- Grants Awarded 2012


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Grants Awarded 2012

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In 2012, Keepers of the Earth Fund awarded grants totaling $518,180.


Jittoa Bat Natika Weria, “Ancestral Medicine (Mexico) - The Yaqui Indian Pueblos of Rio Yaqui, Sonora are home to Indigenous “Corn” People, whose lifeways have revolved around corn as food, as medicine, as identity. Ancestral Medicine was founded by Yaqui community members, traditional tribal authorities, traditional healers and farmers to address the interrelated impacts of and develops alternatives based on restoring and revitalizing traditional Yaqui corn knowledge and practices. The group will use Keepers of the Earth grant funds to bring together the knowledge holders and practitioners from this region and others to renew ties and relations based on common cultural and spiritual understandings and stories, and a shared commitment to health and survival of their future generations. The Corn Peoples will exchange traditional seed varieties, farming practices and methods, spiritual and cultural relationships and ceremonial practices, and discuss revitalizing traditional trade routes.

Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (Belize) - The SATIIM organization has been a grantee of Keepers of the Earth for several years. In developing its own advocacy programs, the organization has become the central organizing point for the five communities it serves. The main issue is management and protection of the Sarstoon Temash National Park, traditional territory of the Q’eqchi and Garifuna people, which is under constant exploitation by extractive industry. More specifically, the government of Belize, in its defiance of the courts, has allowed a US oil company to conduct seismic testing in the sacred forest, and has encroached on the community of Conejo, cutting a path through the forest to begin its exploration activities. The community is conducting its own assessment of how the seismic path on Conejo village’s communal land has affected biodiversity and the ability of the villagers to continue their traditional relationship with the land, and will report on the impact of the oil company’s activities conducted without the communities free, prior and informed consent.

La Paz Departmental Committee of Indigenous Peoples (Bolivia) - CPILAP represents the interests and needs of eight indigenous ethnic groups of the Amazonian lowlands. The Takana, Leco Apolo, Leco Larecaja, Mosetenes, Ess E’ja, San Jose de Uchupiamonas, T’simane, and the Original Moseten Agroecological Community of Palos Blanco comprise a total of 3,860 families. These families are currently being threatened by large-scale development projects, including construction of a highway through the Madidi National Park, an agroindustrial complex, and a hydroelectric power plant which would flood approximately 2,505km2 of tropical forest. CPILAP would like to advocate for the interests of the indigenous peoples against these projects, but currently lack government registration and a strategic action plan. This grant will provide for six months of training and planning, the updating of legal paperwork, and will also strengthen the organizational structure of the CPILAP Women’s Committee.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (USA) - The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center was established in 1976 and has since preserved Pueblo culture, customs, and sovereignty. Now, they seek share their experience and expertise with the Nepali Constituent Assembly. Nepal is in the process of drafting a democratic constitution after a decade of civil war, and indigenous Nepalese wish to see their interests protected in this new constitution. This grant provides for a five-day video conference between the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and a Nepali delegation, during which the Nepalese will learn about “models, mentoring, and cautionary tales about issues of indigenous self-determination within a broader federal framework.” Delegates will present their new knowledge to the Nepali Constituent Assembly for consideration.

Indigenous Zapatista Agrarian Movement (Mexico) – This organization was formed by 46 grassroots groups located in Oaxaca. The Indigenous population of the state call themselves Nuu Savi, the people of the rain. Despite the peoples’ cultural richness, they face a number of problems that affect their development as Indigenous People. Lack of water resources, deteriorating natural resources, politics and gender violence are issues that are being addressed by this informal group, but in order to legitimize its work and be formally recognized by the government, Keepers of the Earth Fund is providing the much needed funding, its first ever, to create its governing documents and obtain legal registration.

Seminole Sovereignty Project (USA) – This grassroots community organization promotes and strengthens the Native community through advocacy, community organizing and skill-building. It values the principles of self-determination, cultural sustainability, justice, empowerment and a responsibility to future generations. The Keepers of the Earth Fund is helping this all volunteer group to create new institutional assets by gaining formal recognition. The organization can then attract the necessary resources to provide training for youth in understanding the cultural mandates of responsible community citizenship, and will offer leadership, community empowerment and advocacy training.


Forum for the Protection of Peoples’ Rights (Nepal) - Ending a decade-long civil war, Nepal is now in the process of drafting a new, democratic constitution. Though the Nepali government has consulted many outside sources in this drafting process including Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, the United Nations, and the United States, they have not shown interest in including Nepal’s indigenous population in the process. PPR seeks to change this. This grant will provide for a five-day video conference between members of PPR and members of the All-Indian Pueblo Council, which oversees the political rights and participation of the 19 Pueblo Indian communities of New Mexico. PPR will take the knowledge that they glean from their New Mexico counterparts and present this to the Nepali Constituent Assembly in the hopes of helping to create a new Nepali constitution that will value and protect Indigenous rights.

