working parts of our family. The farm was a family member to us, like a living person, and we were deeply connected with that land. Later I began learning about our rights to the taro patch. Being Kanaka (Hawaiian) gives us a strong foundation not in the sand but in the dirt, and there was a powerful energy that came through to stand against these dark forces trying to separate us from our loved one. They later erected a gate that made it impossible to access the farm, especially with a truck. The patch went fallow and years went by while we still tried to hold down our place. Eventually they issued our land to other farmers and made it difficult to acquire it back. Our irrigation methods and systems are ancient and go back through our
family for thousands of years. Now water is diverted in many places and sometimes the irrigation systems are not maintained. When the water level is low or dry, it damages the growth of the taro and the livelihood of the Native Hawaiian people and other farmers. We want to sustain ourselves from the land, but we have been removed from it. We have become marginalized socially and economically as well as spiritually. It makes us kind of lost sometimes, and we feel out of place in our own backyard. Most of all it forces us to engage in lifestyles that are not traditional to us. Our abundance is stamped out by poverty and lack of income and employment for most of our people. Every day we pray and make offerings, and at certain times we do ceremony and the family comes and brings their offerings and gifts, or ho’okupu, to the land and to the ancestors. We also pray and send our collective consciousness to bring the energy to protect us as we go about our responsibilities as Native Hawaiian families and heirs to the area. On April 4, 2017, we conducted a ceremony to stop bulldozers and excavators sent by foreign interests to dismantle our taro patch in Wainiha, near Hanalei. That ceremony was a prayer that we be guided to do what is right and balanced as the people of the land. We were occupying the Wainiha taro patch, which is Royal Patent 6642, awarded to Kiwa‘a, one of our Konohikis. This is an allodial title, and we as Native Hawaiians have the right to tend to the taro patch. We have an interest in these taro lands, and in the taro patch, which is the center of our existence and the foundation of our culture, our spiritual beliefs and our religion, as well as our food source. As Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, our responsibility is to protect areas like this, to protect our right to eat, to create food, and to live. These are basic rights for not just Hawaiians, but for all humans. We go to the taro patch to take care, to provide for others and share. We were arrested as we were trying to make a fair claim to the land. It was a gruesome thing, as if we are criminals. We are not criminals; we are stewards of the land, we love the land. Four of us were arrested, as family members, friends, and spectators watched. I was arrested, a Konohiki and a traditional religious cultural practitioner, practicing my culture, my traditions. The next day we had a meeting with the mayor, Bernard Carvalho, and the county attorney, who are both Native Hawaiians and from this area as well. They didn’t want us to be prosecuted. So we continued farming and keeping up
the place as we tried to file all our papers in the right places, to connect with everyone and find the chain of title, to understand the history of this parcel. It is important for the world to have pure food, water, and land, and so it is important to have justice for the Native Hawaiian families who are caretakers of such knowledge and skills. These customary practices must be respected so that everyone can be educated in such things. Since last April, I have allied with a broad range of community members in an effort to allow Native Hawaiians to farm taro, build voyaging canoes, engage in customary practices, and live on the land. My interest in sustainable farming, low impact lifestyles, and caring for the land, as well as the urgent need for assistance to the Native Hawaiian community, has brought together others of like mind to form a 501(c)(3) Native Hawaiian organization, Konohiki Restoration Project. Already we are helping Hawaiian families defend their land titles, engaging in consultation with state and federal agencies to protect and preserve our historic and cultural resources, and preparing to open a cultural center and administrative space on five beautiful acres of land. We will grow taro there, host workshops and community gatherings, and conduct sacred ceremony. We have plans for a traditional thatched-roof house, and we will build a voyaging canoe. We would like to have a school of Celestial Navigation on some nearby ponds. We also intend to create a land trust and a cooperative farmworker village of taro growers and their families, Ka Māla Village. At the same time that our organization is blossoming, the taro patch in Wainiha is threatened—and saving it is our highest priority. We are actively challenging the ejectment order in court, and we are raising awareness of the situation on the community affairs radio program we host on Kaua‘i Community Radio (KKCR.org), via social media, and through our network of volunteers and supporters. We are also raising funds to buy the land and take it off the real estate market forever. —Ka‘imi Hermosura is a Konohiki of the District of Halele‘a on the island of Kaua‘i. He is chairman of the Board of Directors of Konohiki Restoration Project, a Native Hawaiian organization whose mission is to restore the health to the land and that which sustains; from the mountains to the ocean and from the heavens to the people, both Native Hawaiians and those others who care for the land. konohikirestorationproject.com.
Left: Niu (coconut), a form of the god Kane, the source of spring water that grows in the sky and one of the most sacred sources of sustenance. Right: Medicine bowl carved as an offering to support the movement of Native Hawaiians toward fulfilling the prophecies of the rainbow. Photos by Hudson Kunicky.
Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 17
SAVING OUR WAY OF LIFE IN ALASKA Family enjoying running the Stikine River. Photo by Rich E. Rich Photography.
