Cultural Survival Q
Leaders Today, elders Tomorrow
Vol. 45, Issue 2 • JUN 2021 US $4.99/CAN $6.99
J une 2021 Vo lum e 45 , Issue 2 Board of Directors president
Kaimana Barcarse (Kanaka Hawai’i) Vice President
Cultural Survival Indigenous Media Youth Fellow Carolina Rain Ancan (Mapuche) in the field filming about medicinal plants. Learn more about her work on page 20. Photo courtesy of Carolina Rain Ancan.
Steven Heim Clerk
Nicole Friederichs Valine Brown (Haida) Duane Champagne (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) Evelyn Arce Erickson (Muisca) Laura Graham Stephen Marks Tui Shortland (Ma–ori) Jannie Staffansson (Saami) Stella Tamang (Tamang) FOUNDERS David & Pia Maybury-Lewis Cultural Survival Headquarters 2067 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140 t 617.441.5400 f 617.441.5417 www.cs.org Cultural Survival Quarterly Copy Editor: Jenn Goodman Designer: NonprofitDesign.com Contributing Arts Editor: Phoebe Farris Managing Editor: Agnes Portalewska Copyright 2021 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.
F e at u r e s
D e pa r t m e n t s
10 Two Sisters, Two Movements Raven Lacerte and Sage Lacerte
1 Executive Director’s Message
(Lake Babine Nation) Two young leaders in Canada are working toward Indigenous empowerment and rematriation.
12 The Volcanic Force of María Mercedes Coroy Diana Pastor (Maya K’iche’)
Actress María Mercedes Coroy (Maya Kaqchikel) is inspiring youth to be proud of their Indigenous heritage.
14 Putting the Pieces Together
16 The Power of Ritual on the Path to Womanhood Sabantho Aderi (Lokono-Arawak)
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.
In the Lokono-Arawak Tribe in Suriname, becoming a traditional woman comes with many rites and responsibilities.
Somaya Jimenez-Haham (Maya Mam) Mia Beverly (Sandhill Band of Cherokee and Lenape) shares her path to food activism rooted in her identities.
Youth on Climate Justice
6 Indigenous Arts
Filmmaker Daunnette MonizReyome (Umo nho n)
8 Rights in Action
Uplifting Children’s Voices in Samoa
26 Keepers of the Earth Fund Grant Partner Spotlight
Makxtum Kgalhaw Chuchutsipi, Mexico
28 Staff Spotlight Gabael Otzoy (Maya Kaqchikel)
29 Bazaar Artist
Sebastian Palomino Jimenez (Quechua)
20 Youth Strengthening Indigenous Communication Through Media
Cultural Survival Indigenous Media Youth Fellows share their experiences. • Representing Ourselves and Documenting the Knowledge of Our Elders—Carolina Trayen Rain Ancan (Mapuche) • Racing Against Time to Save the Kusunda Language in Nepal—Arnab Chaudhary (Tharu) • Art Sustains the History of a Community— Lorena Jamioy Tisoy (Inga-Kamëntsá)
24 Sparking the Creative Essence of Youth in South Africa Shaldon Ferris (KhoiSan) ii • www. cs. org
4 Climate Change “Let Us Be Heard:” Indigenous
18 The Radical Act of Being
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.
Quinton Cabellon (Tule River Yokuts) A journey of reclaiming Indigeneity.
2 In the News
IYX Radio is revolutionary, run by Indigenous youth, and the first of its kind in South Africa.
Cover photo: Maya Kaqchikel youth from Colectivo Casa Lúdica chi Xot from Comalapa, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, posing in front of their mural, Räx Nuk'u'x (My Heart is Green) painted for Earth Day. It is a tribute to the guardians of the forests of their ancestral lands and a testimony to the youth’s interest in continuing to practice Indigenous ways of caring for Mother Earth, “to transform the way we see and treat her to weave our original harmony with her.” Muralist Roxana Chalí designed and coordinated the project from the artwork of youth who participated in a muralism contest. Learn more about Comalapa, home to Cultural Survival’s staff member Gabael Otzoy on page 28. Learn more about the mural: bit.ly/3yrfWk8. Photo by Edgar Otzoy Chex (Maya Kaqchikel).
Ex e cutiv e Dir e ctor’S m ess ag e
Our Youth Are Our Futures Dear Cultural Survival Community,
am proud to share this latest issue of the CSQ magazine with you, dedicated to Indigenous youth. Indigenous youth are our future. They are the Seventh Generation. In my culture, elders are not identified by their age, but rather by their potential to contribute to the wisdom of our ancestors. The most powerful elders exhibit their elderhood at an early age. It is today like no other, we see our elders, young and older, rising as today’s time demands deep healing, decolonization, and Indigenizing our ways and life on Mother Earth. Every day I am inspired by young people working to reclaim Indigenous lands, foods, identities, and knowledge; revitalize their Indigenous languages, traditions, and lifeways; and fight for representation, inclusion, participation, and the fulfillment of Indigenous rights and the protection of the planet. Indigenous youth are at the forefront of change and pushing for radical reimagination of what is possible. They are shattering colonial norms and Indigenizing spaces. In this issue, we share the stories of Indigenous youth from five continents. They are taking action on climate change, revitalizing traditions, creating cutting edge media through an Indigenous worldview, advocating for youth and children’s rights, uplifting their communities through rematriation, entrepreneurship, and financial investment, as well as working on language revitalization and food sovereignty. Many are breaking stereotypes and becoming role models for other youth, ensuring that Indigenous representation matters. For some, the path to claiming their Indigenous identities has not been easy. But they are using their voices to create lasting change and raise awareness of the issues Indigenous youth and their communities face. At Cultural Survival, we have long supported youth leadership in our programs. Most recently, our Indigenous Community
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 Avexnim Cojtí (Maya K’iche’), Director of Programs Verónica Aguilar (Mixtec), Program Assistant, Keepers of the Earth Fund Bryan Bixcul (Maya Tz’utujil), Executive Assistant Jessie Cherofsky, Advocacy Program Researcher Danielle DeLuca, Advocacy & Development Manager Shaldon Ferris (Khoisan), Indigenous Radio Program Coordinator Sofia Flynn, Accounting & Office Manager
Media Youth Fellowship has supported 33 youth since 2018, and our 2021 cohort includes another 16 talented young people who you will meet over the coming months. They are creating incredible work in media rooted in Indigenous traditions and values aimed at revitalizing their languages, traditions, and cultural identities. We share the stories of four of our Youth Fellows in this issue. As you may know, we are celebrating the 45th anniversary of our CSQ magazine, which promotes and amplifies Indigenous voices in print, and we are also fast approaching Cultural Survival’s 50th anniversary in 2022. Please join us in celebrating 49 years of milestones and our growing team of Indigenous leaders by donating to our #CS50 campaign today. Gifts from partners like you make up over a third of our revenue, and your support plays a critical role in the success of our organization. Thank you for your continued support and ongoing commitment to upholding Indigenous rights and self-determination worldwide! In deep gratitude,
Nati Garcia (Maya Mam), Indigenous Community Media Youth Fellowship Coordinator Rosy Gonzales, Program Manager, Indigenous Rights Radio Adriana Hernández (Maya K'iche'), Strategic Partnerships Coordinator Dev Kumar Sunuwar (Kumar/Sunuwar), Community Media Program Coordinator Danae Laura, Bazaar Program Manager Maria del Rosario “Rosy” Sul González (Kaqchikel), Indigenous Radio Program Coordinator Bia’ni Madsa’ Juárez López, (Mixe/Ayuuk ja’ay & Zapotec/Binnizá), Keepers of the Earth Fund Program Manager Jamie Malcolm-Brown, Communications & Information Technology Manager Teresita Orozco Mendoza, Community Media Training Coordinator Amparo Monzón (Maya K’iche), Program Assistant, Community Media & Indigenous Rights Radio Programs 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’), Media Coordinator Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager Angelica Rao, Human Resources Coordinator Sócrates Vásquez (Ayuujk), Program Manager, Community Media Miranda Vitello, Development Associate
Galina Angarova (Buryat) Executive Director
INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS Freya Abbas, Eileen Calub, Stefany Gomez, Jacklyn Janeksela, Somaya Jimenez-Haham, Laura Navitsky, Elia Robles, Mariana Sanborn, Marjorie Talavera, Veronica Valente, Katia Yoza Mitsuishi
Stay connected Celebrating 5 Decades of Indigenous Rights and Resilience
www.cs.org Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 1
i n t he new s Canada: W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations Recover Island February
The W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations will recover SISȻENEM, an island in British Columbia that forms part of their territory and is culturally important. The transfer of land title to the First Nations community will give them the power to protect biodiversity, culture, traditions, and Indigenous rights.
On May 2, the EZLN set sail for Europe for a mission of solidarity and rebellion. Photo courtesy of Voices of Movement Twitter page.
Canada: Magpie River Is First Canadian River to Receive Personhood February
The Magpie River is the first river in Canada to receive legal personhood, following precedent set in Ecuador and New Zealand. Personhood was granted after a decade of demands by the local municipality of Minganie, the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and several environmental groups following irreparable damage caused by the Hydro-Québec dam.
U.S.: Lower Sioux Indian Community Recovers Land February
On February 12, 114 acres of land near Redwood Falls, Minnesota, were returned to the Lower Sioux Indian Community after 20 years of legal battles.
U.S.: Indigenous Mobilization Halts Fracking Project March
A fracked natural gas terminal project was cancelled due to the opposition of Indigenous communities and local organizations in Brownsville, Texas. The proposed Annova LNG terminal would have destroyed wildlife and put Esto’k Gna sacred sites and lands at risk.
Canada: First Bachelor’s Degree of Indigenous Language Fluency Offered March
The University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, located in the territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, became the first university in Canada and one of the first in the world to offer a 2 • www. cs. org
bachelor’s degree in an Indigenous language. The Bachelor of Nsyilxcn Language Fluency program is designed to work along with Nsyilxcn speakers and promote a deeper understanding of language, culture, and customs.
U.S.: North Dakota Bill Requires Schools to Teach Native American History April
With a vote of 72-21, ND Senate Bill 2304 passed requiring Native American history to be taught in North Dakota’s elementary and secondary schools. The bill was authored by Rep. Ruth Buffalo (D) (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation).
Canada: Madawaska Maliseet Receive Compensation of $145 million April
The Madawaska Maliseet First Nation will receive $145 million CAD from the federal government over a disputed land claim of 15.78 square kilometers. The original dispute started in 1966, but the claim was not validated until 2017. It has taken an additional four years of negotiations to arrive at a settlement.
India: Indigenous Peoples Gain Seats in Tripura April
The newly formed Tipraha Indigenous People’s Regional Alliance party from the State of Tripura in northeast India has won seats in a recent election, defeating India’s ruling party, BJP, and giving Indigenous Peoples there the right to their own political decision making.
U.S.: Missing & Murdered Unit Created in Bureau of Indian Affairs April
United States Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo), announced the formation of a new Missing & Murdered Unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services to address the epidemic of missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Mexico: Zapatistas Set Sail to Europe May
A delegation of two men and five women from the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) departed for Spain from Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico, on May 2 for a mission of solidarity and rebellion. The voyage marks the anniversary of the 1519– 1521 Spanish Conquest, 500 years after Hernán Cortés and his men invaded Mexico.
Mexico: Government Apologizes to Maya Peoples May
May 3 marked the anniversary of a 1901 battle that ended one of the last Indigenous rebellions in North America. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador issued an apology in Tihosuco in the Maya township of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, the headquarters of the rebellion, for centuries of brutal exploitation and discrimination.
Advocacy Updates U.S.: Department of Interior Withdraws Appeal in Mashpee Tribe’s Land-in-Trust Case February
In a major victory for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s land rights, the U.S. Department of the Interior on February 19 withdrew a Trump administration-era appeal in U.S. District Court that aimed to revoke federal reservation designation for the Tribe’s land in Massachusetts. A federal judge in 2020 had blocked the attempted action. The Trump administration appealed that decision, but the current Department of the Interior, led by Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo), withdrew the appeal. This comes after a long battle for Tribal sovereignty rooted in the Tribe’s plan for a $1 billion casino in Taunton, Massachusetts. In 2015, the Obama administration approved the Tribe’s decision to put 321 acres of land in trust. But in 2016, a group of Taunton residents sued, claiming that the Mashpee Wampanoag did not qualify as an Indian Tribe according to the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. A federal judge agreed, and the Tribe was informed in March 2020 that their land rights would be reversed. The recent withdrawal of the appeal effectively ends this attack on Mashpee land rights. In a statement, Tribal vice-chairwoman jessie “little doe” baird said, “We look forward to being able to close the book on this painful chapter in our history.... The decision not to pursue the appeal allows us to continue fulfilling our commitment to being good stewards and protecting our land and the future of our young ones and providing for our citizens.”