Derepa Erumanen Ne Menuvu (DEMI) (Philippines) - The Erumanen ne Menuvu tribe is comprised of 11 vansu (clans) totaling 160,000. The tribes are preparing their claim for ancestral domain and in doing so will revive its Ubpaan, traditional political structure, and territorial self-governance called kamal. To reach as many tribal members as possible, the DEMI will establish a small radio station to aire a 30-minute weekly radio program that broadcasts tribal history, culture, knowledge system and practices, intended to bolster the morale of the 11 vansa and create unity among the people. Grant funds will provide the equipment infrastructure needed to bring the radio-show on-line.

Kalugpongan sa mga Lumad sa Halayong Habagatang Mindanao (Philippines) - In the far southern part of Mindanao, mining companies want to displace the B’laans tribal people in order to exploit the lands for its 1.1 billion metric tonnes of copper and gold. One large mining company is on the verge of receiving permission to move ahead with its Environmental Impact Study and the local people are organizing themselves to campaign against the oil company. They are receiving paralegal training, educating themselves on the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, printing primers on mining and taking on leadership roles in order to stop the exploitation and potential relocation of 350 families. Keepers of the Earth funds will support this community in developing and passing its own Environmental Code that bans large-scale mining in the province.

Community Awareness and Services for Ecological Concern, Inc. (Philippines) - Located in Northern Mindanao, the Higaonon Tribe are a forest-based people whose identity and livelihood depend on the resources the forest provides. As in many Filipino communities, the tribe is resisting militarization and exploitation by mining companies, and asserting its claim to ancestral domain. Through this grant, the tribe will construct its tribal learning center from which it will implement new and continue ongoing cultural programs developed as a result of recent activities to document the culture.

Konsorsium Pendukung Sistem Hutan Kerakyatan (KpSHK) (Indonesia) - The Indigenous Peoples of Kerinci Seblat National Park (Kerinci) have been excluded from participating in the regional dialogue and policy forums on mitigating climate change. This community is taking matters into their own hands and convening the community to inventory the various resource stewardship techniques that serve as successful cases of climate change mitigation. Armed with this information, they are developing their own statements about how they have been successful in mitigating climate change using traditional knowledge. This documentation will be developed into print and visual media and distributed to the public to promote the Community Mitigated Climate Change Model.

Pikumpongan Dlibon Subanen (Philippines) - The PDSI is an NGO formed by Subanen women professionals and community leaders from various municipalities in the Zamboanga Peninsula. In the region, there are over 400 mining agreements covering over one million hectares of land. One of these communities, Mamanwa Indigenous Peoples, registered a formal complaint against a Canadian mining company for encroaching on their ancestral lands. This is not an isolated situation as can be clearly seen on many maps that have been developed to depict the situation in all of the Philippines. Filipino women are getting involved in the collective struggle for Indigenous rights and the first national indigenous women’s gathering convened in 2011. It resulted in formation of a steering committee to plan the second annual gathering in 2012. The second event will lend support to the Mamanwa community against the encroachment, as well as set direction for various groups and advocates supporting the assertion of women’s rights. New leaders will emerge to lead their communities while other will take on leadership roles in the Indigenous Peoples Women’s Assembly.


Association des Baka de l’Est Cameroun (Cameroon) - When the Cameroon government designated areas of the national forest as private forestry land, they stipulated that 10 percent of logging profits from these areas must be shared with neighboring communities. However, the Baka people, who live within the forest and have a historically intimate relationship with it, are excluded from this benefit because their nomadic lifestyle prevents them from being recognized as an “official village” by the Cameroon government. Recently, the government revised this law to allow the Baka to form “Baka residence communities” which would be eligible for this money. The goal of ASBAK is to educate the 2,000 members of the Baka community on their rights under this new law, help form and register the Baka residence communities, and help the communities direct this new cash inflow towards community development. Through this grant, the 20 members of ASBAK will be able to travel to these communities to hold educational meetings, train local leaders on their rights, and obtain necessary government documentation for the communities.

Farlu Rural Integrated Development Association (Sierra Leone) - This rural agricultural community of Mende, Temne and Limba Peoples is developing solutions to meeting its food needs. The area is primarily comprised of subsistence farmers trying to establish productive farms to feed their families and communities after ten years of brutal civil war. They are reviving their traditional agriculture and reestablishing piggeries in order to provide a sustainable source of protein for the community. This grant will enable reconstruction and restocking of one piggery that was destroyed during the conflict, training for community members in animal husbandry and marketing.

Hope, Educate, Love, and Protect (H.E.L.P. USA) (Malawi) - Nanthomba Full Primary School is an Indigenous-established and –run primary school that serves 850 students with a full academic curriculum that includes traditional Indigenous teachings. This project is about finding ways to generate income to keep the school operating and serving children. In this remote agricultural village, the school is supplementing its vegetable production with a new crop of Oyster Mushroom, which will be sold to the nearby tourist lodge in Liwonde National Park. With the small grant the school will purchase start-up materials and oyster spores.

SeedAct (Ethiopia) - Borena pastoralists have their own traditional knowledge in managing their livestock and pasture land. Though they have been maintaining this land for a long period of time, severe drought has degraded the land. The pastoralist community will conduct participatory mapping for Indigenous natural resource management in Borena zone. Community mapping will provide evidence of traditional land use and rights to the land. There is also the chance that the results of the mapping exercise will challenge power relations in this society, but despite the risk of aggravating social tensions and conflict, the community wishes to proceed with defining its territory.