Elizabeth (Tis) Peterman
y earliest memory is of my father taking us all out in his fishing boat to a nearby beach to dig for cockles and clams while I wore my black leather jacket. These family outings would provide food throughout the year. We also gathered berries, beach asparagus, and seaweed. Medicinal herbs were made into salves and lotions to cure cuts, skin problems, and sickness. My family lives in Wrangell, Alaska, at the mouth of the mighty Stikine River: the fastest navigable river in North America, fed by the sacred headwaters in British Columbia. Moose, deer, and waterfowl are plentiful for hunting. Five different species of salmon (chinook, sockeye, coho, pink, and chum) return here to spawn every year. Growing up in Southeast Alaska with seven siblings meant living off the land. It’s our way of life. My father, a Tlingit man, worked as a commercial fisherman in the summer and drove a pile driver in the winter. Money was scarce, but we never knew we were poor until we were much older, as the land and water gave us an abundance of food. We learned at an early age how to net herring, pluck ducks, and smoke fish, and all of our food was jarred or canned for the long winters. We were taught to take care of the land, and that it would take care of us. My mother, Mae Dailey, was the granddaughter of Chief Shakes VII and was a full-blooded Tlingit. She was of the Raven moiety and a member of the Kaach.adi clan. We are a matrilineal society, which means we follow our mother’s lineage. All Tlingits are of either Raven or Eagle moiety; traditionally, if you were of one moiety you would marry the other. My father, Marc Dailey, was an Eagle from the Kik.sadi clan. They were married for 56 years until he passed in 1996 at the age of 77. My mother lived until 2002 and passed when she was 79. 18 • www. cs. org
Mother taught us the value of treasuring our Native foods and cooked the crab, salmon, and shrimp to perfection. She made jams and delicious desserts with the berries. Each spring, there would be the return of small candlefish, named hooligan, on the Stikine. These were caught in nets and distributed throughout the community. Some were smoked, others fried, and yet others were rendered down for their fat content. This hooligan grease was used on a variety of foods such as potatoes and rice. Before we had electricity, the grease was used as fuel in hanging containers with wicks for light. Sharing food with the elders is prominent in our culture; when my father brought fish home, I would be the one to pack it up the hill to an elderly gentleman who would pay me a quarter for my effort. There is an old saying in this part of the country: “When the tide is out, the table is set.” Now, our Stikine and other rivers flowing from British Columbia into Alaska face threats from large-scale mining in the headwaters and tributaries of these rivers. The cultural systems and knowledge of sustainability and respect are also at risk. Many of the communities are remote and rely on protection of these waters for our food security. These headwaters, which are sacred to us, have fed and nourished us since time immemorial. But others see them as “the Golden Triangle.” They see the land not as lifesupporting, but as a source of gold and wealth to be exported elsewhere. Mining in the Canadian headwaters of the Stikine is on a collision course with our traditional values and sustenance, as one mine has recently become operational and several others are waiting in the wings. The short term gain of these mines is at odds with our long term survival. Mines and clean water are not compatible. Our rivers feed our forest and our people. The Province of British Columbia has built infrastructure to support massive mining projects threatening the headwaters of our rivers. Many of the Lakes of Poison (a.k.a. tailings storage facilities)
left behind by these projects will need our careful consideration for centuries to come. For our way of life to have a future, big mining will need new ways for resource extraction. Business as usual cannot continue. Living my entire life in Alaska has led me to work with the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission (SEITC), a consortium of 15 Tribes in Southeast Alaska formed at a mining symposium on Prince of Wales Island in 2014, whose mission is to protect Tribal lands and waterways for future generations. The Commission is a network of sovereign Tribal Nations in southeast Alaska united in the struggle against the mining industry, which is damaging the environment of their homelands and polluting rivers that are vital to the communities. Working with the support of a Keepers of the Earth Fund grant, we seek to unite First Nations and Indigenous communities on both sides of the border to establish transboundary watershed governance that will incorporate international water laws and conventions. The safeguarding of these watersheds is of the utmost importance for the communities’ health and economies, and the unification of sovereign Tribes is bringing a powerful voice to educate people on both sides of the border about the mining threats in these remote areas. The conflict in the Alaska/British Columbia boundary waters region arose from the investment of billions of dollars by Province of British Columbia to build infrastructure to support a dozen open pit mines in the headwaters of the rivers that feed our forest and our people. Two recently became operational, and several more have completed the permitting process, including what would be one of the largest open pit mines in the world. British Columbia has a very poor record of environmental compliance and enforcement. A 2016 audit of its environmental agency by the Auditor General found the permitting system incapable of any assurances of safety. The 2014 catastrophic failure of the so-called state of the art tailings dam at Mount Polley is a startling example. In addition, acid mine drainage has flowed into the Taku River watershed from the Tulsequah Chief mine and across the border unabated for over 50 years without redress. We rely on these rivers not only for food, but also for the survival of our cultures. These rivers, the Alsek, Taku, Stikine, and Unuk, are home to a vast diversity of wildlife and all 5 species of pacific salmon. Our people have thrived in this region for thousands of years. The fishery and tourism resources dependent on the Transboundary Rivers provide economic stability to the entire Southeast Alaska panhandle. This region supplies a significant percentage of the world’s wild salmon to seafood markets. The Taku, Stikine, and Unuk River Watersheds account for $48
Unity Statement “Indigenous leaders met to discuss mutual interests concerning adverse impacts and potential harms of extractive industries incompatible with sustainable development in rivers/watersheds in Alaska, Canada, and transboundary ecosystems. These discussions uphold the importance of traditional ecological knowledge necessary to effectively and meaningfully develop environ- mental plans and programs that promote stewardship and protect lands and waters that sustain life. These sessions affirm ancestral relationships among Indigenous governments in the U.S.A. and Canada. We commit to exercising governmentto-government relationships between Indigenous governments and organizations essential to protect our respective communities and citizens. We agree to work together in the future on our common interests incorporating Free, Prior and Informed Consent principles under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Left to right: Fishing for crab near LeConte Glacier in Southeast Alaska. Photo by Vincent Palang;
Waterfall at LeConte Glacier near Wrangell, Alaska. Photo by Vincent Palang;
Shakes Glacier on the Stikine River. Photo by Rich E. Rich Photography.
