Cultural Survival Q
Indigenomics Harnessing the Power of Our Communities
Vol. 44, Issue 4 â&#x20AC;˘ DEC 2020 US $4.99/CAN $6.99
An adult bald eagle on a kelp reef in Kelp Bay, Baranof Island, Southeast Alaska. Kelp farming is the basis of a resilient, regenerative, and restorative economic model in Indigenous communities in Alaska (see page 22). Photo by Michael S. Nolan.
d ec e m b er 20 20 Vo lum e 44 , Issue 4 Board of Directors president
Kaimana Barcarse (Kanaka Hawai’i) Vice President
All over the world, Indigenous communities are returning to traditional food production.
Photo courtesy of Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa.
Steven Heim Clerk
Nicole Friederichs Valine Brown (Haida) Duane Champagne (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) Evelyn Arce Erickson (Muisca) Carla Fredericks (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) Laura Graham Stephen Marks Tui Shortland (Ma–ori) Jannie Staffansson (Saami) Stella Tamang (Tamang)
F e at u r e s
D e pa r t m e n t s
1 Executive Director’s Message
Paul Lacerte and Carol Anne Hilton Raven Indigenous Capital Partners and the Indigenomics Institute are reshaping economics and doing so from an Indigenous lens.
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
16 For the Indigenous Economy, the Forest Is Life Philip Kujur In India, the forest is the basis for Indigenous economies.
Cultural Survival Quarterly Copy Editor: Jenn Goodman Designer: NonprofitDesign.com Contributing Arts Editor: Phoebe Farris Managing Editor: Agnes Portalewska Copyright 2020 by Cultural Survival, Inc. Cultural Survival Quarterly (ISSN 0740-3291) is published quarterly by Cultural Survival, Inc. at PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Periodical postage paid at Boston, MA 02205 and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Cultural Survival, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Printed on recycled paper in the U.S.A. Please note that the views in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Cultural Survival.
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.
18 Power to the People Shaldon Ferris San entrepreneur Craig Beckett is making stoves to deal with energy insecurity in South Africa.
20 Investing in Indigenous Power to Build Regenerative Futures PennElys Droz and Nikki Pieratos NDN Collective is providing financing for Indigenous regenerative projects.
22 Healing Our Waters, Healing Ourselves Through a Sustainable Economy Dune Lankard In Alaska, for millennia, harvesting kelp has proven to be a sustainable and regenerative economic source.
4 Indigenous Arts
Grounded in Tradition, Guided by Ancestors
6 Rights in Action A Lenca Voice of Resistance
8 Women the World Must Hear Chenae Bullock
10 Indigenous Knowledge Rematriating the Distribution of Wealth
26 Keepers of the Earth Fund Grant Partner Spotlight Cxhab Wala Kiwe
28 STAFF Spotlight Daisee Francour
29 Bazaar Artist Berber Art Market
24 Building a Business Rooted in Indigenous Values
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2 In the News
Dawn Sherman, CEO of Native American Natural Foods, discusses how Tanka Bar became one of the most recognized Native brands.
Cover photo: Indigenous people and allies stand in prayer on Highway 1806 on the borderlands of the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota during the historic resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline. October 2016. Photo by Josue Rivas (Mexica/Otomi).
Executiv e Director’S message
Harnessing the Power of Our Communities Dear Cultural Survival Community,
t is my great pleasure to present this issue of the Cultural Survival Quarterly on Indigenomics, otherwise known as Indigenous Economics. Our Indigenous communities are powerhouses of knowledge, abundance, resilience, and resources. It is our time to harness that power and shift the narrative of taking, exploitation, and degradation to a narrative and practice of caring, regeneration, and giving back to communities and Mother Earth. My first understanding of Indigenomics started early on in my life growing up in Nagalyk, a rural community with my grandmother, Ekaterina (her traditional name was Dulma). I think about her often lately, as she was the one, who through our ancestral stories, weaved the foundation of my values and belief systems. My grandmother’s village is located about 60 kilometers from the beautiful Lake Baikal in Siberia, and since time immemorial, our communities lived off the land hunting and gathering, bartering fish and meat, and preserving food for winter seasons. Even during the Soviet times, more than 95 percent of the food on our tables came from the forest and fields where we cultivated potatoes, carrots, beets and more. I remember when my grandmother had an excess of milk and sour cream, she would share it with other families, while other grandmothers in the villages would share wild strawberries or meat with us. At any given moment, every family had enough of everything and no one went hungry. We lived in a gift economy, where reciprocity and exchange illustrated how we engaged with one another and our surroundings. When my mother’s generation started moving out of our village to pursue education and careers, money started flowing into the community and it changed the dynamics and relationships among families. We witnessed the gift economy being replaced by the money economy. Today, there is a disconnect
Donors like you make our work around the world possible. Thanks so much for being part of Cultural Survival. Cultural Survival Staff Galina Angarova (Buryat), Executive Director Mark Camp, Deputy Executive Director Daisee Francour (Oneida), Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communications Yesmi Ajanel (Maya K’ich’e), Program Assistant Avexnim Cojtí (Maya K’iche’), Community Media Program Manager Jessie Cherofsky, Advocacy Program Researcher Danielle DeLuca, Advocacy & Development Manager Shaldon Ferris (Khoisan), Indigenous Radio Program Coordinator
between these two systems; gifts come from a place of abundance and intention, whereas the concept of scarcity is inherent and embedded in a money economy. My question to you, reader, is how do we apply the practice of abundance to the current monetary economy that we are forced to live in? Can we adapt or innovate to make this system work for everyone so that no one is left behind? In this issue, we share the stories of Indigenous entrepreneurs and leaders who are making an immense difference in uplifting their communities on their own terms, and according to Indigenous values and principles, from a place of abundance. At Cultural Survival, we are committed to investing in Indigenous-led solutions and to an equitable redistribution of resources to Indigenous communities. This is reflected in our grantmaking and support to Indigenous grassroots organizations. Our Bazaar program also supports Indigenous arts and visual traditions as viable sources of income. Join us in investing in Indigenous-led solutions and supporting this necessary shift, because respecting, protecting and fulfilling Indigenous rights protects us all.
Sofia Flynn, Accounting & Office Manager
In Solidarity and Gratitude,
INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS
Galina Angarova (Buryat) Executive Director
Nati Garcia (Maya Mam), Indigenous Community Media Youth Fellowship Coordinator Adriana Hernández (Maya K'iche'), Executive Assistant Dev Kumar Sunuwar (Kumar/Sunuwar), Program Associate, Community Media Grants Project Danae Laura, Bazaar Program Manager Maria del Rosario “Rosy” Sul González (Kaqchikel), Indigenous Radio Program Coordinator Bia’ni Madsa’ Juárez, (Mixe/Ayuuk ja’ay & Zapotec/Binnizá), Keepers of the Earth Fund Project Manager Jamie Malcolm-Brown, Communications & Information Technology Manager Teresita Orozco Mendoza, Community Media Training Coordinator Cat Monzón (Maya K’iche’), Executive Assistant Cesar Gomez Moscut (Pocomam), Community Media Program Coordinator Edson Krenak Naknanuk (Krenak), Lead on Brazil Gabael Otzoy Xocop (Maya Kaqchikel), Information Technology Assistant Diana Pastor (Maya K’iche’), Central America Media Coordinator Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager Angelica Rao, Human Resources Coordinator Sócrates Vásquez García (Ayuuk), Community Media Grants Coordinator Miranda Vitello, Development Associate
Erica Belfi, Eileen Calub, Jonathan GomezPereira, Kiara Hernandez, Jacklyn Janeksela, Dejah Morales, Laura Navitsky, Ariel Iannone Román, Mariana Sanborn, Tristan Suarez, Milagro Ventura
2020 Statement of Ownership
2020 Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation1. Publication Title: Cultural Survival Quarterly 2. Publication Number: 0740-3291 3. Filing Date: September 19, 2020 4. Issue Frequency: Quarterly 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: Four 6. Annual Subscription Price: $45.00 7. Mailing Address of Publication: 2067 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140 8. Mailing Address of Publisher Headquarters: 2067 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140 9. Full Mailing Address and Complete Names of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor-Publisher: Cultural Survival, Inc. 2067 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140, Editor/Managing Editor: Agnes Portalewska, Cultural Survival, 2067 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140 10. Owner: Cultural Survival, Inc., 2067 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgagees, and Other Securities: None 12. Tax Status: The purpose, function, and nonprofit status for federal income tax purposes has not changed during the preceding 12 months 13. Publication Title: Cultural Survival Quarterly 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: December 2020-Issue 44, Volume 4 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation: Subscription to members a. Total Number of Copies: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 2400; Actual No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 2200 b. Paid and/or Requested Circulation-1. Paid/Requested Outside-County Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541: 1200; 1200 2. Paid In-County Subscriptions: 250; 270 3. Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other Non-USPS Paid Distribution: 500; 300 4. Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: 100; 120 c. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 2050; 1890 d. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution 1. Free or Nominal Rate Outside-County 40; 30 2. Free or Nominal Rate In-County : 50; 30 3. Free or Nominal Rate Copies Mailed at Other Classes 70; 40 4. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail 50; 30 e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution: 210; 130 f. Total Distribution: 2250; 2020 g. Copies Not Distributed: 140; 180 h. Total: 2400; 2200 i. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 90; 93 16. This Statement of Ownership is printed in the December 2020 issue of this publication 17. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete: Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager, Cultural Survival, Inc.
There are so many ways to
Stay connected www.cs.org Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 • 1
i n t he new s Brazil: Supreme Court Rules for Indigenous Rights
which entity will hold the long-term township lease. Jabiru was established without the consent of the Mirarr to service the nearby Ranger uranium mine.
Indigenous organization Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB) has won a federal lawsuit against the Brazilian State, claiming that the government’s failures put Indigenous communities at increased risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. The victory marks the first time that Indigenous Peoples of Brazil have successfully sued the State on their own.
Japan: Lawsuit Seeks Confirmation of Indigenous Rights by Central and Hokkaido Governments August
A lawsuit filed by Ainu Peoples in Urahoro asks the government to acknowledge the Ainu’s Indigenous rights by exempting them from the commercial fishing ban that prevents them from engaging in salmon fishing on their traditional lands.
Kenya: Census Recognizes Sexual and Tribal Minorities August
The newest census form in Kenya has been amended to include intersex as a third gender, as well as creating new Tribal categories for Indigenous Peoples who have historically been overlooked or grouped in with bigger Tribes.
United States: New Bill to Hold the Government Accountable for Indian Boarding School Policy September
The Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy in the United States Act seeks to establish the country’s first formal commission to review and document the cultural genocide committed by the federal government through its boarding school policy.
Colombia: Indigenous Leader Killed in Military Attack September
Nasa Indigenous leader José Abelardo Liz was killed in a confrontation with 2 • www. cs. org
Geo Neptune (They/Them). Photo by @sipsography.
the Colombian army against “Liberation of Mother Earth,” a grassroots gathering organized by the Indigenous communities of the Cauca region. Liz had been documenting the military operation to evict the Nasa Indigenous Peoples from privately held land that is part of their ancestral territory.
Canada: Mi’kmaq Demand Upholding of Treaty Rights to Protect Indigenous Lobster Fishers October
Non-Indigenous fishermen have violently harassed Mi’kmaq fishermen in Nova Scotia through setting their property on fire. The Mi’kmaq fishermen were exercising Treaty rights between the Sipekne’katik First Nation and Canada to fish outside of commercial lobster season.
United States: Kumeyaay Nation Sues the Federal Government
United States: Congress Passes Two Bills to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Five of the 13 federally recognized Kumeyaay Nation Tribes have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and their top executives, arguing that the U.S.-Mexico border wall violates federal religious freedom and immigration laws. Tribal members frequently travel between countries as the border region contains sacred sites, trails, and medicines.
Savanna’s Act, introduced by former Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), and the Not Invisible Act, were signed into law. Both Acts aim to acknowledge the disproportionate levels of violence committed against Indigenous women and provide better protection for them.
United States: First Transgender Person Elected to Public Office in Maine
Geo Neptune, a Two-Spirit artist, educator, and member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, is the first openly transgender person to be elected to public office in Maine. They were voted onto the school board in Indian Township.
Australia: Bill Proposes to Return Control of a Mining Town to Traditional Elders September
A landmark bill to return the town of Jabiru to the Mirarr Peoples has passed the Australian House of Representatives as negotiations continue to determine
United States: Athabascan and Iñupiat Tribes File Lawsuit to Stop an Arctic Road The Tanana Chiefs Conference filed a lawsuit with the federal district court to prevent the building of a road that they say will negatively impact their spirituality and way of life, including affecting the wildlife they depend on for food.
New Zealand: First Indigenous Woman Foreign Minister Appointed November
–ori) was appointed Nanaia Mahuta (Ma as New Zealand’s first Indigenous woman foreign minister, four years after becoming the country’s first woman member of parliament with a moko kauae (traditional tattoo on her chin).