Turkana Resources Development (Kenya) - The Turkana Peoples are a pastoral people who face ongoing eviction along the Kenya-Ethiopia border and constant conflict with neighboring communities. They are initiating peace dialogues between the communities for co-existence and resource-sharing. In doing so, they are implementing a fishing project that will provide gear and other supplies to be shared among the communities along the border, promoting Indigenous values of sharing and harmony, while providing access to a food source.

Luo Kuria Council of Elders (Tanzania) - These two communities are establishing the Luo and Kuria Council of Elders Resource Center to serve as the center of the communities where tribal members can go for counseling on cultural matters, environmental values, and maintenance and preservation of food crops. The project revitalizes elders’ roles in advising the community on care of the environment in order to increase food security. Seasonally-based instruction will be given by elders, providing knowledge of the traditional ways of maintaining water catchment systems, crop rotation, seed-banking, and gauging weather patterns for planting crops.

Vanguard for Change (Nigeria) - The Oko People live along the banks of the Niger River. Its population is about 8,000. This area is endowed with vast fertile agricultural farmland, forests of untapped resources, and is surrounded by streams rich in aquatics. The community has long been excluded from government programs and services and has not benefited from government development projects. They are circumstantially peasant farmers and fishermen with no representation in civil society, and so the Indigenous Peoples are beginning to form associations in order to gain government recognition. Vanguard for Change represents the Oko community and will register the organization so its community members can begin to access government programs and services, but more importantly it can begin to fundraise from other sources aside from the government for programs that propel the people toward meaningful development, not just create dependency on safety net programs.

Pastoral Women's Council (Kenya) - This group of Maasai women is creating new traditions amongst the Maasai people. The group of women will pilot a cross-breeding and traditional livestock project in one of 10 cultural “bomas” in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. A unique project in that women have not traditionally been allowed to “own” property, the women have consulted with and received approval from tribal elders, the activity will serve as an entry point for the PWC to promote women’s solidarity and better group organization. It will be run and managed by the women’s groups with PWC facilitating the process. They will purchase and distribute goats to 25 women (4 goats each) that will serve as income generators and sources of nutrition.

Ogiek Peoples Development Program (Kenya) - In Kenya, the Ogiek Peoples Development Program continues its advocacy work to ensure the rights of the Ogiek Peoples are upheld in the implementation of the new Kenya Constitution of 2010. Since then, the OPDP has carried on the momentum of relationship-building with the government, and involving all stakeholders in discussions and developing programs that ensure the rights and values of these hunter-gatherer peoples. This grant will continue promotion of voter education and registration programs.

Social Relief and Development Agency (Somalia) - This community considers itself the most disadvantaged community in the world because it lacks a central government, and the effects of prolonged civil war and recurrent droughts have affected the livelihoods of the entire community. The Magaadle Indigenous Peoples have been completely marginalized, with no access to any social services and are heavily discriminated by other larger tribes and clans. Despite all this adversity, the Magaadle people have identified illiteracy as the primary cause of their underdevelopment and low levels of civic participation. This project will facilitate literacy training for 60 women to improve community education and increase gender equality. Three facilitators will be trained to provide future trainings for community members.

Society for Initiatives in Rural Development and Environmental Protection (Cameroon) - Water catchment management and protection is a major issue in this Bafut community. Lack of management of the area surrounding the catchment has resulted in poor water quality from pollution leached from agricultural soils. Water shortages in the dry season are the result of high evaporation because there are few remaining trees. This project will improve all the water catchment systems in the Bafut subdivision, reducing the workload of women and children who are primarily responsible for fetching water. Clean water will be provided to students in four colleges and three primary schools, and in the dry season, the improved catchments will provide farmers enough water for their vegetables.

Philathrophic Development Center (PIDEC) (Cameroon) - In recent years, the aboriginal Bassoki of Cameroon have faced a severe food shortage as an epidemic destroyed their staple crop, cocoa, and root rot drastically reduced their production of cassava. To alleviate the effects of this shortage, PIDEC is turning to organic farming practices, which have a much shorter growing cycle and produce crops up to three times a year. This grant will help PIDEC purchase vegetable seeds and gardening tools and conduct organic farming demonstrations and training workshops in five rural and semi-urban communities.

Pastoralist Development Network of Kenya (Kenya) The Maasai pastoralists of Kenya face ever-increasing poverty, low education levels and poor health. The centralized system of governance in Kenya has ignored the poverty, health, and l literacy challenges of the Indigenous Peoples, which contributes to underdevelopment of areas inhabited by the Maasai of Narok County. However, recent changes in the country’s constitution have enabled decision making at the local level. One objective of the devolution in the current Constitution is to give powers of self-governance to the people and enhance participation of the people in the exercise of powers of the state in making decision affecting them. Devolution is also meant to recognize the right of communities to manage their development. These Maasai pastoralists have identified the need to increase awareness in their community about the provisions in the new constitution for Indigenous Peoples to be self-governing. The PDNK has three objectives: to strengthen its institutional capacity, influence government policies that affect pastoralists, and enhance information-sharing and regional participation. Keepers of the Earth Fund will support the PDNK’s second objective to provide training to its communities so that its members can voice their opinions about their development needs. Part of this training will focus on responsible community leadership and election of leaders that can represent them effectively.