million in economic activity annually, along with 400 jobs for the Southeast region. With appropriate management, Southeast Alaska’s transboundary watersheds can generate economic benefits in perpetuity. One measure of that perpetual benefit, the present value of the 3 watersheds combined when considering benefits over the next 50 years, is over $1.2 billion. This year we met with First Nations members and agreed on a unity statement with representation of over 100 Indigenous Tribes from both sides of the border. We seek to establish transboundary diplomacy with federal, state, provincial, industry, and other stakeholders. Through mutual agreements we will establish ecosystem-wide protections and equitable benefits in the form of ‘soft laws’ to govern action in the shared watersheds. The only way we are going to win the fight against this threat to our way of life is to stand together. —Elizabeth (Tis) Peterman was born and raised in Wrangell, Alaska and is a direct descendant of Chief Shakes VII. She is currently the coordinator for the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission. Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 19
We Live by the River, We Live by the Sea
Preserving Natural Resources of the Ahetaha Peoples in the Solomon Islands Eddie Haikau Huitarau
onu e hinaania apa’apana ka ano ano nao kau,’ which roughly translates to, ‘The turtle trusts its flippers to crawl on sharp, dead corals,’ is an expression in our Are’Are language to describe despite how slowly one moves or how long the journey takes, one can reach their destination. Honu is the local name for turtle, hina’ania means believing and trusting, apa’apana means flippers, ano ano means creeping or crawling, nao means on or inside, and kau means dead coral on the beach. This expression is normally used when it comes to money, especially if someone is buying a live pig for a cultural obligation like the wedding of a relative with the highest price tag that no other relative can afford. The turtle is central to our culture and is often used in our language. Since time immemorial, my Ahetaha people of Ahetaha, in Manawai Harbor, Solomon Islands have identified footprints of family members and wildlife along the beach and in the bush along the bushtrack. We can easily tell who is who by the footprints. We live by the river, and we live by the sea. We are connected to these two environments in our daily activities. We use the fantail bird as our weather indicator. Whenever we see it building its nest along the river a meter above, we know that all our gardens along that river will not be under threat of flooding for the next six months. The fantail does the same along the coastlines where it builds its nest just a meter above the waves; then we know the sea will be fine for long period of time, and men will go fishing and diving and women will find seashells on the reefs. In 2017, the Ahetaha peoples formed the Ahetaha Water Conservation Association (AWCA) in East Are’Are Constituency, Ward 19, Malaita Province, Solomon Islands to protect our ancestral homelands. Since government support is scarce, we have created sustainable practices for local flora, fauna, and water resources using traditional practices and methods that have sustained the ecosystems for generations. Currently, we are conserving the local dugong (a marine mammal similar to the manatee) and sea turtle populations, as well as managing seagrass. Sealife is often hunted for feasts or killed by accident by fisherman, and the Ahetaha are looking to save these creatures from extinction. In East Are’Are, Ahetaha tribal members have seen their rich rainforest resources and terrestrial and freshwater species diminish over the last 20 years. We also face the challenge of an ever-increasing population, which has put significant ‘
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pressure on the Tribe’s limited water, tropical rainforest, land, and mangrove forest resources. This has resulted in an unsustainable level of harvesting that sometimes causes family and tribal disputes. One of our chiefs was very vocal about establishing an organization to unify the whole Tribe for one common purpose. He first convinced a few relatives to protect the mangroves and reefs along the seafront of the small village of Ahetaha. Upon seeing that when they work together they can achieve more than they could have realized alone, the Conservation Association was born. Ahetaha is a small hamlet situated on tribal land, con- sisting of eight households with eight kitchens made of sago palm thatch roofs, open walls, a fire area for cooking, and traditional ovens using black stones from the river. These households were scattered along the seafront and along the riverbank inland. Out of the eight households, fifty percent are permanently built houses, while the other fifty percent are made of semi-permanent and traditional materials. Today, about 500 people, including children, youth, men, and women are related to this land. Land is part of our DNA; we link to land through genealogy and lineage. Our relatives who are currently residing in the bigger villages nearby are optimistic in coming back to resettle their families in the land that we all connected to. We live on subsistence cultivation where we continue to plant our own native crops for family consumption, with a small cash economy to buy basic items like soap, clothes, sugar, salt, rice, and canned food. There is a generation gap between us and our children in terms of learning. We learned through interaction with the natural environment, whereas our children now fail to connect to our natural world and instead are listening to music or absorbed with their phones. AWCA, a Keepers of the Earth Fund grant partner, is an agent of change for our community with an ambition to connect our people to our natural resources. In East Are’Are, Ahetaha tribal members had seen their rich potential in terms of rainforest resources and terrestrial and freshwater species. However, an unsustainable level of harvesting by an increasing population has caused family and tribal disputes. Although the Ahetaha community has been going through a lot of changes in adopting a more Western lifestyle, our traditions remain part of us, like our traditions of governance, shifting cultivation, bridal dowry, mourning rituals, and the conservation method known in our dialect as Asiia. Today, many of our young generation working on this conservation program are qualified personnel such as marine scientists, All photos courtesy of Eddie Haikau Huitarau.
environmentalists, environmental lawyers, electrical engineers, accountants, economists, agronomists, educators, architects, and business managers. We encourage our children to attain education and become specialists in areas of conservation already in place. Let us develop our own resources for a green economy; that is what we are working towards. We are of the view that we have the resources and wealth. All we need is to set our house in order. There are limitations to the application of a marine protected area in East Are’Are in the context of customary ownership of land and resources and limited government capacity. There are a few formal protected areas, mostly established on customary land under tribal ownership, but with little management capacity. AWCA is working towards the con- servation of dugong and green turtle recovery and seagrass management in East Are’Are because of uncontrolled killing for food, especially during cultural feasting. The current threats and challenges to the survival of the dugong are injury, and often death, when they are accidentally hit by boats, when fishermen are hunting them, or getting caught in fishing nets at night. There has been no past intervention or regulation prior to the start of AWCA. AWCA has undertaken this marine protection project in addition to its prior standing effort to affect conservation on land. In their communities, Ahetaha people have taken a cultural approach to conservation by restricting use of certain areas like reefs and fishing grounds for periods of time to preserve them for a specific purpose, like feasting. The community is involved in identifying and mapping community resources and capacities for the conservation of species and natural resources. As a means to mitigate sea level rise in the area, AWCA is encouraging people related to the Ahetaha Tribe to plant mangrove trees at the river mouth and seafront. In 2016, the community chiefs established rules to safeguard designated areas from being exploited.
