Cultural Survival Q
The Future We Want Indigenous Women of the World Unite Vol. 37, Issue 4 â€˘ December 2013 US $4.99/CAN $6.99
D E C emb er 20 13 V olum e 37 , Issue 4 Board of Directors President & board Chair
Duane Champagne (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa)
Nicole Friederichs Clerk
Lesley Kabotie (Crow) Evelyn Arce (Chibcha) Laura Graham Steve Heim Edward John (Tl’azt’en) Pia Maybury-Lewis Stephen Marks P. Ranganath Nayak Stella Tamang (Tamang) Che Philip Wilson (Nga-ti Rangi) FOUNDERS David & Pia Maybury-Lewis Cultural Survival PO Box 381569 Cambridge, MA 02238 t 617.441.5400 f 617.441.5417 www.cs.org 5ª calle 14-35, Zona 3 Apartamento 202 Edificio Las Tapias Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, 09001
World Conference of Indigenous Women participants (L–R) Top: Martha Muhawenimana (Rwanda), Nadezda Bulatovae (Russia), Valbina Miguel Toribio (Peru), Winnie Kodi (Sudan). Bottom: Jocelyn Hung Chien (Taiwan), Faustina Alvarenga (Paraguay), Sreynean Loeck (Cambodia), Liubov Passar (Russia). See pages 14–22. Photo by CHIRAPAQ/mujerindigena.com
F e at u r e s
12 Strengthening Indigenous Communication in Abya Yala
1 Executive Director’s Message
María del Rosario (“Rosy”) Sul González An account from the Second Continental Summit on Indigenous Communication in Oaxaca, Mexico.
14 Nothing About Us, Without Us. Everything About Us, With Us.
On October 28–30, 2013, at the World Conference of Indigenous women in Lima, Peru, Indigenous women united in one voice to call upon States to respect, protect, and fulfill their rights.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
Copy Editor: Jenn Goodman Designer: NonprofitDesign.com Contributing Arts Editor: Phoebe Farris Managing Editor: Agnes Portalewska Copyright 2013 by Cultural Survival, Inc. Cultural Survival Quarterly (ISSN 0740-3291) is published quarterly by Cultural Survival, Inc. at PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Periodical postage paid at Boston, MA 02205 and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Cultural Survival, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Printed on recycled paper in the U.S.A. Please note that the views in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Cultural Survival.
View writers’ guidelines at our website (www.cs.org) or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Cultural Survival, Writer’s Guidelines, PO Box 381569, Cambridge, MA 02238. Cultural Survival recognizes that Indigenous Peoples have long been exploited by photographers and publications. This publication does not pay photographers for images and makes no money from publishing them. We also make a tremendous effort to identify every Indigenous individual in the images that appear here. From time to time, however, such identification is not possible. We apologize to the subjects of those photos and to any reader offended by the omission.
15 Confronting Megaprojects Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures
of Peru (CHIRAPAQ)
16 Maintaining the Ways of Our Ancestors Jessie Cherofsky
18 Suffering for the Mistakes of Others Robin Oisín Llewellyn
19 Youth, Talk to Your Elders Anne Aikio
In Profile: 20 Raffaella Bulyaar from Marsabit, Kenya 21 Pefi Kingi from Niue 22 Andrea Landry from Canada
23 The Financial Case for Honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights First Peoples Worldwide
The case for why investors and shareholders should care about Indigenous Peoples.
24 Saving our Identity ii • www. cs. org
Yuxin Hou An uphill battle for the Tuva of China to maintain their lifeways.
2 In the News 4 Indigenous Arts Celebrating Heritage Traditions in Alaska 6 Rights in Action UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 8 Women the World Must Hear Our Resistance Will Not Stop: Dayamani Barla 10 board spotlight Lesley Kabotie 26 Bazaar Artist Dancing Hula to Say “Mahalo”: Kawika Alfiche 27 Our Supporters 28 Take Action Take action with Quechua communities of Nuevo Andoas, Peru, as they demand the clean up of toxic petroleum waste on their lands. On the cover Poster from World Conference of Indigenous Women in Lima, Peru, October 28-30, 2013. Courtesy of Newton Mori/Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú (CHIRAPAQ) www.chirapaq.org.pe.
Executiv e Director’S message
“Nothing About Us, Without Us… Everything About Us, With Us”
he story of the women who gathered from all over the world at the World Conference of Indigenous Women is a living journey of generational strength, courage, hope, and resilience. As elder women spoke, they imparted wisdom about our responsibilities to our mother earth and to sustaining life through proper relationships. They shared stories of their struggles and activism to get us where we are today. Here’s to the World Conference of Indigenous Women! The World Conference of Indigenous Women convened in late October in Lima, Peru. More than 200 hundred women brought forth their prayers, songs, cultures, issues, and concerns through powerful voices. Grandmothers, daughters, and granddaughters expressed deep concern for the well being of humanity, the environment, their traditional livelihoods, cultures, communities, and for future generations. As Indigenous women, we nurture and sustain all of these through holistic paradigms and relationships, including profound relationships with the natural world. It has been nearly 20 years since the 1994 Cairo Plan of Action, which set milestones for the equality and empowerment of women as a global priority, and the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, which set the most comprehensive global policy framework to achieve the goals of gender equality, development, and peace, and which included Indigenous women at the international level for the first time. The Millennium Development Goals, formulated in 2000, obligate 147 States to meet 8 goals that “promote gender equality and empower women.” The UN has set 2015 as the deadline to fulfill these obligations. Yet, Indigenous women around the world continue to face violence through armed conflicts, militarization, sexual violence, forced removals, loss of land, institutionalized violence, racism, economic exploitation, sexual trafficking of children and adolescents, domestic violence, and other forms of discrimination. Women struggle for control of their rights to sexual
and reproductive health and severely lack needed health and education services. In the United States, Native women experience the highest rate of sexual violence of any group: one in three American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in her lifetime; more than 50 percent of the reported perpetrators are non-Native people; and the rate of Native women murdered on Indian reservations and in border towns is significantly higher than the national average. These statistics express an urgent situation, but we must also be concerned about the staggering impact of climate change and loss of biodiversity on Indigenous territories. Indigenous women’s lives are closely and deeply connected to their geographical and physical areas, as they rely on the land to produce food, gather wood for fuel, and collect safe drinking water. The World Conference was an opportunity for Indigenous women to assess their status in light of these major agendas, to develop proposals and advocacy plans, and to ensure a political seat for themselves in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the upcoming World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. In calling upon the world for greater accountability, women stated in the Lima Declaration of World Conference of Indigenous Women, “We affirm that Indigenous women have knowledge, wisdom, and practical experience, which has sustained human societies over generations. We, as mothers, life givers, culture bearers, and economic providers, nurture the linkages across generations and are the active sources of continuity and positive change.” This issue of Cultural Survival Quarterly is devoted to Indigenous women’s artistry, activism, and leadership whose courage and resilience is not forgotten, ignored, dismissed, or repressed. We honor all women, our mothers, and appreciate all that they have given. Their stories are reflected in the articles and profiles to follow. In Solidarity,
Suzanne Benally, Executive Director (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa)
Donors like you make our work around the world possible. Thanks so much for being part of Cultural Survival. Staff Suzanne Benally (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa), Executive Director Mark Camp, Deputy Executive Director Kaimana Barcarse (Native Hawaiian), FPIC Radio Series Producer Jessie Cherofsky, Program Assistant, Free, Prior and Informed Consent Initiative Matilde Choocoj Coc (Q’eqchi), FPIC Radio Series Producer Danielle DeLuca, Program Manager, Global Response Program and Free, Prior and Informed Consent Initiative David Michael Favreau, Bazaar Program Manager Sofia Flynn, Accounting & Office Manager Maria del Rosario “Rosy” Sul González (Kachiquel), Free, Prior and Informed Consent Initiative Radio Producer Dana Lobell, Grants Coordinator Jamie Malcolm-Brown, Communications & Information Technology Manager Cesar Gomez Moscut (Pocomam), Content Production & Training Coordinator, Community Radio Program Marcelino Romeo Vasquéz López, Fundraising Coordinator for the Community Radio Project Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager Angelica Rao, Program Associate, Community Radio Program Alberto “Tino” Recinos (Mam), Citizen Participation Coordinator, Community Radio Program Miranda Vitello, Development Associate Ancelmo Xunic (Kachikel), Community Radio Program Manager
INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS Sasha Benov, Don Butler, Amy Ferguson, Megan Harris, Kelsey Parker von Jess, Hannah Reier, Eliott Rousseau, Sara Schenkel, Holly Swanson, Melanie White, Kristen Williams Ava Berinstein, Linguistics Advisor 2013 Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation
1. Publication Title: Cultural Survival Quarterly 2. Publication Number: 0740-3291 3. Filing Date: September 28, 2013 4. Issue Frequency: Quarterly 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: Four 6. Annual Subscription Price: $45.00 7. Mailing Address of Publication: PO BOX 381569. Cambridge, MA 02238 8. Mailing Address of Publisher Headquarters: PO BOX 381569. Cambridge, MA 02238 9. Full Mailing Address and Complete Names of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor-Publisher: Cultural Survival, Inc. PO BOX 381569. Cambridge, MA 02238, Editor/Managing Editor: Agnes Portalewska, Cultural Survival, PO BOX 381569. Cambridge, MA 02238 10. Owner: Cultural Survival, Inc., PO BOX 381569. Cambridge, MA 02238 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgagees, and Other Securities: None 12. Tax Status: The purpose, function, and nonprofit status for federal income tax purposes has not changed during the preceding 12 months 13. Publication Title: Cultural Survival Quarterly 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: December 2013-Issue 37, Volume 4 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation: a. Total Number of Copies: Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 3200; Actual No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 3000 b. Paid and/or Requested Circulation-1. Paid/Requested Outside-County Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541: 1800; 1750 2. Paid In- County Subscriptions: 230; 250 3. Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other Non-USPS Paid Distribution: 600; 500 4. Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: 70; 55 c. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 2700; 2555 d. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution 1. Free or Nominal Rate Outside-County 50; 20 2. Free or Nominal Rate In-County: 30; 10 3. Free or Nominal Rate Copies Mailed at Other Classes 40; 40 4. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail 100; 90 e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution: 220; 160 f. Total Distribution: 2920; 2715 g. Copies Not Distributed: 280; 285 h. Total: 3200; 3000 i. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 92; 94 16. This Statement of Ownership is printed in the December 2013 issue of this publication 17. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete: Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager, Cultural Survival, Inc.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 1
i n t he new s a mine on their lands. The company falsely asserted that the Dongria support the mine, but can no longer continue to do so. Advocates for the Dongria assert that the mine would mean the “end of the Dongria as a self-sufficient people,” as it would raze the forests and affect the rivers on which they depend.
Tanzania Scraps Conservation Plans on Maasai Land September 2013
The Murrawarri Republic Provisional Council of State: Evelyn Barker, Sharni Hooper, Kevin Hooper, Julie Johnston, Gloria Johnston, Phyllis Cubby, Fred Hooper (chairman), Phillip Sullivan, and Alison Salt. Absent: Sam Jefferies and Desmond Jones. facebook.com/MurrawarriRepublic
Murrawarri Nation Declares Independence from Australia
Fiji’s Constitution Recognizes Indigenous Peoples
The Murrawarri Nation of northern New South Wales and Queensland, Australia declared independent sovereign statehood in a letter to the Queen of England dated April 10. As there had never been a treaty or war between the Murrawarri Nation and Great Britain and the land has never been vacant, international law and British Common Law assert that the Murrawarri may declare their independence. The Murrawarri have organized a parliament and constitution, from which other Aboriginal groups are said to be taking example.