Ditshwanelo – The Botswana Human Rights Centre (Botswana) – First Peoples Worldwide has been working with the San People in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) for the past decade. The grant represents First Peoples’ ongoing relationship with San-serving community organizations to provide much needed resources that enable their very existence in the CKGR. Despite past court victories for the San, their rights to traditional livelihoods in their ancestral lands continues to be exacerbated by preventing their access to water, hunting, education and health care. First Peoples grant to Ditshwanelo is enabling the provision of basic water and food to San communities while the communities update their community development and legal strategies.

First Peoples of the Kalahari (Botswana) – The FPK is a leader in the San Peoples communities in the CKGR. Prior funding from Keepers of the Earth Fund has helped the organization to deliver programs and resources in the CKGR as part of a larger strategy designed by San communities that will help to return these communities to their traditional livelihoods and survival on their lands. The FPK will use a new grant from Keepers of the Earth Fund to enable San participation in formulating a regional plan for the communities to regain control of their territories and resources.


Ebiil Society, Inc. (Palau) - This grassroots organization in Palau is establishing an annual culture camp for its youth to learn about environmental protection using traditional knowledge. The camp will not only teach the youth but also be a capacity-building vehicle for youth to become camp counselors for future participants. The Experience Camp is holding its second annual event and providing opportunities for youth to conduct research specific to Palauan epistemology that is integrated into the overall camp curriculum. They are also expanding the camp to include a second community. Activities that teach plant knowledge and cultural significance of medicine, food, agriculture, food, oral history, arts, and conservation will be taught.

Madjulla, Inc. (Australia) - In Western Australia, the Nyikina Tribe is fighting to retain its rights to live along the banks of the Fitzroy River, the Mardoowarra or River of Life. The struggle is against the development of an 8,000-kilometer mine on the banks of the river, which if established, would decimate the lives and livelihoods of the tribe. As a means of gaining support for their situation, the tribe will create an educational film about its peoples and traditions along the River in advocating why the mining company should not be allowed to continue. The film will feature the traditional song that continues and carries the law of the Nyikina people. If the mine continues it will destroy the song cycle of the river and its relationships with the people.

Tasi-Vanua Environment Network (Vanuatu) - This network of marine resource conservation practitioners is promoting healthy coral reefs through monitoring and education, and ensuring sustainable harvesting of natural resources for food security and income generation for the present and future generations. The grant will facilitate relationship-building with developers through education about the cultural importance of maintaining the resource for the benefit of the community. Capacity-building for the local communities to manage their resources from the grassroots level and creating better understanding of the communities of North Efate and around Vanuatu will be implemented through educational venues, printed media and hands-on learning experiences.

Modern-Digenous Solutions (Australia) - This organization’s mission is to empower Indigenous communities to share their ancient cultural heritage and to support them towards self-determination. In this project, Modern-Digenous Solutions seeks to examine and evaluate the grants available to indigenous communities and the processes they must go through to obtain them. In particular, they are concerned with “the ways in which culture can be distorted or replaced with materialistic values because of current bureaucratic colonizing principles in global patterns in philanthropy.” The organization will conduct surveys among the Wurundjeri tribe of Australia and the Tlingit tribe of Alaska. The information they gather will be used to help indigenous communities more effectively communicate their needs in the grant application process, potentially benefiting Indigenous communities around the world.

Traditional Knowledge and Community Development Initiative

Independent Center Shuar of Ecuadorian Amazon (CISAE) (Ecuador) - The Shuar of Ecuador have identified six key areas of their community life that need improvement: crafts, education, health, natural resources, culture, and tourism. This grant will help them to extend their crafts-making program and add administrative and organizational capacity. They seek to reform local schools and train teachers to work there, and also equip and support their local health center, which they hope will reduce their most common disease by 20 percent. In regards to natural resources, the Shuar have made it a goal to conserve and properly manage their land, including limits on over-hunting and over-fishing. To preserve their culture, this organization wants to establish a cultural center at their headquarters. Finally, the Shuar want to stimulate their local economy as well as promote their region and culture by developing an environmentally friendly, locally run tourism industry.

Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP) (Guatemala) - The Kaqchikel Maya inhabit one of the most biologically diverse regions of the Earth. However, many Mayan communities face dire poverty as a result of lack of affordable food staples, limited access to arable land, and a dependence on external food production. The community of San Lucas Toliman is particularly hard-hit, having suffered a civil war and several devastating hurricanes. San Lucas Toliman is 90 percent Indigenous Maya, and 76.4 percent of its citizens live in poverty, with 27 percent in extreme poverty. Rising food prices and a lack of arable land has led to shift in diet among the population, resulting in high rates of malnutrition. To fight this epidemic, IMAP proposes a return to the traditional Mayan milpa system of intercropping produce. This system capitalizes on limited available land and adds diversity and nutrition to the diet. Through a series of 25 hands-on workshops focusing on milpa, soil fertility, crop diversification, seed production, cropping systems, and erosion control, IMAP aims to improve the food security of local households as well as generate a sustainable income for the Kaqchikel farmers.