Brazil: Krenak Peoples Submit Intervention to UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues April
The Vanuire Indigenous Territory of Krenak and Kaingang communities of Tupa, along with Cultural Survival, submitted an intervention to the 20th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It reads, in part: “We, Krenak and Kaingang, are people from the Caatinga and the Atlantic Forest. We live in small territories surrounded by agribusiness and the colossal industry of Sao Paulo state. We defend what remains of our forest and biome.” The statement describes the extreme hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and calls on UN member states to urge the Brazilian government to fulfill their courtordered obligations to build sanitary barriers and to protect Indigenous communities. “Despite [an August 2020] court
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.
order, the Federal government did not implement the barriers, delayed medical care, delayed vaccines, and has left us vulnerable. We decry that since taking office, the Bolsonaro administration has demonstrated a disregard and hostility towards Indigenous Peoples. Numerous examples show Bolsonaro’s negligence while refusing to act to protect or prevent COVID-19 infections among Indigenous Peoples, which contributed decisively to the exponential spread of COVID and the widespread infection and death.” Nepal: Joint Intervention Submitted to UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues April
The Sunuwar Welfare Society along with Cultural Survival, and the Indigenous Media Foundation jointly brought to the attention of the Forum the human rights violations of Indigenous Peoples of Nepal by the aggressive pursuit of hydropower generation in the lands and territories of Indigenous Peoples without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent and without adequate compensation. Currently, there are 84 hydropower projects being carried out across Nepal with investment from development banks and private companies. Another 217 hydropower projects have already obtained licenses. These projects are being carried out on Indigenous lands where communities are often entirely dependent upon rivers for their livelihoods. Hydroelectricity generation has destroyed cultural and spiritual sites, caused environmental and economic impacts, and displacement of Sunuwar Indigenous Peoples along with Sherpa and other non-Indigenous communities who have inhabited the area for generations. Companies have used force backed by government and police and have now completed half of their construction. UN member states are called on to urge the Nepali government to make hydropower developers and financiers accountable for protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to set standards of compensation for harms and damages caused. They also ask for benefit sharing and access to information in Indigenous languages, and to ensure that hydropower developers implement impact mitigation measures.
Read more news at www.cs.org/latest.
Cultural CulturalSurvival SurvivalQuarterly Quarterly June June 2021 2021 • 3
cl i mat e ch a n g e
“Let Us Be Heard” Indigenous Youth Speak on Climate Justice
uring the climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic, Indigenous youth are defending their identities and lands. Roxana Borda Mamani, a Quechua activist from Peru; Jorge Andrés Forero-González, a Muisca activist from Colombia; and Darien Andres Castro Recalde, an Ecuadorian activist working alongside Indigenous communities, spoke to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee about their perspectives on what climate justice means for Indigenous youth. They are members of the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition, a global network of youth activists committed to driving action to mitigate loss and damage due to climate change.
How does it feel to be an Indigenous youth today? Roxana Borda Mamani: Being an Indigenous youth is not a privilege. During the pandemic we have been forgotten. We are not the priority of the government when it should be important for them to protect the Native Peoples of their nation. And as if that were not enough, during the pandemic, they’ve taken advantage of illegal logging and timber extraction while murdering environmental defenders. But as Indigenous youth, we will lead and stand in defense of our lands and our identity. In that way, we are a strategic ally in the fight against climate change. Darien Andres Castro Recalde: The young future leaders of Indigenous communities represent a segment of the population that is always marginalized by the whole economic and political system, even though we contribute to the development of the country. But youth will lead and we will defend our lands and communities. Jorge Andrés Forero-González: I am a campesino son and grandson and my ancestors are Muisca from the territory of Boyaca in Colombia. Being an Indigenous youth means learning from our traditions and nature as to how to protect Mother Earth. It is a responsibility of our people to do so and to protect all the
4 • www. cs. org
species on this beautiful planet. It means preparing ourselves to fight against the capitalist system and the destructive values of economic, political, and social systems. How does climate change affect your community? Roxana Borda Mamani: Ten years ago, my community used only rain to water our corn crops. Now, due to climate change, we must rely on irrigation. The temperature is increasing and the rain cycles are affected. Rain has become more sporadic; some rainy seasons get little rain if any at all, some rains are so strong that the plants cannot withstand it and die. In those situations the community does not produce corn, which is a staple food in our diet. Diseases and pests have become more prevalent. The sporadic nature of our crops is one reason that we have to emigrate. Last year, there were frosts for the first time that killed potato and corn seedlings on land that families cultivated for their food and livelihood. These damages are mostly affecting small farmers, people who do not have [access to] information, so they are not attributing these changes to climate change but just to abnormal weather. If basic food is not produced in the countryside, cities are also affected by the increase in prices. Climate change is affecting the most vulnerable zones, rural communities, and Indigenous villages. When there is a lack of wind and prolonged droughts, the water levels in rivers drop, making it difficult for fisherfolk to fish. Here where I live, we don’t have access to basic services like energy. I can only access the internet now because an effort was made to install a solar panel and internet satellite. We collect the rain in buckets and care for it as if it is something precious because it is what we have. There is a river, but it is very polluted. Nothing is being done to protect it. They know it is exploited, they know they are cutting down trees, they know they are using chemicals, but are doing nothing about it. Laws exist to protect the land, but they are not enforced. Now, where
Top: Intag Cloud Forest, Natural Reserve of Intag, Imbabura Ecuador. Photo by Darien Castro. Middle: Meeting with Indigenous Communities of Orellana and Pastaza. L-R: Silvana Nihua (Wao), Darien Castro, Alicia Salazar (Sarayaku), Alexa Narvaez (Siona) at Pontifical Catholic University Social Sciences Auditorium. Photo by Darien Castro. Bottom: Roxana Borda Mamani (Quechua) in FESC-4 UNAM, México, collecting field samples of agricultural crops: corn, sunflower, and beans that present phytopathological signs. Photo by Marcos Espadas Reséndiz.
I live, they are cutting down part of the Amazon and also using chemicals to grow crops. Darien Andres Castro Recalde: In Ecuador, one of the
effects of climate change is the lack of access to basic services for certain populations, which is exacerbated by resource extraction like mining and the petroleum industry. A clear example is the degradation of potable water sources. These ecosystems capture and provide water for human consumption not just for villages, but for the big cities like Quito. We have observed alarming increases in temperatures in the moors. There has been a drastic decrease in snow cover in the last 20 years. The Andes tell us that climate change is affecting us now. Water basins are also affected by mining construction in the mountains. They are disrupted by pollution from industrial agriculture and mining, including through heavy metal contamination. This affects the food sovereignty of people who depend on agriculture to live. In Ecuador, our constitution guarantees well being and the protection of the environment, but it is not fulfilled. Jorge Andrés Forero-González: Climate change is not the problem—it is who produces it. The responsibility falls especially to governments, corporations, and the capitalist values of destruction and selfishness. These values came to the world with the industrial revolution and colonization by European powers; today it comes from the United States, China, and the Western European countries. In Colombia and the Global South, deforestation is especially dangerous in unique ecosystems like the Amazon. But this same destruction is faced by the communities in countries like the United States, Canada, and Australia. Climate change is a result of capitalism, and with capitalism, all of us are losing. What do Indigenous youth offer the world to address loss and damage and climate-forced displacement? Roxana Borda Mamani: To educate, we must unlearn. We gain knowledge from our grandparents and our parents. Youth appreciate this as invaluable knowledge and a tool for the present and future. Youth are also community leaders that can teach others about how to work the land, control diseases and illnesses, and offer different ways of treating the sick. Regarding the use of medicinal plants, who knows them better than Indigenous communities, our grandparents, our ancestors? To face the climate crisis, we must focus on solutions in nature and the environment. But development is eliminating the solutions. We don’t know how to listen to nature and use nature’s solutions because we are not listening to the advice of Indigenous Peoples, especially elders, who have lived here for thousands of years. They can contribute their knowledge, their way of working, caring, and protecting our planet. People need to be willing to listen and let us be heard. Jorge Andrés Forero-González: We offer hope and health. We offer lived experience of how to live without capitalist values and restrictions. Our principles are different: buen vivir (living well), vivir sabroso (live with flavor), suma kawsay (protect and learn from nature to enjoy life). We are ready with young energy to fight with peace and love, and taking collective actions against capitalism and the Northern development powers that want to destroy the planet.
What is your message to readers? Darien Andres Castro Recalde: Any initiative, no matter how small, can generate short and long-term impacts. You don’t need to have many resources; you need to have the initiative, and above all you need to have the power to speak up when you have something to say. Roxana Borda Mamani: We, the youth, are a large population, and with our strengths we can achieve anything. The climate crisis is an environmental crisis. It doesn’t matter what language you use: climate change affects everything. We must remain united and get youth to join the cause. We can be that light that illuminates others and helps others ignite their own light, and we can contribute to reducing the effects of climate change. Jorge Andrés Forero-González: The message is not mine, it’s from the planet Earth: climate change, and also COVID-19, are telling us that it is time to end the era of capitalism and petroleum. We can live without destroying nature. Before capitalism our communities had their own problems, but never destroyed the planet like in the last 200 years. It is time to change and we must do it quickly. What is the key message that you would like the world to know ahead of the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26)? Darien Andres Castro Recalde: We need representation and active participation of the political leaders of each country. We cannot continue to ignore vulnerable groups. There needs to be more access to education and technological development in Indigenous territories. There needs to be support for human rights in the great debates that are taking place about extractivist projects that not only violate human rights, but also food sovereignty and other citizens’ rights. Roxana Borda Mamani: It’s not only that they listen, it’s not only that they give attention and support, but also that they give space to those who most need it. The proposals and suggestions of the communities have not been heard. The solution lies in nature, in the Amazon, in the environment. And those who know how to handle that knowledge, those who have access to it, are the communities that can share these solutions. We can achieve whatever we want as long as there is unity and perseverance. Water scarcity, the violence of war, natural resource extraction, renewable energy—these are the battles that the next generation will have to confront, and those of us who are here now have to build that bridge so that future generations can continue to grow from the small gains we are making. Jorge Andrés Forero-González: If this is not the last COP, we will lose the war against the capitalist powers. It is time to learn from the “poor people” of the world that don’t have money, but have all the knowledge to protect the planet.
This article was made possible with editorial support from Domenica Jamarillo, Sadie DeCoste, Kervelle Baird, Meghan Finn, and Salote Soqo.
Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 5
indi geno u s a rts
#Proud2BIndigenous Filmmaker Daunnette MonizReyome (Umonhonin) Films BYkids: “Against the Current”
aunnette Moniz-Reyome, a proud member of the Umoⁿhoⁿ Tribe in Nebraska, is turning 19 this year. She began modeling at age 13, appearing in multiple spreads and videos by Teen Vogue, which opened up the world of media attention to her. Despite her passion for the modeling and entertainment industries, Moniz-Reyome struggled to find Native American models to look up to. So, she decided to become that model for other Native American youth. As she grew, so did her passion for expanding Native American representation. In high school, while modeling and maintaining her status as an honor roll student, Moniz-Reyome also started taking on independent projects that explored both the joys and challenges of being a young Indigenous woman in the 21st century. Her passion and work eventually led her to the United Nations International Day of the Girl event in 2017, where she spoke on the continued lack of understanding about Native American cultures. A few years later, at age 17, Moniz-Reyome made a film, “Against the Current”, with Films BYkids, a documentary series that airs on PBS stations and is produced by the nonprofit, BYkids, in partnership with THIRTEEN, America’s flagship PBS station. Films BYkids pairs master filmmakers with teenagers from around the world to create short personal documentaries about globally relevant issues. Moniz-Reyome’s film tells her story of struggle and triumph as she and her family work to retain the values of her culture in a commu- nity struggling with substance abuse, depression, and suicide. In the film, she shares her family’s journey to revitalize traditional ways and ceremonies to heal historical trauma in her
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community with strength and dignity. She uses her platform to speak out for her community and Indigenous youth, fighting against cultural appropriation and stereotypes and bringing attention to Indigenous issues. Cultural Survival’s Indigenous Rights Radio Coordinator, Shaldon Ferris (KhoiSan), recently spoke to Moniz-Reyome about her activism and filmmaking. Cultural Survival: Tell us your story. How did you get into modeling? Daunnette Moniz-Reyome: I’ve always been really tall.