Fiji released a new constitution on August 22 with a preamble specifically recognizing the “unique customs, traditions, language, and ownership of land” for Indigenous people, called iTaukei, as well as for other groups such as the descendants of indentured laborers.
Benefit Sharing for South Africa’s San and Khoi August 2013
The San and Khoi peoples in South Africa signed a landmark agreement with the pharmaceutical company Cape Kingdom Nutraceuticals on August 19, specifying that the company will give three percent of its revenue related to products developed from the buchu plant. The San and Khoi gave buchu and knowledge of its many uses to European settlers at the beginning of the 17th century.
2 • www. cs. org
Costa Rica’s BriBri Reject US Department of Defense On Their Land September 2013
The BriBri people of Costa Rica have declined a government proposal to permit entry to Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the arm of the US Department of Defense in Central and South America and the Caribbean, onto their land. The Costa Rican government had proposed involvement with SOUTHCOM to assist in providing humanitarian aid to BriBri communities. The BriBri are opposed since the proposal would allow the US military to move at will throughout the region.
India’s Dongria Kondh Expel Mining Company August 2013
The Dongria Kondh tribe in India has voted against plans for British mining company Vedanta Resources to build
After a 20-year fight, the Maasai of Loliondo, Tanzania are celebrating the Prime Minister’s decision to scrap a plan to take 1,500 square miles of their territory in the name of conservation. Although the government claimed that the land was needed as a corridor for wildlife to move between the Serengeti National Park and the Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya, the area was leased to a safari hunting company, the Ortello Business Corporation (OBC) in 1992.
Guatemalans bring Canadian Mining Company to Court October 2013
For the first time, a Canadian mining company is being sued in a Canadian court for actions committed overseas. Hudbay Minerals, Inc., will stand trial for murder, rapes, and attacks committed against Indigenous Guatemalans by security personnel working for Hudbay’s subsidiary, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel.
UN Special Rapporteur Visits Canada October 2013
On October 15, James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, concluded an eightday trip to Canada. Anaya had harsh words for the Canadian government: “I can only conclude that Canada faces a crisis when it comes to the situation of Indigenous Peoples. The well-being gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people has not narrowed over the last several years, and Aboriginals’ claims remain persistently unresolved.”
Campaign Updates Mexico: Stop Mining, Protect Sacred Sites Suspension of Mining in Wirikuta Federal courts have halted all mining concessions on the Wirikuta Nature Reserve, an area sacred to the Wixarika (Huichol) people. This major victory comes after Wixarika leaders filed an injunction to stop the drilling on their ancestral lands earlier this year, and ensures that no further concessions will be allowed until an official decision has been made. Since the suspension is federal, no government entity can violate the ruling and the government is required to protect the area from other third party actors who might violate the suspension. The suspension is different from a full cancellation; no projects may move forward and no further concessions can be granted, but the projects have not been terminated. The Wixarika people may elect to seek further support through international courts if the suspensions are not respected.
Canada: Save Teztan Biny (Fish Lake)—Again! Testimony Heard in Opposition to Taseko’s Mine The Federal Environmental Review Panel, which will decide the fate of the New Prosperity Mine in British Columbia, came to a close at the end of August after 63 days of intense testimony. Members of the Tsilhqot’in Nation attended the panel, striking a profound opposition to the mine’s construction. Demonstrating that lands to be affected by the proposed project are vital to their livelihood and culture, the Tsilhqot’in Nation remained united in its criticism of Taseko. During the testimony, six
Cultural Survival's Global Response program launches international advocacy campaigns with Indigenous communities whose right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent is being violated by agribusiness and extractive industries.
federal and provincial departments also voiced their concerns that Taseko’s mine would have adverse effects on the environment. The Panel is reviewing the presentations and will issue a final decision on the mine later this fall. Cameroon: Stop Palm Oil Plantations from Destroying Africa’s Ancient Rainforests and Local Livelihoods Herakles Farms Backing Out Herakles Farms has gone from a green reputation to being renowned as one of the US’s major corporate criminals. In 2013 the company shut down its NGO, All for Africa, and the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in Cameroon ordered the company to reduce its plantation. Now, Herakles Farms’ Cameroonian subsidiary, Sithe Global-Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SG-SOC), is looking to sell off its existing plantations rather than shut down completely. Herakles appears to be in the process of selling its nurseries to PAMOL, a state-owned palm oil company. This is a major blow to the Indigenous community, which had hoped to regain ownership of the land. Affected communities nevertheless believe that their chances of stopping the project remain strong.
Kenya: Demand the World Bank Compensate the Maasai Maasai engage World Bank, UN on evictions The World Bank Kenya met with members of the Maasai community of Narasha, Kenya in August, promising to look into the issue of compensation for their lands from which they were evicted to make
way for geothermal projects. The Bank later issued a statement denying responsibility, drawing attention away from historical evictions that have taken place since 1984 and instead referencing only a recent eviction in July of this year. Following the visit, Cultural Survival helped a Maasai representative attend the World Bank civil society meeting to speak with advisors about formally lodging a complaint. In September, UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya visited Narasha after a special request was made jointly by Cultural Survival and the community. He promised to report his findings to the UN, the World Bank, and the government of Kenya. Honduras: Don’t Dam the Patuca River! Miskito people stop dam, government grants land title The Miskito people’s organization Miskitu Asla Takanka (MASTA), of the Moskitia region of Honduras, has successfully stoped plans for the Patuca III hydroelectric dam within their territory. After an extensive community mapping initiative and development of their own protocols on Free, Prior and Informed Consent, SinoHydro, the Chinese company behind the dam project, decided to move the dam off of Miskito lands. The government of Honduras also recently granted title to 1.6 million acres of coastal lands to the Miskito people of Honduras. After a brief victory celebration, local communities are now protesting plans for oil development under their territory.
Learn more and take action on Global Response campaigns at www.cs.org/ take-action. Sign up for our e-newsletter and read more news at www.cs.org/news. Cultural Cultural Survival Survival Quarterly Quarterly
September September 2013 2013 •• 3 3
i ndi geno u s a r t s
Celebrating Heritage Traditions in Nadia Jackinsky-Sethi
t a recent appearance at the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka, Alaska, visiting artist resident Coral Chernoff (Alutiiq) brought with her a bear intestine that was recently harvested from Kodiak. She stood in the museum gallery and, holding onto the sides of the intestine, began gently blowing. With each breath the intestine became longer and wider. Once blown, Chernoff demonstrated the waterproof quality of the material by pouring a glass of water into the organ. There were no leaks; when wet, the texture of the intestine was silky and incredibly soft. Historically, women from Kodiak Island utilized the viscera of bears, seals, and whales to construct durable, waterproof, and windproof parkas (sometimes referred to as a kamlieka). Such parkas were ideal for Kodiak’s maritime climate. They were worn by sea mammal hunters when out on the water in kayaks and during celebrations where the “gut parka” held symbolic meaning. Gut was also used to make containers, window coverings, and hats. Chernoff is entirely self-taught and has been experimenting with processing and sewing gut materials for the last few years. She says she enjoys making items that use natural materials from her home on Kodiak Island; along with working with intestines, she also experiments with bird skins, grasses, spruce roots, fish skins, and furs. With the bear gut that she brought to the museum, she plans to make her son a parka. The process is labor intensive and requires intimate knowledge of the properties of the gut material: after the animal is killed, the intestines are removed and thoroughly washed. Both the inside and outside are scraped clean with a spoon to remove all of the fatty tissues. Once clean, the intestines are hung to dry. They can then be split down the middle, wrapped into a ball, and stored in a cool place until she is ready to use them. Although gut materials were once used as a common textile material from the far north to the south central regions of Alaska’s coast, Chernoff is one of a few Alaskan artists continuing this tradition. During the Russian-American period,
Alaska Native people were introduced to manufactured clothing and gradually the need for Native-made clothing, such as gut parkas, dwindled. As Chernoff says, “We didn’t have to make gut or salmon skin parkas because we could just go to the store and buy them.” Today many Alaska Native artists are making choices to practice, preserve, and pass on customary traditions like gut processing and sewing so that these traditions remain a part of Alaska Native culture and identity. While some artists like Chernoff are working to revive their cultural traditions on their own, there are also institutions that provide support for Alaska Native artists. Non-profit institutions such as The CIRI Foundation and the Sealaska Heritage Institute provide financial support to encourage heritage programs among Alaska Native peoples. Museums and cultural centers such as the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak, the Alaska Native Arts Foundation in Anchorage, and other institutions provide support for workshops and training programs for Alaska Native artists. Such programs create opportunities to make Alaska Native art more visible in the state, help to solidify an image of Alaska Native culture, and financially support artists and tradition bearers in continuing their work. One of the most important benefits for promoting Alaska Native heritage relates to healing from the effects of colonization. Heritage programs like those mentioned above can instill a sense of cultural self-esteem, dignity, and pride. With colonization, Alaska Native people experienced destructive cultural loss. In many cases they were made to feel ashamed of their Native heritage and were denied opportunities to learn about their cultural practices. Alaska Native heritage programs act to reverse the negative impacts of colonization by focusing on positive aspects of culture, reinforcing Alaska Native traditions as a source of pride that individuals should value and hold on to. Along with encouraging pride in culture, heritage projects also work to reclaim knowledge about Indigenous culture that has sometimes been controlled or silenced by dominant cultures. Sea lion and seal intestine bags, sewn with sinew and decorated with fish skin leather, silk thread, and ptarmigan feathers.
Salmon skin leather clutches and purses.
4 • www. cs. org
Alaska’s Indigenous Communities A doll wearing a model gut parka and carrying a fish skin bag. Coral Chernoff with the first red salmon of the season.
In some situations, colonization alienated Native people from their material culture through the removal of cultural objects to museums or private collections. In other cases Native communities were alienated from their ancestral lands and natural resources through changes in land ownership or coercive relocation of Native communities. Reintroducing the knowledge of artistic practices and art forms, returning to important ancestral places, and publicly performing or practicing traditions that were once condemned reclaims the authority over Native cultural practices to living Native people. Alaska Native heritage programs ground people in who they are, and help to establish the characteristics that make a culture distinct. The materials used to make some objects intimately connect the object to the place where the materials were collected, and by extension, the people who inhabit that region; for example, the fine beach grass of the Aleutian Chain used in basket making; argillite used for carving from the Queen Charlotte Islands; and vivianite found on the cliffs Nelson Island used as pigment. Perpetuating the knowledge of specific artistic materials and traditions by making, using, and documenting them helps to maintain a distinct cultural identity. An additional benefit for heritage projects is that these activities create opportunities to encourage continuity and connection between generations; they often take place in a setting that includes the participation of multigenerational community members. As Chernoff explains, “It is not just about making art, it’s the context that takes place around it: the stories, having people get together and share food. In my family we had weaving every Sunday night and we would sit around and learn.” Such events are important because they create opportunities for young people to interact with and learn from elders, who are considered by many Alaska Natives to be the backbone of Native communities. Continuity between generations is also maintained through the continued engagement with objects, materials, and spaces that members of past generations have worked with— and such work reminds us of the cultural wealth that is contained within our communities.
To see more of Coral Chernoff’s work, visit: goo.gl/OEAfGf.
—Nadia Jackinsky-Sethi is an art historian at The CIRI Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska. Cultural Survival Quarterly
All photos courtesy of Coral Chernoff
December 2013 • 5
r i ght s i n a ct io n
advancing the global dialogue
UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in session in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo courtesy of Irène Bellier.