Association of Social Participation of Botanical Medicine (Ecuador) - Ninety-eight percent of the Quechua community of the Yanayacu region of Ecuador lives in poverty, lacking access to basic utilities and cut off from the local economy. The organization will help alleviate poverty in the community by managing and strengthening farms that produce traditional medicinal herbs, which may be sold in food stores. This grant will allow them to purchase seeds, plants, and planting materials, as well as to track production and sales and improve product storage.

Fundacion Tradiciones Mayas/ Ajq’onomanal Network (Guatemala) - Though the practice of traditional Mayan medicine and the rights of healers are protected by Guatemalan law, the existing legal structure does not fully support traditional health practices. By establishing the Ajq’onomanal Network, FTM seeks to encourage recognition and inclusion of traditional health in the public health service. Through this grant, FTM will obtain legal status for the network as well as conduct a series of educational workshops in communities, public health centers, and local schools. They will also establish five community gardens and distribute medicinal plant manuals and educational materials to network members.

Okanagan Indian Educational Resources Society – The En’owkin Center (Canada) - This organization seeks to build an open source Indigenous Knowledge Base Portal that will enable pacific North American communities to share adaptation experiences and project outcomes. It will provide member communities with access to global climate information and updates and help them increase their opportunities to influence global climate change policies. This project will also establish an intercommunity steering committee, which will coordinate existing programs such as salmon recovery and antelope habitat restoration projects. They seek to establish a “First Nations Tribal Park,” which Parks Canada has already expressed interest in, and assist with fundraising, report-writing, and conference facilitation. They hope that their efforts and services will help local communities who are facing the effects of global warming and being forced to adapt accordingly.

San Salvador Shipibo Native Community (Peru) - The Shipibo Indian community of San Salvador covers 35 hectares of land. However, the local diet is not very high in vegetables. This organization wants to address the issues of anemia and child malnutrition in their community, as well as generating additional revenue for farmers, by introducing vegetables as a staple crop. This grant allows for the construction of two agriculture schools for youth. These schools will not only teach locals how to successfully grow vegetables, it will also preserve and pass on the Shipibo culture by combining modern and traditional farming techniques and teaching traditional medicine herb use.

Six Nations Polytechnic (Canada) - In their own words, the goal of the Six Nations Polytechnic is to “re-awaken the spirit of an ancient peace-building society that draws upon the discipline of leaders, healers, teachers, protectors, and providers to all work together to…help move Ogwehonwe people through the effects of colonization, thus restoring peace amongst individuals and within families.” Since colonization, the Ogwehonwe people of Canada have faced the rise of suicide, domestic violence, community violence, the restriction of land rights, and the degradation of their traditional culture. This grant will provide the Six Nations Polytechnic with the tools to establish a leadership program and theatre program for youth, host community gatherings, and document the work of role models in peace-building using blogs and social media.

Ucluelet First Nation (British Columbia, Canada) The Ucluelet First Nation is one of 14 Nuu-chah-nulth Indigenous communities located in British Columbia. The young men of the Ucluelet community face many problems that stem from low educational levels, substance abuse, loss of culture and other social concerns. In response to these issues, the community has designed a cultural program based on both the Medicine Wheel and Vision Quest models. Called “Naasuksap Hawiih – Strengthing Our Young Men,” this year-long program is hosted by elders for the entire community. Keepers of the Earth Fund is helping the community add two components to their program - the Traditional Knowledge Exchange of Language from Elders to Youth, and the Digital Storytelling Project.  Each of these components is designed to use modern technology and the wisdom of ancestors together to pass on language and cultural practices to the youth, and preserve these for generations to come. 

Txepemn pu lamgen pu peni (Chile) - This urban Indigenous organization dedicates its work to rescuing the culture of the Mapuche People. It is Mapuche-led but comprised of many community people. The community is in total support of the organization, running a meager office from community contributions. They are fighting to restore, revitalize and promote their identity, which for various reasons has been lost. Over time, they have taken solid steps toward cultural revival. With funds from Keepers of the Earth the group will work with the public school system to offer cultural workshops on traditional Mapuche weaving, food, and language to 200 people.