One of Ahetaha's pristine cave waterfalls, Manomano na Urihasi. L–R; front: Mathew Houkerema, AWCA ranger; Eddie Haikau Huitarau, AWCA project coordinator; and Francis Nuaiasi. In back: Keith Hatamane, youth leader.
The project to preserve terrestrial and marine natural resources of the Ahetaha peoples, partially funded by the Keepers of the Earth Fund, will be realized through parti- cipatory approaches, including participatory learning and action tools appropriate for children, youth, women, and men, by motivating them to contribute to community-led conservation action plans. Conservation is nothing new in our culture. As an agent of change, Ahetaha wants to ensure that these resources are used by resource owners in a sustainable manner. With slow and steady progress, like the turtle, we will reach our goal. — Eddie Haikau Huitarau is the project coordinator for AWCA, and the Clean Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) project coordinator for World Vision-Solomon Islands.
Women preparing food for the closing of a 10-day mourning ceremony. Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 21
Created by Humans, Managed by Nature
Members of Cosagual Lenca women’s cooperative stand in front of shade grown coffee under pine trees in Honduras.
the Sustainability of Indigenous Agroforestry Erik Hoffner
groforestry, or forest gardening, is the practice of growing of trees, shrubs, herbs, and vegetables together in a group mimicking a forest, or within an existing forest, with each plant providing the others benefits like shade, protection from predators, lifegiving humidity, and nutrients. The main practitioners of agroforestry are Indigenous, and they often report that there is no phrase for it in their language; rather, it is often referred to, as with the Lenca people of Honduras, as “traditional technique.” It is best thought of as a technology, one that provides food, fuel, and marketable commodities like fiber crops, medicines, resins, and fruit in a harmonious natural system while providing a host of other benefits. Shade grown coffee and chocolate are the most recognizable examples of this Indigenous technology that now covers over 10 million square kilometers of land worldwide—roughly the size of Canada—and which is found nearly everywhere that trees grow, from wet regions to dry ones. Thousands of years of observing which useful plants and trees grow well together, planting the seeds of one under another, and creating an inviting ecosystem for seed dispersing animals has yielded bountiful agroforestry landscapes that look like natural forests and are enjoyed by all manner of creatures, both wild and cultivated. In Indonesia, agroforestry plots exhibit amazing biodiversity: “home gardens” there are a type of multi-layered agroforestry that are considered to have the highest biodiversity of any human-created ecosystem, containing 60 to 70 percent of the animal species found in the surrounding rainforests, according to one study. In Thailand, Prasert Tralkansuphakon, chair of Pgakenyaw Association for Sustainable Development and Inter Mountain People Education and Culture Association, explains that his Pgakenyaw (Karen) community manages land this way too.
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“Agroforestry means ‘managed both by human and nature,’ or by humans in a natural way,” he says. “We make a living in three spaces: one is the space of residence, second is the space of farming and cultivation, and the third is a space of collecting food. Therefore, the concept of agroforestry produces both food and income in a traditional and innovative way, managed both by humans and nature, or [just] by humans, but in a natural way.” On the other side of the world, a Lenca community in Honduras has formed a women’s cooperative that is growing fair trade organic coffee under timber and fruit-bearing trees like mango, plantain, and jackfruit. “Agroforestry is a way to increase food security. The diversity of the crops allows an increase in production of fruit and vegetables [that] could be interchanged with the other members of the community, or [for sale] to the market,” a reporter for environmental news service Mongabay.com was recently told. Antonella Cordone, senior technical specialist of Indigenous Peoples and Tribal issues at the International Fund for Agricultural Development, believes the world must learn from such examples to create sustainable and integrated methods to manage agriculture and ecosystems in a multifunctional way. The approach her program has taken is based on appreciative inquiry, building on the skills and knowledge shared by Indigenous agroforestry practitioners, and offering new ideas to bolster what they are already doing in an additive way. Cordone stated, “Specialists in modern agroforestry can help local communities to the extent they are able to listen to Indigenous Peoples and local communities and recognize that Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge is not inferior to formal science and technology.” Roger Leakey, an author and agroforestry expert, agrees. When he was director of research at the World Agroforestry Centre—the top international NGO studying and training communities in agroforestry techniques—rather than taking a prescriptive approach, the organization developed a highly All photos by Monica Pelliccia @monicapelliccia.