Agnes Portalewska (CS Staff)
he youngest mechanism for Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations is the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP). Established in 2007 by the Human Rights Council, the Expert Mechanism provides the Council with thematic advice in the form of studies and research on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Chief Wilton Littlechild (Cree, from Alberta, Canada) served two terms as the North American representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and is currently serving a term as chairperson for EMRIP. He explains that the common link between the Expert Mechanism, the Permanent Forum, and the Special Rapporteur is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: “The Permanent Forum specifically focuses on economic, social, and cultural life because it’s a subsidiary body to the UN Economic and Social Council. The Expert Mechanism is an advisory body directly to the Human Rights Council that focuses on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although EMRIP can talk about rights, ours is a research-based mandate and we do research that’s directed to us from the Human Rights Council. The Special Rapporteur focuses on violations of rights.” The Expert Mechanism, made up of five independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council who serve on a voluntary basis, holds an annual five-day session in Geneva, Switzerland, in which representatives from States, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, civil 6 • www. cs. org
Chief Wilton Littlechild, Chairperson Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, presenting his report to the Human Rights Council on September 18, 2013. Photo courtesy of UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre.
society, inter-governmental organizations, and academia take part. To date, EMRIP has completed studies on Indigenous Peoples’ right to education; their right to participate in decision making and its follow-up study on extractive industries; the role of languages and culture in the promotion and protection
of the rights and identity of Indigenous Peoples; and a report on its questionnaire for States on best practices for attaining the goals of the Declaration. Most recently, in September 2013, EMRIP concluded a study on access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The overrepresentation of Indigenous people in incarceration is at epidemic proportions in many regions of the world. In Australia, Aboriginal people make up only 2.3 percent of the total population but over 28 percent of the prison population. In Canada, the Indigenous incarceration rate is 10 times higher than for non-Indigenous adults, with Indigenous people making up 4 percent of the Canadian population yet 23.2 percent of federal inmate population. Littlechild says that more research is needed, especially in the realm of traditional justice systems: “How do traditional justice systems not only improve access to justice but promote truth and reconciliation in that community? We’ve asked to do a more in-depth look at the situation with women, youth, and Indigenous people with disabilities. What kind of challenges do they have with regard to access and justice? Indigenous participation is critical throughout that whole process. That was a very important recommendation reflected in our report that needs to be considered by our States who might be looking at establishing a truth commission.” This will be the focus of a follow-up study this year. The recommendations from the study call on States to take a “rights-based and culturally appropriate approach to public safety and access to justice guided by Indigenous Peoples’ laws and justice systems.” The report also calls for the training of law enforcement and judicial officials on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and the use of transitional justice mechanisms, such as truth commissions, which allow for administration of justice through prosecutions, truth-seeking, reparations programs, and institutional reforms. When it comes to access to justice, increased respect for Indigenous Peoples’ own justice systems as a form of self-determination in both recognizing and assigning value to these systems is needed. In 2011, the Human Rights Council asked EMRIP to conduct a questionnaire seeking the views of States on best practices to attain the goals of the Declaration and in 2012 this was extended to also seek the views of Indigenous Peoples. Littlechild says that the responses, while encouraging, are too few. “The answers to the questions are very high caliber in the sense that they’re very helpful, but what’s disappointing is the numbers. We have very few States and Indigenous Peoples responding to that question, and we feel it’s important to be able to share good practices, what is working for Indigenous Peoples in their implementation that other Indigenous Peoples can benefit from or learn from. Of course the example that’s always held up is that Bolivia passed a law that makes the Declaration a national law; below that there are other States doing good things in terms of how they are implementing the Declaration or using the Declaration in their policies and programs.” Littlechild attributes lower participation by Indigenous Peoples to the lack of awareness about EMRIP. Another challenge is visas; delegates have trouble getting to meetings. Increasingly the UN is creating spaces for virtual participation to increase numbers. “We are now making use of video submissions. The very first meeting held from Geneva linking to a meeting in Ottawa in Canada was an Indigenous Peoples’
meeting. They blazed the trail—after that the UN started using that more and more. But now, of course, we need to do it within our own Mechanism.” The other major challenge to participation is administrative. “Only NGO’s that are accredited by the UN can now participate in UN meetings. Traditional governments, Indigenous governments, Indigenous parliaments and councils are not organized like NGO’s. They can’t participate unless they work through an NGO. The UN should create new rules to allow for Indigenous Peoples to participate in their own rights. It’s a contradiction for an Indigenous government wanting to participate as a government to call itself a non-governmental organization.” When asked about the impact of EMRIP and its studies on the ground, Littlechild says, “In Canada when there’s a national chiefs assembly, every single resolution that comes to the floor for debate and decision by the chiefs is always linked with one or more of the articles of the Declaration. They’re beginning to use and express the Declaration in their decision making, and how the study has landed on a particular matter may be reflected in their decisions. For example, right now there’s a national discussion in Canada happening on a First Nations Education Act. Not only is there general human rights law, the Declaration and the Expert Mechanism’s studies that clarify that right are there as well. At the regional level, the Organization of American States has used the Declaration in their decisions. So what’s happening now is the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Provincial Human Rights Commissions are becoming increasingly engaged in using the Declaration in their decision-making. Also we’re seeing Indigenous Peoples, in their statements of claims or statements of defense, are starting to use the Declaration more and more.” The progress is encouraging, but still, Littlechild says, “We have a long way to go informing our local community about the rights that they have on an international level.” One of the biggest obstacles for the Expert Mechanism is resources. “Everything we do is voluntary. We need increased resources in terms of research, so we’ve tried to engage universities to become friends of the Mechanism. For example, in London, Grinnell University hosted a study on cultures and languages. And last year Columbia University hosted the expert group meeting on access to justice and truth commissions. Hopefully, that will continue and we’ll have a whole level of expertise in academia that steps forward to help.” As for the Mechanism’s next study, “We will look at natural disasters that are happening in Indigenous territories; what’s available from the general human rights and Indigenous rights perspective that will inform that study will help us identify what needs to happen for Indigenous communities to have the preparedness for natural disasters, and of course on a more direct level, climate change. As well, there will be a follow-up study on access to justice, as noted above. That’s currently the proposal that is also in the resolution, along with those that I mentioned that will be continued. We have a very busy year.” The Expert Mechanism encourages Indigenous people to complete their questionnaire on implementation of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples: goo.gl/Pgg4pu.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 7
women th e wo r ld m u st hear
Dayamani Barla and the Nagari Tribal Women spearheading the Anti Land Acquisition Movement. Photo courtesy of fabricated.in.
Our Resistance Will Not Stop Rucha Chitnis Cultural Survival’s 2013 Ellen L. Lutz Indigenous Rights Award recipient, Dayamani Barla, continues to lead a brave march for justice to protect her ancestral homelands and shows what the world can learn from an Adivasi model of sustainable development.
he central Indian state of Jharkhand, which means “land of forests,” is also a land of unrivaled mineral wealth with a hallowed history of legendary tribal uprisings and resistance. In the late 18th century, Santhal tribe leader Tilka Manjhi seeded one of the earliest rebellions against colonial brutality in India. Other brave leaders, such as Birsa Munda, followed in his footsteps to challenge British imperialism. These legendary crusaders of freedom and justice have etched themselves in the imagination of tribal communities in Jharkhand through their traditional dances, songs, and folklore. And so it is no surprise that Jharkhand would also produce Dayamani Barla, a woman from the fierce Munda tribe, who has emerged as one of the most articulate and steadfast advocates for the rights of Adivasis in India. Dayamani has dedicated her activism to protecting her homelands, where colonial oppression has disproportionately displaced and devastated India’s tribal populations, threatening their traditional livelihoods, heritage, and very survival. In Jharkhand alone, millions of tribals have been displaced to make way for dams, mines, and industrial projects. 8 • www. cs. org
Criminalization of Dissent
Last May, Cultural Survival honored Barla by awarding her the first Ellen L. Lutz Indigenous Rights Award during the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Barla was imprisoned for nearly two months in 2012 for leading a people’s movement in Nagri, where fertile agricultural land was grabbed to make way for prestigious business and law schools. “Our ancestors had always challenged the culture of domination since the Indigenous people believe in cultural diversity and pluralism. We want a new society which respects all cultures,” she noted in her acceptance speech. Since winning the prize, Barla received some good news regarding the protests in Nagri that led to her arrest. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development, made recommendations to shift the site of the business school, the Indian Institute of Management, to another location in Sukurhutu. Barla said, “I urged Mr. Jairam Ramesh to save fertile agriculture lands belonging to farmers, which is a huge benefit to its people and state and use barren lands to construct these schools. We are not against these educational projects; however, we will not give up our ancestral homelands, where we farm.” The rural minister was quoted in agreement in Calcutta’s Telegraph: “Activist Dayamani Barla has suggested Sukurhutu, where vast swaths lie barren. Personally, I too believe that Nagri was not the right choice and Sukurhutu is a good option. I have urged state officials to take the matter forward.” Today, Barla continues to evoke the wrath of corporations, land mafias, and politicians, who have seen the potency and
Dayamani Barla accepting the ELL Indigenous Rights Award; in New York with Rucha Chitnis at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
power of people’s movements in Jharkhand against industrial, mining, and dam projects. In the past, Barla, along with an unflinching mass movement of Adivasis, also brought the operations of one of the world’s largest steel giants, ArcelorMittal, to a halt. The movement’s bold resistance stopped this megacorporation from displacing nearly 70,000 people from over 40 villages and seizing over 12,000 acres of land. Since winning the ELL Award, Barla has continued her activism against injustices facing Adivasis in various districts across Jharkhand. Recently she traveled to Bokaro District to support the demands of farmers whose land was acquired by Electro-Steel Casting’s plant. Barla says the company has deceived thousands of small farmers who have not received jobs or just compensation while their land has been taken away; she reports that Electro-Steel has filed a lawsuit against her. The lawsuits that continue to mount against Barla are a grim reminder of how criminalization of activism is increasing across India. Activists routinely face threats, violent intimidation, and prison sentences for dissent and the demand of corporate and state accountability. During the prize ceremony, Barla remarked how the “looters of the state” receive protection and how human rights defenders, who are protecting democracy and the rights of future generations, are deemed terrorists by the state. “Human rights are being attacked left, right, and center,” she said. “In the entire Jharkhand state, mass movements are going on for protection of water, forests, land, and environment. All through the country, farmers are living under the shadow of terror of displacement. [The] State is dubbing them as anti-social elements, extremists, and Maoists and implicating them in dozens of false cases and packing them off to jails.” Terror of Displacement
As a child, Barla experienced the pain of dispossession firsthand when her parents, unable to read or write, were cheated off their land by false thumb impressions that were taken as their signatures. “Our family had nothing left. Our whole family scattered…my mother traveled 150 kilometers away from her home to work as a servant. What I had seen in my childhood and how Indigenous people were suppressed in our society inspired me to be a journalist and an activist,” she said. Hailing from the Munda tribe, Barla put herself through school by working as a maid. As one of the first female tribal
journalists in India, she quickly learned that tribals needed autonomy and control over the tyrannies of media storytelling, where their voices, history, and resistance against injustices were poorly represented in mainstream media. So, along with her friend, Barla took out a small loan to start a tribal publication, Jan Haq (People’s Rights), to document the stories behind the human rights abuses against Adivasis in Jharkhand. “We will write our history with our own pen,” she resolved. Barla says that her activism was emboldened by watching the uprising against the Koel-Karo hydroelectric dam, a project that was planned in 1955 but has yet to begin due to continual delays and thwarting imposed by the fierce, long-term opposition of tribals. This resistance is often cited as one of the most successful mobilizations against big dam projects in India. Weaving Her Own Narrative
Barla strongly rejects suggestions of the absorption and assimilation of tribals into the mainstream. Instead, she reminds us how the dominant cultural and economic paradigm can learn from the Indigenous worldview that lives in harmony with nature and respects community ownership of natural resources and collective decision-making. Barla explains: “We don’t view nature merely as a commodity. Indigenous society is nature-based. These communities will exist so long as they are linked with water, forest, and land. When Adivasis get displaced from their land, forests, and water, they not only get displaced from their dwellings and livelihood but also from their social values, language and culture, economy, and history.” Her eloquent writings and oratory skill remind us of the irreplaceable diversity that Adivasis bring to the richness of India’s cultural heritage and how the protection of tribal human rights is essential to reclaiming its democratic ideals. “We would like the government to restore our mines, clean up our polluted rivers, and bring clean drinking water to our communities,” she says. “This fight is the fight to save humanity. We need a fundamental shift in the way we view development. The challenges are big, and I will not bow down. Our ancestors have walked down this path before us, and our resistance will not stop.” —Rucha Chitnis is the Director of Grantmaking at Women’s Earth Alliance. Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 9
boar d s p o t lig h t Lesley Kabotie conducting a training with the Hopi Tribe.