Traditional Authorities of the Rio Yaqui Mid-Wife Society of the Rio Yaqui Pueblos (Mexico) with Indigenous Peoples Development Foundation (USA) - The executive bodies of Rio Yaqui Traditional Authorities are appointed for a 12-month term and reconstituted every year without formal transitioning or debriefing from the prior administration. Consequently, programs such as public health must also be reinstated yearly through mandate from the executive body. The Rio Yaqui mid-wife society is one of several traditional groups that form the Yaqui governance system. It is not legally formed or recognized by Mexico, and Yaqui women have no support by the State or other organizations. While their charge is delivery of Yaqui babies, they have no mechanism or resources to interface with the Traditional Authorities in regard to a major crisis that requires a comprehensive plan of action by the Yaqui Pueblos.  The mission of the IPDF is to serve Indigenous communities worldwide by providing services, training, and support to Indigenous communities in their development with regard to the rights of Indigenous self-determination, self-governance, and effective participation and consultation in accordance with international human rights and with respect to the management, control, and conservation of traditional Indigenous territories including Indigenous lands and resources within these areas. The IPDF recognizes and emphasizes Indigenous customary systems of governance and aims to strengthen the governance capacity of the Indigenous communities in the face of natural resources extraction that is often contrary to the rights and interests of Indigenous communities. The Yaqui are dying in such large numbers due to chronic and unmitigated exposure to agro-chemicals. The infant mortality rate for the Yaqui population is approximately 164 Yaqui infant deaths per 1,000 live births. The national average is approximately 15-17 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. They do not know who owns their land or their water. They do not legally own their water or land and the situation is in a state of crisis. The infrastructure supplied by Conagua in Pueblo Potam collapsed 30 years ago and was never replaced. In lieu of this, the Yaquis dig their own flute wells -- a relatively ancient well system whose design concentrates heavy metals and pollutants at the base of the intake tube. They use these channels to continue their subsistence life ways, including harvesting freshwater fish, which happen to be contaminated with heavy metals. When consumed by pregnant Yaqui mothers, there is no in utero protection for the baby and the cross-over through the placenta is immediate. There is no traditional midwifery system. Keepers of the Earth funds will re-establish the Rio Yaqui Mid-Wife Society; conduct environmental impact research on specific areas of toxic pollutants affecting the entire Rio Yaqui tribe, and specifically on the impact of these toxins; and use the documentation to demarcate territory and future engagement with Conagua, which controls the infrastructure that supplies water to the pueblos.

T'kemlups te Secwepemc (formerly Kamloops Indian Band) (British Columbia, Canada) - The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc is located in the Thompson River region of the Central Interior of British Columbia. Keepers of the Earth is supporting a group of Secwepemc elders to come together in a series of splulkw’ (gatherings) to share traditional cultural knowledge and language for the purpose of creating a Terms of Reference for the Stk’wem7iple7s.  Not only will the project be delivered and led by the elders, but will reinforce the traditional role of elders within tribal communities. The language committee already exists and is recognized by the BC College of Teachers - provincial government authority that certifies all teachers. The goal is to provide the framework for collaborating with SCES Language Authority to guide and assess the specific community dialect of Secwepemc language. The Tribe wants to train more qualified and fluent language teachers, and needs a dialect-specific language committee that can operate under SCES Language Authority structure. The grant helps the community put into action one of its traditional protocols: seeking and asking for guidance from elders and traditional knowledge holders. Traditional protocol states that all relationships are based on reciprocity. This funding is critical to honoring and giving back to the elders.

Mississauga First Nations (Canada) - The Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850 designated the Mississauga First Nation as a band with specific lands by the Crown. Mississauga First Nation believes they have been here on Turtle Island since time immemorial based on the Anishinabe Creation Story. They are situated on the North Shore of Lake Huron where its citizens have been stewards of the lands and waters and control their own hunting, fishing, trapping and other activities to keep the Mississaugi watershed pristine and healthy prior to contact with the newcomers. The reserve is over 16,000 hectares of land and has an on-reserve population of approximately 400 citizens governed by a Chief and nine Councilors. The band has its own land code and one component is the development of environmental laws to protect the lands, waters and animals, including conservation of fish and wildlife. The land code is a reestablishment of MFN responsibilities to manage its territory. Keepers of the Earth is helping the MFN host its first traditional and ceremonial gathering, requested by its youth. The most important factor is bringing the tribal elders to the gathering so that they can impart their wisdom about the environment and land management to the youth.

New Middle Shipibo Indian Community of Chanajao (Peru) This project stems from the needs of the community of East New Chanajao. The community is mapping the biodiversity in its ancestral territory because its resources have been exploited by development and conservation. The people of the community identify with the spirits of the water and sky and its strength is to live in harmony with nature through the practice of subsistence agriculture in the floodplain of this rainforest. Mapping will provide the basis for the community to develop a biodiversity management plan that will be registered with the Ministry of Agriculture and result in community control of its cultural, ecological, environmental, economic, and political assets.

Traditional and Contemporary Self-Governance Initiative

Original Kichwa People of Sarayaku (Ecuador) - This project serves the Kichwa People of Sarayaku, and is organized to develop practical actions based on knowledge of Sasha Runa Yachay (ancient knowledge) for land management and autonomy.

Office of Indigenous Peoples of the District of Masisea (OMPIM) (Peru) - This organization was created with the goal of providing assistance services to the Indigenous Shipibo people of the Masisea district, focusing on territorial defense, intercultural education, healthy, identity, production, and environment. This project will train local leaders in order to counteract exclusion and marginalization in both the local and regional political system. The nine-month program will train approximately 2,000 local leaders, with a focus on social justice and equal rights for the Shipibo people. After this initial training, OMPIM hopes that the new leaders will spread their skills to neighboring districts and communities.