successful method of “participatory domestication,” a bottomup approach that consisted of engaging with communities from day one to grow the species that they felt were the most beneficial to them. Syed Ajijur Rahman, consultant at the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor, Indonesia, agreed that in many ways, the communities know best: “The familiarity with their land, leading to careful selection of sites for tree planting, together with good tree husbandry, results in high levels of tree establishment and growth rates.” Such high productivity has obvious benefits for the communities who practice it. Because there is a great diversity of trees, shrubs, and annuals growing together, not only are yields increased by greater soil fertility and moisture, but a variety of crops are also produced, and on different time scales. For example, while the Lenca in the dry forests of the southeastern corner of Honduras are waiting for their coffee beans to ripen, they have many other fruits to harvest, such as plantains, which are fried and sold to local markets, or guamo, also called ice cream bean, which is eaten fresh. Or they can trade timber products for corn grown by another community nearby, one which practices an agroforestry technique named Quesungual, where coffee bushes are mixed with fruit trees pruned to a specific height that creates cool shade and moist soils under which maize and beans are also grown. The improved quality of the agroforestry shade grown coffee also creates big economic benefits for the Lenca women’s cooperative. Sixty-year-old Eva Alvarado is one of the founders of the cooperative and now its vice president, a role she confessed she never thought she would play in life. But the economics are more important to her than the empowerment, she told a Mongabay.com reporter. “I paid for the education for all my kids, and now my six grandchildren. This is the third generation that benefits from the work of our cooperative,” she said. Indigenous communities around the world are not the only ones to benefit from agroforestry’s increases in food security and community resilience. Thanks to agroforestry, all manner of wildlife are finding more homes in the branches of these food forests. A less tangible benefit also accrues to the global good: slowing climate change. The climate effects of creating food forests is chiefly noticeable on a local scale, especially dry ones like a community in El Salvador, where growers of shade grown cacao are benefiting from improving river levels and cooler air temperatures since their agroforestry system matured. In other hot, dry areas, such as Africa’s Sahel region, farmers practice agroforestry because crops grow better under trees than they do in the open; their shade becomes a refuge for livestock and people, and reduces the sometimes deadly soil surface temperatures that can kill annual crops. Plus, the tree roots work like hydraulic pumps, bringing water up from the deep, as much as 20 meters below the soil’s surface. This moisture becomes available to crops planted underneath the trees, such as maize, even when it’s not the rainy season. But the biggest climate benefit from Indigenous agroforestry is the amount of carbon dioxide that is taken out of the atmosphere by agroforestry’s 10 million square kilometers of trees, shrubs, palms, roots, veggies, and vines (not to mention the carbon captured in their richer soils). A recent study published in the journal Nature estimates that agroforestry
captures .73 gigatons of carbon every year from the air. That is a lot, at a time of rising worldwide emissions; in 2017 carbon dioxide emissions increased approximately 2 percent, and almost a quarter of these emissions came from conventional agriculture and the conversion of forests and wetlands into farmland. The world would do well to follow the lead of Indigenous technologists by planting more trees in agricultural landscapes, and in useful combinations. Even growing trees in cattle pastures, a technique known as silvopasturing, is shown to yield better forage for the animals while capturing carbon and providing fruit, medicines, and other useful products. Yet for Tralkansuphakon’s Pgakenyaw community, the reasons for practicing agroforestry are highly local and cultural, passed down from generation to generation. For them, agroforestry is based on a proverb: “Au hti k’ tau hti Auf kauj k’ tauz kauj,” which means, “Use water, care for the river; use land, care for the forest.” —Erik Hoffner is an editor for Mongabay.com, a nonprofit news service covering the global environment, Indigenous Peoples, and conservation science.
Top: Francisca Rivera’s (Lenca) coffee crop grows under timber-yielding trees such as roble and copinol, as well as fruit trees like guamo and avocado. Bottom: Francisca Rivera displays a guamo fruit and seeds that she plans to replant.
Read stories in Mongabay’s ongoing series on the power and promise of agroforestry at news.mongabay.com/series/globalagroforestry.
Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 23
Recovering Ancestral Lands The Success of Pueblo Chajoma’ Rosy González and Cesar Gómez (CS STAFF)
fter years of persistence, Chajoma’ people have successfully recovered their communal lands. The Spanish invasion of Central America brought violent dispossession to Maya peoples’ communal lands, and death was the destiny of those who refused to leave. Over time the Spanish crown implemented la encomienda, a system that allowed Spanish people settled in Guatemala to legalize their control over communal lands with the support of the corrupt authorities of the colony. Some communities like Palin, Esquitla managed to maintain their communally governed lands; others, like the Ch’orti’ and Chajoma’, have only recently recovered them. The territory of Chuarrancho, formerly known as Chwatutuy, is a municipality located in the metropolitan region of Guatemala. The Chajoma’ people have lived here since time immemorial and have practiced land inheritance from parents to sons and daughters through oral tradition, exercising principles and values as Indigenous Peoples. In other regions, the 30-year civil war and the repression of Maya people forced them to relocate and leave their land. Some of these lands were redistributed among high military commanders and their allies. With the signing of the Peace Accords in December 1996, Indigenous communities that decided to return to their places of origin found their properties occupied and were denied a path to recover their ancestral lands. Today, due to mining, oil extraction, monocropping, and hydroelectric dams, among other mega projects, the lands of Indigenous Peoples are still being invaded and stolen by national and international corporations. The corporate invasion creates conflicts between companies and the local populations through the spreading of diseases, harassment, rape, and murder of those in the community. Companies create further divisions within Indigenous communities by offering jobs or
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We are born with wings in a patriarchal system that strives to draw borders, build walls, and forge cages. — Guisela López
bribes, causing some members of the community to take the corporations’ side against those who are defending their land and natural resources. Cultural revitalization and organization have been fundamental for the Chajoma’ people to challenge the system and recover their ancestral land amid many historical traumas, socioeconomic crises, and violence. In 1897, Guatemala recognized Chuarrancho people’s rights of ownership to a farm. Despite legal stipulation in the General Registry of Property, in 1950 the lands were placed under the auspices of the municipality. Over time, the dynamics of communal possession changed to municipal public land, allowing the municipality to illegally take possession of the land. Eventually the lands were ceded to mining and utility companies, with a portion sold to a telecommunications company. When Santos Alvarado, legal representative of the Chuarrancho community, looked into the illegal corporate occupation of Indigenous land, he found that the municipality had authorized the exploration of a Canadian mining company without consulting the local people. This discovery led the community to organize and conduct an investigation to determine the legal status of the farm. One document, dating from 1739, revealed that the Chajoma people, before being dispossessed of their lands, had requested to purchase their own lands from the Spanish Crown. The request was granted and the territory of 442 caballerias (an ancient Spanish land tenure measurement) became private property of the Chajoma under the communal administration. The research concluded that in 1955, Chuarrancho elders petitioned the municipality to protect the title, but the State, through the registry of the property and the municipality, took their lands, violating the human right of Indigenous Peoples to their land and territory. In 2012, the ancestral authorities of Rtun Tinamit, the Maya Kaqchikel Chajoma’ Indigenous community, organized
Opposite—Left: Ciriaco Monroy, a Chuarrancho ancestral authority. Center: María Xajap, ancestral authority, reforesting communal land. Right: Santos Alvarado, legal representative of the Indigenous community, presenting delivery of titles of communal land to Chuarrancho ancestral authority.