Driving Dialogue and Reconnection in Indian Country
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Agnes Portalewska (CS Staff) Our series spotlighting the work of our Board members continues with newly elected board member Lesley Kabotie (Crow).
he daughter of a Scotch-Irish rancher and a Crow Indian activist, Lesley Kabotie is the self-described product of “the conventional and the unconventional, the traditional and the progressive, white and Indian.” Growing up on the Crow Reservation in Montana, she says her life was shaped by her mother’s family. “My father was a rancher; my mother, Connie Yellowtail Jackson, an education activist within our local schools and across the nation. She and her friends worked hard to forge opportunities for quality Native-informed education for Native people. [They] pounded on the doors of D.C., fighting for the reservation-based higher education—which birthed the Tribal Colleges. Later on, she became one of the founders of the Indians Into Medicine program, a supportive pathway for Natives pursuing medical degrees.” Kabotie’s grandmother, Susie Walking Bear, was the first Native Registered Nurse in the United States, an advisor to the Surgeon General and Presidents in the areas of Indian health and child welfare at a time when the Indian Health Service was emerging from the practice of sterilizing Indian women. Her grandfather, Tom Yellowtail, was a Crow medicine man and Sundance chief. With a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Stanford and a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Regis University, Kabotie says, “I understand white privilege and the assumptions it embodies because I’ve lived it. One of the greatest hurdles Native people face are the mass messages telling us that the answers to our most critical questions lie outside our own knowledgebase or capacity. We are constantly told that we don’t know enough, aren’t smart enough or capable enough to resolve the issues that debilitate Indian Country. When in fact, no one else holds the answers to these issues but us! Our greatest power is revealed when our
people tap into our own values, ability, and commitment to make something positive happen in our own lives, communities, and nations. Through my work with Native peoples in the US and Canada, what has been revealed is that extraordinary opportunities arise when our people get in touch with their own capacity to be change agents in their own lives. Whether it’s on a social level, a political level, [or] an economic level, that awakening—or reemergence—of our inherent sovereign capacity is incredible. It’s a powerful motivator.” Kabotie started Indigenous Collaboration Inc., Kabotie Consulting, specializing in consensus-based planning, and facilitation services after 20 years of working with tribes and their communities. She also served as a member of the Steering Committee to address nonprofit inclusiveness for The Denver Foundation. “One of the things my company focuses on is reconnecting people to internal dialogues that bring clarity to the solutions that make the most sense for them. It’s not about being told ‘the right answer,’ or an answer that seems good in the moment, but to be deeply in touch with ‘this makes sense for us,’ and to achieve true empowerment through understanding the strength of their own motivations. I have a lot of commitment to bringing consensus processes back to the tables of Indian country so that Native people are able to have and benefit from the coherent, motivating dialogues that lead to practical, effective action.” One of the biggest issues facing Native people, as Kabotie sees it, is the limited and inconsistent access to information that supports collective dialogue and effective decision-making. “When tribal leaders come into leadership, they’re already behind the eight ball,” she says. “There isn’t time for them to learn the context of all the things that they have to make decisions on. There are a lot of trains that have already left the station that they must jump onto.” She explains that the problem is that “We are reacting to systems and processes of a mainstream environment that move at a different pace. And we often sit in the back seat, feeling disempowered like many disengaged Americans do. It’s a common dynamic Native nations experience in America.” And so, she says, “I feel like my best contribution is to get in the car, climb into the backseat and start a dialogue amongst everyone in the vehicle: ‘If you really want to change directions, where are we headed, who’s willing to climb out in front to lay the track in front of us;
how fast shall we go; and how should we support whoever climbs out front for our collective benefit?’” She continues, “One of the things that is really exciting to me is working with nations fraught with divisiveness. It is very encouraging to see our Native peoples, who sit in different positions of influence and power, actively engage identity, cultural values, and history as a rallying point for coherent dialogue and decision-making. It’s not: ‘Forget about our history, we want to be capitalists, we want the American dream.’ The collective dialogue about what really matters to us does include economic prosperity, but within the context of a healthy, vibrant cultural identity. The conversation on understanding where these priorities meet still has merit and incredible power. It’s extraordinary! I’ve seen the power of this conversation play out in every context: from energy development to enterprise development to forging a response within tribal courts, police, health providers, and community programs of all kinds. What do we need to do to create a healthy connection, practical response and stabilize our traumatized communities? To see leaders and communities coming together to implement a coherent response rooted in the values of who we are...that’s the stuff that makes me prioritize my service to Indian country.” When asked about her vision for her involvement with Cultural Survival, Kabotie says she recognizes “the absolute necessity of providing objective information to Indigenous people grappling with the parameters of who they are in a changing world, discerning how to move their lives forward in a good way, and to not be interfered with or undermined in that process. It is important to provide access to objective, quality information that supports informed choices and good decisions that are consistent with their own values from their past and for their future. And that’s what’s needed: for Indigenous Peoples to be affirmed in their own efforts to have conversations and organize themselves according to what they feel is best for them.” She adds, “I’m excited to be part of Cultural Survival, to support its movement to advocate for the availability of information and capacity building, because that’s who I am at my core: I am a facilitator. The very definition of facilitating is to make an action or process easier. I am committed to making it easier for Indigenous people to come together in making decisions on those things that are most important to them.”
Thank you for your service. Cultural Survival would like to thank our outgoing Board Members for their wisdom, commitment, and service to the organization. Thank you to Karmen Ramírez Boscán, Les Malezer, Vincent Nmehielle, James Howe, Cecilia Lenk, and Jeff Wallace. We especially want to congratulate Professor Vincent Nmehielle (right) who since 2002 has been the Head of the Wits Programme in Law, Justice and Development in Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Law, Johannesburg, South Africa and has just been appointed General Legal Counsel and Director for Legal Affairs of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Professor Nmehielle has been chair of Cultural Survival’s Program Council since 2005.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 11
Strengthening Indigenous Communication in Abya Yala María del Rosario Sul González (CS Staff)
ndigenous media professionals and amateurs from all across the Americas met at the Second Continental Summit on Indigenous Communication in Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca, Mexico from October 7–13, 2013. Participants representing various forms of Indigenous media, including newspapers, radio, and television, convened to contribute to the strategic strengthening of communication processes of Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala (the Americas), within a framework of exchange, dialogue, reflection, and proposals. As a radio producer myself, I am extremely committed to publicizing the struggles of Indigenous groups globally. I gathered a lot of information at the Summit that will be disseminated through my community’s radio station in Sumpango, Sacatepéquez, Guatemala. I am convinced that it is difficult to manipulate and persuade a well-informed community. Therefore, we, as communicators, give voice to those whose voices have been denied. In this way we strengthen and empower our communities. It is necessary for Indigenous Peoples to be heard. The Summit launched on October 7, followed by evening cultural performances, and ending with a traditional dance in the center of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec. The formal working groups, which began the next day and continued until October 11, were dedicated to the general principles of Indigenous communication; Indigenous communication in defense of Indigenous Peoples’ territories and common goods; legislation on communication and the development of public policy on communication; development of a continental plan for integral training in communication; Indigenous women in communication; and strategies and mechanisms for continentwide Indigenous communication networks for the struggles Cultural Survival’s Content Production and Training Coordinator Cesar Gomez interviewing Summit delegate for a radio program.
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and well-being of Indigenous Peoples. Each working group included the varied formats of seminars, discussion groups, and plenary sessions. In the working group on Indigenous communication in defense of Indigenous Peoples’ territories and common goods, Agustín Arellano (Bolivia) reminded us about the importance of communication in reconstructing a new history for a humanity that lives in peace and equality, and Gonzalo Escobar (Colombia) reflected on the fact that not all development results in peace. This working group benefited from the participation of men, women, and youth, including the warmly received Maya Sofía, a young girl from Colombia who shared the work that she is doing with the support of her parents. She shared a video, which received a national prize in Colombia, dedicated to the culture of her community and the importance of promoting her people’s language and ways of being. Sofía said, “Children are important to our communities, so we must grow up with a way of thinking and a vision. When I grow up, I want to be a leader in my community so I can help my people.” Thus emerged the importance of communication in Indigenous communities. Communication has as its goal the survival of Indigenous Peoples and the empowerment of communities with new forms of technology to express the needs, challenges, and advances of each community. All of this takes place within the context of Indigenous territory, a concept that includes more than just physical territory, but also the Indigenous cosmovision, or worldview. As Indigenous people, we only make use of our freedom of expression with the aim of promoting our well-being, strengthening our cultures, using our languages, and encouraging the participation of women in different spaces for community development. This differentiates us from corporate media and conglomerates, whose sole goals are business and the bottom line. In the afternoons of October 9 and 11, workshop topics included the importance of organization; legislation on the media, land, and territory; and videoconferencing. Susana Pacaratoco (Bolivia), facilitating the workshop on “The Im- portance of Communication,” presented on how community organizing has been fundamental to her work as a woman, a mother, a radio announcer, and an activist in her community for over 20 years, where she has participated in everything from peaceful marches to hunger strikes all in the name of defending her people’s land and territory. She shared a short history of her life to demonstrate the importance of organizing at both the individual and the collective levels in efforts to achieve development in communities. Pacaratoco said, “We must defend land and territory for our well-being; not even a bug can live without land and territory.
Clockwise from top right: Breakout groups discuss the role communication can play in defending the right to territory. Susana Pacara, Quechua of Bolivia, addresses the summit. Rosy González interviews Liliana Pechene Muelas from Cauca, Colombia. Panel discussion on Indigenous women in communication.