Six Nations Council (Canada) – Six Nations is Canada’s most populous First Nation community, encompassing 13 distinct nations, five languages, and nine clans. Six Nations is under the guidance of two governments, the traditional Confederacy Council and the federally imposed Six Nations Elected Council. Unfortunately, these two governing bodies have had difficulty communicating effectively and working together, leading to a gridlocked government that the community has lost trust in. The Six Nations Council’s “Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond” program will bridge the gap between the two governing bodies through a series of consultations, community engagement sessions, and focus groups. This program will reduce division in the community, restore confidence in leadership, and set the groundwork for a sustainable future.

Ut’z Che’ (Guatemala) - This organization seeks to help the Maya K’iche’ community manage, conserve, and protect their natural resources. Forest and water conservation are critical to the Maya K’iche’ lifestyle, but recently implemented forest management plans in the area impose Western technical concepts that breakdown local knowledge and practices. This grant will allow Ut’z Che’ to hold workshops, community meetings, and interviews with community elders, as well as conduct community cultural events. These projects will enhance the community’s knowledge of traditional conservation as well as promote Indigenous culture.

Tlowitsis Nation (Canada) - In the 1960s, the Tlowtsis Nation of North Eastern Vancouver faced a diaspora when the government shutdown the hospital and school on Turnour Island, their primary winter residence. Since that time, the Tlowtsis people have become both physically and culturally removed from their traditional territories and have faced difficulty uniting. This project will allow for the development of a self-governing Tlowitsis body, focusing heavily on forestry development. These funds will allow for consultation and facilitation of a Governing Council Prototype that bridges traditional and contemporary governance structures and provides a process for community decision-making.

Maya Leaders Alliance (Belize) - 28,000 people make up the 38 Maya communities of southern Belize. Self-described “forest people,” the Maya claim traditional rights to over 500,000 acres of rainforest land. However, this Maya population has faced legal and political struggles over their land rights since the mid-1990s. In order to advocate for legal recognition of their land rights and enhance their capacity to manage this land, the Maya Leaders Alliance recognizes that they must first promote and strengthen the legitimacy of their traditional alcalde leadership system. The traditional Maya government system has been weakened and undermined as the Belize government has attempted to interfere with local elections, redefine the authority of the alcaldes, or mayors, and promote a modern land leasing program that destroys traditional Mayan community structures. Maya leaders fear that if the government enacts all the changes they wish to, “we will still look like Maya, but we will lose much of what makes us Maya.” This grant will allow the Maya Leaders Alliance to assemble the 76 alcaldes of southern Belize, educate villages on the goals and actions of the MLA, transport village leaders to Belize City to oversee and demonstrate at relevant court cases and legal hearings, and print educational materials in easy-to-understand English and Indigenous languages.

Blackfoot Canadian Cultural Society (Canada) - The Blackfoot of Canada, with a population of approximately 37,000, has survived colonialism and neo-colonialism with their culture intact. Through this grant, the Blackfoot Canadian Cultural Society will conduct a series of focus groups to address the loss of political efficacy among the Blackfoot community. The eight focus groups, each consisting of 7-12 individuals, will address 1) the traditional problem-solving and decision-making process, 2) traditional and contemporary governance structures, 3) traditional knowledge and cultural processes in political systems and, 4) inclusion of indigenous leadership in political systems.

Akuaipa Waimakat (Colombia) ­ The Wayuu are the largest Indigenous tribe of Colombia, consisting of 400,000 and making up 23 percent of the total Indigenous population of Colombia. Despite their size, the tribe faces problems such as a 30 percent illiteracy rate and 60 percent poverty rate. Three out of every five Wayuu children suffer from severe malnutrition. This project will allow for the comprehensive training of 70 Wayuu leaders in free, prior and informed consent, ancestral justice, territorial defense, and the knowledge and application of national and international legal tools. Through this initiative, the Wayuu will to strengthen their self-governance systems and provide for better opportunities for their community members.

Apoyando a la Nacion Originaria Yampara Suyu (Bolivia) - The Yampara of Bolivia are in the process of drafting a local constitution, achieving autonomous status within the Bolivian Plurinational State of Indigenous Peoples, and developing self-governance and self-determination over their land and resources. This grant will help Yampara Suyu by funding a legal advisor and training workshops on indigenous rights laws, territorial demarcation, and territorial management. They will create training manuals and radio programs and coordinate meetings with authorities to review current land policy.

Gitxsan Huwilp Services Association (Canada) - Ten years ago, the Gitxsan community of British Columbia established a treaty office to negotiate decisions between the Gitxsan people and the state and national government. However, the intentions of this office have been overridden by corruption, lack of transparency, lack of accountability, and a failure to consult community interests before reaching a decision. The Gitxsan Huwilp Services Association seeks to rectify these failures through a series of community workshops, free, prior and informed consent education programs, and the formation of an advisory committee of community members and leaders. Additionally, this grant will help fund the printing and distribution of a brochure of best practices established by the advisory committee, as well as the publication of an article in a national journal, such as the British Columbia Journal of Ecosystems and Management to share their information and interests with First Nations communities across British Columbia.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (Canada) - Living in the boreal forest of Far North Canada, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation is at the center of the effects of climate change. However, they are conspicuously absent from government initiatives to address climate change. As they say, “Currently, climate change policy in Ontario is being developed without meaningful consultation with First Nations, and the beneficiaries of this process have been non-indigenous peoples.” To address this gap, NAN proposes to develop a discussion paper to inform Nishnawbe Aski communities on climate change policy development and encourage them to get involved, hold a workshop of community representatives to discuss future involvement in climate change policy, and prepare a position paper for policy-makers detailing the Nishnawbe viewpoint and plan on action on climate change.