a legal action to recover their communal lands. Their research helped to develop strategic litigation, and after 2 years of legal and political struggle, on August 30, 2017, the ancestral authorities succeeded in recovering their lands. The Chuarrancho were recognized as the legitimate owners of the Farm 339, which consists of 31.3 kilometers of communal lands. Once the lands were under Indigenous ownership, the ancestral authorities organized themselves as administrators, protectors, and conservators of the communal assets of land and natural resources, promoting a healthy environment and good living for all. Víctor Leonel Hernandez, administrator of the communal land, explained the process: “In 2015, we drew up a 10-year plan to register of all the owners of communal lands. Families have voluntarily approached the administration to update information on how they have inherited the land. A certificate of possession is issued to them, and if there is a need to measure land boundaries, my work is to conduct this assessment for the families. Indigenous women have begun to organize as well by involving and learning about these processes of land recovery. Currently, 13 women are members of the ancestral authority and are constantly receiving training on social and political topics. Their voices and votes are taken into account with no discrimination and they can make decisions relevant to the community.” Youth also have a role in taking care of the lands. They are being trained to understand the history of the community in leadership and community management, and to be able to participate within the system of ancestral authorities. One such example is O`ch` Tinamit, a youth Below: Ancestral authorities at a public hearing at the Guatemalan Constitutional Court during the communal land recovery process.
organization started by 10 young people, which organizes cultural events for the community. The community of Chuarrancho is an example of a successful land recovery. The administration of these lands has been assumed with responsibility, dedication, honesty, and principles from the Maya worldview and community ancestral practices. The vision for these lands is being developed by the community, who are considering distributing small portions to families with special housing needs, as well as using several portions of land to plant a variety of basic grains, vegetables, and fruits that can be distributed in the community. It is a priority for the Chuarrancho community to share their experiences with other Maya communities in Mesoamerica and other Indigenous nations to replicate this practice of recovering land. For a long time it was assumed that Indigenous nations in Guatemala did not have collective land titles, as the reduction of Indigenous nations to pueblos (towns) and the encomienda system did not allow for such a parallel system to private property and title. However, anthropological and historical research has revealed that collective land title does exist for the Kaqchikel in Chuarranco, the Ch’orti’ in Jalapa, and other Indigenous nations in Guatemala. Indigenous Peoples’ resistance to protect their territories, natural resources, and own systems of governance have survived through colonial history. In the case of the Maya, they had to pay title on their own lands to the Spanish Crown after they were stolen by colonizers; a double violation of their right to their lands and territories. The recovery of Indigenous communal lands in Guatemala has not been an easy process within the State legislative and judicial system. In some cases, there has been persecution and even assassination of farmers and leaders organizing the community. Still, the fight must continue for the conservation and protection of natural resources for future generations.
Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 25
B a za a r a rti st:
Carrying on Tradition through Clay
Pottery plays an integral role in Zulu culture in South Africa. Below: Black pots must be fired twice to achieve their color. Photos by Jamie Malcolm-Brown.
In addition to her work as an artist, Nala also leads workshops to uphold the Zulu tradition and support local livelihoods, particularly by helping older women hone their pottery skills. “We teach them how to make the pots smarter, better, and we choose some of the best to sell,” she says. Although children today might not be able to devote themselves to pottery at as young an age as Nala did, she has hope that youth will eventually learn. Noting the power of learning together, she says, “If we teach one by one, or Nala family only . . . it is not enough. We have to teach the generation.” Pottery plays an integral role in Zulu culture and is used for rites and rituals such as weddings, births, marriages, and burials, and it often symbolizes hospitality and communality. “A ceremony that is important for Zulu beer is the ceremony for amadlozi, or ancestors. A second way to use Zulu beer pots, when a girl is married, we give that family a beer pot as a gift from her. We call it umabo in Zulu,” explains Nala. The pots are also customary for household use, such as the large Imbiza pot used for brewing, the Ukhamba pot for serving, and the Umancishana pot for cooking meat and storing food and drinks. Despite its cultural importance, being a potter is a challenge in South Africa where there are not many opportunities to sell pots and their value is not fully appreciated. Nala has traveled internationally to sell her art at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market and the International Ceramics Festival in Wales, and she has been participating in the Cultural Survival Bazaars since 2017.
ailing from Johannesburg, South Africa, Jabulile Nala (Zulu) is a world-renowned ceramic artist and instructor. The daughter of Nesta Nala, another famous potter, she carries on the 2,000-year-old Zulu tradition of women potters; her own family lineage of potters can be traced back to 1900. Born in Eshowe, South Africa in 1969, Nala learned the craft from her mother and grandmother, and has been making art since she was 11 years old. Now, she and her sisters continue her family’s legacy as acclaimed potters. Nala recognizes Zulu pottery for both its significance to her cultural identity and as an art form: “Zulu pottery for me means a lot because in our culture we use Zulu beer pots to drink Zulu beer, so it is my culture; also at the same time [it is my] talent, because we do different things from culture and then we create more designs.” Nala uses the oldest known firing method for her ceramics. After sculpting objects from hand, such as traditional beer pots, ceramic plates, and vases, she places them in a hole in the ground that she covers with tinder and then a protective covering. To blacken the pots, she fires them twice. Once the fire has been consumed, she rubs animal fat or polish on the pots to add a soft luster. For the design of her ceramics, Nala combines the old with the new. She uses classic patterns, such as one inspired by past Zulu warriors’ scarred body decorations, and she skillfully utilizes Join us at this winter's Cultural Survival Bazaars: negative space to create beautiful designs December 15–16: Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, Cambridge, MA and patterns. Nala adds her unique spin December 21–23: Prudential Center, Boston, MA by making larger, more elaborate styles Visit bazaar.cs.org and facebook.com/culturalsurvivalbazaars for more info. or more sculpted shapes.