Most important, we left the Summit with a renewed sense of commitment to continue defending our lands and territories by building movements within our communities. Indigenous communicators must enrich, strengthen, and build capacity within these movements, working with the knowledge that we have rights and we need to use them. To achieve this, the heart and the mind must join together.” She added that women today must overcome the obstacle of machismo to participate and involve ourselves in community activities. “We must do this to forge communities of peace for our children and grandchildren. And we must not forget that in order to organize well, we need transparency, respect, and truth.” Toward the end of the Summit, the staff of Radio Ixchel from Sumpango, Sacatepequez, Guatemala, and Cultural Survival had the opportunity to address the community of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec via the microphones of its community radio station, Radio Jenpoj. In that space, we were able to share information about the current status of legislation on community radio in Guatemala, as well as general information about the work that Radio Ixchel does. We offered an outline of the station’s history in its community, including its successes and its failures. We also talked about the work that Cultural Survival does to support the strengthening and growth of community radio in Guatemala and to disseminate information about Indigenous Peoples’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent in defending their lands and territories. Cultural Survival does this work as a nonprofit with the goal of providing accurate information to Indigenous Peoples about this right. The Summit opened not only my eyes but also those of the other participants to the myriad Indigenous cultures represented. It was full of cultural activities from beginning to end, performed by musicians, dancers, singers, composers, and artisans from diverse communities. We all gained a greater understanding of the cultures of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca, and other states in Mexico, and developed a sense of harmonious coexistence and exchange among the participants.
María del Rosario (“Rosy”) Sul González, (Kaqchiquel), radio — producer for Free, Prior and Informed Consent Initiative, is from Sumpango, Sacatepéquez, Guatemala. She works at her local community radio station, Radio Ixchel.
Article 16 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples guarantees that: 1. Indigenous Peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination. 2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that State-owned media duly reflect Indigenous cultural diversity. States, without prejudice to ensuring full freedom of expression, should encourage privately owned media to adequately reflect Indigenous cultural diversity.
Learn about Free, Prior and Informed Consent through our new radio series. So far, 28 radio programs have been produced in 14 different languages and distributed to more than 600 Indigenous- run radio stations in 52 countries. Get involved in the worldwide distribution: cs.org/consent.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 13
World Conference of Indigenous Women
Rosy González, of Guatemala, poses with three Indigenous women from Africa.
Nothing about us, without us. Everything about us, with us. More than 200 women from around the world gathered in Lima, Peru in October for the World Conference of Indigenous Women. They demanded greater prominence of Indigenous women at every level of decision making and called upon govern-
ments to dedicate funding to attend to the specific needs of Indigenous women. The delegates also used the platform as a preparatory meeting for the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples, which will convene at the United Nations in September 2014 in New York. In addition, the conference aimed to bring attention to the situation of Indigenous women and youth in the redrafting of the Millennium Development Goals, whose deadline for compliance is in 2015. The conference was organized by the International Indigenous Women’s Forum, the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas, the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, the African Indigenous Women’s Organization, and global Indigenous networks. The Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures of Peru (CHIRAPAQ) hosted the event. Cultural Survival was part of the official media team. The following pages are dedicated to the dialogues that transpired during the conference, and include spotlights on some of the participants.
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Confronting Megaprojects Development without our consent is not development
Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures of Peru (CHIRAPAQ)
ndigenous women delegates at the World Conference of Indigenous Women exchanged experiences of “megaprojects” on Indigenous land and developed strategies to confront continued incursions on their territories. Forestry and agricultural initiatives have displaced forest peoples in Rwanda and Cameroon, while mining projects across the Pacific, the Arctic, and the Americas are affecting numerous Indigenous communities. Hydroelectric dams are the newest form of so-called “development projects” that are displacing Indigenous communities without seeking or securing the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of those affected. Coinciding with the Conference was the release of a new report from The Rights and Resources Initiative, which, through GIS mapping technology, revealed that nearly one-third of industrial concession areas in emerging market economies overlap Indigenous community land. The research studied over 1.5 million square kilometers of agricultural, forestry, and mineral extraction concessions in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia; nearly 500,000 square kilometers were found overlapping with Indigenous territory. Juliana Prado (Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca, Panama) cited the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam project in her community as the latest example of Indigenous dispossession. “The Indigenous people there are born with everything they need: a beautiful climate, a healthy environment of streams, rivers, forests, mountains. All this belongs to all of us. And then the government comes and takes and destroys it, while at the same time saying that they are doing this to develop us,” she said. The Barro Blanco dam provoked demonstrations that led to the killing of three Ngäbe-Buglé demonstrators in 2012, and the death of a further campaigner this year. “This isn’t a development, it’s a destruction and massacre of the Ngäbe people,” said Prado. Dams are also affecting the Hopi Nation in the United
States. “A hydro dam took our land, but all the electricity generated goes outside the reservation. It’s the same with uranium mining. . . . We are at the beginning and the end of the nuclear waste cycle. There was no Free, Prior and Informed Consent over the establishment of the nuclear plant,” Agnes Williams (Hopi) said. Agnes Leina of Kenya discussed the plight of her people, and the commonality of problems faced by Indigenous women around the world: “We are being pushed left, right, and center from our land, and the people who are most affected by that push are the women and children. There are no environmental assessments, and there is no Free, Prior and Informed Consent,” she said. Delegates also discussed the importance of asserting Indigenous title over their customary lands, a complex issue in light of the Indigenous worldview around land ownership. Nellis Kennedy-Howard (Navajo) explained: “As Indigenous people we live off the land; we don’t own it. You can’t own a living being. But I also know that by not ‘owning the land,’ that it makes us invisible to western civilization and federal governments across the globe.” The notion of invisibility has characterized the relations between Indigenous Peoples and States and businesses for far too long. “Governments aren’t recognizing us as separate sovereigns, or they’re just choosing not to recognize us— especially companies coming in to Indigenous lands to conduct mining, fracking, and extraction,” Kennedy-Howard said. And yet, if governments and businesses are forced to change this attitude, Indigenous Peoples would not be the only beneficiaries. As Victoria Tauli Corpuz (Igorot) of the Philippines said, “Our message to governments, to the UN, and to corporations, is that they should work with us and not against us, because we have answers to the environmental, social, economic, and cultural crises that the world faces today.”
Women from all continents gathered in Lima.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 15
World Conference of Indigenous Women
Maintaining the Ways of Our Ancestors Indigenous Women Address Food Sovereignty Jess Chertofsky (CS STAFF)
ood sovereignty is knowing the species we have on our lands, knowing what kind of seeds to plant in each territory.” These are the words of Clemencia Herrera from the Colombian Amazon, a participant in the working group on food sovereignty at the recently concluded World Conference on Indigenous Women. From establishing schools to educate Indigenous youth about traditional foodways to building greenhouses in the Arctic and east Africa, no shortage of proposed solutions emerged from the conference on the issue of food sovereignty—the ability of a people to produce their own food independent of outside markets. As introduced by Indigenous leader Andrea Carmen (Yaqui, United States), executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council, food sovereignty is a concept that Indigenous Peoples have developed as a key component of their right to control how their lands and territories are used. Article 1 of Common, International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states, “In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.” Yet, that is exactly what is happening: governments and companies the world over are seizing Indigenous Peoples’ lands without their consent, introducing genetically
Delegates gather at the Opening Ceremony of the World Conference of Indigenous Women in Lima, Peru, offering foods from around the globe to Mother Earth. Photo courtesy of CHIRAPAQ.
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modified seeds to replace highly adapted heirloom seeds, and forcing dependence on a globalized food economy. Moreover, climate change is altering the environments in which Indigenous peoples live, rendering inhospitable the habitats of the plants and animals on which they depend for food. Although the problem of diminished food sovereignty and food insecurity is one that affects all people, not just Indigenous communities, Indigenous Peoples are uniquely situated to offer solutions. Armed with ancient traditional knowledge and a deep connection to the their lands, Indigenous communities, and particularly Indigenous women, are developing projects and building networks to revitalize local food capacity and strengthen food sovereignty. Food security vs. Food sovereignty
Cecilia Brito, president of the Coordinating Association of Indigenous Women of the Amazon, explains how the eating practices of her community have changed. “In the old days, we Indigenous Peoples enjoyed unlimited territory for all. There was no hunger or contamination. We had our lands, our forests, our rivers . . . all with plenty of species.” Her people produced or hunted their own food, but now, she says, they hunt animals, sell them in the market, and use that money to buy food from outside, a cycle that she sees as self-defeating,
Photo courtesy of CHIRAPAQ.
(Left) Cultural Survival’s FPIC Radio Producers Rosy González and Kaimana Barcarse interviewing Alyssa Macy (middle). Photo by Danielle DeLuca.
especially considering the high levels of malnutrition that she and other women are seeing in their communities. The same is happening in the Arctic. Another conference attendee, Linda Arsenault-Papatsie (Pauuktuutit), executive assistant at Pauktuutit, whose people depend heavily on hunting and fishing, said that last winter their caribou herds did not arrive because climate change had altered their migratory routes. Thus, the men in the community are no longer hunting and women are turning to paid work to provide income to buy food, almost all of which is imported. And in the Andes, alpaca are no longer arriving to drink the water they always have, so communities are losing their best source of meat and forced to turn to pesticide-ridden imported products. Maria Ponce, a representative of Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, clarifies that food security and food sovereignty are not the same thing. Her people are full, she said, but on potatoes, yucca, and other carbohydrates. Whereas her community used to be able to call the forest their market, they no longer have access to protein and other vital nutrients. They may be food secure—that is, they have enough food—but not the right food. Biodiversity and Free Trade
“Transnational corporations have negative social, economic, and cultural impacts,” including among them destruction of food sovereignty, Brito said, because “the State supports a neoliberal policy to which we are not well adapted.” Neoliberal, capitalist policy was a theme running through the presentations of the many Indigenous women in the food sovereignty working group. The issue is not, as defenders of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pesticides would have us believe, that Indigenous peoples cannot feed themselves. Clelia Rivero, a Quechua from Peru, faults free trade agreements, under which the best domestically produced foods are exported to other countries and Peruvians are left with lower quality foods. The loss of biodiversity, changing migration patterns, atypical rainfall, and other effects of climate change, along with the false lure of pesticides and “improved” seeds, are causing traditional foods to be supplanted by imported, less nourishing foods. And as Indigenous Peoples stop producing their own food in traditional ways, the passing down of ancient knowledge to their children is lost, seeding a vicious cycle resulting in the loss of traditions developed over thousands of years to care for the Earth and produce from it nutritious foods.
Recommendations to address these problems are plentiful, although as many women recognize, implementation is a long process. Ilaria Cruz, a Guaraní from Paraguay, proposed establishing agro-ecological schools to prepare Indigenous youth for the task of maintaining food sovereignty. She said that in her community, Indigenous organizations are saving seeds and engaging in seed exchanges where they share successful seeds and maintain them by continuing to plant them. Alice Lesepen, a Maasai from Kenya, described how the women in her community have sought assistance from the government to address an inability to access water for growing food. They began planting greens and vegetables at the household level; when climate change altered rain patterns, they consulted the government and now have a greenhouse in which they can grow food in less time, with less water. The Maasai women’s self-determination is allowing them to confront the issues of food sovereignty and develop solutions. They need to learn how to use irrigation systems and access markets but, Lesepen says, “I am sure we are able to produce a lot.” In similar fashion, Brito and her community are implementing a project to teach families to produce food at the household level and to bring in a small income. Her organization offers workshops to gather traditional knowledge about native foods and to teach people to produce their own food again based on the wisdom of their ancestors, creating “cooperation between the past and the present.” Indigenous women are especially important to the fight for food sovereignty. As Brito explains, “The special role of the Indigenous woman is to maintain the ways of our ancestors. [We fulfill] the important role of preserving our cultures. We produce and reproduce. For the most part, women are in our homes each day with our children, with our family, while the men go out. The woman is the one who most works the earth. As women we hold an important role as protagonists in moving forward.” All of the Indigenous women who spoke at the conference emphasized working toward food sovereignty, acknowledging that the encouragement of their families and communities to do so largely falls to them. Brito’s organization is working to change this paradigm by encouraging couples and their children to produce food for their families together. As she says, they do this work “to preserve, to continue holding onto that which is ours.”
Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 17
World Conference of Indigenous Women
(From left): Ruth Massie, Myrna Cunningham, Elsa Cardenas, Tarcila Rivera Zea, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, Fabiana Del Popolo, and Agnes Leina speaking to reporters at a press conference during the World Conference of Indigenous Women. Photo by Danielle Deluca.
Suffering for the Mistakes of Others Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples
Robin Oisín Llewellyn
xtreme weather and climate change affect everyone around the world, but Indigenous Peoples are particularly vulnerable. Meenakshi Munda, member Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network, came to the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples from the state of Jharkhand in Central India, which is home to 32 Indigenous groups and where climate change has already dramatically affected her community. “The rains are falling too late,” she says. “This year our state was declared drought-afflicted for the third year in a row. The rains are shifting, and we are fully dependent on the rains for our rice harvests.” Along with diminishing the rice crops, climate change also threatens the drinking water supply. Dramatic changes were also reported by Tomas Aslak Juuso, who attended the conference from the Sami area of Finland: “We are reindeer herders and we are seeing the reindeer change their migration patterns . . . this has changed our livelihoods.” He added, “we now have rain falling steadily for long periods in the middle of winter. In the past it would only rain once a winter, if that. This causes ice-snow, which the reindeer can find impossible to break through to reach the plants beneath, and also makes the ice on lakes and the surface of the ground unpredictable.” Climate change is is also displacing Indigenous Peoples. Bouba Aeisatu from Cameroon described the plight faced by Forest Women: “The government sometimes dispossesses Forest People without any compensation,” she said. “Commercial deforestation simply cuts the trees down without preparing the Indigenous Peoples. We are forest people; we use the forest for medicine, for hunting and gathering, for fruits.” The injustices arising from such forms of livelihood insecurity are increasingly clear. Victoria Tauli Corpuz (Tebtebba) told the conference delegates that States are increasingly seeing
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Indigenous territories as a solution to climate change through the construction of large-scale hydroelectric dams. “Indigenous Peoples, who did not contribute to this problem, are the most vulnerable to climate change because we live off the land in fragile ecosystems. Along the coasts, in the mountains, in the Arctic . . . climate change is a human rights issue and affects those who are the most marginalized and most vulnerable,” she said. Tauli Corpuz urged Indigenous people to influence global climate change mitigation negotiations so that a deal can be reached that embraces Indigenous rights, and which is founded on the principle that those who most caused the problem will pay the most to remedy it, while those who have been left most vulnerable will receive the most support. Andrea Carmen of the International Indian Treaty Council described how Indigenous Peoples are already taking the initiative to adapt to climate change. In September 2012 the Indigenous Peoples’ Seeds Conference was held in Oaxaca, Mexico, reviving the ancestral knowledge of seeds that can thrive in the altered growing seasons. She explained that the restoration of traditional Tule reed beds can also play a part in carbon sequestration projects. Peru will host the 20th conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP20) in 2014, which is expected to pave the way for a new binding deal on carbon emissions in 2015. Indigenous women activists are already working to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change, arguing that emissions must be cut far and fast. Indigenous rights must not be sacrificed through action against climate change, as Indigenous knowledge and lifestyles offer answers to a world that must learn to live within its means. —Robin Llewellyn is a freelance journalist focusing on human rights and environmental issues.
Youth, Talk to Your Elders Three Women Speak
(Left): Tania Pariona Tarqui (Peru), Agnes Leina (Kenya) and Cultural Survival’s Rosy González (Guatemala). (Right): Alyssa Macy (US) and Anne Aikio (Finland). Photo courtesy of CHIRAPAQ.
ndigenous youth face many issues when they decide to move to cities. Often they choose to move to urban areas seeking access to education or jobs, but many times it might not even be a choice. Dali Angel (Zapotec) from Mexico explains: “It’s not just the immigration issue that we are facing, or that young people want to move to cities. In Mexico, Indigenous youth are forced into cities because of the industrial activities happening on Indigenous Peoples’ own lands.” Angel spoke in depth about her government’s failure to support local economies, and how the type of labor that Indigenous youth are engaging in in their villages, such as traditional agriculture, is neither officially recognized nor subsidized. She also pointed out that when Indigenous youth arrive in cities they frequently become victims of discrimination and racism, which leads them to reject their own culture, language, and traditional dress. For example, one stereotype that ladino Mexicans hold about Indigenous people involves their use of modern technology. “If a non-Indigenous person sees an Indigenous youth using tablets or new technology, they’ll say that they are stepping out of their culture, that they shouldn’t have access to these new technologies if they want to maintain their culture,” Angel says. Yet, it is often true that Indigenous youth in Mexico might not speak Spanish and have limited access to new technology, making it hard to find jobs. Many times they even don’t have access to drinkable water, she adds.
In Peru, Indigenous groups are urging young people not to forget their heritage. Tania Pariona Tarqui is a Quechua from the region of Ayacucho, Peru. She says that young people have difficulty understanding how to link academic higher education and traditional knowledge; Tarqui, however, believes that she can complement her higher education with traditional knowledge. Andrea Landry, an Anishinaabe from Canada (see page 22), shares the same kind of difficult experience of living between two worlds. She says she has stayed up nights thinking, “Why am I doing my master thesis in a western university when I even can’t speak my own language?” Angel, Tarqui, and Landry all find that education is problematic. Some families cannot afford higher education for their kids. But it can also be true that elder people disagree with Indigenous youths’ choice to seek a western education. Tarqui says, “Usually there are two ways of thinking: some families agree that education is important, but with it there is a kind of sadness. They are afraid that children will lose connection to [their] homelands.” Although the attitudes in local communities toward pursuing a western education can be negative, Landry advises young people to look for guidance at home. “Go talk to your elders and go to ceremonies,” she says, “because there you find people who have been fighting this fight for generations. And they know how to survive it. That’s the way I found my way on [the] right path.” —Anne Aikio is Sami from Finland and was a participant at the World Conference of Indigneous Women. Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 19
World Conference of Indigenous Women
Learn Your Language I n P rofil e:
Raffaella Bulyaar from Marsabit, Kenya
am the Woman Empowerment program officer at Kivulini Trust. From my community I am the first to come and attend this conference. I came here to learn so I can go and share with my people and so that we can try to fight for our rights which are in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our women back home face many problems, but now with this UN Declaration some of them have improved. We face a shortage of water as well as drought because we are living in a desert. Also, access to healthcare is difficult. Many of our people are illiterate and few of our girls are educated, so we are trying to promote culture education and make the women aware of their rights in our new constitution. One of the biggest challenges we are facing is that our youth are growing up not knowing our culture; in our cities they do not even know our own language. We are trying to look for programs that will revive some languages. We are also looking to press the government to try to include people to be taught our local languages. Now in Kenya, the lower classes from Standard 1 to Standard 4 have agreed that the children should be taught their local languages and culture, which is a plus for us now. But that is not enough, because culture is not only language. There is architecture, the way of caring for the animals, the way of caring for the environment. Before we had elders who knew how to care for the environment, such as knowing what trees should not be cut. This is a problem that must be explored, how to take care of our environment. In our government back in Kenya, they have tried to make awareness on how to preserve the environment through education. It has not reached our people down in the desert. We still have the challenge of going to meet them so our people can be taught. The role of our women is to pass this message to other women. There may be some who have not come because they are less privileged, but do have wise ideas. We would like to talk to them and get the information from them. We can communicate with them and say things that have been left unsaid. That is one of our roles. Another role is to collaborate, to try and lobby for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous women in our countries. My message to the youth is you have a responsibility to
learn your language. Our culture is very beautiful and comprises everything. Our culture comprises how to care for our environment, how to care for our health. The youth have the responsibility to help our culture by coming back from the cities and staying home. They must learn from the older people because once the elders die, they will die with their wisdom. We want them to go to school and then come home and learn our culture. For women everywhere, we need to be more aggressive. This will allow all of our women to be at the same level so we can fight for our rights as a united group, not as individuals.
“One of the biggest challenges we are facing is that our youth are growing up not knowing our culture; in our cities they do not even know our own language. We are trying to look for programs that will revive some languages.” — rafaella Bulyaar
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Creating a Better Future I n P ro f i l e :
Pefi Kingi from Niue
was born and raised in Niue, an island country in the South Pacific Ocean 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand, educated and raised in Aotearoa, New Zealand and some of the United States, and currently reside in New Zealand. I am one of two Pacific Islanders here. In the history of the Pacific peoples [and] the UN, we have been a disparate race. We comprise many islands, many hundreds of dialects, and we still haven’t gathered ourselves together. We are not working as one, nor are we even paddling our many different canoes in a similar direction. A lot of dialogue is required amongst our people to create a stronger voice and be a more united force. The beauty of Pacific men and women is that we are all beautiful. That is to say, we all have our particular gifts that our Kupuna have identified for us and nurtured in us. You would be a little foolish if you came to this forum not bringing that richness with you. So women know their place, men know their place, and hopefully we can [find] the complementary roles where the two spaces converge, because our common denominator has to be our children now. Our children are diasporic. They are no longer full blooded this island, full blooded that island. We are talking about a new generation, a new race. That has to be our main point of concern. When I look behind me, we haven’t done a very good job of building the capacity and the capability of our children. We have created a little privileged group: that’s how we are so proud to have acquired particular gains through our children. But our youth are as disparate as we are right now. It’s such a double-edged sword isn’t it? On the one hand, we want them to have some white man education, and on the other hand we want them to have total Kupuna education. And we want them to stand tall and never drop the culture that they are given, either male or female. As the villagers you and I, we must be more supportive than we have been to one another so that we can actually nurture the youth as we should. That is as simple as I can break it down. We haven’t started thinking of ourselves as one village, and that may be problematic. We haven’t even started thinking of ourselves as many villages in one ocean. We have actually acquired many of the values from other cultures. What does it mean? It means that we are just going to have to work that much harder. The mother has an extremely
special place. Not only is she the doorway for our future generation, but she is in any home in matriarchal Pacific societies. For many Pacific societies, our women are treated as equals. Where we differ from white mainstream feminism is that we prefer to work with our families, our Ohana. These are the sacred posts of society for Pacific. We could teach [the mainstream] a few things, but perhaps we’ll just hold that sacred. We have grown tired of being exploited, so we are not going to share too many things, not yet. Not until we get our strategic game plan together. And our game plan is always about working hand in hand with our men, because we are the complementary halves to one another.