Advocacy Updates Russia: Indigenous Activists Demand Tesla Stop Buying Nickel from NorNickel August
Cultural Survival joined the Aborigen Forum, a coalition that represents and protects the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the North, Siberia, and the Far East of the Russian Federation, to collect signatures on a letter to Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, Inc., asking him to honor his company’s own code of conduct by refraining from doing business with the mining company Norilsk Nickel (also known as Nornickel) until the company agrees to meet Indigenous Peoples’ demands. The letter is part of a strategy to hold Nornickel accountable for the extensive environmental degradation it has caused while conducting mining and smelting operations in Indigenous territories in the Arctic, affecting Indigenous herding, hunting, fishing, and overall economic and subsistence activities, as well as their physical health and well being. Nornickel has long been a top global polluter and caused substantial environmental damage in May when a power plant failed and released 21,000 tons of diesel oil into local rivers. The spill has been devastating to the inhabitants of the region and is deemed one of the worst environmental disasters in the Arctic since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. Additionally, a 2018 Greenpeace analysis of NASA data ranked Norilsk, Russia as the number one hotspot for sulfur dioxide emissions in the world. The Aborigen Forum demands that Nornickel conduct an environmental review of the degradation they have caused, compensate the Indigenous communities they have harmed, implement a plan to recultivate contaminated lands, and agree to amend their ways of interacting with Indigenous commu- nities in order to comply with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
Canada: The Royal Bank of Canada Withdraws Support for Drilling Projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as the UN Investigates the U.S. for Human Rights Violations October
After years of seeking allies in the fight to permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Gwich’in Nation has succeeded in gaining support from the Royal Bank of Canada, which committed to refraining from directly financing any projects or transactions that involve exploration or
Cultural Survival’s advocacy program launches international campaigns in support of grassroots Indigenous movements as they put pressure on governments and corporations to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of their communities.
development in the Refuge. The Royal Bank joined five major U.S. banks: Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo, in acknowledging that development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would be fiscally and morally irresponsible, as it would violate the human rights of the Gwich’in Nation. Meanwhile, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has called for an investigation into the United States’ plans to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the Gwich’in Nation Steering Committee, in partnership with Cultural Survival, Land is Life, First Peoples Worldwide, and the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado, submitted a report stating that the United States has violated the Gwich’in Nation’s right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. United States’ Human Rights Record Examined at UN Universal Periodic Review November
The Universal Periodic Review is a process conducted by the United Nations Human Rights Council where each UN member state’s record with regard to its human rights obligations and commitments is reviewed by other member states. Civil society is encouraged to participate outlining the issues affecting their communities in regards to international human rights standards by submitting stakeholder reports and interaction through meetings with missions. In October 2019, Cultural Survival submitted a stakeholder report on Indigenous rights violations. The three and a half hour review of the United States took place virtually this year on November 9. The U.S. was criticized on the use of the death penalty, police violence against Black people, and the separation of migrant children from their families. Azerbaijan, Kenya, and Paraguay made specific recommendations regarding Indigenous Peoples’ rights, pointing out that the U.S. should implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples specifically. One country also mentioned the importance of Free, Prior and Informed Consent related to development projects, specifically pipelines. An important advance was that the U.S. government recognized its obligations and noted that it had accepted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The next step is adoption of the recommendations at the upcoming Human Rights Council session scheduled for February and March 2021.
Read more news at www.cs.org/latest.
Cultural Cultural Survival Survival Quarterly Quarterly December 2020 • 3
indi geno u s a rts
Grounded in Tradition, Guided by Ancestors Indigenous Business in Uncertain Times
Ha-lau Ka‘eaikahelelani performing a hula kahiko (traditional ancient dance) using the ipu (gourd) at Ki-auea, the active volcano on the island of Hawai’i.
s we move into these uncertain and rapidly changing times, business owners around the globe are bracing for huge negative economic impacts. Indigenous businesses are not immune to this; in fact, they tend to be more susceptible than their Western counterparts. And unlike in most industries, there does not exist a “best practices business model” for Indigenous businesses to follow and rely on. One of the latest trends we often hear about is businesses reinventing themselves. However, for Indigenous businesses, it is not that easy. Indigenous Peoples are who they are, and have been so for millenia. They do not have the option to “reinvent themselves,” but rather have the opportunity to further ground their businesses in their identity and reinvent the way they interact with others. It is crucial that Indigenous businesses remain flexible, nimble, and adaptive while at the same time being steadfast in their cultural grounding so as not to get caught up and overrun in this crazy business world. By being steadfast in their culture, businesses can withstand the test of time while normalizing cultural mores in their dealings. This is often done by building on their Indigenous worldviews, relying on connections and relationships, and allowing themselves to be guided by a higher power. An example of one such business in Hawai‘i is Hālau Ka‘eaikahelelani. I am grateful that they have agreed to be highlighted in this article and share their path. This is a case study of what works for this organization. It is not a formula for success to be followed blindly, but rather an example that we hope will spark some thought and reflection into your own situation, and allow the answers to come to you. Hālau Ka‘eaikahelelani is known to many as one of a number of Hālau (schools of traditional Hawaiian dance and culture) in Hawai‘i. However, when one takes a deeper dive into
4 • www. cs. org
their world, one’s eyes are opened to so much more. Hālau Ka‘eaikahelelani was founded in 2015 by Kumu Hula (Hula Instructor) sisters Yuki Ka‘ea Lyons and Lily Kahelelani Lyons. Both sisters come from a lineage of hula and have been dancing their entire lives. They both graduated under the guidance of master Kumu Hula Nani Lim Yap of Hālau Nā Lei ‘o Ka Holokū. Prior to starting their own Hālau, they both had prominent careers of service through the Hawaiian culture. Ka‘ea is a certified Hawaiian Language Immersion teacher and has taught through ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language) at the Pūnana Leo o Kona preschool, and at ‘Ehunuikaimalino, a K-12 public Hawaiian Immersion School on the West side of Hawai‘i island. She is also a prominent FM radio personality who is known for promoting Hawaiian language and culture on the airwaves to encourage all island residents to honor and respect the host culture of Hawai‘i nei, and teaches Hawaiian Lifestyles at the Hawai‘i Community College Pālamanui Campus. Kahelelani is a Hawaiian cultural resource professional and has worked in the visitor industry to strengthen and develop authentic native Hawaiian experiences while ensuring that the industry also gives back to the community in meaningful and culturally appropriate ways. Why move from already successful careers to start a venture as Kumu Hula of a new Hālau? In speaking with the sisters, it is readily evident that hula changed their lives. It enhanced their cultural perspectives, grounded them in tradition, and catalyzed their desire to serve their people in a way that reflects the values of their ancestors. As this ‘ike (knowledge) was shared with them from their Kumu Hula, mentors, and family members, so is their desire to share it with others. Any Kumu Hula will tell you that running a Hālau is not a lucrative business venture. Tuition in and of itself rarely covers the overhead of running the business. Kumu, as a necessity, have to be inventive and diversify. Some host concerts and do shows for tourists. Some hold workshops and have sister All photos by Dino Morrow Photography.
Ha-lau Ka‘eaikahelelani performing a hula kahiko using the pahu (drum).
Hālau in other parts of the world. Some have become recording artists and use that income to supplement the Hālau activities. Hālau Ka‘eaikahelelani engaged in most of the incomeenhancing ventures that others have. But for them it has never been about the money. It is about advancing first and foremost the work of their kūpuna (ancestors), ensuring traditions live on, and having faith that their kūpuna will open doors for them. This has led to beautiful synergies and opportunities to conduct business in a very diverse and Indigenous way. One of the first doors to open was a site for their Hālau. Many Hālau rent space in a warehouse, dance studio, or similar venue. This Hālau was guided to steward a piece of land where they could take their teachings back to where they belong, on the land. They are able to not only hold their classes there, but connect with the land through raising food and plants important to their hula traditions such as ipu (gourds) for percussion instruments, ‘ōlena (turmeric) for dyes and medicine, kalo (taro) for sustenance and ceremony, and much more. To validify the appropriateness of this path, they discovered during their research about the land that they have genealogical ties to this area, and not just to the other side of the mountain where they were raised. The next door opened as they looked to expand their teaching overseas. There exists great desire to learn hula in other areas of the world and the sisters often traveled to teach, while students make the trek to Hawai‘i for immersive experiences. But to truly honor traditions takes constant practice and connection, which is difficult to do over large distances and infrequent touches. The sisters once again looked to the teachings of their kūpuna for the answers, and the answers came by example. Hawaiian was originally an oral language; writing was introduced with the arrival of the missionaries. Contrary to the common belief that the missionaries taught the Indigenous people how to read and write and brought them into the modern ages, the reality is that the Ali‘i (chiefs) saw the
value of reading and writing and made it possible for the people of Hawai‘i to learn. This is evident in the famous declaration by Kauikeaouli, King Kamehameha III, “He aupuni palapala ko‘u” (mine is a literate nation), and the nearly 95 percent literacy rate of Hawaiians during that time. The Indigenous population took to communicating regularly through writing, and the first printing press west of the Rockies, named Hale Pa‘i, was established on the island of Maui. The canon of knowledge printed in the Native language that survives to this day numbers around 1.2 million pages. The Hawaiian people of that era truly ruled the technology of their day. It was this example that inspired the Hālau to “rule the technology” of today and start creating supplementary virtual content that could be shared over the internet. This included synchronous and asynchronous lessons, and has expanded to a diverse set of curricula. This forward thinking prepared them well for the distance learning that would be imposed on them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the short time that the Hālau has been in existence, the needs of the community became more and more apparent and new doors started to open. So great was their desire to serve that they formed a 501(c)3 nonprofit to allow them to expand services in ways beyond the capabilities of the for profit (which they still run as a separate entity). Behind other doors were partnerships and relationships. Two examples of the many partnerships include The Cultural Conservancy, which awarded the Hālau a Mino Niibi grant for the Ho‘āla Hou project to re-Indigenize their spaces, and a Kamehameha Schools Community Investment grant to start up a Family Child Interactive Learning Program based on Native Hawaiian educational and hula methodologies. As the realities and economic repercussions of COVID-19 set in and businesses started to hibernate or even shut down, Hālau Ka‘eaikahelelani has been able to adapt to the emergent needs of the community, sustain themselves financially, and have been busier than ever. In addition to their regular classes and programs that provide stability and connection for their learners, the Hālau and their members have stepped up as community leaders and connectors by distributing food, educational materials, and health supplies to those in need, and guiding other organizations to where the need is greatest. These acts of service are based on cultural values, including “‘O ka nui ma mua o ka pākahi:” by first serving the good of the whole, we strengthen the individual. Hālau Ka‘eaikahelelani built upon their Indigenous worldview, relied on connections and relationships, and followed the guidance of those gone before them. Their success is not measured in dollars on a spreadsheet, but by the multiple returns that are priceless to those to whom it matters most. Cultural returns, educational returns, Lāhui (nation) returns, community returns, ancestral returns, and spiritual returns: these are the economies that matter most to Hālau Ka‘eaikahelelani, their leaders, their families, and their community. By these metrics, the Hālau is wealthy beyond compare. Kaimana Barcarse (Kanaka Hawai‘i) is the West Hawai‘i — regional director for Kamehameha Schools and the program director and lead DJ of Alana I Kai Hikina on KWXX-FM. He also serves as chair of Cultural Survival’s board of directors and the board of The Cultural Conservancy. To read this article in Hawaiian, visit cs.org/paake. Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 • 5
ri ght s i n a ctio n
A Lenca Voice of Resistance Against a Culture of Extractivism
Donatila Girón Calix Leonardo Valenzuela Pérez
Donatila Girón Calix. Photo courtesy of Tania García.
uring the last decade, Honduras has consistently been named one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental defenders. The threat to defenders comes mostly from the business sector, particularly mining and energy corporations. Indigenous defenders are among the most at risk, a predicament galvanized by the assassination of Lenca leader Berta Cáceres in 2016. To delve into these issues, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee spoke to Donatila Girón Calix, leader of the Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz Honduras (MILPAH) and president of the Indigenous Caucus of the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights 2019-2020. Her leadership and activism have been marked by her emphasis on recovering Indigenous identities and practices as central elements in the defense of the environment and human rights in Honduras.
Being Indigenous in Honduras
For us, some of the fundamental parts of being Indigenous are our way of taking care of water, our way of seeing the forest and our territory, our way of coexisting in harmony with nature. Our water, forest, and territory are non-negotiable because they are parts of a whole, a path of learning, a way of life, an entire cosmos. Living in harmony means keeping a cosmovision alive. Being an Indigenous Lenca comes with a deep-seated fighting spirit. Many years ago the Lenca people were forced into the mountains. From those years of resistance we inherited a fighting spirit embodied by the figure of Lempira, an Indigenous hero who fought against the Spanish conquest and colonization. Being Indigenous is to care, to protect, to be stewards of the forest and common good. It is not enough to identify as Lenca; you need to put into practice Lempira and Berta Cáceres’ heroic fighting spirit. Berta Cáceres was committed to the struggle without expecting anything in return, simply because of the meaning 6 • www. cs. org
that water and forests have for us Lencas. When we are threatened by a mining or hydroelectric company, we know that they will disrupt our social conviviality. That’s why many of our people say that even if it costs us our lives to defend what is ours, we have no alternative but to keep fighting. That is the fighting spirit that Berta Cáceres embodies, and that spirit lives within each Lenca.