I was about 11 years old when a woman approached my mother saying she thought I would be a great model. My mom talked to me about it and at first I was like, no, as I was kind of a little tomboy. So I didn’t really think it was my thing. My mom did not force me into it, but she brought me to a casting, a hair show. I ended up booking it and it was really fun. I really enjoyed myself, so that’s kind of where it started. I only did the one job and then kind of just fell off from it because we ended up moving, and I stopped for about a year and a half. Then all of a sudden I wanted to do it again. We were living in Atlanta at the time and my mom had started calling all over, trying to book me different photo shoots and runway shows. When I was 13 years old, there was a casting posted on Instagram looking for a Native American model. It didn’t say that it was for Teen Vogue, it just said a major media magazine. My mom is really good on Instagram and sent all my information, and I ended up booking my first job with Vogue. It was actually really surprising because I didn’t even know All photos courtesy of Films BYkids.
that my mom had submitted me for that job. I was in school on a Thursday. I was in eighth grade at the time, and my mom messaged me and said when you get home, we gotta pack and leave for New York because you’re going to be shooting for Teen Vogue. And I was like, stop lying to me. She sent me the email with the details. Then I started telling all my friends and my teachers. It happened quickly. I’m from a small town in Nebraska, so it was a big deal. I was not only representing my family, but my whole community. Everyone at home was so excited for me, resharing my pictures and articles and literally made it go viral. I appreciate my hometown. There’s always going to be someone behind me, always pushing me to do better and to be better and to learn more and do more. I’m grateful for my community. CS: How did you become a filmmaker? DMR: That journey actually started back in 2017 after I
had given a speech at the International Day of the Girl at the United Nations in New York City. After the event, people were coming up to me and other panelists. Holly Carter of Films BYkids approached me and gave me her card. She said, “I’d be really interested in sending a film crew your way and just letting you tell your story.” That sounded really exciting to me. But then I moved again. I was living in Tennessee at the time. And we started getting emails and conversations going about what we are going to make this film about. In August of 2019 we finally started shooting. Evan Mascagni and Nick Capezzera, they were my co-directors and helped me with everything, shooting and interviews. The name of my documentary is called “Against the Current.” It was released in April 2021. It covers a lot of the things that I’m passionate about, my concern about my community and my people themselves. I talk about drug and alcohol abuse within the Native community and missing and murdered Indigenous women. Films BYkids funded and is distributing my documentary on public tele-vision stations around the country. They uplift inspirational youth from all over the world who have a story to tell.
Basically they give them a camera and give them the platform to communicate what matters to you, what do you want the world to see, whatever you’re passionate about, whatever your mind and heart tells you to speak about. They give you the tools and everything to show the world what you do. CS: What issues are you working on as a youth leader? What issues are you passionate about? DMR: Domestic violence within the Native community, the
adversities that my people face that the public does not really get to see. The reason I’m so passionate about this is because, one, I grew up witnessing some of that myself. The other reason is because I have family and I have really close friends that deal with these kinds of problems themselves. So I figure, I have a platform, I have a good following, why not educate people on it? Why not talk about it? So that way, maybe those people that I’m close with, maybe they don’t feel alone or they’ll find comfort in knowing that someone like me cares.
CS: What advice do you have for Indigenous youth today? DMR: Never give up on yourself. Always believe in yourself.
Always have a dream and always have a goal. There’s going to be days where you don’t feel up to it, you may be thinking, “maybe I should just quit.” But don’t quit, because that was me. Maybe four or six months before Teen Vogue reached out to me I was sitting on my staircase crying to my mom, saying, “Mom, I’ve been doing this for so long, nothing’s happening. I just want to quit. I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s not fun anymore.” My mom picked my head up and was like, “Hey, we’re not giving up. You didn’t give it enough time yet.” Eventually I booked my first job with Teen Vogue. Never give up on yourself, because your dreams can come true. Watch “Against the Current” at: www.pbs.org/video/against-current-ycqmst.
Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 7
ri ght s i n a ctio n
Uplifting Children’s Voices at the Committee on the Rights of the Child
Committee on the Rights of the Child members on opening day at the 84th session after the ‘ava ceremony in Apia, Samoa.
n March 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) at its 84th session crossed a major participatory hurdle by involving children as genuine partners. The Committee, tasked at monitoring the implementation of the international human rights treaty of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, also organized multiple country reviews concerning children’s rights beyond the Palais Wilson, in Oceania. The session, held in Apia, Samoa, was unique in being the first ever regional session hosted outside of Geneva. A record number of Pacific Islands Nations received full reviews: Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Tuvalu. The List of Issues were prepared for Kiribati, and more than 700 Pacific Islanders participated in side events. “[I’m] amazed at the impact. There was great public interest...high participation from children, civil society, government officials. Every actor who has come in contact with the Session has been profoundly changed,” commented Justice Vui Nelson of Samoa, a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The 84th outreach session of the CRC ensured children could engage as full participants in multiple parts of the proceedings, revolutionizing the UN human rights machinery on multiple fronts and providing unique opportunities for children from moderating national discussions to speaking directly to Committee members on major themes. One youth participant reflected, “This program is one that comes once in a lifetime...and has helped me decide my future.” For human rights to be achieved, people must understand their rights and take action to implement the articles of the UN human rights conventions, while experts must share insights toward implementation. It’s a partnership between the people based in the State under review and the professionals serving as experts of the treaty body system. In Apia, the full potential of the process was born in the historic Pacific session. The rest is human rights history.
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The role of the children at the session was beyond token and beautifully transformational. A new beginning was heralded on March 2, 2020, when, as the sun rose over the Pacific Ocean, the Committee Chair raised a coconut shell of ‘ava above his head in front of the assembled matai (chiefs) to start the 84th Extraordinary Outreach Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The traditional ‘ava ceremony breathed new ways to work with greater community engagement with the global committee for the “best interest of the child.” Before the members arrived, a culture of children’s rights was being fostered via a national competition among 10 local schools to debate the forthcoming side event topics. Six outstanding youth were chosen as moderators for side events to be held in the Talanoa Tent, taking place every day at lunch. Led by young moderators and featuring classmates on the panels from across Samoa, topics included human rights, culture and religion, and children’s rights to health and protection from abuse and neglect. One youth side event moderator said,, “[I] thought that at the beginning, CRC members did not know what kids are going through here. [I] think the CRC members [now] have a better understanding.” During the formal sessions and in addition to the country reviews, the Committee met with hundreds of children from the Pacific, hearing their challenges, concerns, and campaigns. All sessions were well attended with hundreds in the audience —as opposed to dozens in Geneva—and as the first country review commenced (Tuvalu), members of the secretariat were visibly moved as they surveyed the sea of people overflowing into the corridor. Evening events were held almost every night, bilateral meetings were occurring wherever you looked, and 11 workshops were run in the Talanoa Tent as parallel events for civil society organizations and state delegations. There were several chances to connect with Committee members covering the climate crisis in Oceania as well as a spectrum of child rights issues across the Pacific region. What transpired showed the potential value of regional sessions, as Pacific children starred in a week where the All photos by Joshua Cooper.
Committee members declared themselves “transformed.” The Committee members agreed to dedicate three meetings of the session to holding thematic discussions with the 100plus children in attendance. Children and youth were featured as main panelists and had ample opportunity to contribute from the audience with comments and questions in thematic discussions on climate change and human right issues important to the children of Samoa. The Committee members agreed on five topics for the main side events: Pacific culture and faiths—a barrier or enabler of child rights?, organized by the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team; Dialogue on the right to health of children in the Samoan context, organized by Samoa national human rights institutions and the government of Samoa; Early childhood development in emergencies, organized by UNICEF and the government of Samoa; A dive into the Blue Pacific, organized by the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team and Pacific civil society organizations; and Children’s right to protection from abuse and neglect, organized by UNICEF and the government of Samoa. There was consensus that all official side events of the session be moderated or co-moderated by a child; the children themselves selected the side events they wished to moderate based on their individual interests. Indigenous youth also mobilized to participate in the various side events and meetings, with a number of child-friendly materials and briefings prepared for their participation. Those involved agreed that the week’s experience offered the opportunity for new initiatives in Oceania. The safe space to share about sensitive issues was invigorating, with children committing to advocate for the rights of fellow classmates in Samoa and being agents of change in the country for sustainable development. Following the conclusion of the formal sessions, two Committee members travelled to Vanuatu and Fiji, respectively, to undertake mini-missions. The purpose of these was to further develop understanding of Pacific issues and to raise awareness of the convention among the local population. Lectures held at the universities in both countries were
attended by more than 300 people. The 84th session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child is the first step to building a better model for movement participation in the promotion of human rights with the best interest of the child as its core. By involving people in the human rights treaty body conversation, centered around those who are directly impacted, and committing to positive social change with every child in every State, the session ignited a genuine undertaking to implement the CRC recommendations resulting from the reviews. The session actualized Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 12, which holds that children must not only be listened to, but that their views and vision be seriously considered and contribute to due consideration in law and practice in the Pacific. Prime Minister of Samoa, Honourable Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, summed up the historic occurrence: “Hosting this milestone meeting in Samoa was crucial for enhancing the visibility of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in our region. The session allowed for the Blue Pacific people, especially the children, to effectively and actively engage with the Committee. Samoa encourages all other treaty bodies to follow the great example that this Committee has set.”
Top: Samoa youth speak about the conditions facing children in Samoa. Inset: Youth observers share via social media their participation at the CRC.
— Joshua Cooper is an academic, advocate, author, analyst, and activist based in Hawai’i. He currently serves as dean of the Global Leadership Academy for Human Rights Advocacy in Geneva, Switzerland. He is a professor at the University of Hawai’i, West O’ahu, Kapolei; director of the Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights; and CEO of The GOOD Group. Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 9
Two Sisters, Two Movements A Story of Indigenous Empowerment and Rematriation
Sage and Raven Lacerte at their home town of Fraser Lake, BC, along the Highway of Tears (Hwy 16), near where the Moose Hide Campaign was founded. Photo by Jamil Mawani, Third Eye Productions.
Raven Lacerte and Sage Lacerte (Lake Babine Nation) Hadih, Raven Lacerte and Sage Lacerte Sahdnee. We are Raven Lacerte and Sage Lacerte. Loretta Madam S’loo. Our mom is the late Loretta Madam. Paul Lacerte S’ba. Our dad is Paul Lacerte. Sigh Gunna Lushiboo Injun Yinkak Dene Keyoh. We are Carrier Peoples, members of the Lake Babine Nation and we belong to the Bear Clan. Te Be Snachalya injun Lekwungen keyoh. We acknowledge the territory of the Lək̓wəŋən-speaking Peoples, the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in what is now Canada. Two sisters, two movements, two aligning stories that have the shared ultimate impact goal of empowerment and rematriation. This is a story of two young Indigenous leaders working to make life better for our people.
y name is Raven. I am the mother of Cedar Sus
(Sus means bear in Carrier) and I am the proud partner of Dominic Paul. I am the co-founder of the Moose Hide Campaign, which is working to end violence towards women and children. My dad, Paul Lacerte, and I started this movement when I was just 16 years old. Being a visibly Indigenous person, I know something bad can happen to me, my sisters, or any of the women or children in my life. There have been over 4,000 Indigenous murdered or missing women and girls in the last 30 years in Canada. Indigenous women are disproportionately affected by violence. I wanted to do something that was centered in love and healing. Now that I am a mother of my own daughter, I feel even more compelled to 10 • www. cs. org
spend my time working to make this country safe for my daughter so that she can live a life free from fear, free from violence, with nothing but opportunity in her path. The Moose Hide Campaign is a grassroots effort to end violence towards women and children, and was founded in 2011 on a moose hunting trip on the traditional Carrier territory along Highway 16, also known as the “Highway of Tears.” Our work invites men and boys to mobilize in their efforts towards ending violence. After working in this field for so many years, we needed to stop and question, “Where are all the men?” We invite men, and all Canadians, to practice reflection, make a commitment to ending violence in their own lives, and to help spread awareness to make real change. We envision a country where all women and children are free from violence. There are two main features of the Moose Hide Campaign. We offer one-inch squares of moose hide for folks to wear every day as a signal of safety and mutual accountability. We also invite men, women, trans, Two-Spirit, and LGBTQIA+ folks to Moose Hide Campaign Day, an annual one-day fasting ceremony where we come together and practice vulnerability by sharing openly about our lived experiences and our commitment to healing. To date, we have distributed more than two million squares of moose hide, and mobilized more than 80,000 Canadians at this year’s National Gathering. Our goal is to have a one million-person fast and to give out 10 million moose hide squares. You can order free moose hide pins on our website. An essential element for promoting gender and racial equality is to employ Indigenous innovations
that benefit all Canadians in an effort to stand together in ceremony while we work towards these goals.