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You t h Fel l ow S p o tlig h t Meeting Community Media Youth Fellow
Ñusta Sanchez Nati Garcia (CS STAFF)
fter a week of intense travel in Ecuador from the south of Guayaquil to the north of Imbabura, we finally made it to Cotacachi, located on the slopes of Cotacachi volcano in the eastern Andes. Cotacachi has a completely unique atmosphere full of art, music, and peace. Here people have maintained their native language, Kichwa, which in other areas of Ecuador is being forgotten. Arriving at the last stop in the center of the town, we found ourselves searching for a bus to San Pedro, a rural village outside of Cotacachi, later to be told that there was no transport available. We ended up taking a 10-minute taxi ride up a steep cobblestone hill, where the driver dropped us off at the entrance of San Pedro near an empty soccer playground. The wind was crisp but the sun kept us strong. A young boy bundled with a toque and wool sweater approached us and led us to a house where Ñusta Sanchez, one of the Cultural Survival Community Media Youth Fellows, was facilitating a workshop. Entering the home, a group of mainly women and an elder, all dressed in their traditional clothing, were speaking among themselves in Kichwa. Among the people in the room, Sanchez was beaming with joy. Cultural Survival’s Indigenous Youth Community Media Fellowship Project, a part of the Community Media Grants Project, aims to support 6 Indigenous youth from the ages of 14 to 25 in building capacity in media, journalism, radio production, advocacy skills, technical abilities, and regional networking. Capacity of the fellows will be built through trainings, community radio exchanges, radio production, and conference attendance. This fellowship is an opportunity to enable the fellows to successfully represent the voices of their communities and bring awareness of local issues to global conversations through their proposed projects.
Sanchez, 20, is one of those youth who sits silently, but when given the space to speak, embodies wisdom and truth. She is an ancient spirit with a youthful mind, full of wonder and curiosity. Part of her project is to create a documentary radio series from all the workshops she is facilitating, capturing the ancestral knowledge of Kichwa culture, language, medicine, ceremonies, and traditions. The youth fellowship project supports this process, and Cultural Survival is proud to have Sanchez as one of our first fellows. Sánchez is an artist at heart singing traditional Kichwa songs, and is part of the Waruntzy dance group that represents threatened Abagos traditions. She recently completed her bachelor’s degree in science. Fluent in Kichwa and Spanish, she manages a radio program, “Don Dolon, Dolon,” and the radio documentary, “Wawas” at Radio Cotacachi. Her fellowship project is to share ancestral knowledge in Kichwa with youth with the participation of elders. She will create a radio series on leading cultural workshops based in experiential methodology, participatory action, and archiving documentation collected in a database for her community to access. She will also organize 6 trainings for children and youth in 18 Indigenous communities in her region in radio production. Sanchez has a message to share with other youth: “My name is Ñusta Sanchez. I am from Santa Barbara community in Cotacachi, province of Imbabura from Ecuador. I am one of the youth fellows from Cultural Survival. I feel very proud and happy to be selected because I have had the opportunity to learn about my community and other communities in Cotacachi. The Fellowship has also given other youth a chance to participate and learn. It is very important that other youth become involved in learning about different cultures from other communities and other aspects of our communities. It is important that youth participate because we are losing and forgetting our own cultures and traditions.” Ñusta Sanchez in action interviewing youth and elders about Kichwa traditions and language. Photos by Nati Garcia.
Cultural Survival Quarterly September 2018 • 27
get i nvo lve d
Bringing a New Mandate to Light Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Joshua Cooper
n July 9-13, 2018, the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) held its 11th session in Geneva and illustrated its significance to shape the global agenda with studies drafted by the new expert body representing all Indigenous regions of the world. The Expert Mechanism was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2007; its mandate was amended in September 2016. It provides the Human Rights Council with expertise and advice on the rights of Indigenous Peoples as set forth in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, assisting member states, upon request, in achieving the ends of the Declaration through the promotion, protection, and fulfilment of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples are using EMRIP to claim their fundamental freedoms and assert rights of self-determination and sovereignty in choosing the thematic topics for the Human Rights Council, and by inviting EMRIP to their homelands to determine how human rights can be achieved. Along with reporting on its country missions and providing advice on implementing the Declaration in member states, EMRIP invites United Nations, regional, and national human rights bodies to share recent developments in regards to human rights. EMRIP is composed of seven expert members from seven sociocultural regions: Albert Barumé from the Democratic
Republic of the Congo for Africa (2018); Edtami Mansayagan from the Philippines for Asia (2020); Erika Yamada from Brazil for Latin America and the Caribbean (2019); Laila Vars from Norway for the Arctic (2020); Alexey Tsykarev from the Russian Federation for Russia, Eastern Europe, and Transcaucasus (2019); Kristen Carpenter from the United States for North America (2020); and Megan Davis from Australia for Pacific Oceania (2019). Yamada was elected to the chair-rapporteur. At its most recent session, EMRIP shared its first report drafted by the experts to share with states and Indigenous Peoples on Free, Prior and Informed Consent: A Human Rights Based Approach. EMRIP also reported back on its inaugural country visits to Finland and Mexico to offer insights on specific legislation to be adopted related to Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Its annual agenda is taking shape for significant areas of advocacy with various human rights bodies at the United Nations and national level. The session also brought together EMRIP members with the core UN human rights treaty bodies members of the UN Human Rights Committee focusing on civil and political rights, as well as the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, focusing on the international bill of rights for women, sharing recent cases and evolving jurisprudence regarding Indigenous Peoples. During the session, the thematic study of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) was reviewed, engaging states and Indigenous Peoples to share results from recent country visits.