A Culture of Extractivism
An Indigenous person does not think that water or forests are commodities. What makes sense for us is to live peacefully and to live well; we do not see life from a capitalist point of view. Some years ago it was very common to find many forms of cooperative exchange among Lencas. If someone saw that their neighbor was not able to clean up their plot of land, they would go and help out. Today some of that is still maintained, along with a small-scale production system based on coffee, corn, beans, root vegetables, and trips to the river to catch fish for our own consumption. I believe that the economy should be focused on satisfying people’s immediate needs and markets should be available to exchange products with added value outside of an extractive capitalist model. People should have their own things, their own small businesses, their own medicines, health, and education. Unfortunately, education today is directed towards serving capitalism instead of focusing on knowing and valuing what surrounds us. Many young Lenca people have migrated from their communities to what is known as the military zone where the government says that workers are needed, and that ends up being their only opportunity to get a job. The question is, how can we refocus this situation so that these young people are no longer forced to leave and can have their own businesses within their communities without having to contribute to the exploitation of common goods. Extractivism is the worst: everything in Honduras is extractivism. The government follows a model that is not suited for people, but for their exploitation. Honduras trains police and military officers to protect extractivist companies, trains professionals such as engineers, whose job is to find ways to extract as much gold as possible and send it to Canada. This country does not provide the conditions for people to survive and thrive without needing to exploit themselves and others.
In the department of La Paz there are four dams in operation and several others planned. Those hydroelectric plants don’t even pay taxes in the municipalities where they extract energy from rivers. A single individual or company becomes a millionaire at the expense of a river while many people are left without water—it happened to seven communities in the municipality of San José. These projects break the harmony and generate division. We call this extractivism, the profiting off a good to generate money without leaving anything for communities. The system is controlled by a few families in Honduras and operates well beyond this country. Those who do not align with the system are pushed out of the way, because they are opponents who are preventing the resource extraction machine from working smoothly. For those who benefit from the system, the most effective mechanism to stop those who resist is to kill them, to criminalize them, or defame them.
Business and Human Rights
I have worked all my life on social issues, collaborating in health and education programs and holding positions in my community since I was 15 years old. A few years ago, I started working in a coffee company, learning about natural medicine, about organic products. It was working there that I met the organization MILPAH, and I liked the way they worked. Their approach was precisely how I wanted to defend human rights and the environment. I became more involved in that work and got specialized certifications in business and human rights. Because of the work I was doing with MILPAH, I got invited to Geneva in 2019 to participate in the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights. As Indigenous people, we do not hold a lot of power internationally, but these gatherings allow us to confront power. We knew that we were facing a monster and the only thing that could help us was our fighting spirit, not being afraid. By being there we were able to tell the businessmen of the world directly what Indigenous Peoples were living and feeling. We told them they were violating our rights, that we did not feel good about their presence in our territories. In Geneva before the start of the Forum, when it was time to elect a president for the Indigenous Caucus, it was clear that the Latin American delegation was the largest and that we were going to be able to choose our candidates. We also realized, unfortunately, that many of the people who were proposed to preside over the caucus were highly criminalized at home, so they declined their nominations for safety reasons. I was the one who had the least problems at that time in terms of legal persecution, and that helped me get elected as president. So far, I have not seen the effectiveness or concrete results coming from what we discussed at the Forum, but I have seen a more intentional approach from the office of the Honduran Human Rights Secretary to listen to our people. They have engaged us in conversations and treated us with more deference since our participation in the Forum, but we are still waiting for more concrete actions. Corporations are also being more cautious. Last year logging companies came here, but we took action and were able to stop them from cutting down our forests; they haven’t been back since.
Life During the Pandemic
The pandemic has brought negative and positive consequences. People have become seriously ill without receiving a minimum of support from the State; in my community we have already lost some people to the virus. Instead of adopting public health measures to prevent infection, the government delegated the control of the pandemic to the military, whose focus has been to impose lockdowns through repression and criminalization. A very worrying issue has been the negative impacts on women, who have suffered a significant increase in gender-based violence during the strict lockdowns. On the positive side, there has been an increase in agricultural production at the local level. People have returned from the cities to their communities, which has promoted the cultivation of land. Another important element has been the recovery of traditional medicine. There is a municipal ordinance that prohibits traditional healers as well as the cultivation and use of traditional medicines, but people have decided to ignore the ordinance and return to their ancestral practices. It is obvious that the long-term economic impact of the pandemic is going to be very terrible. It is important to focus now on reducing or ending dependency, ensuring that people can have their own businesses in their communities, without having to wait for bags of food assistance from the State that compromise their autonomy. Communities must also be prepared to provide options for economic participation to all the people who migrated many years ago and are now returning to their communities due to the severity of the economic crisis. A key priority will be the infusion of resources to support the recovery and design of alternative economic models based on Indigenous practices and systems of knowledge. — Leonardo Valenzuela Pérez is a human rights researcher at UUSC in Cambridge, Mass. He holds a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Sydney, Australia. This article was written in collaboration with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee as part of a series highlighting the resilience, wisdom, and power of Indigenous communities as they face the climate crisis. Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 • 7
women th e wo r ld m u st hear
Reclaiming Heritage Through Indigenous Enterprise
henae Bullock’s given name is Sagkompanau Mishoon Netooeusqua (“I lead Canoe I am butterfly woman.”) She is an enrolled member of the Shinnecock Nation in Southampton, Long Island, and also descends from the Montauk community in Long Island, New York. She is an entrepreneur who is deeply passionate about her Indigenous heritage. Cultural Survival recently spoke with Bullock.
Cultural Survival: Tell us about your recent business endeavors. Chenae Bullock: I was selected to be the
managing director of Little Beach Harvest, which is a Tribal business entity of the Shinnecock Indian Nation. It is the Shinnecock Nation’s cannabis business. We are working diligently despite the pandemic to get our medical dispensary up and running. In 2019 I launched my consulting firm, Moskehtu Consulting. People like to use Native-inspired things and ideas, whether for architectural design, clothing, curricula, exhibit curation in museums or art galleries, or business where you’re dealing with diversity and inclusion. What
Chenae Bullock. Photo by RaQuita Weathers, Beller Rouge Photography, LLC.
8 • www. cs. org
I’ve found over the last 15 years, being a Native and working in public and private sectors as well as nonprofit organizations, is that a lot of these organizations are unaware of how to approach Tribes due to a lack of cultural competency. They’re still thinking that we no longer exist. The whole purpose of Moskehtu Consulting is to bridge that gap, to become a liaison between the Tribal community and these businesses and organizations. CS: Why did you pursue a business in the cannabis industry? CB: The word Moskehtu means medicine in our language.
Right now, we are in a time of healing in so many different ways, and that’s intergenerational. I think cannabis is probably the number one product out there right now that is able to help heal intergenerationally in communities. As a Tribe, and as Indigenous Peoples, cannabis and hemp have been used for thousands of years in many ways of our medicine and cultural practices. It’s not something new to us as Indigenous Peoples; it’s new for governments to actually begin to look at us as leaders in such an industry. Rather than focus too much on the cannabis industry, we should be highlighting the fact that there are young enterprising, entrepreneurial, culturally and traditionally taught and raised Natives out there who are rising up; whether they are in Tribal leadership or working in corporate America, whether they are sitting on a board for different organizations that may not even deal with Native people, they represent who we are. It needs to be echoed throughout the world that we no longer live in our wetus, teepees, or longhouses. We are not novelties. We have become unfortunately assimilated. My great cousin, Wayne “Red Dawn” Crippen who was one of the iron workers for many of the big cities throughout the country, said, “I decided to take those union jobs so I could learn how to use their tools.” And that’s why I’ve been encouraged by many of my elders to get out, to leave the reservation, to leave home, and to get the tools that are needed to come back and rebuild our nations. With my background and expertise, it’s time for me to move into this business as a leader in it, for the Shinneock Indian Nation. CS: What barriers do you foresee, entering into this business as an Indigenous woman? CB: There are always barriers; no matter what any community
of color tries to do to raise themselves out of oppression, it’s going to be a challenge. Our Tribal leaders and community members have done everything in their power to meet with and do business with surrounding governments. We are either ignored or challenged and even sometimes taken to court. That being said, we’ve endured many challenges. We’ve endured many laws against our way of living, and we have all the tools that we need to bring ourselves out of economic despair.
CS: What does it mean to you to run a business as someone who is not only a woman, but also Indigenous? CB: I am a Native American enrolled in a federally recog-
nized Tribe. I also represent state recognized and underrecognized Tribes. But I’m also African-American. These are three different challenges that I have faced from the day I was born. Statistically, people like myself are classified as socially disadvantaged because we experience bias of a chronic and substantial nature. People like myself have very few intermediaries to succeed in a society that is replete of institutional voids. Prior to European settlement, Indigenous communities had a long history of dynamic economies and governance structures that we recognize today as the necessary ingredients for prosperity. Knowing that there are other people behind me with the same type of challenges, I have no choice—I’m left with no choice but to succeed by any means possible. It is my inherent obligation. So a business of this magnitude and with this amount of spotlight right now is a great opportunity not only for me, as a young woman, Native, African-American, for anybody that is looking to me as a role model. In my community we’ve been fighting for the last 400-500 years to raise ourselves out of this oppression. So any way that I can bring this business right side up, and build it from the ground up, it just speaks of evolution. CS: What are the differences between businesses managed by Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people? CB: Right now, our generation has been doing everything
in our power to become conscientious of how we are being colonized and to break away from that and move back to our traditional structures. This provides an opportunity for us to incorporate that same type of traditional cultural structure into our businesses; in other words, how we communicate with one another. Instead of having a Robert’s Rules of Order when you come to a meeting, maybe you have it in a way of everyone knowing they are just as equal as the other person sitting across from them. In the dispensary business, we have many different non-Native partners and non-Native allies. We’re working to construct a dispensary and wellness center from ground up. You have Tribal representation from individually owned businesses like interior designers and architects, and then you also have non-Tribal partners as well, from project managers to environmentalists. Everybody’s coming together in this local area in which we’ve always lived as Indigenous people to do this project. I see it as a great example to the rest of the world how all people can come together and establish a successful business.
CS: How are Indigenous values reflected in Little Beach Harvest? CB: As you look at history, and within our Shinnecock com-
munity, we’ve always been entrepreneurs. I come from a long line of whalers. Shinnecock people were also beaver fur traders and later went into tobacco. At one point in time, our communities were becoming wealthy due to our advantage in the whaling industry because of ancient whaling practices passed down from generation to generation. The crossover into oppression began when we couldn’t afford ships because money was being funneled internationally to certain families here in the Americas, particularly in the Hamptons. My ancestors were actually able to earn the money to own the whaling ships. But as the whaling industry began to decline internationally, that left our families in economic despair and we had to move into other creative ways of enterprising. Shinnecock has been known to lease different lands so that way we could make money for our community. I’ve heard the elders talk about the fields being potato fields and airports. From the very first time that the settlers came to Long Island, there were laws made against our way of living. There were certain areas in which we were not welcomed; there were certain things that happened that caused us to be murdered, or killed, or kidnapped. Over the last 20 years, our community has been putting their lives on the line to protect our sacred burial sites. Over time, more and more million dollar mansions have been built on top of our ancestors’ bones. Our Tribal community leaders and sister Tribes have faced police brutality and threats for standing out there to protect our sacred burial grounds. Today, we move into different businesses, the cannabis industry. Again, here you have ancient teachings of medicinal uses for cannabis; we’re not new to this. Just like my ancestors, today we have aspirations to be able to own our own. First and foremost, Little Beach Harvest is the first Shinnecock Tribally owned and operated business for our Nation. Since time immemorial, we have been gifted by the Creator with specific values and responsibilities as Shinnecock people. The very foundation of Little Beach Harvest is the core values of the Shinnecock Nation. They include teaching and promoting spirituality, respect, responsibility, integrity, and unity in order to promote and ensure the health, well being, and safety of individuals, community, and the Nation. Keeping with these values for our Nation, Little Beach Harvest is a pillar for the ongoing development of the Shinnecock Nation’s economic renaissance.
Little Beach Harvest is the Shinnecock Nation’s cannabis business. Photo by Don Goofy.
Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 • 9
i ndi geno u s k n ow le d g e Multi-generational household of Oneida and Turtle Clan women holding 2,000 year-old heirloom o·nʌ́steˀ, white corn. Photo by Daisee Francour.