y name is Sage Lacerte. I am the founder and
CEO of Sage Initiative and the proud National Youth Ambassador of the Moose Hide Campaign. I am a self-described Indigenous feminist queer musician-warriorlearner. In 2020, I concluded the first segment of my learning odyssey at the University of Victoria to better understand how power functions across humanity and the histories of Indigenous nations around the world. I was introduced to narratives about money and wealth at a very young age. I remember having anxiety in the grocery store about having to count every dollar to make sure we could get all the essentials. We would go for long walks all the way downtown, stopping at playgrounds on the way for a quick push on the swing before getting groceries. Mum would talk to the other adults while Raven and I colored at the toy table and I “patiently” waited for my bi-weekly special sugary lunch treats. Our mother is an example of the resilience required in Indigenous motherhood. Her rift relationship with the colonial Canadian state after having attended residential school never presented itself as resentment; rather, she chose a pathway in which her four daughters were driven by joy, curiosity, and most of all, a brilliant, unfettered opportunity to find fulfillment in everything we do. That’s why I founded the Sage Initiative, the first and only Indigenous womxn’s impact investment collective across Turtle Island. It is our vision to enable a national ecosystem of Indigenous womxn impact investors who make capital available to Indigenous-owned Funds and social enterprises. This innovation has been a long-awaited solution to Indigenous business owners’ biggest barrier: the lack of access to capital, in conjunction with unbalanced gender representation in all major fields including finance, STEM, and medicine. This is where I stopped to ask, “where are all the womxn”? The Sage Initiative supports Indigenous womxn (trans, Two-Spirit, LGBTQIA+) in Canada to invest between $1,000–$50,000 after completing our investment curriculum to strengthen their investment-related skills and capacity by interweaving these competencies with Indigenous concepts of commerce and wealth. This trauma-informed approach addresses colonial relationships with money and overlapping identities such as Indigeneity, age, and sexuality, using a gendered perspective.
e are the first generation of our family
with the resources to create a pathway to prosperity by investing good medicine into our communities. By re-storying money as medicine, our hope is to be a role model for the investment industry and to encourage younger Indigenous womxn to join this movement and rematriate Indigenous economies together by resurfacing the economic balance that exists in our matriarchal societies. As an Indigenous innovation in social finance and impact investment, we are creating a new industry that is anchored in community, reciprocity, and love for oneself, our human and non-human relatives, and Mother Earth. The concept of #Indigenomics taught me that we are currently witnessing an emerging Indigenous economy; these innovations are our collective response to
the lasting legacy of the systemic exclusion of Indigenous Peoples from the economic table of this country. Those who have been accumulating capital and occupying space where our matriarchs once sat, gird your loins and prepare for your opportunity to learn more about and participate in economic reconciliation. Our barriers, challenges, and struggles have helped lead to where we are today. Each morning a decision is made to break cycles of what we don’t want and create more opportunities for more of what we do want, need, and desire. It has become our family philosophy to consider all of our relations and experiences to be precious. These are the ingredients that make up our tool basket. Our dad became a young leader in his 20s, just like us. He became the executive director of the British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and began to teach us how to use our voice in a good way, and to always introduce ourselves in circles and at his work meetings. Each of us grew up as Friendship Centre babies where we were intentionally mentored from a young age—“the sweetest Carrier girls I ever saw!” our aunties would say. Intentional mentorship doesn’t just happen. We were chosen for this work. Everything that our ancestors, parents, and grandparents have gone through and sacrificed has been for us. These sacrifices were made for the young ones and future generations to enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination, and more importantly, to continue to speak our language, to practice our culture and ceremonies, to understand our rules of governance, and to be in service of our relatives. In Western institutions, young people are armed with knowledge that benefits settler colonialism, heteropatriarchy, and capitalism. These systems were not built on Indigenous values or epistemologies; therefore, they were not built for us. Because of this, we decided we had to form our own institutions of learning: in the words of Audre Lorde, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” We are choosing to work from our own worldview. We brought our own tools. Our tool baskets are filled with good medicine, and we are bringing them into the “master’s” house. We are weaving together our vision of empowering Indigenous womxn and children to achieve self-determination. Self-determination and gendered violence are among the most important and pressing issues for Indigenous womxn worldwide, and there is an intimate relationship between harm reduction and economic empowerment. Moose Hide Campaign and Sage Initiative are sister movements that work to simultaneously advance the individual and collective rights of Indigenous womxn and explicitly address gender-based violence as an effect of colonialism. This is an invitation to close your eyes and think about your mother. Now think about your mother’s mother. Now think all the way to our communal first mother, Mother Earth. Each one of you reading this, please know your ancestors are always with you and they love you! As our ancestors have led us to this point, each one of your ancestors has led you to the point you are at right now. Mussi Cho for reading about our story. We call on anyone who is willing to join us in our efforts to take a stand against violence in all its forms and to support rematriation. Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 11
The Volcanic Force of
María Mercedes Coroy Diana Pastor (Maya K’iche’, CS Staff)
he scene is set: February 10, 2015. A young Indigenous woman is about to be interviewed by a German radio station during the Berlinale, one of the most important film festivals in Europe. The interviewer introduces the young woman as “a wonderful guest, the protagonist of an excellent and exciting film, the first from Guatemala to be seen at this festival,” and offers her the microphone. Coroy greets the audience shyly, but bravely, first in Spanish and then in her native Mayan Kaqchikel language. The spotlight is on María Mercedes Coroy, a Guatemalan Indigenous actress, who, at the young age of 25 and without previously studying acting, has risen to acclaim with two films lauded by international critics: Ixcanul, in 2015, and more recently, La Llorona, both winners of numerous awards in different countries. Coroy was born and raised in the municipality of Santa María de Jesús, a town located on the slopes of the Pacaya Volcano in Sacatepéquez, Guatemala; the village’s population is 98 percent Kaqchikel. As a child watching movies on television, she thought that one day she would like to be in them, but she did not imagine that her dream could come true. During her time at school, she participated in plays and dance while helping her mother in a small family business. The opportunity to get involved in the world of cinema would come years later and by chance, when, as a young woman, she was passing through Santa María de Jesús Park where Jayro Bustamante, a Guatemalan film director, was casting for his film Ixcanul. Bustamante has said in an interview that he had a hunch that Coroy was the actress he was looking for to interpret the story of Mara, a young Kaqchikel Maya who lives on the shores of the Pacaya Volcano and who works with her family on a coffee farm. In the film, the protagonist finds herself in a dilemma when she falls in
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María Mercedes Coroy. Photo by La Casa de Producción.
love with a boy who promises to take her to the United States and show her “the wonders of money and electricity.” She is afraid to accept this proposal as she is engaged to the foreman of the farm. When she becomes pregnant unexpectedly, her life takes an extraordinary turn. The film addresses the issues of exploitation of Indigenous people on farms, machismo, and human trafficking. Even though it was her dream to appear on the big screen, Coroy says that at first, she was afraid of being the main star of Ixcanul. “Often, Indigenous women are discriminated against and undervalued and we are told that we cannot fulfill our dreams,” she said in a past interview. Because of that insecurity she tried to take a secondary role as a coffee cutter, but Bustamante convinced her to continue as a leading actress. From the success achieved in Ixcanul, her acting career began to take off; she next appeared in the 2018 film Bel Canto alongside Julian Moore and Ken Watanabe, and was cast in her first starring role in the Mexican television series Malinche. In 2019, Coroy began working on La Llorona, a film that addresses the genocide in Guatemala through the story of Alma, a domestic worker who works for a general accused of massacring and annihilating entire villages during his tenure in government, and to whom supernatural events occur as punishment for his cruel actions committed against the Maya people. La Llorona (“the weeping woman”) is a popular Latin American legend about a woman who is said to have drowned her children. After she drowns herself out of penance, her spirit is condemned to purgatory until she can find her children. In the film, Alma’s children are victims of genocide; her spirit suffers and seeks justice because her children were drowned in front of her by soldiers who threatened to kill her if she cried. “The film is very important for Guatemala, especially for the population that I represent, Indigenous Peoples. My parents spoke to me a lot about the genocide. My grandfather told me many stories. I was not a stranger to everything that happened, but I did not feel these stories until I made this movie,” she said in an interview with Agencia EFE. Coroy affirms that she has had to overcome many challenges and feels proud about what she has accomplished, but recognizes that there are still many things that she wants to achieve. Not being able to speak English is a barrier in the world of international acting, which is why she expresses a desire to learn it. She also wants to continue learning the Poqomam Mayan language, which she can already speak some. During the filming of Malinche, which tells the story of a young Indigenous woman “given” to Hernán Cortés, the infamous Spanish conquistador, to be his translator, she learned some of the Yucatec Maya and Popoluca languages of Mexico. Coroy’s success has made her the face of various advertising campaigns, but also of social causes for OXFAM, the United Nations Population Fund, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, among others. She has also participated in conferences and forums to bring a motivating message to youth. She believes that things must change in Guatemala and that it should not only be her face that appears in the media, but also those of the many other Indigenous people who are also struggling to achieve their dreams. In
Film poster for Ixcanul (2015), a drama written and directed by Jayro Bustamante. It was screened in the main competition section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Alfred Bauer Prize. María Mercedes Coroy played Mara in the film.
Guatemala, Indigenous Peoples are very much still marginalized and mainstream media promotes the images of Ladino and European descendants. Coroy hopes that she inspires youth to be proud of their Indigenous heritage and cultural roots, and is confident that “the young generation that is watching me and making some kind of art will continue to do so.” Although Coroy enjoys the world of acting and has traveled to numerous countries, she maintains a strong bond with her roots. She enjoys spending time with her family, dedicating herself to Maya weaving and participating in activities of her community. She is proud to be Indigenous and that her parents have taught her the Kaqchikel language. Wherever she goes, she always wears Maya clothing, both from her town and from other parts of Guatemala. During the Berlinale she proudly wore a Santa María de Jesús huipil (traditional blouse), and at an exhibition there, she was invited to sign one of her photographs. She did it slowly, enjoying that moment, as if affirming that, like a volcano, she can be quiet, but inside she is full of potential and strength. Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 13
Quinton Cabellon posing with his necklaces during the opening reception of a museum exhibition where his jewelry is featured.
Putting the Pieces Together My Journey of Reclaiming Indigeneity
Quinton Cabellon (Tule River Yokuts)
suk wik’a. That’s what my mom used to lovingly tell me when I was being rambunctious as a child. Tsuk wik’a is a Yowlumne phrase meaning be quiet, or shut up. To be fair, I was quite the chatterbox, and honestly, that hasn’t changed much. When my mom first told me tsuk wik’a, I asked her where she learned that phrase, and she told me it was an Indian word that she learned from her dad. He would tell her the same thing as a child. Growing up, it was mentioned within my family that we were Native American, or Indian. I would write these statements off as a kid because I didn’t believe my mom. I grew up in east Oakland, California, and the only Indians I knew of were the ones in the TV shows and on the decorations in my grandpa’s house. My mom and I most definitely didn’t look like them, so this idea of Indigeneity didn’t seem tangible. My family didn’t explicitly participate in traditional cultural practices, nor seem to feel connected to this supposed Native American ancestry. So, like most kids, I fixated for a bit and moved onto my next obsession. It wasn’t until I was a young teenager that I revisited the concept of Indigeneity.
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I am Yokuts through my paternal grandfather. He moved off of the reservation when he was young to be a bull rider in the rodeo. He met my non-Native grandma, had kids, and settled in Los Angeles where he and my grandma could provide for their children. My mom spent a large part of her childhood in Los Angeles away from the reservation. When she was a teenager, my grandparents divorced and my mom and grandpa moved to Porterville, a small valley town just outside of my people’s reservation. She spent her teenage years there spending time off and on the reservation. My mom got married to her first husband at age 18 and moved back to Los Angeles. Nine years and four kids later, she moved to Oakland in the late ‘90s and gave birth to me. When I was about 13, I was determined to get to the bottom of this whole “being Indian” thing. I began asking my mom questions and again became fixated. I wanted to know who our people are, where they’re from, and what our culture was. What is a reservation, and why are our people there? Some of these questions my mom could answer and others she could not. I learned that she was raised within aspects of our culture; however, she too was removed from our culture and people for long periods of her life, which led to these gaps. Moreover, like my grandpa, she had to make the choice to stay close to the reservation or seek more opportunities for herself elsewhere. She chose the latter. My first experience in being immersed in my people’s community came when I was 14. I moved to the Tule River Indian Reservation for the summer. It was an adjustment to say the least, as I moved from the city to the rural foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Country living was hard for a city dweller like me, but it turned out to be one of the most revelatory and enjoyable experiences of my life. I was able to connect with family members that I had never met before and experience the land that my people had been living on since 1873 when the reservation was established by executive order of President Ulysses S. Grant. Up until that summer, the idea of being Native felt like some farfetched family story that I would roll my eyes at. I had no idea that my family and I were All photos courtesy of Quinton Cabellon.