Global Indigenous Youth Caucus present intervention on future studies for EMRIP.
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All photos by joshua cooper.
Deputy High Commissioner Kate Gilmore defined the significance of FPIC as “a manifestation of the right of self- determination, the heart and soul of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” The study explained there is no way to implement human rights of Indigenous Peoples without full implementation of the FPIC standard. The study further considered the creation of new spaces for dialogue between Indigenous Peoples, States, and businesses in hopes of broadening the discussion surrounding FPIC. The responses of the expert members in attendance included commentary on the necessary inclusion of communities living in voluntary isolation; the potential for FPIC being a restorative mechanism between Indigenous Peoples and the state; the need for a common understanding of the meaning of FPIC; and Indigenous representation in UN mechanisms, among other concerns. Indigenous organizations also had the floor to express their perspectives. Many reported that governments pursue development projects on Indigenous land without meeting the standard of FPIC and do not respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Once such organization, Independent Guåhan from Guam, requested “decolonization of the island by respecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights to self-determination and FPIC.” The Maya Leaders Alliance of Belize announced that they created their own consultation process using FPIC and selfdetermination as benchmarks; Congrès Populaire Coutumier Kanak of New Caledonia discussed their work of mapping Indigenous land and how this resolved land disputes; the International Indian Treaty Council requested the repatriation of objects taken without Indigenous consent; and the Elders Council of the Shor People in Russia recommended that FPIC be inscribed in recommendations to the Human Rights Council “with the aim of recognizing it as general principle of international law.” After expert members spoke, member states had the opportunity to voice their opinions. Canada discussed the need for meaningful consultation in State actions; Norway commented that FPIC should be implemented “at a time when it is still possible to impact legislative processes;” Guatemala stated that the right to FPIC is effectively implemented in-country; Peru expressed the importance of the mining industry to the country’s development and that “sustainable development will be guaranteed only if all citizens are granted the same rights and opportunities;” and Mexico asked that the experts consider “consultation fatigue,” and how States and companies keep a positive and respectful relationship when a community uses its right to say no. EMRIP adopted its study and advice, allowing for the chair-rapporteur to revise based on discussions held during the 11th session. Linked to the study was a proposal calling upon UN agencies, programs, and funds such as the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Health Organization, as well as international financial institutions such as the World Bank, to promote good practices consistent with results of the study and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The other historic aspect of the agenda was the review of the first country visits to Finland and Mexico. This was significant, as these were the first visits requested by Indigenous Peoples, rather than a State; the Saami Parliament
of Finland sent the suggestion and Finland agreed. As one member noted, “The mission added layers of nuances to legal questions we couldn’t have reached without the country visit.” It was also important as it took place while the government was drafting an act, specifically two sections, on which EMRIP provided technical assistance. There was also a call for National Action Plans to be created in cooperation with Indigenous Peoples to achieve implementation of the Declaration and 2014 UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Outcome Document. The plans, strategies, and measures are tools for the realization of recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review, treaty bodies, and special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council. EMRIP also noted all future Universal Periodic Review sessions, starting with the upcoming 3rd cycle, should include the Declaration in the list of standards for the reviews to be based on. EMRIP proposed a technical workshop for enhanced participation of Indigenous Peoples in the UN Human Rights Council, including the annual half-day discussion on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. The EMRIP reinforces the importance of facilitating participation of Indigenous Peoples in contrast to non-governmental organizations. EMRIP also proposed protection of Indigenous human rights defenders for the UN Human Rights Council 42nd session next year. With all UN human rights treaty bodies based in Geneva, EMRIP is aiming to connect with the chair and experts of the committees to discuss recent developments in its reviews of States and specific cases submitted by Indigenous Peoples and allies. Regarding future work, EMRIP decided its next annual study will focus on Indigenous Peoples, Migration, and Borders. It will be helpful as UN Member States are implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, both internally and internationally. Indigenous Peoples’ interventions encouraged the inclusion of climate change-induced migration and proactive measures to protect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples who are directly impacted today, and for future generations. The report will build on an earlier UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations study, the legal implications of the disappearance of States and other territories for environmental reasons, including the implications for the human rights of their residents, with particular reference to the rights of Indigenous Peoples. EMRIP is considering rescheduling its annual session from its usual mid-July date to allow for more engagement by Indigenous Peoples and UN Member States. Its revised mandate is resulting in modest, but real, attempts to actualize the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. — Joshua Cooper is a lecturer in Political Science at the University of Hawai'i, West O'ahu and director of International Network for Diplomacy & Indigenous Governance Engaging in Nonviolence Organizing for Understanding & Self-Determination (INDIGENOUS). To learn more about the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, visit: tinyurl.com/unemrip.
CulturalSurvival SurvivalQuarterly Quarterly September 2018 • 29 Cultural
Christopher Columbus did not â€œdiscoverâ€? America. He was not a hero, he was a war criminal. On October 8, let's remember and celebrate the Peoples who were here first!
It is time to take action for change by recognizing that celebrating the life of Christopher Columbus is the same as celebrating the erasure of Indigenous existence. Join us in supporting Indigenous voices today!
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