Indigenizing Philanthropy Rematriating the Distribution of Wealth
Galina Angarova and Daisee Francour (CS Staff) The Indigenizing Philanthropy series is a five-part article series accompanied with a webinar and toolkit to provide a framework in how to transform and Indigenize philanthropy. Galina Angarova (Buryat) and Daisee Francour (Oneida/Haudenosaunee) have unique experiences as Indigenous women, having both worked in philanthropy as program officers for private foundations and as fundraisers for NGOs. They offer their dynamic expertise and shed an important light on how philanthropy can take a serious, introspective look at its colonial roots and take authentic actions to remedy its future in a way that is aligned with natural law and responsible ways of being and knowing. Philanthropy plays a significant role in the U.S. economy, accounting for several trillion dollars in assets and with annual giving rising each year, and even more across the globe. In 2019, Americans gave almost $450 billion. So, how do we harness the power of philanthropy to better serve Indigenous Peoples and communities of color?
n many Indigenous cultures, the world is viewed as female: Mother Earth, Pachamama, ohútsyaˀ, and others. In fact, some of the most powerful living things in our world are part of the sacred feminine, which plays a central part in the cosmovision of many Indigenous cultures and is expressed through our relations, stories, and ways of life. Many Indigenous worldviews hold that every being carries the qualities of both the sacred feminine and the sacred masculine, and cultivating these energies in a balanced way is our sacred mission. They also instruct us to recognize the convergence and different sacred expressions of these energies, including Two-Spirit, non-binary, queer, and others. Colonization has twisted our collective worldview to view men, and the masculine energy, as the dominant powerful force, requiring the utmost respect. The sacred feminine has been degraded, neglected, harassed, attacked, and violated, and we are continually facing the consequences of this imbalance. Today, we live in a world where the masculine and the feminine are out of balance, and this imbalance has resulted in the worst injustices with respect to gender and racial inequality, hunger, poverty, and of course, environmental 10 • www. cs. org
destruction and climate change. The equilibrium between the masculine and the feminine is the foundation of wellfunctioning societies and we need to restore this balance. Our planet, our soils, and our environment are the ultimate manifestation of the sacred feminine. We all come from her womb, the sacred feminine, and it is our duty to respect and protect it. Restoring the sacred feminine individually and collectively is essential to regaining balance in the world. Many Indigenous communities, including ours in the Americas and Russia, come from matrilineal cultures where women are the backbone of our societies and economies. This did not take away from the power and divine importance of men and masculine energy in our societies; rather, it reinforced the equal role of all energies in this web of life. Indigenous Peoples instinctively know how to live in harmony and balance with our environments and each other, and that balance is reflected in our creation stories, original instructions, traditional knowledge, values, and cosmovisions. Indigenous prophecies like those from the Hopi and Māori say that women will regain their places as original healers and will lead the way into a higher consciousness. Terms like “feminism” and “equality” do not exist in Indigenous languages, as these concepts were already embedded in the cultures, relationships, and governance of Indigenous Peoples around the world. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy deeply influenced the women’s suffrage movement, which has now transcended into feminism and women’s rights. Haudenosaunee women provided a model of freedom for EuroAmerican women who possessed few rights in early American history. Some of these rights included decisive political power, control of their bodies, control of their own property, custody of children, the power to initiate divorce, the right to satisfying work, and a society generally free of gender-based violence. Haudenosaunee culture reflects balance between the masculine and feminine energies through balanced decision making. The Great Law of Peace (the Haudenosaunee constitution) recognizes the power and influence of women and their unique roles and responsibilities, which serve as the foundation to Haudenosaunee governance and economies. For the Buryat people, a matrilineal society, the sacred feminine plays a central part in their cosmovision. Angarova
comes from generations of powerful women who were regarded as some of the best hunters and warriors; the spirit in them has survived through colonization and 70 years of communism. The same spirit that makes these women the guardians of their clan makes them original story tellers, caretakers, and nurturers. Buryat grandmothers are jewels of their multigenerational households and maintain balance inside the home, throughout their communities, and across the nation. The moments they spend with their grandchildren are sacred, as this is when the sacred feminine is in full force, patiently weaving its way to pass traditional knowledge and language to younger generations. How Rematriation Can Be Applied to Philanthropy
Rematriation is a process of going back to balanced relationships, to understanding and living our original instructions of protecting and honoring the sacred feminine, of honoring our grandmothers, mothers, and daughters, and trusting that they will make best decisions to benefit our families, communities, Mother Earth, and all human and non-human relatives for generations to come. Compared to repatriation, which is individualistic and gendered, implying that only the masculine energy is in control of returning and receiving, rematriation is an act of returning, or aligning with the collective under the stewardship and leadership of women. Shifting towards rematriation better reflects the natural laws of reciprocity and equality, given that the sacred feminine is what nourishes and sustains all living things. As we know, modern philanthropy is deeply rooted in colonial systems of academia, finance, and banking. We need to mindfully unpack, self-reflect, and recognize its flaws in order to reimagine the future of philanthropy. A money-based economy has changed our relationships with one other and to Mother Earth, as scarcity is inherent to the concept of money, which in turn results in extractivism, hoarding of resources and power, and degradation of our ecosystems and our relationships. Shifting to the mindset of abundance, even within the existing system, restores the sacred feminine and rematriates the proposed remedies. Indigenous Peoples offer the insights and solutions to our modern day crisis, including philanthropy and the nonprofit industrial complex. We must question our assumptions, decolonize, and Indigenize ourselves and our workspaces. To do this, we must first and foremost center, develop, and sustain Indigenous women, Two-Spirit, femme, and non-binary leadership in all forms of decision making because they are the most underrepresented groups in leadership positions across all sectors. Philanthropy, too, needs to embrace the leadership of Indigenous women and Two-Spirits, and foundations should seek to embrace and elevate Indigenous women’s leadership in their board and staff and in their grantee partner organizations. This means intentionally giving them a space to speak without fear, intimidation, or tokenization, to seek out their expert opinions and perspectives, and support them with adequate, self-determined resources and connections. Indigenous women in our cultures have always been the sources of creation and redistribution. According to UNAC, women reinvest 90 percent of their incomes back into their families, compared to just 35 percent by men. When we invest
in women’s rights, health, and well being, it creates a positive ripple effect that lifts up communities and entire countries. A woman multiplies the impact of an investment made in her future by extending benefits to the world around her. By creating a better life for her family, she builds stronger communities. Among foundations that support women’s issues, Indigenous women are often left out of their portfolios. Support for women’s rights and issues also means supporting Indigenous women and Indigenous rights. While human and women’s rights are about one individual, Indigenous rights are collective, communal rights. Foundations that already support Indigenous issues need to ensure they are explicitly funding Indigenous women’s organizations and Indigenous women-led organizations with large multi-year general support grants. In the U.S., less than one-half of one percent of philanthropic funding goes towards supporting Indigenous Peoples. That percentage is even less on a global scale, with only a fraction going towards supporting Indigenous women. Indigenous women carry millennia-old traditions and knowledge of their people’s responsible ways of being and knowing and solutions to the human condition, climate change, and biodiversity protection, yet they hardly receive any recognition, respect, or funding. Investing in Indigenous women-led funds and organizations also ensures that the redistribution of wealth happens diligently, efficiently, and thoughtfully. To invest in Indigenous women’s leadership is an act of decolonization. Philanthropy has begun to embrace decolonization but lacks the vision and appropriate leadership to carry out those efforts. Indigenous women are the best leaders for this as we are original healers, and many of us carry our traditional ways of healing, ceremonies, and prayers. Healing is fundamental to decolonization and should be an institutional priority for philanthropy, not only reflected in a generous budget line item, but as a central value and principle for the organization. While philanthropy embraces learning as a priority, this should include healing and decolonization, with additional resources to support healing work for their grantee partners, too. Indigenous women, femmes, Two-Spirit, queer, and nonbinary peoples bring a bountiful gift to the world, and our leadership, knowledge, and understanding of how to live in a reciprocal way with Mother Earth, among one another, and with our environment upholds both the spiritual and ecological integrity of the land and all living things. In most, if not all, Indigenous languages the world “philanthropy” does not exist. What does exist are our original instructions given to us from the Creator and our ancestors, which outline our values and principles and inform our actions and behavior. Our actions and solutions are deeply rooted in our worldviews, which are informed by our millennia-old relationship to the land. It is Indigenous women’s leadership’s implementation of our original instructions, values, and principles that will serve as a basis and a roadmap to make the profound and necessary change that philanthropy, and the world, needs and craves. Check out the whole Indigenizing Philanthropy series at: www.cs.org/ IndigenizingPhilanthropy.
Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 • 11
Indigenomics Harnessing the Power of Our Communities Paul Lacerte (Right) Paul Lacerte, managing partner at Raven. Photo courtesy of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners.
Hadih, Dene Za Tsekey Za. Greetings, my respected relatives; greetings, my respected friends. Paul Lacerte Sadnee. My Name is Paul Lacerte. Gilam Giloh Sadnee. My traditional name is Gilam Giloh. Si gunna Luksil Yoo Injan Yinka Dene Keyoh. I am a member of the Cariboo Clan and a citizen of the Carrier First Nation/Indigenous territory in what is now known as northern British Columbia, Canada. I am an intergenerational survivor of the “Indian Residential Schools” in Canada and my late first wife was also a survivor of the same residential school system. The church-run residential school in our Carrier First Nation territory closed in 1984. Indigenous Peoples around the world have had similar experiences and have been subjected to similar colonial policies which were designed to displace and disrupt our societies and our economies. But those efforts have failed and Indigenous social and economic systems are being revitalized. We are pivoting from surviving to thriving, from dependence to independence. We are building a better future; a future in which the beauty and brilliance of our Peoples and our cultures can and will lead the way to a better world for all of us. The emergent concept of Indigenomics and the story of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners is one of strength and resurgence. It is a story of resiliency and revitalization. Carol Anne Hilton is the founder and CEO of the Indigenomics Institute. She is an Indigenous woman of Nuu chah nulth descent and a proud member of the Hesquiaht First Nation on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She has been an independent member of the investment committee of the Raven Indigenous Impact Fund LP since its inception in May 2019; and Raven Indigenous Capital Partners was named to the Indigenomics Institute’s inaugural “Ten to Watch” list in December 2019. It is an honor to share our stories with you, and we are deeply grateful for this opportunity.
2017 Ottawa Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival at Vincent Massey Park. Photo by Bing Wen.
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Raven Indigenous Capital Partners
n many ways, Raven Indigenous Capital Partners (Raven) is an expression of Indigenomics. Raven was founded in 2018 with three interrelated objectives: to address the equity gap for innovative, scalable Indigenous enterprises; to decolonize the investment process and provide cultural safety to Indigenous entrepreneurs; and to build investment platforms that would enable allies to participate in building a vibrant reconciliation economy. As founders, we believed that investing in purpose-driven Indigenous enterprises would create a positive impact in their communities while also providing competitive financial returns. We chose the Raven as our symbol, as it is central to rebirth and transformation in many Indigenous cultures. Our founding partnership is also an expression of reconciliation and the power and potential of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples working together to support and enable the Indigenous economy. By design, we chose to create a strength-based model that included myself, a First Nations partner, and a Métis partner, Jeff Cyr. Both continued on page 14
An Introduction to Indigenomics Carol Anne Hilton
ndigenomics honors the powerful thinking of Indigenous wisdom of local economy, relationships, and human values. It is about increasing the role and visibility of Indigenous peoples in the new economy and understanding Indigenous ways of being and worldview. By drawing on ancient principles that have supported Indigenous economies for thousands of years and working to implement them as modern practices, Indigenomics welcomes you to an Indigenous worldview. It brings to the forefront human values and practice. It explores the pathway of the threshold of the Indigenous relationship and modern economies by inviting dialogue and thoughtprovoking insight into possibilities of the Indigenous relationship in Canada and beyond. We are living in a time of Indigenous economic resurgence. Our traditional economic knowledge systems have been rendered almost invisible through over 500 years of colonization and systemic racism. Through the upheaval of Indigenous economies and ways of being over time, Indigenous Peoples have gone through four economic stages: 1. Disruption: This stage is characterized by the systemic disruption of existing Indigenous economic systems, ways of being, and removal from the land while severing inherent authority and responsibility to place. This stage required the dehumanizing of Indigeneity through instruments such as the Doctrine of Discovery, the Indian Act of 1876, and other legal and statutory approaches around the world. 2. Entanglement: The second stage is characterized by the complexity of the entanglement of the Indigenous relationship locally, nationally, and internationally. This is firmly embedded within the conflict stemming from the disruption of Indigenous ways of being (our epistemologies) and the threat to our continued way of life. 3. Emergence: The third stage is characterized by the emergence of the Indigenous legal environment. This legal context serves to reinforce new modern economic space for Indigenous nations, businesses, and governments. 4. Empowerment: This fourth stage is characterized by the rise of Indigenous economic empowerment as an effect of the shifting Indigenous rights and title legal environment, economic equality, and inclusion. This stage sees an increase in Indigenous business development and economic activity as a viable and com- petitive business model.
Indigenomics is a collective response to the violent removal of Indigenous economic worldview and the systemic exclusion of Indigenous Peoples from the mainstream economies that we know and experience today. It is a system that reminds us that the intention of our Indigenous economies is to foster our well being, to live in ecological balance and prosperity, and to transfer Indigenous concepts of balance, wealth, and generosity across generations. For the first time ever, economics from an Indigenous worldview is being reclaimed within the modern economic spaceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the narrative of growing Indigenous business success is expected to skyrocket over the next decade. A new multibillion dollar agenda is on the horizon, and the First Peoples of these lands are the drivers of new partnerships, investment, and long term growth. Today, through a shift in legal influence, Indigenous Peoples own masses of land and entitlements through treaties and rights and title, and occupy space in all areas of business, industry, and the private sector. This will impact and inform important public policy and evolve Indigenous governance structures. With this growth, Indigenous Peoples are increasingly leaving their economic footprint on todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national and international economic landscape. In 2018, I founded the Indigenomics Institute, an Indigenous economic advisory for public governments, Indigenous communities, and the private sector. The Institute works with Nations, organizations, governments, and private industry to strengthen Indigenous economic capacity. Its mission is to facilitate positive leadership and relationships to support the growth and development of Indigenous economies, with a focus on four core areas in overcoming Indigenous economic barriers and addressing challenges: dialogue platform for Indigenous economic solutions; economic policy, research, analysis, and planning; education and training; and partnership development. The Indigenomics Institute is converging ideas, resources, tools, and people to grow the Indigenous economy, and is unleashing a national Indigenous economic agenda to facilitate the growth of the Indigenous economy from its current value of $32 billion to $100 billion CAD in the next 5 years.