Taking a moment of reflection with the Tule River at Painted Rock, a special place on the Tule River Indian Reservation.
Quinton Cabellon and his mom sharing a moment during a visit to the Tule River Indian Reservation, California.
connected to a larger community with a thriving culture and land base. Upon my return from that trip, I realized two things: first, I owed my mom an apology for doubting her about us being Indian. Secondly, I am Yokuts and a descendant of the Tule River Indian Tribe. My hunger for understanding my Indigeneity intensified as I returned back to the Bay Area, though I felt like I was at a standstill. The internet could only take me so far in answering my questions, and I was no longer within my community on the reservation where I could access the answers to the questions I had. Additionally, I faced immense impostor syndrome regarding whether or not I had any right to claim my newly found Indigeneity. I did not grow up on the reservation, nor was I raised and rooted in my culture. Through these feelings I persevered and continued my journey in reconnecting. One day while at school, a staff member told me about a summer internship for Native youth through The Cultural Conservancy. I didn’t know if I was “Native enough” to qualify, but after a few days I took the leap of faith and applied. That internship became a massive turning point in my journey of self-discovery. I was able to connect with other Native youth who were like me in reconnecting and others who were strongly rooted in their cultures and communities. That internship experience was a safe place for me to meet mentors with whom I could be vulnerable about my hesitations surrounding my identity. Moreover, I was exposed to the inter-tribal community of the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in Oakland and never knew how many Native people lived in the Bay Area. I had no idea about the history of Ohlone Peoples, who have called the San Francisco Bay Area home since time immemorial, or the government relocation programs that moved large numbers of Native Peoples from across the U.S to urban centers like the Bay. I was able to connect with so many great organizations like the Intertribal Friendship House and American Indian Child Resource Center. These organizations were instrumental in the growth of my connectedness to my heritage, as well as
my growth as a person. Through Intertribal Friendship House, I was able to join their Native Youth Council and helped plan an annual youth conference. The staff at American Indian Child Resource Center helped me with my college application process. These organizations helped foster a sense of belonging in the Bay Area Native community. They took me in and met me where I was, and for that I am forever thankful. I stepped away from a deficit mentality and recognized the abundance that is right in front of me. During my time as a Native American Studies major at the University of California Davis, I would read and write about how resilient Indigenous Peoples are. Against wave after wave of colonial onslaught, Indigenous Peoples were able to remain, resist, and thrive. Reading accounts of how other communities and Peoples persevered and retained their culture forced me to think about what that looked like for my family and I. For the longest time I perpetuated the narrative that my family was so disconnected from our people and our culture. I viewed myself as the product of a family line stripped away from their community adopted and into the broader American culture. In reality, the thread that connected me to my ancestors was present every time my mom told me to be quiet. I was so quick to identify the things I thought were missing that I missed the traditional values and culture that my mom instilled in me that were right in front of me. Values of reciprocity, kinship, intuition all held nuanced cultural meanings that I never realized. Interlaced throughout my childhood were these pieces of resilient knowledge showcasing that connections may get lost, but are never truly gone. These connections, when realized, lead us back to that sacred place of connection to our relatives, community, and ancestors. — Quinton Cabellon (Tule River Yokuts) is an artist and community educator from east Oakland, California. He holds a B.A. in Native American Studies from the University of California Davis. He currently works for an adult literacy and education nonprofit organization in Oakland. Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 15
The Power on the Path to of Ritual Womanhood Sabantho Aderi (Lokono-Arawak)
intergenerational transmission of tangible and intangible essential y name is Sabantho components of Lokono-Arawak Aderi, which in the culture and heritage. Lokono-Arawak During my ritual, my language means, body was adorned every hour “Beautiful Little of the nine days with our Ground Dove.” I am a traditional temporary face 22-year-old Indigenous and body tattoos. I was woman living in an urban taught the importance, society outside of my hidden meanings, and ancestral community: spiritual significance of a 240-square mile, 1,700every shape and design person ancestral Pakuri of our tattoos so that I can Lokono-Arawak territory in pass the knowledge down Region 4, Guyana, Northeast to my children and grandSouth America. I live in Barchildren. I was not allowed to bados, another island nation look at or be in close proximity altogether, in the Eastern Lesser to any males who did not share Antilles in the Caribbean. my DNA or who did not live in Maintaining my Indigenous identhe same house as me. It is feared that Sabantho Aderi tity, culture, and practices is not difficult if a girl were to do this while she is menbecause I am lucky enough to have pro-tradistruating for the first time, she would become tionalist Lokono-Arawaks for parents. My Barbadoslicentious and therefore unlady-like. born father is a descendent of our last hereditary traditional Along with this, I was also only allowed to drink one clan chief in Guyana, and he is a well versed historian on all calabash of water per day and to eat one handful of cassava aspects of our traditional culture and cosmovision. My mother bread or one handful of farine (baked bitter cassava granules). was born and raised in her Tribal community and grew up This small amount of water and food was not just for myself; living and breathing all things Lokono, and was also raised I also had to share it with my family. This practice was to by two very traditionalist Lokono-Arawak parents. Living teach me generosity and prepare me for experiencing potenoutside of my community has never made me feel like an tial food adversity in my life—and that even in such times outsider or displaced, especially since I had the privilege of hunger and hardship, I must always share whatever little of returning to my Tribal lands at least once every year for food I have equally with my family, and above all accept summer vacation. Everytime I returned, I felt at home and adversity with stoicism. as if I was never separated from my people. During my nine days, I also had to wake up and bathe At 12 years old, I became a woman in my Tribe, which soon after the sun had risen and bathe again just before the required a demonstration of strength, both mentally and sun set. This was to remind me of the importance of always physically, to prove my desire and worthiness to achieve smelling, looking, and feeling clean like a beautiful flower, this honor. To earn the praise and respect of all elders and as this is one of our beauty and hygiene standards. I was also traditionalists in my Tribe, I had to go through our Lokono taught the importance and secret of yuri (tobacco), one of puberty right of passage, which consists of a nine-day ritual our most important plant medicines. I was taught how to where a list of protocols, instructions, and taboos must be plant it, harvest it, and how to use it properly, which is only observed obediently through this sacred time in order to for praying and healing others and never for personal pleabe become “a lady of high morals and standards” in the sure or recreation. Tobacco prayer gatherings have a special eyes of my people. protocol that includes the order of who smokes first and the Through the completion of this ritual, I earned the rights direction in which the tobacco must be passed. I was taught to learn and be involved in all traditional, cultural, and spiriby my grandmother how to boil and dry Tibisiri (a straw-like tual ceremonies and rituals. I also earned the right to receive material) and how to weave it. This is one of our main materials ancient spiritual blessings and abilities, as well as the rights that we make our traditional women’s regalia with, as well as to learn esoteric knowledge and wisdom on all important mats, decorative storage bowls, and baskets. Lastly, I was taught aspects of our culture, including the preservation and about my family’s history in the Tribe and our Clan origin.
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All photos courtesy of Sabantho Aderi.
This puberty ritual for our girls was traditionally socially and culturally mandatory in our Tribe, but the dual effects of physical and spiritual colonization has now made it voluntary. Only if a girl requests it will her family give her the ritual, but if a girl has non-traditionalist parents she will not see or understand the importance or value of it. I am proud that like our mother and all our female ancestors before her, my little sister and I both requested and underwent this great honor test of womanhood. Each girl’s ritual may differ slightly, depending on what her parents or grandparents deem the most important lessons the girl needs to learn for her own higher good and that of the Tribe. For example, based on her childhood thoughts and actions hitherto, laziness or selfishness may have been dominant negative traits that need to be replaced. The most important parts according to our elders are always maintained in every girl’s ritual: meditating, praying, fasting, sharing, bathing, and no exposure to males outside the family or household. What I find so beautiful in our community today is the fact that family members of girls who have started their first menstruation are never shy to ask other traditionalists for guidance on the proper protocols for the ritual. This ritual is still relatively common in our community, and sometimes you’ll hear jokes being made by people about their sister or cousin’s personality flaws or bad habits being due to the handling of her puberty ritual. My people will make jokes about nearly anything and everything, that’s why we have such thick skin when we face problems outside of the community—resilience built by humor. Long ago, once a girl had finished her nine-day ritual, she would be allowed to start courting and later be married off to the first boy who had all the right qualities the parents knew a husband and father needed to have, because she was now seen as a woman in the eyes of the community. We have abandoned this practice with the help of science and more awareness of women’s bodily development. Many young women that were allowed to marry soon after their first menstruation and puberty ritual at the tender ages of 12 or 13 unfortunately died during childbirth due to birthing complications. In this day and age our women are more aware of the options and opportunities available to them, so now we see more young women furthering their education and joining the workforce or becoming small business entrepreneurs and working for themselves, excelling in their studies and in their careers and serving the community in many other powerful ways. There is so much to obtain before taking on the very big, but beautiful, role of becoming a mother and bringing new life into this world. We also understand that motherhood is not in the cards for everyone in this lifetime, but that does not change the fact that we stem from so many strong and beautiful women and that we ourselves are strong, beautiful women. This ritual is still—and I hope it will always be—an important part of our culture that is respected, cherished, and maintained. I am proud to come from a People that believe in the power of our cultural and spiritual practices. Sabantho Aderi (Lokono-Arawak), 22, is a member of the — Pakuri Tribal Territory Indigenous community in Guyana. She is an Indigenous rights activist and artist and created the first LokonoArawak mural consisting of her Peoples’ mythological creatures and it is located in her Tribal lands. At 18, she became the youngest woman to participate in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Project Access Global Capacity Training Program sponsored via the Tribal Link Foundation.
Top: Sabantho Aderi sifts strained cassava pulp granules before they are baked into a flat, unleavened bread. Bottom: Sabantho Aderi practices stripping palm leaves to make straw, a craft skill all traditionalist women in the Lokono-Arawak Tribe must know. Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 17
Mia Beverly (Sandhill Band of Cherokee and Lenape) stands outside the American Civil Liberties Union's national office in New York City where they interned.
The Radical Act of Being Somaya Jimenez-Haham (Maya Mam, CS Intern)
ia Beverly (she/they), 22, is a member of the Sandhill Band of Cherokee and Lenape and currently works as a grant writer and manager for the First Foods Program, an Indigenousled nonprofit based in New York that was created in March of 2020. According to Beverly, the main goal of First Foods is increasing food sovereignty through education. First Foods is an educational series that features Indigenous culture bearers who hold the oldest knowledge on Turtle Island (North America), hosting remote workshops and online classes and producing the First Foods Podcast. The program’s stated goals include “preserving and sharing Indigenous knowledge making what is often unavailable to urban Native people available; providing much needed teaching opportunities to a population of people who are valuable to preserving biodiversity; promoting alternative food preparation; and highlighting ways to build health outside industrial food systems.” It is spearheaded by Indigenous womxn with a target audience of engaging other Indigenous Peoples.
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Beverly says that First Foods was founded in New York because “New York has one of the largest urban Indigenous populations. We wanted to cater to that population because when you live in an urban setting, it’s kind of hard to get access to knowledge and education on ancestral practices of raising food, or growing it or preparing it—especially [given that] Indigenous, Black, and brown people are significantly more impacted by food insecurity. And when we do have access to foods, it’s usually not really good quality, nor is it likely culturally appropriate. First Foods was something I am really passionate about because food sovereignty is a global movement, but not many people talk about it. We work with so many different [Indigenous Peoples], especially focusing on Central and South American Indigenous Peoples, because they get left out of the conversation a lot up here. So engaging all those groups has made the work very impactful. It only started last year, but it’s grown really quickly. There’s a lot of interest in it, and I’m really excited about it.” Beverly shares that they would like to continue working in the nonprofit area and develop their grant writing skills. Additionally, they said they would like to work more to build strategic partnerships in the field. Beverly graduated from All photos courtesy of Mia Beverly.