“We are not working as one, nor are we even paddling our many different canoes in a similar direction. A lot of dialogue is required amongst our people to create a stronger voice and be a more united force” — pefi Kingi
Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 21
World Conference of Indigenous Women
Violence Against Women Must End I n P rofil e:
Andrea Landry, Anishinaabe from Canada
ndrea Landry, who is also known by her Indigenous name, Migizi Odey Kwe (meaning Eagle Heart Woman) comes from Pays Plat First Nation in Ontario, Canada part of the Anishinaabe (Ojibway) people. She is part of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus for UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and has been involved in the preparatory process for the World Conference for Indigenous People, as well as various other UN systems. Landry is young in years, but her age belies her experience. At the World Conference of Indigenous Women in Lima, Peru, Landry spoke about colonial versus Indigenous ideologies regarding sovereignty and nationhood. “We are defining ourselves based on the federal government and colonial thought. We’ve reached a bridge, and its time to go back to our old ways in a sense, but also build up those old ways and make sure they work today,” she said. Landry’s number one issue is violence against native women. She engaged United Nations Special Rapporteur James Anaya on this topic during his recent official visit to Canada. “In Canada there are 600–1000 missing and murdered Indigenous women. These women are left nameless and voiceless, and it’s a frustrating thing to see,” she told him. Landry notes that this violence against women comes in partnership with violence on First Nations territories, and is reflective of a legacy of colonialism. “Traditionally we had clan mothers and systems that prioritized women in our communities. Today this violence is tied to low socio-economic status, high incarceration rates, and related to how women in cities are living in between two
worlds,” she says. The issue is personal for Landry, who was in a violent relationship for four years. She hopes that her story may be inspiring to other Native women: “In order to get out of that, I turned back to ceremony. That’s what really made me re-focus and re-evaluate my life.” Landry grew up in an urban setting and straddles both urban and Native worlds—a complicated position that is the source of some inner conflict. “It’s a very difficult process,” she says. “I’m completing my masters right now. I almost quit so many times because the same thought was going through my head; why am I getting my masters degree at a western institution when I can’t even speak my own language fluently? There were many nights when I was crying and asking Creator, why can’t I speak my language, and why am I following this colonial path of success? In order to overcome these colonial systems you kind of have to pretend to be one of them, but never ever turn your back on who you are as an Indigenous youth. It’s a very difficult thing to deal with as an Indigenous person.” Because of her own struggles, Landry is able to give advice to other Indigenous youth facing similar questions. “If you ever have hopelessness . . . speak to your elders and go to ceremony. There were many times over the last six months that I felt complete hopelessness. I said, I’m going to give up, I’m done with this fight, I’m done with this struggle, I’m just going to live in everyday modern life. And I went to ceremony and got this message: keep up the fight. It’s worth it.”
Many Voices, One Message: The Lima Declaration Indigenous women demand that States recognize the authority and competency of their communities in the management of their lands, territories, and resources. The “Lima Declaration,” endorsed by nearly 200 women leaders across Africa, the Pacific, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and North America, declares that women’s role in the preservation of biodiversity and ancestral wisdom of nature is key to challenging the impacts of climate change. The document, released on November 7, was prepared in the framework of the 2013 World Conference of Indigenous Women. Coupled with a plan of action, it will be presented at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September 2014 in New York and to different mechanisms of the United Nations systems focused on the rights of women and Indigenous communities. To learn more, visit: mujerindigena.com. To read the Declaration, visit: goo.gl/MW0z3i.
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The Financial Case for Honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
First Peoples Worldwide
n October 29, First Peoples Worldwide released its Indigenous Rights Risk Report at the SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing. The report analyzed 52 US-based extractive companies listed on the Russell 1000 Index to address one question: why should investors and shareholders care about Indigenous Peoples? For years, Indigenous Peoples and their supporters have made the moral argument for their rights outlined in ILO Convention 169, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the other international and national laws that followed. The Indigenous Rights Risk Report now makes the financial case for why investors, shareholders, and corporations must respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights and proactively work with them to maximize the benefits to Indigenous communities and minimize the financial risk to shareholders. First Peoples found that an alarming 92 percent of the 370 oil, gas, and mining sites analyzed posed a medium to high risk to shareholders. Of the companies with more than 10 sites operating on or near Indigenous land, 92 percent had at least one high-risk site, and 23 percent of the companies had more than five high-risk sites. The 21 sites with the highest overall risk rating shared three characteristics: 64 percent had a “critical” Community Risk rating, meaning the site was directly associated with violence towards and/or arrests of community members; 68 percent had a critical Reputation Risk rating, meaning they were receiving bad press in the local, national, or global media; and 64 percent were in countries with high or critical risk ratings, meaning the country provided little to no recognition or protection of Indigenous Peoples. Despite these risks, companies were found ill-prepared to productively engage and work with Indigenous Peoples. Out of the 52 companies First Peoples analyzed, only one had an explicit policy of abiding by Free, Prior and Informed Consent as mandated by the Declaration. Only four others had company-wide Indigenous Peoples policies, leaving the remaining 47 companies with no clear policy for productively engaging and working with Indigenous Peoples. This is startling, given that 69 percent of the companies in the study received a medium to critical Community Risk rating at all of their sites. In other words, these companies had no
agreements with Indigenous Peoples and were likely facing nonviolent or violent protests, resulting in a dangerous situation for the Indigenous Peoples and exposing their investors to incredible financial risk. The risks are only going to increase, as Indigenous Peoples have more rights enshrined at the international and national level and are exercising them more effectively than ever before. Increasingly, the world’s remaining oil, gas, and mineral reserves are being found on Indigenous land. Digital media is allowing Indigenous Peoples and their allies to access and share information more easily, giving them the ability to tell their stories and conduct advocacy campaigns on a global scale that can directly impact the profitability and value of a company. It is more critical than ever for investors and shareholders to be able to access unbiased information about Indigenous Peoples and from Indigenous Peoples so they can make sound investment decisions. We hope that this report will be a tool for investors and shareholders as they make investment decisions in the extractive industry. Ideally, this report will act as a bridge between Indigenous Peoples and investors to begin a dialogue and provide a platform for collaborating on shareholder action campaigns to drive the policy changes companies need to make to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View the full report at http://firstpeoples.org/ indigenous-rights-risk-report.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 23
Cultural revival in practice, chanting Tuva history.
Tuva children doing what children do best: play.
saving our identity an uphill battle for the TUva of china
T Yuxin Hou
he Tuva are ancient hunters and nomadic peoples whose lineage can be traced back more than a thousand years to the Tang dynasty. Described in the Tang dynasty-era book Tongdian as “skiing hunters” and during the Yuan dynasty as “forest people,” they lived a free, mobile life around the Yenisei River and the Altai and Sayan Mountains. According to Chinese historical records, the Tuva were hunters and nomads until the Qing dynasty, which lasted from the mid-1600s to the early twentieth century. They declared independence from China in 1912, directly following the Chinese revolution of the year before, and in 1944 were incorporated into the USSR as an autonomous oblast (administrative region). Today, the Tuva are scattered across Xinjiang (China), outer Mongolia, and Russia. Chinese Tuva mainly live in the three villages of Kanas, Hemu, and Baihaba, with a total population of around 2,500. As the Chinese government endeavors to push economic development and continues to establish itself as a major world power, groups like the Chinese Tuva are especially vulnerable to mental, physical, social, and cultural suffering. Tuva elder Mengboer has witnessed the great cultural shifts of the last half century. In his words, “Before the Cultural Revolution, we could freely conduct hunting and nomadic life in the forest and grasslands; shamanism, natural worship, and hunting taboos had endowed us with ecological wisdom. However,
with the rapid development of national assimilation, forced settlement, tourism, and the implementation of hunting prohibition, we were drawn into a strange and crazy world that is full of utilitarianism, demoralization, anthropocentrism, and economic centrism.” This rapid transformation has hugely impacted the Chinese Tuvas’ traditional culture, livelihood, survival concepts, natural environment, and naturalistic values. Since the Cultural Revolution they have also endured the loss of their own pluralistic medicine traditions and now face the dilemma of a modern medical system. The small, simple clinics in Chinese Tuva villages are short on both medicine and doctors, so ailments like the common cold or fevers sometimes prove fatal due to expired medicine or misdiagnosis. As a result, increasing numbers of Tuva refuse to see a doctor. However, they can no longer seek out traditional folk healers, such as shamans or the family sage—they have all but vanished. Crises of Culture, Identity, and Language
The Tuva are defined as a cross-national ethnic group separated by national borders (China, Mongolia, Russia), though for the purposes of national identification the Chinese government classifies them as Mongolian. Wuyun, an elder Tuva who runs several small businesses in the community, explains the difficulty of being classified this way: “We should be identified as a separate Tuva ethnic minority instead of belonging to Mongolia due to our unique language and the historical relation with the Tuva people of China. Most Tuva live outside
All photos courtesy of Yuxin Hou.
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Sequence numbers on wooden houses commemorate nomadic life.
of China, so we were afraid that once we were classified as Mongolian people, gradually we would be assimilated into Mongolia and lose our own language and culture,” she says. Chinese Tuva were identified as Mongolian as a result of state power and the consideration of border security and stability, but the ensuing identity crisis has challenged their collective psychological and cultural identity. In daily life, Chinese Tuva used the Tuva language as their family language and the Kazak language as an inter-ethnic language. The Mongolian language was rarely used, and most Chinese Tuva cannot speak it fluently. However, many can speak fluent Mandarin due to the influence of institutionalized educa- tion and practical consideration. The Tuva language has been called “the live fossil of old Turkish language” without the written system. As Tuva elder Aeruna, a retired primary school teacher, explains, “In the beginning of the establishment of People’s Republic of China, we endeavored to establish the Tuva language school. But, we could never fulfill it. It became impossible after we were identified as a Mongolian ethnic group.” With the rapid development of modern education and urbanization, increasing numbers of young Tuva are denied the chance to use the Tuva language. As a result, Tuva has become an endangered language. Suder, a herdsman in the community, offers another perspective; he has two children who are currently being educated in a Han Chinese school. “Although I know our language is at risk, we still hope our children will have a good grasp of Mandarin, which could bring them more opportunities and better future,” he says. Population On the Brink
Following the Cultural Revolution, most Chinese Tuva who lived through it later suffered from mental illness. Depression and mental illness also afflicts young Chinese Tuva within national assimilation projects, most likely due to forced settlement and hunting prohibition. These blows to their traditional ways of life, along with the government’s social neglect, have led to feelings of resentment and desperation that are frequently accompanied by alcohol abuse, crime, and even suicide. Melingsha is a Tuva housewife who lost her husband to complications from alcohol abuse. “During the
Tuva participating in an archery ritual as a way of honoring traditional hunting life.
long winter,” she said, “we could not continue our own traditional life of hunting and gradually fell into alcoholism. Alcoholics included youngsters, old people, pregnant women, and even minors. The alcoholism also created a series of social problems such as divorce, violence, crime, and suicide,” which have all contributed to population decline. The number of pregnant women who are alcoholics, in concert with poor delivery conditions, has worsened the population decline. According to Mengkerqia, a knowledgeable local elite, “From 2007–2008, the death number and birth number of Chinese Tuva were 42 and 12, respectively. In 2009–2010, the numbers were 38 and 9. Additionally, Chinese Tuva women have been increasingly intermarrying with Han (Chinese), Kazak, and Hui Peoples. They have had to make such decisions as a result of the large number of male alcoholics in our native population.” The official point of view is that the main factor of population decline to inbreeding. Tala, an elder Tuva housewife, refutes this: “Historically, consanguineous marriage never happened in our society. Because we belonged to different tribes, we strictly followed the marriage taboo of no marriage within seven generations,” she says. In actual fact, the Tuvas’ population declined as a dual result of forced settlement during the Cultural Revolution and modern day tourism; in a vicious cycle, the difficulties faced by Tuva men in particular exacerbated the rate of alcoholism, and alcoholism has worsened the marriage problem. In addition to the overt causes of national assimilation projects, forced settlements, and hunting prohibitions, there are more problems lurking behind the scenes: sedentary centrism, economic centrism, and anthropocentrism have pushed the current Chinese nomadic people and other small ethnic groups to the brink. But, the future is not written yet. If given a chance, it is possible that the ecologism, environmentalism, and naturalism practiced by these once nomadic people could bring much enlightenment to modern civilization. —Yuxin Hou is a postdoctoral research fellow at NGO Research Center, School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.
Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 25
Ba za a r Ar tis t: D ancing Hula to Sa y “Mahalo”
Kumu Kawika Alfihe Amy Ferguson “
grew up with my dad discouraging me [from] dance,” says Kumu Kawika Alfiche. “It’s funny because the Western world came into Hawai’i and a lot of the Hawaiians [from the previous generation] grew up having to speak English and trying to assimilate.” Alfiche, while growing up in San Francisco, was interested in learning about his Hawaiian culture. He spent many years learning from a few select teachers, each called Kumu (meaning “source”), before ultimately leading his own group. He has been teaching hula and Hawaiian culture through the Hālau o Keikiali’I Cultural Group and at the Kaululehua Hawaiian Cultural Center, both in the San Francisco Bay Area, since 1994. Both groups focus on the skills of hula kahiko (ancient dance), which includes oli (chanting), mele (traditional songs), himeni (modern songs), nā mea hula (arts and crafts), lole hula (hula attire), ‘ōlelo (language), and mo’olelo (stories) with a special emphasis on traditional styles. The Center offers classes and stage productions for the public, including educational workshops, performances, and other cultural events. According to Alfiche, the Hālau has more recently been focused on music because performances can bring in funds. “In shows they want ukelele, they want guitar, they want singing, and so in the past 10 years I’ve been experimenting [with] more of the musician side of it. So I don’t just teach hula, I’m also a musician now. I kind of wear both hats. Sometimes they want the Kumu to be the musician, sometimes they want the Kumu to be the teacher,” he explains. For Alfiche, performances are not simply for exhibition but also for spiritual expression. As with many Indigenous cultures, there is a Hawaiian belief that Hawaiians do not own the land, but exist in harmony with it. “There was no rubbish, there was no pollution, there was not a poisonous insect or animal on that island . . . everything was just in harmony,” Alfiche says. Hawaiians call themselves Keiki o Ka Aina, or “children of the land;” dancing and praying can be a way to commune with the land. As Alfiche sees it, taking care of the land is a combination of “not just like throwing your rubbish away and all that stuff, but it’s also dancing, it’s also praying, it’s also sharing that energy and being thankful. Like, you know, go and hug a tree! You hug a tree and that exchange of energy does a lot. Or just raising your hands to the sky and saying, “Mahalo, thank you.” The dances that Hālau o Keikiali’I performs are similar to prayers, and are the same ones that Hawaiians
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Top: Kawika Alfiche with his guitar. Bottom: Alfiche sings as Pi’iali’i Lawson dances. Inset: Halau ‘o Keikiali’i performs at the Cultural Survival Bazaar at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in CT.
would perform to pray to their gods like Pele, the goddess of volcanoes. At the same time, the dances can be used as exhibitions to share Hawaiian culture—Hālau o Keikiali’I even performed on Broadway a few years ago. As Hawaii experiences a revitalization of its language and culture, Alfiche says there is a movement supporting the younger generation “to do things Hawaiian, to speak Hawaiian. As far as the younger generation, we don’t have anything to worry about. As far as it is being carried on, it’s going to get carried on.” Alfiche and Halau ‘o Keikiali’i participated as guest artists at our Bazaar at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in August.
The 2013 CS Bazaar series raised over $268,023 for Indigenous artisans and their communities. Find a Bazaar near you! Visit: bazaar.culturalsurvival.org
our s upp o r t e r s
Meet Our Fall Interns Thank you to all of our wonderful Fall interns. Interns make the wheels spin at Cultural Survival and are an essential part of our work. (L–R): Eliott Rousseau, Amy Ferguson, Holly Swanson, Sara Schenkel, Kelsey Parker von Jess, Kristen Williams. Missing from photo: Sasha Benov, Megan Harris, Hannah Reier, and Melanie White.
Why I Support Cultural Survival “For many years I have observed the astute advocacy and constructive actions of Cultural Survival and their Indigenous partners in building a network of community radio stations in Guatemala. The collaborative strategy has been brilliant, the teamwork consistently remarkable, and the funding carefully directed and judiciously spent. I am grateful for the opportunity to channel my commitment to Indigenous rights, dignity, and equal standing in the global community through Cultural Survival.” — Susanna Badgley Place, Milton, MA, Author, Guatemala Journey Among the Ixil Maya (2013)
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Campaign Alert Peru
David Chino, Quechua “Apu” and vice president of FEDIQUEP, observes industrial waste left behind by the oil industry outside of Nuevo Andoas, Peru.
Force Oil Company to Clean up Toxic Oil Spills
he Amazon: known for its biodiversity, thriving rivers, rich Indigenous cultures, and now, decades of contamination from toxic waste dumps by the petroleum industry. After days of navigation along the windy Pastaza River in northern Peru, one finds Nuevo Andoas, a small town literally built on the scraps of 43 years of petroleum extraction, headquarters to the Argentine company Pluspetrol Norte. The company’s concession covers four watersheds in the Amazon Rainforest. Starting in 1971, a systematic disregard for environmental and social impact has led to devastating effects on the area and the Indigenous people who inhabit it. The original owners of the concession, US-based company Occidental Petroleum, illegally dumped their industrial waste (known as “production waters”) directly into the Pastaza, Tigre, Corrientes, and Marañon rivers for 30 years, averaging about 850,000 barrels each day. The accumulated 9 billion barrels contained toxic substances such as barium, lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminum, iron, and cadmium. The State of Peru has reported 25 spills occurring in Block 1AB between 2010 and 2011 alone, while local Indigenous monitors have counted over 100 crude oil spills in the last 5 years. This information, along with visits by members of Congress to the affected areas, led Peru to declare an Environmental State of Emergency in March of 2013. But that declaration has still not initiated adequate responses to thoroughly clean up the contaminated areas.
The contamination is slowly poisoning the Indigenous communities who live there, including the Quechua peoples. High concentrations of heavy metals are known to lead to lung cancer, heart disease, kidney failure, and brain damage, among other diseases. But Indigenous people who depend on the land to survive must continue to fish, hunt, and grow food on these lands. They bathe, wash, drink, and cook with the water knowing it means exposure to toxic contaminants. Elmer Hualinga, Quechua, lives in Nuevo Andoas with his family and experiences this trauma firsthand: “Despite the fact that the government has declared an Environmental State of Emergency, we don’t have water, we don’t have food. How can we ensure the lives of our children? It’s the saddest thing in the world. It makes me want to weep, to cry out, why are they doing this to us? But the reality is that they don’t respond to that. My children are going to suffer the consequences. They won’t experience a clean environment. That is a huge concern for us as Native peoples.” While billions of dollars worth of oil have been taken from their lands, Indigenous Quechua still lack access to basic services and potable water, a jarring disjunction between their abject poverty and the “black gold” being extracted at a rate of 15,000 barrels per day. After 40 years, the concession for Block 1AB expires in 2015, and the State of Peru is eager to renew it. But before that happens, the Indigenous communities have some demands: namely, they want the State of Peru to remediate the disaster it has created on their lands.
The State of Peru must listen to people like Elmer. Take action in solidarity with FEDIQUEP. to the President of Peru demanding urgent action to clean up the Amazon!
28 • Write ww w. cs.a org letter
he State of Peru has demonstrated knowledge of this contamination and its effects on the local Indigenous Peoples. In fact, there is evidence that the State willingly allowed the company to continue practices that polluted at a rate of 30 times the levels allowed by national law. Whether incapable or unwilling to stand up to Pluspetrol, the State is complicit in this environmental Crude oil is found just under the subsoil. violence against the Quechua peoples. “Apu” David Chino, Quechua traditional leader, explained, “The company is not respecting the agreements and responsibilities that they have towards the people. In our opinion, the company is making a fool out of the State. And the State has neither the power nor the ability to say enough is enough. What they have done here is not remediation; it does not comply with best practices.” Pluspetrol claims to be adopting new policies, but devastating oil spills continue to happen with extreme frequency. It’s no surprise: its vast infrastructure largely dates back to the 1970s and is badly rusted and damaged. Rather than preventing spills, or even cleaning them up as they happen, the company illegally attempts to cover up the damage by mixing clean water and soil onto spill sites. However, diluting the problem doesn’t make it disappear. Heavy metals do not diminish with time. In fact, toxicity accumulates—in the environment as well as the bloodstream. The Quechua peoples of the Pastaza river depend heavily on fish for their local diet. Every time local people consume fish, they ingest an accumulation of toxic metals that were part of that fish’s food chain in its lifetime. A study conducted by the State showed that virtually the entire Quechua population has elevated levels of heavy metals in their bloodstreams. A Ministry of Health inspection in 2005 of 199 villagers within the concession area additionally found that 99.2 percent of adults have concentrations of lead in their blood exceeding the level that the human body can tolerate. In children, 99 and 66 percent were found to have dangerous levels of cadmium and lead, respectively. The Indigenous Peoples of the Peruvian Amazon are the protagonists in this fight as they work as stewards of their environment. Where both Pluspetrol and the State have fallen short, Indigenous organizations have stepped up to monitor contamination in their homelands. One such organization, FEDIQUEP, is a federation of Indigenous Quechua communities along the Pastaza River. They have trained members of the Quechua community to be environmental monitors, using their knowledge of the forest to identify and report sites of contamination or alteration of the natural landscape. As the Quechua understand their lands to be interconnected, they are able to see how contamination in one stream will pollute waters in communities miles away; according to the company and the State, these are just isolated points of contamination, and as such the company is only responsible for cleaning up within 500 meters from a community. The communities of the Pastaza and the three other watersheds affected by oil drilling in Block 1AB need solidarity in their work to defend their lands. “Apu” Aurelio Chino Dahua, Quechua traditional leader and president of FEDIQUEP, explains: “They say that the Amazon rainforest is the lungs of the Earth. If that’s true, we need to work together to take care of it in order to breathe clean air. Other countries need to call on the Peruvian government, sit them down and tell them, ‘Why are you signing these concessions with oil companies, if all of us, in one way or another, are going to breathe this contaminated air?’ We need to bring other ideas to the government of Peru. Professionals and scientists need to look to other models of development for our country that won’t affect these forests. Can’t they think of something? I worry about this. I worry a lot about this.”
Make Your Voice Heard! Write a letter to the President of Peru expressing solidarity with FEDIQUEP, the Quechua peoples of the Pastaza River. Tell the president: • The State of Peru must take immediate action forcing Pluspetrol to remediate environmental damages in Block 1AB. The government’s inaction is a form of environmental violence against the Quechua people. • Clean drinking water and food security must be provided to the people of the Pastaza until their lands and rivers are cleaned up. • The State of Peru must identify all contaminated areas in Block 1AB and surrounding buffer communities. • The State of Peru must issue land titles for the Quechua people and compensate them for the use of and damages to their Indigenous territory. • The State must comply with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by utilizing the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, not just Prior Consultation. Send your letters to: Ollanta Humala President of the Republic Palacio de Gobierno Plaza de Armas Lima 1, Perú Tel: +(51) 1-311-3900 x 725 Email: email@example.com @Ollanta_HumalaT www.facebook.com/presidenciaperu Cesar Villanueva Arévalo President of the Council of Ministries Jr. Carabaya Cdra. 1 S/N – Lima, Tel: +(51) 1-219-7000 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org CC: ILO Latin American and Caribbean Regional Office Las Flores 275, San Isidro Lima, Perú Tel: +(51) 1-615-0300 Email: email@example.com For more information, visit: observatoriopetrolero.org fediquep.blogspot.com rainforestfoundation.org alianzaarkana.org www.cs.org/take-action/peru
Campaign Alert Peru
Cultural Survival Quarterly
December 2013 • 29
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