Carol Anne Hilton, founder of Indigenomics Institute. Photo courtesy of Indigenomics Institute.
Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 â&#x20AC;˘ 13
of us have deep experience working with and for Indigenous communities and in the Indigenous innovation space. A third, non-Indigenous, partner, Stephen Nairne, has extensive experience in impact investing. Our partnership was inspired by the momentum generated by the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and our commitment to each other. Our mission was our response to those Calls to Action. It was also a response to a clearly identified gap in the Canadian Indigenous economic landscape: the absence of patient, flexible capital for Indigenous entrepreneurs provided in a culturally safe and supportive way. As an Indigenous financial intermediary, we anchored our design and investment approach in the Indigenous worldview that all things are related, connected, and respected. Every being has a purpose and place within the sacred circle. We committed that all our work would honor the Seven Natural Laws of love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility, and truth. We established early on that all of our investments would work for the well being of both people and the planet, while acknowledging the fund’s responsibility to both our investors and to the next seven generations. Our activities are guided by five foundational principles: • Anchored in the Indigenous Peoples of Canada the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples • Guided by Indigenous cultures • Centered on Indigenous families, communities, and territories • Built on respectful and trusting relationships • Ensuring cultural safety for all Indigenous Peoples The women of Cheekbone Beauty Cosmetics, a leading Indigenous natural cosmetics company based in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Photo courtesy of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners.
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Within our first two years as a firm, we began to raise our first Indigenous owned Impact Fund—the first in the world—with an initial target raise of $5 million CAD. The momentum that inspired our partnership also fueled the appetite of investors who were looking for ways to vote with their dollars toward economic reconciliation while realizing a return on their investment. As more and more investors completed their due diligence processes and signalled that the Firm and the space was safe to invest in, we began to experience a shift in the investor ecosystem and the Indigenous landscape. The opportunity began to spread by word of mouth among investors looking for blended returns and Indigenous entrepreneurs looking for patient, flexible, culturally safe capital. The net result of this shift was that the size of our Fund—the Raven Indigenous Impact Fund—grew to $20 million CAD.
Raven in Action
ur first investment was in Animikii Inc (www.animikii.com), an award-winning, Indigenous-owned digital agency based in Victoria, BC, that uses technology to drive positive change for Indigenous Peoples. It was founded in 2003 by Jeff Ward (Ojibwe and Métis), a web designer and software developer who also served as CEO. Animikii developed technology for leading Indigenous-focused organizations from all industries. Our investment enabled Animikii to complete two acquisitions and transition from a services business to a products service, including the launch in 2021 of Niiwin, a data sovereignty application for Indigenous communities.
Since Raven’s investment, Animikii’s revenues have nearly doubled and the team has grown from 8 to more than 20 full time employees and 10 contractors. This investment enabled Animikii to increase its revenues by 35 percent year over year, notwithstanding the economic impacts of COVID-19; develop a new Indigenous data sovereignty product and a new web development product; and increase its Indigenous employee base by over 50 percent. Raven joined the Board of Directors for Animikii and provides ongoing operational, strategic, and cultural support and advice. Since 2019, we have invested more than $4 million CAD into 6 Indigenous enterprises. In 2019, Raven announced an investment of $350,000 CAD into Cheekbone Beauty Cosmetics, a leading Indigenous natural cosmetics company headquartered in St. Catharines, Ontario. Founded by marketing professional Jenn Harper (Anishinaabe) in 2016, the company launched its branded product line using a sophisticated brand ambassador social media strategy and now ships lipsticks, glosses, contour kits, and brow products across Canada, the United States, and Australia. Cheekbone embeds a deep social mission in its business model, donating 10 percent of profits to the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. Prior to this investment, Harper had bootstrapped Cheekbone Beauty while raising a family and working full time. “There is nothing more empowering than someone believing in the vision of your brand as much as you do. It is life changing. I’m really looking forward to our new relationship with Raven Capital so that I can scale Cheekbone Beauty Cosmetics with confidence. This is a product with a mission,” said Harper. The beauty industry has experienced explosive growth over the past five years and continues to outpace broader economic trends. Half of that growth has come from online sales, which has been the basis of Cheekbone Beauty since its inception. This is part of a generational shift to organic, locally made, artisanal brands that have a compelling, mission-aligned narrative for young consumers. “Cheekbone Beauty is a real time demonstration of Indigenomics in action. Combining purpose, meaning and Indigenous resilience—this company is going places. Indigenous entrepreneurial success bolstered by the entrance of Indigenouscontrolled capital in the market through Raven Capital is
how success will be built in our communities,” said Hilton. This past July, Raven announced an investment of $250,000 CAD in the Social Awareness Group, a technology company headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta. Co-founded by Aaron Lambie, Kris Vanderburg, Joseph Duperreault, and Jacquelyn Cardinal in 2019, the company is brought together by a shared belief that through small shifts, society can create positive changes in the relationships between Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous society. Motivated by their vision of “Indigenous Prosperity Globally,” their flagship webbased product, Nisto Link, is an evolution of socioeconomic supply chain and hiring efforts to the industrial marketplace. For companies who have Indigenous prosperity as part of their current and future road map, Nisto Link plays a central role in illustrating objective data that connects corporate policy to actual results. “So much of our political and economic discussions assume that success is a zero-sum game, and that’s just not true. The work we do is our response to recognizing that we all have an obligation to ensure that Indigenous communities aren’t forgotten as the world continues to change around us. The impacts of COVID-19 on our economies only makes this call to action more urgent,” said Lambie, CEO, at the Social Awareness Group.
Animikii Inc. is an awardwinning, Indigenousowned digital agency based in Victoria, BC. Their operating principles are deeply rooted in Indigenous values and worldviews. Images courtesy of Animikii.
ike a traditional braid of Sweet Grass, we are weaving together the theory of Indigenomics, Raven Capital’s innovative Indigenous approaches to social finance, and the brilliance of Indigenous entrepreneurs. By facilitating the flow of capital towards solutions in Indigenous spaces and by decolonizing our processes and our relationships, we are building a better and brighter future than the past that we have had. We are building thriving Indigenous economies in the images of our cultures. This is a form of “good medicine,” and it is an important part of the next chapters of our stories as Indigenous Peoples. Teh Beh Mussi Cho. Thank you for the opportunity to share our medicine with you.
Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 • 15
For the Indigenous Economy, the Forest Is Life
Heading through farms and forests on a winter morning for a community meeting, Jharkhand, India. Photo by Mithilesh Kumar
ur early ancestors left behind a far-reaching worldview and an idea of diversity to live in coexistence with nature. This worldview impels each Indigenous person to internalize traditions, customs, culture, and language of the community and also to preserve, broaden, and enrich the same. By doing so, we not only ensure self-reliance and sustained development of the community, but more importantly, we take the responsibility to impart that worldview to the larger community and future generations. Today, the biggest challenge for Indigenous Peoples all over the world is the unrelenting assault on Indigenous lifeways and resources in the name of national interests and development by governments and capitalist forces. For Indigenous Peoples, resistance is ingrained in our struggle for survival. Our ancestors put in place some binding practices on the collection and usage of forest produce. Without these practices, forests would look like merely a resource for eking out a living. An Indigenous person’s identity right from birth is linked with the Gotra (lineage or totem) of the family. It is the obligation of the person to protect that particular tree, plant, creeper, or animal. In no circumstances may one cause any harm to it. Another significant aspect of the Indigenous life is festivals and ceremonies. In each season of the year, nature is worshiped in various forms of deities. In these ceremonies we thank nature, as it ensures food security throughout the year and provides a spiritual home. This practice ensures that forest produce and animals are not consumed during the flowering or breeding time. These rituals also remind the community not to use any resource beyond their need, ensuring that the economy of the community stays robust without destroying nature. Some festivals are performed within a community, and some are performed collectively involving all Tribes. One example is the Sarhul festival, in which the Sal tree is
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worshipped. Communities are prohibited to use any fruit, flower, or leaf that grows during the summer season until the Sarhul is performed; by the time the Sarhul is over, the flowering/breeding time would also be over. The Sendra (hunting) ceremony is performed once a year just before the Sarhul. In Sendra, all the youth of the community, led by the community teacher, go into the forest for a week. Besides hunting, the group learns from the teacher all the behavioral and customary wisdom passed down through generations. They also learn how to identify medicinal herbs, how to prepare traditional medicines, and how not to over-extract the resource. During the Sendra, the youth take a vow to stay faithful, responsible, and committed to the community and to their ancestors. The method by which medicinal herbs are collected is another example of Indigenous Peoples’ protection of nature, and in turn, our own economic stability. In order to collect an herb in the forest, some communities have ordained that the person collecting must be naked at the time of extracting the material, otherwise the medicine would not work. This belief is enforced upon the people simply to restrict overuse of the product. The person extracting the herb would like to do it quickly before someone sees him or her, and therefore would not be able to extract too much of it beyond the need. The idea of diversity and equality as passed on to us from our early ancestors does not contain the concept of Shubh-Labh (“luck and profit,” as is prevalent in Hindu culture), nor does it give importance to weights and measures. However, we need to employ some calculations in order to present ways of transaction in the Indigenous milieu to the non-Indigenous world. In the economics of an average 5-6 member Indigenous household here in eastern and central India, 65 percent of our share in well being comes from forest produce alone. India’s forests support the life of humans, animals, and other living beings by providing fruits, flowers, roots, grass, honey, herbs, and medicines, among many other things. The economy and trade of Indigenous communities are intrinsically linked to forests and forest produce (see sidebar).
Indigenous Peoples’ economies are intrinsically linked and interdependent with our social and cultural systems. If it were broadly adopted, this model of socio-economic living would help the world achieve the chimera called “sustainable development,” and would also provide potency to humankind to fight pandemics such as COVID-19. The challenge before Indigenous communities is that today, governments and corporations are hellbent on destroying the homes and habitats of Indigenous Peoples by bringing in big industries and development projects. Not only are Indigenous Peoples being massively displaced from their natural homes, but thousands of square kilometers of primary forests are being ravaged as well. Indigenous communities see this
neoliberal model of development and economics as nothing but a model of plunder and destruction. That is why we consider our fight to protect our forests, water, and land inherited from our ancestors no different from our fight to protect our identity and existence. The fight is on. — Philip Kujur is a Kudukh (Oraon) Tribesman and activist from Jharkhand, India. For more than 25 years, he has been working for the rights of Indigenous communities. He is the convener of Adivasi Activists’ Forum for Indigenous Rights (AAFIR). The article was translated from Hindi by Subrat Kumar Sahu.
Forest Products Mohua (honey tree or butter tree): Mohua flower is used as food and also in making alcohol. Each household collects 700–1,000 kg of Mohua flowers and earns about $700 USD every year. Indigenous communities also collect the Mohua seeds from the fruits to extract edible oil, which saves them from buying oil from the market. Mohua seed is used in making medicine. Wood: Indigenous communities access wood from the forest for use in house construction and fire/fuel. One family consumes fuel wood worth $300 USD every year, which they get from the forest for free. For agricultural implements, a household avails wood annually from the forest worth $350 USD. For constructing a house, it is worth about $2,000 USD. The Sal tree: The Sal tree (Shorea robusta) is fundamental to the lives of Indigenous communities. Among all types of forest, the Sal forest is regarded as the most conducive to all living beings, as it always contains rich biodiversity. Seed of the Sal tree is also deeply linked with the Indigenous economic system. Bamboo: Indigenous Peoples are dependent on bamboo for making and repairing houses, crockeries, implements, and other essential objects. An average Indigenous household accesses bamboo from the forest worth between $75-150 USD per year. Tendu leaves: Leaves of the Tendu (East Indian Ebony) plant keep alive a large industry in India in which Bidi (leaf cigarette) is manufactured. Since the plants are only available in the forests where Indigenous Peoples live, Indigenous communities have been given the rights to collect the leaves and sell them to contractors and government corporations. This activity is one of
the most important parts of the Indigenous economy. Lac: People cultivate and collect lac from trees and sell in the local market for $3– $7 USD per kilogram, which substantially addresses economic crisis in lean periods. Fruits, roots, and vegetables: The forest is full of fruits, roots, and vegetables that make up the lifeline of Indigenous communities. The most important among them are Aonla (Indian gooseberry), mango, Jamun (Indian blueberry), Piyar or Char (Buchanania lanzan), Indian plum, Harra (chebulic myrobalan), Behera (beleric myrobalan), Genthi (forest potato), white muesli, and myriad types of leaves and mushrooms. Medicinal herbs: Medicines prepared from herbs easily available to Indigenous communities cure many diseases and effectively address healthcare of communities. Indigenous Peoples use these medicines to cure paralysis, tuberculosis, cancer, infertility, diabetes, and polio. Even when modern pharmaceutical medicines do not work, these traditional medicines can work wonders. Munjani: Also known as Kujur, this is the fruit of a rare creeper out of which Indigenous Peoples extract an oil that is used in the preparation of several medicines. Gum: Indigenous people collect gums from various trees and sell them in the local market. As these gums are in big demand, they add to people’s income handsomely. Rope: In the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha, there is an Indigenous community called Birhor (literally meaning “the forest people”) whose primary occupation is to make ropes using natural resources
Indigenous women selling twigs for datun (toothbrushes), slices of genthi (wild potato), vegetables, and sal leaves at a local market, Jharkhand, India. Photo by Samarjeet Minz.