Fordham University in 2020 and took a break to develop professionally and network. “For a while I planned on going to law school, but I’m also kind of feeling it out,” Beverly said. “Hopefully law school’s in the future, but I did also want to go into Tribal law and work towards that. I definitely want to stay in a career path where I’m still working with Indigenous, Black, and brown people in any capacity where we can just liberate.” Beverly interned at the ACLU during their last semester at Fordham University and the following summer. On the side, they also film content on Tik Tok, which they describe as a great platform for educating others, especially on their own experience as an Afro-Indigenous individual. “Another big part of what first threw me into ‘activism’—I don’t even like to use activism, because I feel like it’s just life, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do—I grew up with the Washington NFL team mascot using the ‘R’ word,” Beverly said. “I have been going to protests since I was 14 or 15. So that also was a large part of forming my own identity and realizing how basically nobody in America gives a crap about us. But I think, again, I’m just constantly advocating against that which would also easily ostracize me, sometimes even within some parts of my own family. Half of my family are Washington NFL team fans.” Beverly grew up in Washington, D.C. with a mainly intertribal community and not many other individuals who were Cherokee or Lenape. Their Indigeneity has greatly impacted their life. “I’m also Black,” Beverly said. “So of course there was some identity crisis along the way to the point where I wasn’t really sure if I could even claim Indigeneity because people were always questioning me, and I was like, ‘I don’t feel like debating with you on this.’ People in a very blatant microaggression tried to use blood quantum against me. So for a good minute, I was just like, okay, I was just Black. But without me really realizing it, in a subtle way it was just so depressing to ignore the culture I grew up with. I think definitely talking to my cousin and godfather—he’s a big influence—helped me realize I’m not even gonna say I’m a fraction Native. I’m full Native, full Black, and we’re gonna claim it, we’re gonna stick with it. Because I am not Native despite my Blackness nor Black despite my Indigeneity. There’s a history there that should be celebrated. Ultimately that helped me deal with a lot of depression growing up, because for a while I wasn’t accepting that part of me. I think not all Indigenous people are the same, but in a way, that’s a whole different mindset from the Western idea. I feel like we’re on a different wavelength mentally, it’s just a way I can’t even explain it. And I think I only realize that by engaging more with other people, whether or not they’re Cherokee or Lenape. Living out my identity is also how I have made more impact where I am. By college, I was proud to be Native, I was claiming it; I was also going to a predominantly white institution. By the time I left I was proud to be Afro-Indigenous.” At Fordham, Beverly worked with the Office of Multicultural Affairs on the school’s third Native American Festival. Beverly said it was a big moment for them, as more people started showing up the third year and engaging with the performances and events. “It was one of those moments that Fordham allowed Indigenous visibility,” Beverly said. “From
Mia Beverly outside her home in Washington, D.C.
there, that’s where I was just like, I’m gonna make this part of whatever I do in life. I just want to live Indigenously any way I can, really. So that is not just part of my identity, but also I try to make it part of my work as well. It makes whatever I’m doing really rewarding.” Beverly started using she/they pronouns as a result of a lifelong discomfort with the binary of masculinity versus femininity, following a quarantine-designated self-reflection on how to self-identify. While they reject the binary, they still use “she” to represent their own femininity, which so often Black women/non-binary are denied because of the hypermasculinization of Blackness. “I’ve struggled, still to this day, with why or if I identify with being a woman out of social pressure, overcompensation as a femme of color, or because I genuinely feel like a woman. I identify as a Black/Indigenous femme for similar reasons I identify as a womanist, which is to deny the Eurocentricism of the gender binary and decolonize those concepts of gender and the freedom to express it,” Beverly said. Using she/they pronouns also reminded them of when they started identifying as Cherokee again. “I was nervous but had already come to terms with the fact that being myself is radical, or even inconceivable, from a colonized perspective. The first time someone referred to me as ‘they,’ I felt so validated and genuinely happy—maybe because I am separating myself from a concept of gender that centers whiteness or because I can never identify as only woman. I’m not sure, but right now, it feels right.” Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 19
Youth Strengthening Indigenous Communication Through Media Carolina Tray ne Rain A ncan
Introduction In this section, we share with you the voices of our Indigenous Com- munity Media Youth Fellows. Cultural Survival’s Indigenous Community Media Youth Fellowship supports individuals and groups of youth ages 17–25 in their efforts to build their radio journalism and radio broadcasting skills through trainings, community radio visits and exchanges, radio production, and conference attendance. Since 2018, we have supported 33 Indigenous youth fellows in 10 countries.
Right: Carolina Rain Ancan (Mapuche) in the field filming Mapuche children learning from an elder. Photo courtesy of Carolina Rain Ancan.
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Representing Ourselves and Documenting the Knowledge of Our Elders Carolina Trayen Rain Ancan (Mapuche), 18, is from the Lof Malalhue Chanko community in the Province of Cautin, Chile. She is part of the Mapuche School of Film and Communication of Aylla Rewe Budi, established by a group of youth to increase and strengthen communication from Mapuche Lafkenche perspectives. Since 2015, she has participated in many film productions and has received training in photography. Now in her last year of high school, she hopes to continue her studies in filmography. Her fellowship project, “Strengthening Mapuche Communication in the Budi Territory,” strengthened community media communication and Mapuche knowledge through audiovisual technology. She also created video and radio productions about Mapuche culture and language, using traditional stories and music.
e, the Mapuchelafkenche youth, are strengthening our communication from our own vision using the tools and technology as instruments for social and cultural investigation. We are taking into consideration Mapuche knowledge, participation, and validation from our traditional authorities; the families are the ones guiding this process. Since 2011, we, the youth of this Budi territory, have captured diverse subjects in film of the Mapuche medicine, ideological colonization, the identity of youth, territorial recovery, and many others.
We have the need to strengthen and revalidate the Mapuche knowledge of our territory by the teachings of our elders, who are the carriers of knowledge. This is a process developed by the Mapuche Film and Communication School of Aylla Rewe Budi, of which I am a member. Our ancestral territory is located between the Imperial River and the Toltén River, to which the Chilean State would correspond to the com- munities of Saavedra, Teodoro Schmidt, and Toltén. It is in this territory that our way of life occurs and our identity is defined as Lafkenche del Budi Mapuche. [Our identity] is denied by the policies of the Chilean state. Therefore, there is the need to make visible our own forms of political and cultural organization as well as our own ways of relating and interacting with spaces and understanding life, and to revitalize our Mapudungun language. Capturing and documenting our knowledge using different tools and new technologies will allow us to give an important space for the Mapudungun and the oral testimony of our grandparents. The support of Cultural Survival has allowed me to strengthen my training and capacity in the creation of documentary short films. It has also allowed me to train in research processes from a Mapuche perspective, [which has enabled
me to] transform the video documentary into a didactic tool capable of allowing us to define how we want to show ourselves and be represented through the image. With the support of the Aylla Rewe Budi Mapuche Film and Communication School, we can continue to strengthen Mapuche kimün (knowledge) of our territory and to strengthen the communication between generations to make sure this memory and knowledge of the territory lives on in oral stories. Watch the Mapuche youth films at www.youtube.com/ user/escuelacinemapuche.
Team from the Mapuche Film and Communication School of Aylla Rewe Budi. Carolina Rain Ancan pictured in the blue coat, far left. Photo courtesy of Carolina Rain Ancan.
a rnab C haudha ry
Racing Against Time to Save the Kusunda Language in Nepal Arnab Chaudhary (Tharu), 21, hails from Gadhawa Village in the Dang district of Nepal. Currently in his third year of law school, he is fluent in Tharu, Nepali, Hindi, English, and Awadhi. As a fond reader of poetry and literature, he advocates for Indigenous languages in Nepal. He is also a legal intern for ProPublica working in the field of public interest litigation with a focus on environmental justice. Chaudhary previously worked as an executive member of the Kathmandu Valley Committee of the Tharu Student Society and continues to be active in discussions of social, legal, political, and economic issues related to Indigenous communities with his peers. In his youth fellowship project, “Vanishing Language of Kusunda Peoples,” he produced a radio program series about the Kusunda Peoples focused on promoting and strengthening their critically endangered language and culture. The program was broadcast on three local community radio stations where he invited members of the Kusunda community to participate in a live discussion on air. To date, Chaudhary has produced three episodes for Radio Kusunda Aawaj. The latest episode highlights Kusunda culture and features interviews with Gyani Maiya Kusunda and Kamala Kusunda elders. At the time, Gyani Maiya Kusunda was one of two remaining fluent speakers of the Kusunda language. She passed away during the project term at the age of 81. Although plans to continue the project have been placed on hold temporarily, Chaudhary is creating material on the impacts of coronavirus in his community as there is a gap in communication between the state government and his people about the virus. He hopes to raise awareness about COVID-19 and COVID-19 prevention in Tharu. He shares with us his learnings about the Kusunda Peoples and their language.
Visiting Kusunda community members. L-R: Uday Ale, Arnab Chaudhary, Gyani Maiya, and Nirajan Sharma Adhikari. Photo courtesy of Arnab Chaudhary.
Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 21
Youth Strengthening Indigenous Communication Through Media
epal, my home, is a beautiful biologically and culturally diverse country made up of mountains, hills, and plains. It is a nation of 125 caste groups and Tribes and 123 languages. All castes and Tribes have their own cultures, traditions, customs, and language. Among them are the Kusunda Peoples, an endangered minority, marginalized, nomadic Tribe with its own language. As an Indigenous Community Youth Media Fellow, I have worked as a journalist and raised the issue of the vanishing language of the endangered Indigenous Kusunda Tribe. I focused my radio program solely on the Kusunda people and their language because there is very little coverage about them [in the media], and lots of people don’t know about them to tell the world about their uniqueness. In 2001, for the first time, the government of Nepal identified the Kusunda caste and listed it among Indigenous Tribes. According to that census, the total population of the Kusunda Tribe was 165 with 87 Kusunda language speakers. The 2011 census counted a population of 273 with 28 Kusunda language speakers. But according to researcher Uday Ale, their current population is only around 150, and with only 1 fully fluent speaker, Kamala Khatri. Khatri, 85, became the last fluent Kusunda speaker after the death of Gyani Maiya Kusunda on January 25, 2020. The Kusunda people have been living in the central hills and the Terai of the western and midwestern regions of Nepal. Ale has also reported Kusunda people living in Tanahu, Gorkha, Arghakhanchi, Kapilvastu, Dang Deukhuri, Rolpa, Pyuthan and Surkhet districts of Nepal. My people are nomadic in nature and roam from one forest to another, but today no one lives in the forest. As hunters and gatherers, Kusunda ancestors used to live in huts and caves in the jungle and carry bows and arrows to hunt wild animals. Generally, Kusunda people have a shorter physical appearance than the average Nepali. The term “Kusunda” is understood as a rude and insulting word in Nepal and they prefer to call themselves Myak, which means “king of the forest.” However, the word Kusunda has been accepted by Kusunda people. They also use the term to refer to tigers, since the tiger is also the king of the forest. A Kusunda man is called Banaraja (forest king), his wife is referred to as Banrani (forest queen), and daughters are Ban Maiya (forest princesses). The Kusunda people are considered to be one of the most
Kusunda children learning about the importance of their mother tongue from Uday Ale. Photo courtesy of Parinati.
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unique Indigenous Tribes of Nepal, and their language is also considered a unique language. It does not belong to any language family in the world and is not phonologically, morphologically, syntactically, or lexically related to any other languages; it is considered a language isolate. The Kusundas’ lifeways differ from other castes in terms of food, clothing, traditions, and livelihoods. Many Kusundas lack access to education and employment opportunities and are forced to live in poverty on Ailani (non-registered) government land. The Nepal Kusunda Development Society was formed in 2009 as an umbrella organization of the Kusunda people to advocate for their rights. The Nepali government is providing various vocational training for the Kusundas as well as a monthly social security allowance. The government has also built houses for many through the safe housing program. Other organizations have also been working in the area of Kusunda. Language classes are offered for Kusunda children under the supervision of researcher Ale, under the auspices of the National Language Commission for the Preservation of Kusunda Language and Language Transfer to the New Generation. The steps that need to be taken for the development and uplift of the Kusunda people are still many. Unless action is taken now, the Kusunda people, culture, and arts will be severely threatened and their language will go silent. If the Kusunda language goes silent, a unique and important part of our human heritage will be lost forever. I want to draw the attention of national and international organizations and the people who are concerned about the issue of language revitalization. I am passionate about supporting them because they have been discriminated against and marginalized, and I want them to be supported and uplifted. The fellowship project was designed to make the Kusunda people aware about the uniqueness of their language. Many of their cultural practices are vanishing [along with their language]. I wanted to advocate for the rights of Kusunda people and to raise awareness of the need for their protection through this project. The project was more impactful than expected, and we got very appreciative responses from the Kusunda people. We believe that our radio programs will inspire people to do further studies and research. The Indigenous Community Youth Media Fellowship is one of the best opportunities to help Indigenous communities and for my personal development.