and to collect honey from the forest. The Birhor Tribe has been officially listed as endangered. Honey: Collecting honey from the forest and selling it locally makes up a substantial part of the Indigenous economy. Almost all Indigenous groups perform this activity, and it is the primary occupation of the Chenchu Tribe in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. Fodder: Livestock rearing is an economic mainstay. Indigenous Peoples do not have to depend on the market for fodder for their livestock; they get it from forests and commons, which provides economic stability and self-reliance. Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 • 17
Power to the People An Efficient Wood Burning Stove Provides Hope to Many Shaldon Ferris (CS STAFF)
n South Africa, the need for alternative sources of energy is ever apparent as Africa’s business hub continues to face electricity shortages. The last 10 years have been troubling for citizens far and wide, as both residential and commercial properties are often without power. The country’s main supplier of electricity, ESKOM, often reports that the infrastructure is aging and has to shut down portions of the grid. The load on the infrastructure has become unsustainable, based in part on population growth. Since around 1990, many migrants from further north have descended on South African cities like Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town with the hope of securing a better future. In Gauteng, for instance, the population has doubled from approximately 7 million in 1999 to 14 million today. This increase is causing strain on health, transportation, housing, and power systems. Without power, none of these essential services can be delivered to the people. While the country is looking for solutions to increase the power supply, it is now becoming common for its citizens to go to bed without having eaten a home cooked meal. While renewable energy is an option, it is yet to fully materialize. Waiting for solutions to be implemented is not always possible. People on the ground have been working on alternatives to government plans, taking matters into their own hands. Craig Beckett, a San entrepreneur, healer, and artisan, comes to the rescue with a portable stove design based on San traditional knowledge that provides a plan for a warm plate of food. Beckett grew up in Riverlea, Johannesburg, where he spent a large part of his life. His search for his ancestry took him on a journey to the Northern Cape, where he is very active in Indigenous matters, such as the IYX Indigenous Youth Exchange program. In this program, he teaches youth traditional Khoi and San knowledge, language, and customs. In November 2020, 16 youth learned about natural earth building principles, natural remedies, and Indigenous rights of passage through this program. Beckett considers Indigenous traditions and knowledge a source of pride and a foundation for sustainable living, as well as a source of inspiration for business ideas and activities.
CS: Give us a picture of the economic situation of Indigenous Peoples in South Africa today. CB: The economic situation of the people in the southern part
of Africa is very tricky. There are people who live near metros, people who live in rural areas, and people who live in very remote regions. We tend to think that people living in cities are better off, but it’s not like that. We are all living with similar social ills, some of which include substance and alcohol abuse. Economically, we are not a strong people. We rely on the tourism sector in the north, and further south we have many hawkers; a lot of young people resort to crime to make a living. There are others working on cattle farms, game farms, and other farms, but most of these people are not paid well. Some farm workers are still being paid with alcohol as a bonus after a successful baboon or jackal hunt. Even in caves
Cultural Survival: Craig, tell us about your nickname. Craig Beckett: I call myself “The Bushman.” Although some
people today find this term to be derogatory, this is what we were called by colonists, and we soon called each other Bushmen. To me, it is not offensive. I do not believe in clan names, because I believe that my people are one. I was born in Johannesburg, and I have family in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Namibia, and Botswana.
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Beckett’s stove design.
All photos by Craig Beckett.
where our ancestors drew paintings, we need permits to earn some sort of living from that. Our access is restricted. It is these kinds of acts that put a huge dent on our economic situation. It would be great if we could make a living from who we are in areas such as dance, theater, the arts. Our sisters are beautiful and should be on fashion posters and billboards, but we are always excluded. This has been the case for a long time when it comes to the Aboriginal people of South Africa. Our languages are not taught in schools, although there are 11 official languagesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;ours, which were the first languages spoken here, have not yet been made official. So this exclusion narrative is something that we are too familiar with, and naturally not happy about. Even when it comes to employment, we are way at the bottom when it comes to selection. Our kids matriculate and then roam the streets because parents generally do not have funds to send kids to universities. This is our plight, and it is only in self-reliance that we can overcome this battle. CS: Tell us about the wood burning stove you developed. How does it work? CB: The wood burning stove is unique. It minimizes defores-
tation, chopping down trees in large amounts, because it uses only 250 grams of wood. With this you can boil water, cook rice, or make a stew or curry. It can be used both indoors and outdoors. It is portable; it can be used when camping. It also reduces the risk of fires because of the way it is designed. All you need is a bit of wood, as it does not use any paraffin or oil or any other fuel. The stove is manufactured by a friend of mine in Durban, South Africa, and I travel throughout South Africa selling these wood burning stoves. The product is available for sale only from Indigenous people. If I could give it out for free I would, because I know that there are electricity shortages.
Craig Beckett teaches youth how to build traditional clay stoves. Below: Beckett demonstrates his wood burning stove.
CS: How can people get this product? CB: At this point it is directly sold by me and I can courier it
anywhere in Southern Africa, making use of Postnets services. I take WhatsApp orders on +27720501835 and I send it to you. More details can be found on my Instagram page, @thebushmanwb, or on Facebook, also thebushmanwb.
CS: While this is getting off the ground, how are you making ends meet? CB: I am also an Indigenous healer. I work with plants,
making special ointments and medicines that combat diseases, walking in the footsteps of my ancestors, the San. Ever since I had some nerves damaged in my face, I was interested in finding alternative methods of healing. Growing up in the city, I was exposed to hospitals and conventional ways of healing, but living in the bush has taught me so much more. My exposure to townships and ghettos was also vital in leading me back to the bush. I understand the difference between an urban bushman and a rural bushman. It is this background that has improved my understanding of ailments in both areas. Teas, lotions, and medicine, this is what I am about. I also make Indigenous headgear and walking sticks. In this way I am able to survive and live a life as close to doing what I really want to do as possible. I consider myself to be a poster boy of modern Indigenous youth at the forefront of the revolution of self-awareness and consciousness of my people. Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 â&#x20AC;˘ 19
Investing in Indigenous Power to Build Regenerative Futures Youth canas harvesting.
PennElys Droz and Nikki Pieratos
Photo by Sarah Manning, NDN Collective.
ndigenous people across the world have been building power. We build power through maintaining and passing on our songs, stories, and languages; through prayer, healing, and speaking truth. We build power through defending our lands, waters, and communities through grassroots direct action and international human rights work. And we build power through visioning and creating economic models and practices that reflect our teachings and values and honor our relationships. Our Indigenous governments, seeking to recover from colonial subjugation and dependence, now sometimes engage in the same exploitive economic practices used to decimate our Peoples, causing intense internal conflict. For example, we may forego environmental protections on our lands or sign away our rights as legal sovereigns to attract capital investment. Collective land ownership and community decisionmaking processes are not attractive to most investors, leaving many Nations feeling like they have to set their cultural responsibilities and spiritual values aside as they pursue economic opportunities for their people. As Anishinaabe scholar and activist Renee Gurneau said, “We have become financially dependent on our own cultural destruction.” This has never been acceptable, and now is the time to recreate and reimagine our futures and economies, carrying on the legacies of those who have kept our people, cultures, and values alive. We understand that an inherent part of the liberation of Indigenous Peoples, and all Peoples, is the re-establishment of thriving economies that are independent of colonial control, and, critically, that are based in and reflective of our traditional teachings, understandings, and values. These values are the basis of building a more inclusive and regenerative future that braids together strong economies, equity, planet, and health. NDN Collective, an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power, is centered in these values to transform narratives, investment, philanthropy, and build connected movements to advance the defense, regenerative development, and decolonization efforts of Indigenous Peoples. We believe that by building Indigenous power, we are
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inherently supporting the movement towards equity and justice for all people and the planet. Our work to transform the capitalist space and systems in which we operate is as much a part of our movement building work as our community organizing efforts to stop the Keystone XL pipeline or the border wall construction on Kumeyaay and Tohono O’odham lands. In recognition of this idea, NDN Collective created NDN Fund, the impact investing and lending arm of the Collective. NDN Fund is an emerging national Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) providing financing for large scale Indigenous regenerative community and national development projects that dramatically scale up investment and shift all decisionmaking power to Indigenous Peoples. NDN Fund’s investment strategy is grounded in recognizing the interconnectedness of all things and our responsibilities to our homelands and each other. We provide blended capital, offering debt financing at low rates with flexible terms, and also help align and obtain capital from grant, equity, and other sources where it aligns with our mission. We are developing our capacity building programs so that we can provide customized technical and business services to communities to support development that reflects what is most important to our people and way of life. Our technical assistance also supports advanced industry expertise across our lending areas to help our communities innovate in areas like renewables, housing, social enterprise, and agriculture. NDN Fund is leading the nation in resilient and regenerative finance principles based on our Indigenous values of relationship and kinship. We understand that relationships create life, and it is the quality, balance, and health of our interconnected relationships that determine whether an act is going to be healthy and regenerative of life or not. We place central value on maintaining and regenerating healthy and balanced relationships with the land, all of the beings that give us life, and with each other. NDN Fund prioritizes green and sustainable development practices into our underwriting process, but we equally stress the importance of building resiliency and self-determination among our people. Our Resilient & Regenerative Capital Screen includes questions that prioritize
biomimicry, the related health outcomes, and the types of partnerships and relationships our projects create or strengthen. Part of maintaining good relationships is understanding that generosity, reciprocity, and not taking more than you need is important. We support Indigenous entrepreneurs, businesses, and community development projects that give back to the sources of life and ensure that the benefits of a project, business, or program are felt and received by many. Building too much excess resource without distributing it is counter to the teachings of our cultures and the teachings of the land. We support businesses that value cooperation and collaboration over competition, and who are responsive to feedback and change. Grounded in our values of Indigenous liberation and justice, we support work that uplifts our nationhood, human rights, land rights, and political power. We recognize that the people most impacted by systems of injustice must be the ones to lead the way to justice. The businesses and projects we invest in demonstrate that they serve and are engaged with community and have mechanisms in place for localized decision-making, accountability, and equitability in leadership. Part of NDN Fund and NDN Collective’s work on transformative systems’ change is to help bring this knowledge to the private investment and public sectors that fund most of the larger development projects. We are creating a paradigm shift of how these investors think of investment returns and risk; i.e., today’s financials versus tomorrow’s livelihood. Indigenous communities and Nations from across our territories have been moving this work forward in strong ways, creating businesses and building economies that reflect our values and honor the Earth. One example is the Red Cliff Fish Company in Bayfield, Wisconsin. The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa finalized the construction of their fish processing facility in Fall of 2020. The business not only provides economic opportunity for the community, but is furthering the Tribe’s food sovereignty goals, keeping an ancestral relationship with Lake Superior and the fish while operating a zero-waste processing facility where fish waste is composted for community agriculture at the Red Cliff Mino Bimaadiziiwin Farm. They are sustainably fishing to offer products to the regional market year-round, utilizing ecologically friendly packaging and preserving the health of the ecosystem by closing the fisheries during the spawning period. Another example is Navajo Power, a majority Indigenousowned solar electric development enterprise operating out of the Navajo Nation. In 2020, Navajo Power received NDN Fund’s first loan, consulting support, and equity contributions. They are actively developing utility scale solar utilizing a values-
based business model, providing culturally appropriate technical assistance to their community partners. Navajo Power has an executive compensation cap of 5:1, while 10 percent of the company ownership is held in a “Turquoise Share” that must go to funding community benefits if the company is sold. A minimum of 80 percent of profits are reinvested in new projects and community benefits, and part of the company’s financing obligates them to also invest into off-grid solar to provide electricity to some of the many unelectrified homes on the reservation. NDN Fund is also honored to be investing in Wolakota Regenerative Buffalo Range of South Dakota, a venture operated by the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation through the Rosebud Farm Company. The purpose and work of the Wolakota Regenerative Buffalo Range is to “raise and harvest buffalo using culturally appropriate, humane, and ecologically regenerative practices while restoring our relationship to the land and promoting economic, food, and Tribal sovereignty.” They are engaged in a pilot project to offer community shares and have built strong partnerships to move this work forward, deeply rooted in their responsibility to care for and honor the buffalo and the land. Investing in Indigenous-led development is also a gift for the broader world. An economy that functions based on the perpetual growth of extractive exploitation of land and people is destined to fail. Indigenous creative minds are joined by many others, working to build economies that can provide for the livelihoods of people, protect and conserve natural resources, honor workers, and build the power of entire communities and regional economies rather than preserve concentrated gain for a limited few. Investing in these enterprises and supporting your local Indigenous businesses and trade networks is a strong way to build our free and powerful Nations. With creative determination and relationship building, we can model the systemic transformation of trade and economy from one based on the exploitation of our ecological and human relations toward one based on care, reciprocity, and the regeneration of life. — Dr. PennElys Droz (Anishinaabe/Wyandot) is NDN Collective program officer and NDN Fund steering committee member. Nikki Pieratos (Bois Forte Band of Chippewa) is managing director of the NDN Fund. Learn more: ndncollective.org; redclifffish.com; navajopower.com; rosebudbuffalo.org
Buffalo are sacred in many Native American cultures. Wolakota Regenerative Buffalo Range in Mission, SD, is raising buffalo while restoring relationships to land while promoting economic, food, and Tribal sovereignty. Photo courtesy of Wolakota Regenerative Buffalo Range.
Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 • 21
Dune Lankard canoeing on Sheridan Glacier Lake, Alaska, observing the glacier retreating.
arch 24, 1989 is a day that changed the course of my life forever. I was a full time commercial fisherman when the Exxon Valdez tanker hit Bligh Reef and spewed tens of millions of gallons of crude oil into the waters and onto the pristine beaches of my ancestral homeland in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Since then, Dune Lankard, I have referred to that day as “The founder of Native Day the Water Died.” It wasn’t just Conservancy. the waters that were impacted. Everything was forever changed for the Eyak people—from our way of life as fishermen to our dreams for the future. In the midst of that oil spill crisis, something inside of me came alive and I clearly saw what I needed to do: I had to become louder than everything else, yet remain a voice of reason so people would listen. I have since dedicated my life to defending my people and our land and protecting endangered habitats. We, Eyaks, are wild Copper River Salmon Peoples, along with the upriver Ahtna Athabaskan Peoples. We are the wild Copper River Salmon. We are also the traditional ancestral stewards of the Copper River Delta region. As a result of our tireless preservation work to halt clearcutting by Alaska Native Corporations in the Exxon spill zone, more than 1,000,000 acres between our beloved Copper River Delta and 1,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean to Kodiak are permanently protected from development. I am also deeply invested in reclaiming the dreams and aspirations we once had and which have been so negatively affected not only by that one single disastrous day, but also
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Healing Our Waters, Healing Ourselves Through a Sustainable Economy by the larger system of colonization that continues to impact the way of life of Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americas. I founded Native Conservancy with exactly that vision in mind: to strengthen our inherent rights of sovereignty, subsistence, and spirituality while building resilient communities and regenerative economies that safeguard our lands, waters, and cultural ways of life. When you look at our current economic and political systems and the bigger picture of climate change, including ocean acidification and warming seas, it is easy to become overwhelmed and feel hopeless. Yet, this is not the way the story ends. This is only the beginning. Through stepping up, finding our courage, leaning in with strategic collaboration, networking, building community, and directing our energy (time, money, love), we can change the current trajectory of the planet and build a healthier, more just, robust, and equitable future for our next generations. Our approach to finding solutions is holistic and rooted in our traditional values. It is not just about re-molding the current dysfunctional systems that perpetuate social and economic inequities. It is about reimagining what a just and fair economy can and should be. That is why I founded the Native Conservancy and why my current work is focused on a regenerative and equitable sovereignty model. Key objectives of our nonprofit work are to visualize and manifest the future with the next generation so they can do better than we did. Our current work also focuses on changing our relationship with our food sources and bringing a resilient, regenerative, and restorative economic model to Indigenous communities. One of the ways we are achieving this goal is through kelp All photos by Ayse Gursoz.
farming—an initiative that serves Indigenous communities, and more specifically Native youth and women. We are very aware that we cannot achieve our objectives alone and by using the same pathways that got us into this mess. We are doing both the critical thinking and implementation of the work with a diverse group of nonprofit organizations, academics, and Native partners to create a new business model: “nonprofit + for profit = social profit.” This model will help us change the way we live and enhance our quality of life and the value of our work in the world. Together we are forging a pathway that would help Native villages and small mariculture (kelp and bi-valves) farmers to have a viable chance at a just economy, even while large corporations and seafood processors are making every effort to join the field. At the center of our work is a commitment to lifting our communities in all that we do every day. One of the ways we are doing that is by harvesting, processing, packaging, and delivering traditional foods to our respected and valued elders—an especially essential service during these times of uncertainty with COVID-19 and increased food insecurity. We have chosen kelp farming as a centerpiece of our activities because this industry is growing rapidly across the United States and around the world, presenting many opportunities for coastal Native Alaskans who have been harvesting kelp for millennia. The Chugach region is home to a number of Native Tribes in Chenega, Tatitlek, Eyak (Cordova), Port Graham, Nanwalek, Valdez, and Seward who have thousands of years of collective knowledge and relationships within these waters. For our communities that are still recovering from the impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill 31 years ago, cultivating kelp will strengthen local food systems. It also has the potential to help restore and clean these waters while providing much needed habitat for a number of species, including the Pacific herring, whose populations have continued to decline from 200,000 tons to less than 4,000 tons of herring returning home. Kelp requires minimal input for its cultivation. No fertilizers, pesticides, or arable land are needed for it to grow. Once you have secured your wild local kelp seed, all you need is the ocean, the sun, and a little bit of patience—and what you get is an incredibly nutritious food and a product that can be used for a variety of purposes such as nutraceuticals, compost, fertilizer, biofuels, and many other byproducts. In addition to being a food and excellent fertilizer for on-land farming, kelp offers immense benefits to the environment. It improves water quality, provides valuable habitat for hundreds of ocean species, and it has the potential to mitigate climate change impacts. Kelp can also serve as an incredibly effective carbon sink; estimates suggest that kelp forests can sequester five times the carbon dioxide of terrestrial forests. In other words, growing kelp is a win-win-win for our Native communities, our ailing blue planet, and for creating a new resilient, restorative, and regenerative economy. We are currently in the process of building our first Community Kelp Seed Nursery and conducting research that will allow us to answer a number of challenging questions, including what is the best method for growing, processing, and distributing kelp products. There are also questions about how kelp cultivation can improve and expand habitat for culturally and economically significant species. To address
Ribbon kelp (Alaria Marginata) being harvested in Simpson Bay, Alaska.
these issues, in 2021 Native Conservancy will enact a pilot research project for seven kelp test sites throughout Prince William Sound. The knowledge and best practices derived from these test lines will be shared with a new wave of farmers and community partners, significantly decreasing the risks and learning curve and increasing their opportunity for a successful, efficient, and reliable harvest. We are working to build the foundation for a future economic model that is truly sustainable, and good for the ocean. Our future goals include building the first Native community-run kelp restoration project in the Exxon Valdez spill zone to support Native ownership of wild kelp seed that will empower Native villages to manage their own means of growing kelp. Our pilot project team will be investigating a kelp baseline study on best practices for restoring damaged and struggling ecosystems so that one day, our communities and oceans will celebrate the return of our lost herring runs. Our goal is to build the foundation necessary to support the emerging opportunities for small-scale kelp farmers and farmer collectives throughout Prince William Sound, the Exxon spill zone, and throughout Alaska. For Indigenous entrepreneurs, it is time for First Nation Peoples to imagine an economy that is rooted in Indigenous knowledge, respect, responsibility, and reciprocity with all our fellow humans and all the living beings on Mother Earth. That is what we are building here in Alaska. From the waters that once ran black with oil, we are planting the seeds for a future economy that will heal our waters, our lands, and our Native Peoples. — Dune Lankard is the descendant of the Eagle Clan of the Eyak Tribe who has inhabited the Copper River Delta and eastern Prince William Sound regions of Alaska for the last 3,500 years. He is also a lifelong subsistence and commercial fisherman in the Delta and the Sound, a co-founder of the Eyak Traditional Elders Council, and an Eyak shareholder of both the Eyak (Village) Corporation and the Chugach Alaska (Regional) Corporation. Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 • 23
Building a Business Rooted in Indigenous Values
awn Sherman (Lakota, Shawnee, and Delaware Tribes) is the CEO of Native American Natural Foods LLC, home to the Tanka brand, a B-corp minority certified owned and minority-led company. Recently, Cultural Survival’s Indigenous Rights Radio Producer, Shaldon Ferris (KhoiSan), spoke with Sherman.
Cultural Survival: Tell us how Tanka came to be one of the most recognized Native American-owned brands. Dawn Sherman: Native American Natural Foods was built
out of the Pine Ridge Reservation, which is the people of Oglala Lakota. It was built out of the community from the ground up by two grassroots members and social entrepreneurs, Mark Tilsen and Karlene Hunter, in 2007. Tanka was the first product of its kind and it was based on a timehonored recipe that our ancestors have used (and still use to this day) called wasna. This traditional recipe was modernized by the founders and the Tanka bar was made. The bar itself is tender, savory, and sweet, and the mouthfeel that you’re getting is from the 100 percent bison. It also has tart, sweet cranberries in it. It is a blend of taking the fruit, which has high acidity, and the meat and preserving it. It’s a natural process that we used to preserve meat throughout the months in the winter to sustain us. CS: What are the Indigneous values and principles that the company was built and operates on? DS: In our community, bison is what we call “our sister
nation.” It’s a sacred animal and we were actually born of the buffalo. There’s a sacred place in the Black Hills—we were born from that area within this cave. When we first were born, we actually came out as the four-legged, which was the buffalo. As the rest of our people came out, they stayed people, but we were told to follow the buffalo, that they are our life giver. There’s that direct correlation, because they provide our food, they provide our housing, they provide our clothing, and our economy. They sustained us. Everything we do is to honor the buffalo. The first buffalo that was harvested with Tanka bar was donated by Parks and Rec on our reservation. It was killed ceremoniously and it was all done in prayer. Everything that we do as Tanka and ourselves comes from that creation story, because it’s always honoring the animal. We were told at the beginning of Tanka in prayer that as long as we honor the buffalo, we’ll be successful. We always instill those Indigenous values—taking care of the animals. We’re stewards, you know, we have to take care of them. And the environment. And the Earth. 24 • www. cs. org
Our values, especially on the Pine Ridge Reservation, are in Lakota. There are seven values that are taught throughout our generations from the elders, passed on through our families and throughout the community. These seven values are praying; respect; caring and compassion; honesty and truth; generosity; humility; and wisdom. Those are seven of the values that we really are built on and practice. The company was built from the community on the reservation in South Dakota, so those same values were embedded in the core value of Native American Natural Foods/Tanka. They are part of our company culture and who we are. CS: Tell us about the process of manufacturing a Tanka bar. DS: From an operational standpoint, it takes nine hours to
make a Tanka bar. It is a full day, it’s carefully made. As you take the ingredients and they’re blended together, they’re formed into what you see as the bar, and then that bar is slowsmoked throughout the day. As you’re seeing that, you can imagine that bison and the cranberries and everything being mixed together and formed and then smoked. And then what comes out of that is that tender, sweet, smoky flavor. A “day in the life” of a Tanka bar is actually more than one day. Once it gets made, it gets packaged and shipped to our distribution centers. All of this is managed by our employees. We have several employees on and near the reservation and throughout the United States, so our staff members are making phone calls, making sure everything’s getting shipped in on time to our warehouses. And from there, when our customers order it, our staff members are making sure that that’s fulfilled and shipped out on time to our customers. The nice thing is, operationally, we’re a distance-neutral company. Because we come from an isolated area, you’ll have all the advantages and disadvantages that come from being so isolated. Making sure that we’re able to service all the communities in the United States is really important. A day in the life of operations, it’s done throughout the Nation itself, because for Indigenous communities there are no borders. We’re trying to service all communities. It starts with making a bar in one day, and then it takes another day to get it out and shipped, and then out to our customers so they can enjoy our quality product. CS: How do you source your ingredients? DS: We’re really careful about where we source our ingredients.
We try to stick to Native American-produced ingredients because it’s more sustainable using Indigenous knowledge, and the buffalo is a sacred animal and a sustainable, regenerative food. Wild rice from the Red Lake Nation is in our sticks. You have the bison, which is prairie-fed, 100 percent buffalo, non-GMO organic. Our spices and our cranberries are organic or non-GMO, and we’re gluten free and USDA certified.
CS: The company has weathered some ups and downs, especially related to financing and investment. How have you dealt with these challenges? DS: Being in the food industry, we know that it requires a
lot of capital to be successful, especially since we were the
very first to create this category with a meat and fruit bar. And with that comes all the competitors behind you. As we grew, the competition came in with a lot of money. We are very capital-intensive and privately owned on the reservation in South Dakota, trying to fulfill big goals and a big mission by returning buffalo to the lands, life, and economy of our people, bringing that economy back that was taken away from us. As we grew, we just didn’t have the same financial backing as some of our competitors to compete in some of those big chains. Finance and capital was one of our main obstacles that we had to overcome. Throughout these last few years, it did get pretty competitive and we did struggle. But, we brought in the right partners to support us. We have great support and a great foundation and great people, a great product, and a great mission. We knew we had the recipe and the ingredients to make this successful. It was bringing the right partners in that wanted to fulfill the mission and keep us authentic, because we are the only Native American brand nationally recognized. It just took a lot of work being transparent. Partnerships move at the speed of trust. And recently we were able to close on our round of funding, as well as bringing in some other partners, such as Niman Ranch. They have been a great asset operationally, and they’re a values-based company as well as our equity partners that come in this year. So with that, we added to that recipe. Now we’re on that trajectory to grow and reclaim our space and be who we are. CS: How do you define success for the business? DS: I have to go back to the values of who we are, because
success for us is not monetary—it’s really in taking care of the community and opening doors and providing opportunity. A successful day for us is being able to pass that knowledge down and educate somebody. With every relationship we’re building bridges to break down that isolation on the reservation. How we see success is being able to give back to our community and do what we want to do by restoring the buffalo, the land, and the economies of our people. We always look internally and say, “All right, how have we given back? What have we learned today and what’s the wisdom that we’re going to be able to pass on to everybody else?” As we grow, we just want to make sure to drive that impact back down to the communities. CS: Please share any advice you may have for Indigenous entrepreneurs. DS: Be resilient. You’re going to get a lot of no’s, more no’s
than yes’s. So be resilient and be authentic, knowing you have a good idea and you want it to be successful and surround yourself with those people who are going to build you up. I always use this analogy: you have to face the storm. You’re going to go through a lot of hard times. The buffalo in a snowstorm, they face and walk towards the storm because instinctually they know that they’re going to come out of the storm. And that’s the advice I give everybody. Be resilient, face the storm. It’s going to be tough. But eventually, as you’re walking forward through that storm, you’re going to come out of it. So just build that support group around you, your herd, who you are. Build that herd around you.