Lo r ena Jamioy TIsoy
Art Sustains the History of a Community
orena Jamioy Tisoy (Inga-Kamëntsá) is an Indigenous Community Media Youth Fellow from Valle de Sibundoy, Putumayo, Colombia. At 25, Tisoy is already a leader in her community. Her fellowship project, entitled, “Jajetsam Bëngbe Juabnac” (Weaving the Thought of Our Elders), uses radio programming and in-person workshops to facilitate the sharing of ancestral knowledge through weaving and storytelling. Tisoy says that the idea and the name of her project are rooted in the understanding that weaving is “the art that sustains the history of a community,” and that “it is important that this weaving is the thoughts of our elders.” The project’s ultimate goal is to strengthen community connections to the land and language. As part of the Jajetsam Bëngbe Juabnac program, a series of workshops were held teaching youth how to make a variety of traditional crafts. One piece Tisoy focused on was the Tsombiache, a traditional faja (sash). She explains that the tsombiache “is an element that captures the totality of the oral tradition and that represents the life, history, and memory of the Kamёntsá community. The Tsombiache reflects the history of our ancestors through symbols, and in them is represented the histories of daily life, the environment, mother earth, the laborer, the rituals or sacred spaces and the celestial bodies.” Learning how to create the Tsombiache represented just one part of the process for workshop participants. During the program, children engaged with community elders who described the significance of the faja, along with its diverse symbols and colors. Another workshop hosted by Tisoy focused on the Jabaichayam. The Jabaichayam is a fan made of palm that was traditionally used to intensify a fire. Tisoy explains that today the Jabaichayam is difficult to make due to the material’s scarcity: “It is already very difficult to access the primary materials like the cattail and the palm that are used to make those baskets and this fan. It’s that the plant is not easily sown and it is very challenging to access the seeds.” Because of this, the Jabaichayam has been slowly falling out of use, and there are only a few elders who have knowledge of how to make the fans. A similar problem was encountered when Tisoy hosted a workshop teaching youth to weave the sbaruk, a traditional basket. Like the Jabaichayam, the sbaruk uses scarce plant materials, so it had to be produced on a smaller scale for the workshops. “These traditional elements are scarce in homes and they are only infrequently made. They are normally used as a form of weaving that represents artisanship and as such are not very common,” she says. At the time of Tisoy’s project, new restrictions around community gatherings began to emerge because of the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation. Rather than become discouraged, Tisoy creatively adapted her workshops to ensure participant safety. She also proactively responded to the emerging challenges within her community by organizing a campaign called “Jajetsam cach Yebnentse Wassillapi Awaii”
(Weaving at Home). She says, “Lessons and good practices were shared in the exchange of experiences and knowledge shared in each radio broadcast and in the workshops; [especially] the importance of self-care and caring for our elders in the face of COVID-19, and how we can help them to preserve the essence and knowledge [of our community] so that they are not lost in history, and the legacy will continue.” The weaving project used the radio station Waishanya to bring attention to the difficulties being faced by artisans during the pandemic. Using radio, Tisoy was also able to provide artisans with a platform to share their knowledge while staying safe. Similar to the Jajetsam Bëngbe Juabnac program, Jajetsam cach Yebnentse Wassillapi Awaii focused on strengthening the cosmovision of the Kamëntsá and Inga communities of Sibundoy. Tisoy says that the purpose of both programs is to engage community elders and youth in conversation. The hope is that through these connections, traditional knowledge can be strengthened and passed down. Regarding outcomes, Tisoy said that “we can see that the participation of small children and the youth surpassed what we had initially expected.” She also notes that one of the greatest difficulties was finding ways to accommodate the large interest. Going forward, Tisoy hopes to expand her program and be able to include more participants. She particularly wants to focus on engaging women and mothers acting as the head of household.
Lorena J amioy Tisoy in traditional Inga-Kamëntsá clothing. Photo courtesy of Lorena Jamioy Tisoy.
Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 23
A Bridge Between Worlds in siberia IYX Sparking the Creative Essence of Youth in South Africa
Tatyana Vassilievna Kobezhikova
Right: Tatiana Kobezhikova holding a Summer Solstice ritual honoring Father Sky and making sacred food offerings to the spirits. Inset: A greeting the sun ritual held at dusk.
Shaldon Ferris (KhoiSan, CS Staff)
outh Africa has been branded as “the Rainbow Nation” because of the diversity of its citizens. The country boasts a very liberal constitution and 11 official languages, none of which, however, include Indigenous languages like Nama or N/uuki. What is becoming more and more apparent lately is the exclusion of the Khoi and San languages, especially from school curricula, radio, and television. Under Apartheid, only English and Afrikaans were official languages. This famously led to the Soweto uprising of 1976 where students rebelled against Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. The actions of the police force of the time were widely publicized, and those who were previously forced to learn in a language that was not their mother tongue started to be heard on a global scale. When Apartheid was abolished, nine more languages were made official, and community radio started to take off. To date, more than 150 community radio stations are operating in South Africa, all with a specific mandate to broadcast to communities that have been overlooked for many years. Since 1994, the country’s licensing authority, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, started granting licenses to diverse groups such as women-led cooperatives, farming communities, interest-specific groups, religious groups, and others. The sector started booming, and many employment opportunities were created. Commercial radio stations 24 • www. cs. org
Megan Mouwers and Sharri Cannell, directors of IYX Africa, proudly show off their IYX Radio gear. Photo courtesy of IYX Radio.
typically employ talent from the community radio sector, as this serves as an opportune training ground for would-be employees. The very nature of community radio means that volunteers have to wear many hats; for example, a presenter may double as a content producer and a social media content creator. The licensing authority has done well to ensure that previously disadvantaged communities are now able to communicate with each other in languages that they understand. The one community that has been marginalized the most in terms of language continuity, by both the old government as well as the first 27 years of the new government, is the Khoi and the San community. These are actually separate communities, but for the purpose of this article, it makes sense to group them since very little attention is given to their languages. It is noteworthy that the State broadcaster, South African Broadcasting Corporation, has achieved much in facilitating the development of XK FM, a radio station in Platfontein, Kimberly Northern Cape, South Africa. This station broadcasts in the San languages of Khwe and! Xun, as well as Afrikaans. The station is regional, however, and only broadcasts to the immediate community of Platfontein. In the last 27 years, South Africa has seen a revival of people returning to their Khoi and San roots, and some community radio stations in other regions are now broadcasting content related especially to awareness and conscientizing people about a history that was largely suppressed—the history of the Indigenous Peoples of Southern Africa. Eden FM in George,
Valley FM in Worcester, Bush FM in Cape Town, and Eldos FM in Johannesburg, all have regular features about diverse topics that talk to people about who they once were, and how important that knowledge is to the overall well being of a particular Peoples. The internet has made it easy for almost anyone with a few resources and a lot of content to broadcast from a makeshift studio in a garage, dining room, or bedroom. Enter IYX Radio, operated by nonprofit organization Indigi Youth Exchange Africa. According to the podcast and online radio platform zeno.fm, “IYX Radio is a Southern African Indigenous online radio station that would like to establish a sustainable and secure network of Indigenous youth, their communities, and access to current Indigenous information and actions. Our goal is to unite Indigenous communities through dialogues and discussions on a variety of Indigenous topics such as Indigenous laws, environmental practices policies and laws, Indigenous linguistics, social conflicts, genderbased violence, conflict resolution, the genocide of Namibia and post-war conflict resolution, as well as Indigenous land affairs, to name only a few. We are interested in bringing Indigenous knowledge systems to the forefront and to integrate that with the urban Indigenous perspective, as we are living in a world where the ancient information is being lost and we must find a way to document and keep this knowledge alive.” Cultural Survival recently spoke to one of IYX’s directors, Sharri Cannell (San). Cannell is also a Cultural Survival 2021 Indigenous Community Media Youth Fellow. An environmental scientist by profession, she holds an honors degree in Zoology from the University of Johannesburg. Over the past four years, Cannell has embarked on a journey in exploring her ancestral heritage and learning about Indigenous knowledge systems of the Khoe and San people. This journey led to the creation of Indigi Youth Exchange Radio, a space to explore Indigenous heritage and bring it to the forefront for urban dwelling Indigenous individuals, as well as for the world to gain insight into the Indigenous Peoples of Southern Africa. Cultural Survival: What does the Indigi Youth Exchange do? Sharri Cannell: We provide rural and remote assistance
to marginalized communities, specifically Indigenous communities within Southern Africa. I am the treasurer of the nonprofit organization and I also serve as the production manager for our new project, which is called IYX Radio. It is the first of its kind in South Africa. It is run by youth, 90 percent female and 10 percent male. Most of us are under the age of 30. It is very exciting to get this opportunity.
CS: Why did IYX apply for the Cultural Survival Indigenous Youth fellowship? SC: As a youth-led organization, we have so much to say.
As a rural and remote assistance team we were travelling far and wide to places like Namibia. Lots of research has been done on short trips like these, some good, some negative. When we saw the opportunity to apply, we grabbed the chance. We have always been using social media to share what we have learned, but it was not enough, there was more that
we would get into. So we took the chance, and thank goodness we were selected, because now we have a platform and we will not let our listeners down. The name of our online radio station is Indigi Youth Exchange Radio, or IYX Radio, and our fundamental goal is to unite Southern African Indigenous communities—youth and elders—through dialogue about important issues. I think it is very important to bring the urban Indigenous perspective in that space. Many so-called “Coloured” people have identity issues, and maybe the people who come from the cities will gain a different perspective. CS: Who do you wish to reach and uplift with this radio station? SC: We would like to
empower youth to speak up about issues in their communities, issues about their own personal journeys. For example, in the case of the Namibian genocide, which was more than 100 years ago, we would like the youth to face the past and see the value in knowing about what happened in the past. Secondly, the empowerment of women, because gender-based violence is a massive problem in our country and other countries around the world. We would like to empower young women, specifically, and older women too, so that they can help others to learn from their experiences. My fellowship project aims to unite Indigenous communities and youth through dialogues and discussions on a variety of Indigenous topics. Eight broadcasters, six women and two men, will create programs on these issues in their own unique voices. Each broadcaster is from a different part of South Africa and comes from a community with unique histories, issues, and needs. Through the project, we hope to digitally archive Indigenous knowledge systems that would usually be passed down orally and make the recordings accessible to urban Indigenous Peoples through radio programs, sparking a revitalization of ancient practices and customs. Right now we are focusing on the next 12 months; for the next year we are giving this our utmost. We are sparking the creative essence of our youth in a very unique way. We would like to generate our own revenue for the maintenance of the radio station. For the next year we plan to hit hard and significantly, so we’ll see what the future holds.
Listen to IYX Radio on soundcloud: soundcloud.com/iyx-radio-8103977.
Cultural Survival Quarterly June 2021 • 25
KOEF gr a n t p a rtn e r sp otl i ght
Building Energy Sovereignty for Life Makxtum Kgalhaw Chuchutsipi Makxtum youth proudly pose next to a solar panel.
Bia’ni Madsa’ Juárez López (Ayuuk ja’ay and Binnizá , CS Staff)
arnessing the power of the sun is nothing new to many Indigenous communities. Solar energy has been used for thousands of years in many different ways for heating, cooking, and drying. Around the world, communities are again turning to solar energy to solve their rising needs for electricity as well as to affirm their Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. Through their participation in Makxtum Kgalhaw Chuchutsipi, Tutunakú youth are leading the way to defend their territories and build sustainable energy sources for their communities. Makxtum Kgalhaw Chuchutsipi is a Tutunakú organization made up of youth between the ages of 14-30 from 10 communities along the Ajajalpan River in the north of the State of Puebla, Mexico. The organization was created in 2013 when Grupo Mexico, a Mexican conglomerate that is the leading mining operator in Mexico and the third largest copper producer in the world, tried to claim lands in several local Indigenous communities. Their local environment is threatened by additional large-scale development projects including a hydroelectric dam project by Comexhidro, which will supply energy to Walmart.
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A Keepers of the Earth Fund grant was awarded to Makxtum in 2019 to strengthen the voices and leadership of Tutunakú youth to defend their lands and water resources from unwanted mega-development projects. Tutunakú youth understand that energy is an important need for the communities and that alternative sources are possible; they know that hydropower is not their only option, in spite of what large scale production companies want them to believe. Recognizing their interest in renewable energy, Makxtum trained the youth in alternative energy production, including photovoltaic solar panels, as part of their strategy to achieve energy sovereignty. They also created videos about Tutunakú spirituality and their Peoples’ relationship with water. In the training that Makxtum youth received related to land defense, they gathered information about the hydroelectric project and the possible impacts it would produce in their communities. Development companies and extractive industries see youth as a strategic group to engage, and many of these companies are targeting them to convince them to approve development projects in their communities, often by offering job opportunities. Makxtum carried out this project because they believe “it is necessary to work more with young people so that they learn how energy can be generated without harming Mother Earth, and so that
All photos courtesy of Makxtum Kgalhaw Chuchutsipi.
they learn the negative impacts generated by megaprojects.” Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario and Onergia are two organizations supporting the youth in this project. Twenty-seven youth participated in the trainings, which were paused several times in the past year due to the pandemic. The youths’ learning process included visits to other energy projects to learn about them firsthand. After one such visit to the Necaxa hydro plant, a participant said, “This visit helped us understand that not all hydroelectric plants generate clean energy and that large foreign companies do not care about the damage suffered by the population where the project is located. This motivated us to learn more about renewable energy and that not all renewable energy projects are suitable for the communities.” The youth also had the opportunity to travel to Cuetzalan, Puebla to visit Nahua Indigenous projects similar to theirs, an experience that helped them to see the possibilities of their own project. “I was always interested in knowing how the energy worked and how it reached our homes. This course helped me a lot because I learned things that I did not know and saw how important energy is to our life. Renewable energy generated by solar panels helps protect Mother Earth from further damage. We still have more to learn. I am grateful for having this opportunity to participate,” said Griselda Luna, a participant from the Alticato community. “The idea is to continue learning and to be able to advance the training with other young people in other towns so that the learning does not remain only in us. We need to show others that we can generate energy without drying up rivers, without the painful need to pipe water and kill aquatic animals,” said José Galindo from San Felipe Tepatlán, about his experience. Almost half of the participants were women; Makxtum had the firm intention to promote Indigenous women’s leadership in their trainings, and as such, adapted the workshops so more young women could participate. Members of Makxtum had direct conversations with families and reached agreements about their daughters’ participation, reduced the time for each training, and made sure the young women were accompanied to make them feel safe. Makxtum training projects have been a great experience for the youth. They want to continue their work, and more youth and families want to send their children to learn about alternative energy. The youth of Makxtum continue to work against the energy “projects for the dead,’’ (a term commonly used in Mexico as
part of community campaigns against megaproject impacts), instead focusing on building alternative projects “for life.” Cultural Survival is honored to be able to contribute to their efforts. Keepers of the Earth Fund (KOEF) is an Indigenous-led fund within Cultural Survival designed to support Indigenous Peoples’ community development and advocacy projects. Since 2017, through small grants and technical assistance, KOEF has supported 119 projects in 31 countries totaling $488,475. KOEF provides, on average, $5,000 grants to grassroots Indigenousled communities, organizations, and traditional governments to support their self-determined development projects based on their Indigenous values. Predicated on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Cultural Survival uses a rights-based approach in our grantmaking strategies to support grassroots Indigenous solutions through the equitable distribution of resources to Indigenous communities.
Makxtum youth equipped with protective wear during a training on electricity.
Almost half of the youth who took part in the trainings were young women. Cultural CulturalSurvival SurvivalQuarterly Quarterly June 2021 • 27
st af f s po t lig h t
Storyteller, Poet, Lover of Life: Gabael Otzoy Diana Pastor (Maya K’iche’, CS Staff)
omalapa (chi Xot in Maya Kaqchikel) in Ixim Ulew (Guatemala) is renowned for its Indigenous artists and art. With more than 95 percent of the population being Maya Kaqchikel, this place has become a mecca for weaving, sculpture, painting, music, and writing. The art can be seen from the entrance to the municipality with its colorful cemetery and exquisite murals representing Indigenous daily life, welcoming all who come to the town. Among the street art in which local artists have captured the history and culture of Comalapa is the house of Gabael Otzoy (Maya Kaqchikel), Cultural Survival’s Information Technology assistant and co-coordinator of the Indigenous Community Media Youth Fellowship. Otzoy loves to write, learn, and discover the world, decolonizing the knowledge that has been taught to him and revitalizing the ancestral knowledge of his people. When Otzoy was a child, he enjoyed reading anything that came his way. He began to participate in school poetry contests and municipal literary contests known in Guatemala as juegos florales (floral games), where he received prizes and recognition. However, it was not until he met Indigenous writers of chi Xot that he entered the world of writing. In his early 20s, Otzoy began to present and read his writing at local art festivals and readings. Now, for personal reasons, he does not publish his books on paper, but he shares his creations on his blog, tzununkaj.wordpress.com. He is currently part of Ajtz’ib’, a Kaqchikel writers collective
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that promotes art in all its manifestations, especially literature, in Kaqchikel. Otzoy’s identity is closely linked to his creations. Feeling Indigenous has been, and continues to be, an evolving process for him. The education system in Guatemala intentionally suppresses the appreciation and significance of Indigenous and community identity, and foreign and colonial cultures and languages are promoted and taught at the expense of Indigenous cultures. Otzoy’s sense of curiosity, love, and deep belonging to his own culture led him to write about the life, freedoms, emotions, and feelings of his people, but also about the sociopolitical and sociocultural conditions they face. Community and environment are inexhaustible sources of inspiration from which Otzoy’s beautiful and profound writings emanate. Another source of creativity for Otzoy’s poems are the works of Indigenous poets, such as the renowned late Maya K’iche’ writer Humberto Ak’abal, and the extensive network of poets in Ixim Ulew and Abya Yala. On a local level, Otzoy uplifts the teachings of his writer friends from the Ajtz’ib’ collective, which brings together not only writers, but also people of different ages and artistic expressions, such as painters, muralists, actors, and weavers. “Being part of such a diverse group is really interesting since our events are generally spontaneous,” Otzoy says. Poetic proclamations have been made in the streets of the town inspiring young people to cultivate their love of poetry. In 2020, they organized an international virtual poetry festival where 20 Indigenous writers read poetry in their native languages, demonstrating that the love for poetry
unifies, embraces, and overcomes language barriers. Recently, Otzoy’s poems were included in the digital anthology Nab’ey Tik’on (First Sowing), which brought together the poetry of 13 Kaqchikel youth from Comalapa. “One of the challenges as a Maya Kaqchikel is to capture the ideas and experiences that are born from my being and in my native language. From spontaneous and daily conversations I have with Kaqchikel-speaking family and friends, thoughts and ideas emerge that would hardly be born in a non-Indigenous environment. The force and feeling of poetry are diluted when one thinks in Spanish and forces us to later translate those thoughts into our Indigenous language. The same thing happens when writing in Kaqchikel first and then wanting to translate those writings into Spanish,” he says. Otzoy does not define himself as an artist; rather, he sees himself as a storyteller, an observer, a lover of life and its details. He holds a high appreciation for contemplation, reflection, and the art of listening. Since he began his work supporting the Indigenous Community Media Youth Fellowship, he has met youth from different Indigenous Nations who have become a new source of inspiration and respect. He says, “The work they do, rooted in their communities, is admirable. Together with the Cultural Survival team, we have organized virtual creative writing workshops. This has encouraged young people to share their stories and cultures and express themselves to the world.” Read some of Gabael Otzoy’s poetry: www.cs.org/csq/gabael.
B az aar art i st s pot l igh t
Sebastian Palomino Jimenez
Passing on Traditions in Wood
Danae Laura (CS Staff)
ebastian Palomino Jimenez (Quechua) is 16 years old from Lima, Peru. He recently moved to Massachusetts with his family, with whom he sculpts, paints, and builds worlds in the form of retablos (altarpiece boxes). These expressive story scenes are sold as small, medium, and large pieces that carry on the family’s tradition. Culturally, retablos represent the Andean worldview from the Hamapacha and Qapacha regions during the period between 1542–1824 when Indigenous Peoples’ lands were being conquered by the Spanish. Indigenous people adopted the artform brought by the Spanish conquistadors and used it to tell their own stories. For Palomino, retablos are also personal; they represent a childhood learning of sculpting from his mother. The techniques for crafting retablos have changed since Palomino’s grandfather had to go to a mountain in Ahuacuche for omanga (a specific type of rock) to make the cast, and used bull skin, boiled all night, to make glue. Today the glue is purchased from the store, but the painting and figurines, now made of potato, are still done by hand, creating the structure for a wide array of artistic choices. Today, Palomino, with his family, sculpts and polishes the wooden boxes, then paints the background and frames. Each piece of the retablo is made with dough prepared in the workshop combined with plaster. Later each figure is painted, and once they have dried, they are placed in the box with glue. The decorations that surround the figurines within the retablo are made from natural and recycled materials. The whole box is then painted with aging liquid that is prepared in their shop. “Since I was little, I always followed my parents to the workshop...always playing, my mother patiently taught me,” Palomino Jimenez recalls. “I played with figurines and made sculptures, but they did not come out as well as I imagined. I loved when they painted the boxes of the retablos and the flowers, the combination of colors in them was so beautiful. Now, at 16, I make
retablos and help my parents, Eleudora and Fidel, my grandmother Amalia, and my sisters, Zuly and Danika, in the workshop.” On his participation as a teenager in the Cultural Survival Bazaars, Palomino says, “I have enjoyed meeting people from different cultures, making friends and learning about their customs. I love getting to know other places, visiting museums, libraries, and prestigious universities. Selling abroad has been a welcome challenge, and although at first it was hard to speak in English to sell our art, my family has been practicing together and we now understand more English. I feel connected to my culture through my art because the Ayacuchano retablo is Peru’s cultural heritage. It represents history and is part of our family legacy.” He continues, “Being an artist feels good because I can express part of my culture in art. I see myself as an artist, but I also plan to have a professional career. My family has always taught me that you have to carry your values wherever you go and never forget where you come from; this is part of what influences the artist. For me, seeing the world as an artist is about expressing, telling, and shaping stories. You have to master the techniques first to then be able to visualize and express. When I make a retablo, first I have to think about what the idea is, what I want to do, what I want to present, what I want to make understood. I look at myself as [an observer] who wants to show something, and I have to try to express the figure with each painting, with each color. I see the world as an active spec-tator who not only observes, but can also influence. I give movement to the sculptures: if it is a dance, all the people are dancing, and if it is the jungle, all the birds are flying. When I make art, I relate to my culture.” All in-person Cultural Survival Bazaars in 2021 are postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To support and buy directly from our Bazaar artists, visit our directory of artists at bazaar.cs.org.
Cultural June 2021 2021 •• 29 29 Cultural Survival Survival Quarterly Quarterly June
Youth in the Cultural Survival Family
Thank you to the 2,000+ youth who have contributed to Cultural Survival’s work over our near 50-year history as Cultural Survival interns! Cultural Survival co-founder Pia MayburyLewis started the internship program in the organization’s earliest days and mentored over 1,300 interns. Pia described Cultural
Survival’s first project: “[We were] trying to get money and supplies to the Yanomami people of Venezuela who were encountering a devastating measles epidemic. Our first interns were students. In the early days we had as many as 30, sometimes. They were full of energy and suggestions, and were eager to hear, see, and learn how we could
support Indigenous people in South America and other places.” Over the years, interns have written for the Cultural Survival Quarterly, helped at the Bazaars, and conducted research for various programs. Interns are still actively involved in all areas of the organization and are vital to our day-to-day operations.
Meet Our S p ri ng 2021 In ter n T ea m
“This internship at Cultural Survival has nourished my engagement with justice for Indigenous people. I have particularly been inspired by Indigenous women and their forceful guidance as leaders of their communities.” Katia Yoza
“I enjoyed that I felt supported and had the freedom to explore my interests. I also greatly appreciated that staff members made the time to talk with me about their experiences in this field. Cultural Survival provided a wealth of information for me to educate myself on Indigenous rights issues.”
“My favorite part about the internship is the opportunity to bring awareness to Indigenous rights issues that often do not get recognized. Being able to contribute to this mission of global advocacy through research has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me.”
Our interns give their time and expertise to support Cultural Survival’s important work. If you are interested in an internship, visit: cs.org/about/internships.
“My internship has allowed me to explore and strengthen my interests in current Indigenous rights advocacy efforts worldwide. As a non-Indigenous person, this opportunity has been an invaluable experience to learn of the true histories and current injustices that Indigenous communities have endured and continue to defend.” Mariana Sanborn
Are you a former intern? Let us know what you are doing now and share your memories of Cultural Survival. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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