All photos courtesy of native american natural foods.
Cultural Survival Quarterly December 2020 • 25
KO EF G r a n t Pa rt n e r Spot li g h t E x chang e on O ur T e rms
Cxhab Wala Kiwe Implements Own Currency
Planning for the community currency pilot project.
Bia’ni Madsa’ Juárez López (CS STAFF)
Out of 19 submissions, the winning design of the currency design contest for the pilot project was by Hernando Reyes Artunduaga.
26 • www. cs. org
n an effort spanning several decades, the struggle for Indigenous autonomy continues in communities around the world. A focal point for gaining autonomy is economic freedom, as economic freedom drives growth, innovation, and mobility. Indigenous communities continue to explore the meaning of economic freedom in their own communities and look for alternatives to mainstream systems. One organization in Colombia that is working to enrich their community economically is Cxhab Wala Kiwe, which translates to “Great People’s Territory” in the Nasa Yuwe language. Cxhab Wala Kiweas is also known as Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas Norte del Cauca (ACIN). Made up of 22 Indigenous Nasa reservations and seven community projects with their respective representatives, ACIN is working to implement an alternative currency that facilitates the exchange of their members’ own products, goods, and services. ACIN understands the importance of protecting domestic production because for a long time they have been surrounded by threats from paramilitary groups, transnational economic projects, and the federal government; it is from this context that the communities of northern Cauca formed ACIN. As Libia Sandoval Buritica (Nasa), coordinator of ACIN’s project, Complementary Currency for the Sovereignty of the Territory, explains, “The conflict with the government is our daily bread because our proposals are always focused on autonomy and independence, focused on freedom and the protection All photos courtesy of Libia Sandoval and ACIN.
of natural resources and the protection of the human resource of life. Unfortunately one has to say about our government— it is not said by me, everyone knows it—here the government is one of the most violent and corrupt in the world.” The hope has been that congresses, councils, and internal assemblies can strengthen community mobilization to defend Indigenous territories with the needs of the community in mind. To protect and generate self-sufficiency, ACIN assists with economic solidarity projects concerning agricultural production, artisanal transformation, semi-industrial agriculture, livestock raising, and energy production. In accordance with ACIN’s mission to achieve political, economic, and territorial autonomy, the establishment of their own currency will help achieve territorial sovereignty. It will also advance the conversation about who has the right to land and its natural resources and normalize an economic system based on community transactions, which will help increase the levels of well being in the community. The idea of alternative currency arose from the economic difficulties in the region, due in large part to the lack of cash and problems in the marketing of products. The communities identified that goods sold locally were mainly from outside companies that offered processed products such as soft drinks and chips, while foods that were produced locally, such as yogurts, were not sold equally due to competition from outside companies. This is why ACIN and communities took action. “Within our policies, we strive to generate food autonomy, economic autonomy, political autonomy, and territorial autonomy. So what the comrades did was join associations within the territory to produce their own food such as dairy products and juices. We have managed to displace some of the external products; however, this did not happen in all territories,” explains Sandoval. Despite the progress made, not all territories have managed to fully regulate the purchase and sale of local products. For this reason, in 2018, community members called a congress to seek solutions to this problem. The Indigenous council of the Cxhab Wala Kiwe presented the proposal of local currency. The practical and pedagogical exercise was carried out, people saw how well it worked, and it was concluded that a currency should be made for the Nasa communities of northern Cauca. The currency is defined by ACIN as a long-term project. Work on this issue began 12 years ago, and despite the long context of social conflicts in the area, they have persevered. In a recent call for proposal to 22 Indigenous communities, 19 responded with their own coin designs to a contest where the design was collectively chosen. Currently, and with the support of Cultural Survival’s Keepers of the Earth Fund, ACIN is conducting trainings on the alternative currency for colleagues who will take the experience to all ACIN territories. The pilot project was established in the Indigenous reservation in Munchique los Tigres. Sandoval says, “From there we began to expand to the other Indigenous reservations. We already have some who are in line wanting to handle the currency, so they are in that process. Being very ambitious, I hope that in five years the currency will be working throughout the Cxhab Wala Kiwe territory. That is my dream and I hope we can fulfill it.”
ACIN recognizes that having a currency is a necessary part of a mercantile system embedded in the global trading system. However, the entire process is always done following their Indigenous values, including the permission of the elders and with the involvement of communities. Respect for Mother Earth is the main value that governs their work, Sandoval says. “We never contemplate exploitation, because [land] is not ours . . . it is precisely because we are very much against multinational and government systems that sell our territories and grant concessions from our territories.” ACIN dreams and works so that in the future, in addition to an alternative currency, they can set up their own bank to manage their resources. Cultural Survival is proud to collaborate with ACIN’s project, and we hope that the currency will serve as an exchange tool that will circulate exclusively within the resguardo (reservation). The use of this alternative currency will add to individual community projects, which bring attention and much needed funding for the community. The currency also provides protection for domestic production and reduces the entry of foreign products since large companies do not accept it. The protection of internal production and the reduction of external production is essential to economic autonomy. Sandoval believes that Indigenous Peoples can achieve territorial and economic autonomy. “What I can tell you is that you simply dream and continue with the dynamic that makes you economically strong, but also identify what is weakening you and find out how to solve the issue. Because in walking, one only knows what is hurting us if we stop and examine, and maybe switch directions. One cannot continue doing the same thing and expect different results. You have to dare to do something different so that things change and work. You have to continue investigating. I invite you to analyze the issue of currencies, and if at any time you need some recommendations, we are here and open to sharing our experiences.” Currency use training in the community.
Cultural CulturalSurvival SurvivalQuarterly Quarterly December 2020 • 27
st af f s po t lig h t
(Onʌyoteˀa·ká), Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communications
ultural Survival is honored to welcome Daisee Francour to our team as our new Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communications. She is Haudenosaunee and an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin with relations to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy in upstate New York and Canada. She was born and raised on the Oneida Indian Reservation in Wisconsin and comes from a matrilineal society and a long line of strong Indigenous women. “My mother and aunties taught me to always stand firm in my truth, to never compromise my values, and to always speak up in matters of injustice,” she says. Francour grew up immersed in her culture and is actively learning her Indigenous language alongside her family of six. She is a self-described artist, auntie, community member, Indigenous rights activist, and storyteller. Francour holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from Adler University in Chicago and a bachelors in Sociology and Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. She comes to Cultural Survival with over a decade of experience working in philanthropy, at non-profit organizations, in grassroots organizing, and as a direct service provider in education, mental health, and corrections, where she has served Indigenous Peoples with disabilities/special needs, domestic violence victims, the homeless, and formerly incarcerated inmates. “I grew up surrounded by my peers who were often criminalized for just being Indigenous. I saw them go in and out of the criminal justice system disporpotionately, and at a young age, I learned that our people were always on the frontlines of oppression and discrimination. I knew that the system was flawed and was designed to keep us on the lowest tier of civil society, so as a teen I decided I wanted to help transform the system so it would help our people, not destroy us,” Francour says about her motivation to get into her current line of work. Francour’s experience in advocacy 28 • www. cs. org
and movement-building work made her a radical woman in philanthropy. As a former program officer at the Christensen Fund she managed the San Francisco Bay Area program, where she worked with Indigenous communities and organizations to support their efforts in stewarding and revitalizing biocultural diversity, traditional knowledge, Indigenous food systems, Indigenous languages, and sovereignty. Later, she transitioned into a consulting role as a strategist, resource mobilizer, organizational development consultant, and philanthropic advisor, supporting Indigenous organizations locally and globally. “As someone who worked directly with Indigenous Peoples, providing them with the support and services needed to sustain their livelihoods, transitioning into philanthropy allowed me to continue that,” she says. “But I quickly learned that philanthropy is also flawed and inequitable in the amount of resources directed to Indigenous Peoples. Philanthropy has yet to fully grasp the importance Indigenous Peoples have in maintaining their environments and our expert knowledge in reversing climate change, conflict resolution, and maintaining balance in the natural world.” Francour’s work empowers Tribes, Nations, and Indigenous-led institutions
to build their capacity, leadership, and organizational infrastructure, and develop holistic strategies to support their resource generation and organizational sustainability. As an Indigenous fundraiser, philanthropic advisor, and donor educator, she builds capacity by transforming people’s understanding of Indigenous rights, Indigenous issues, biocultural diversity, climate and social justice, and other regenerative systems. Francour says she is excited to join the Cultural Survival team: “Cultural Survival has been on my radar for many years and I have deeply admired the work it does to empower Indigenous communities in a variety of capacities via multiple layers of intentional and holistic support. Joining an organization with a 48-year legacy is exciting. To co-create a holistic vision and implement it alongside other incredible Indigenous women, men, and allies is a privilege. I feel that I have found my home outside of home, and I know my ancestors are behind me in this new journey. I am so honored to join Cultural Survival and their resilient team to bring my experience, love, and passion for Indigenous rights and decolonized/ Indigenized systems to this community. In ukwehuwehnéha, the Oneida language, we say, ‘ʌkahake kalihwiyose,’ which means, good things are ahead.”
Ba z aa r spotligh t
Berber Art Market
Keeping Our Culture Alive for Future Generations
erber Art Market’s handwoven rugs are unique pieces of art. Based in the heart of Algeria in Ghardaïa, “the Pearl of the Oasis,” Berber Art Market operates out of the home city of the Amazigh Peoples, Beni M’Zab. The ancient city of Ghardaïa, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was founded almost 1,000 years ago in the M’Zab Valley in the Sahara Desert. Rug weaving has long been a major family craft in the region. Berber Art Market founder, Hocine Bazine, is proud of this connection to his heritage. “Our authentic Berber handwoven rugs are of high quality and are handmade with 100 percent sheep wool or pearl cotton with knowledge and skills passed down from our ancestors,” he says. These beautiful rugs are sought after for many home décor purposes— for living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, or entryways, and for hanging on walls. In the age of factory-made goods, Bazine credits his grandmother for passing her weaving knowledge and love for the craft to him. “I have loved this art ever since I was a child. I learned rug weaving from my grandmother,” he says. “At a young age I had the pleasure of watching her create the most exquisite rugs, and go through the whole process of drying wool, arranging lines on the traditional hand loom, and producing a beautiful piece of art. I am grateful to those who encouraged me to save this heritage and fine art.” Berber rugs are woven for many purposes: for decoration, or for more utilitarian purposes such as bed coverings or sleeping mats. A local tradition is to furnish a bride’s room in handwoven rugs. Bazine details the painstaking process of production. He explains that one of the most elaborate weaving techniques, carried out by specialized artisans, is the wrap, which is the essential part in a rug. In this technique, “the vertical yarn must be attached to the upper and bottom beam. The loom works to hold the threads vertically in place and allows the interweaving of the weft horizontally. The basic concept of weaving is to intersect the longitudinal threads, the warp, with the transverse threads, the weft (or woof). When the yarn is stretched and fastened to the loom, that would create a taut warp. It starts by working from the bottom to top. Hand loomed is a slow process that allows for the creation of durable weaves and highly detailed Berber patterns.” Women generally work in all stages of drying and cleaning the wool, while men assist in weaving and applying designs and
Above: Hocine Bazine at the Cultural Survival Bazaar at the Prudential Center in Boston, December 2018. Left: Weaving on a vertical handloom. Below: Traditional Amazigh rug design.
drawings. The weavers use dyed scale of wool in various shades in white, red, brown, blue, grey, and black. In 2006, Bazine started working on some new techniques that allowed him to save time and effort while producing the same results. In 2012, he started his own business, Berber Art Market, as an independent weaver. “It was then,” he says, that “I realized that I had to keep this noble art alive for the next generations. Many Berber families gain their daily bread from manufacturing rugs and carpets. I strive to help families rise out of poverty by buying their wool and employing them as weavers. Keeping my Berber culture and its legacy alive motivates me to work harder and harder.” Since founding Berber Art Market, Bazine has also begun traveling to exhibit his art, participating in different exhibitions such as the U.S. Embassy Bazaar and at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has also participated in the Cultural Survival Bazaars several times since 2018. In Bazine’s home region of Ghardaïa there isn’t much tourism, so access to market is a significant obstacle for artisans. Many artisans also lack tools for development and access to transportation. Yet, Bazine remains undaunted: “I have a great desire to carry out my mission. For each obstacle, I try to find a solution. My goal and passion is helping lots of families out of poverty by offering them a source to earn a living. This, in addition to keeping our culture and legacy alive, is a motivation to work more and more. All those things grew through me and encouraged me to continue this heritage and save this noble art.” Missed the virtual winter Cultural Survival Bazaar series? Watch it and support Indigenous artists at bazaar.cs.org. Cultural Cultural Survival Survival Quarterly Quarterly December December 2020 2020 •• 29 29
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