Fort Nelson First Nation (Canada) - The Fort Nelson First Nation of British Columbia is experiencing local water contamination due to extensive hydraulic fracturing in the Horn River Basin. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a practice used by the shale gas industry in which water, mixed with a range of toxic and non-toxic chemicals, is pumped into deep wells at extreme pressure to fracture bedrock, which releases natural gas. Not only is this water taken from freshwater lakes and rivers, but the contaminated water often leaks back into the environment, polluting groundwater supplies. Permits must be obtained in order for companies to frack in this area, but Fort Nelson First Nation believes that the review process for these permits is lax. Currently, permits may only be obtained for up to one year; however, these permits are often renewed continuously year after year, and plans for permanent licenses are underway with little consultation of the Fort Nelson First Nation. To protect their water supply, FNFN plans to advocate for changes to the current permit approval process. Additionally, through a series of community forums and data compilation, they will create a Water Management Plan to prioritize water use within their traditional territory. They hope to present this plan at the “Keepers of Water” conference they will be hosting in September 2012 and then integrate it into their existing Land Use Plan.

U.S. Civil Partnership Development Solola (Guatemala) - The Solola community seeks to strengthen its self-governance capabilities. Solola boasts a strong sense of community, evidence by its youth service-learning program, civic participation, and dedication to equal rights for women. However, its governance, The Indian Ministry, has been disrupted by armed conflict, and leaders lack the tools and skills to reorganize. This grant will help the Indian Ministry by providing for training in conflict management and municipal negotiations. Obtaining this certificate will help local leaders address the day-to-day needs of their population and mediate local conflicts.

Tzeltal Indigenous Peoples Collective (Mexico) - The Tzeltal people of Mexico live under the constant threat of eviction from the Mexican government. Descendents of Mayans, this community has lived on their traditional lands for over 20,000 years. However, the Mexican government, disregarding the Tzeltal’s right to free, prior and informed consent, has designated their territory as the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve. The Indigenous Peoples Collective has been advocating for the rights of the Tzeltal people to their traditional lands, demonstrating that they are much more capable of protecting and preserving the land than the government is. This grant will assist the effort by providing for transportation to both the state and national capitals, where they will spread their message and concerns and lobby the government to repeal the threat of eviction.

Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (USA) - This tribal consortium is located in the remote Yukon Flats of interior Alaska. The Council was founded to serve the Gwich’in and Koyukon peoples of the region utilizing the principals of self-governance. Upon formation, tribal leaders from across the Yukon Flats gathered to confront the challenges facing their people, recognizing that unity provided strength to foster healthy, sustainable villages and to develop responsive effective tribal governments. Today, the core subsistence economy of the region is in continual jeopardy because it lacks local control over the regulation of traditional and customary resources. Keepers of the Earth funding will provide the resources necessary for the CATG to conduct primary research on Traditional and Customary use of resources and lead the tribes in negotiating a precedent-setting funding agreement with the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge for co-management of resources that bridges Indigenous and Western knowledge systems.

Centre for Indigenous Development (CEDIN) (Costa Rica) - The Indian territory of Boruca is situated in Buenos Aires and inhabited by Indigenous Bribri People. Common to most Indigenous communities, the people are working to repair broken social systems that have resulted from colonization. With the proximity of the Interamerican Highway, the people are addressing loss of traditional lands to arriving settlers and development projects. Now the people are being further threatened by construction of a hydroelectric dam that will directly affect two of its communities and indirectly impact five others. A grant from Keepers of the Earth Fund is helping the Bribri establish the space in which all of their communities can participate and interact without the distraction of outsiders to become aware of the current situation and plan its future strategy. The people will invoke historical memory as a mechanism to combat the Diquis Hydroelectric Project. The organization is strengthening traditional knowledge and protecting water resources in its Indigenous territory.

Kus Kura Civil Society and the Council of Elders of Terraba (Costa Rica) - The Terraba People are one of eight groups of Indigenous Peoples in Costa Rica, with a population of over 600, and representing about one percent of the total Indigenous population in Costa Rica. The community has been granted permission to use a certain area on Buck Mountain, but which is outside of its ancestral territory. They do not have legal access to their traditional resources such as spring water and other natural resources and medicines, and cannot legally continue their traditional and subsistence practices. Adding to this is the fact that the people have no Indigenous representation in local and state government, resulting in up to 90 percent of the peoples’ lands being in the hands of non-Indigenous people. The government does not recognize Terraba traditions or territories, and non-indigenous people participate in local decision-making, which affects the collective rights of the peoples. In 2011, the Terraba Council of Elders was re-established and their traditional authority is required in defending the rights of the Terraba People against the Diquis Hydroelectric Project. The case is under scrutiny by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is working with Costa Rica and the Terraba people in a process to obtain free, prior and informed consent. The Terraba People will use Keepers of the Earth funds to facilitate the important gatherings of the traditional authorities and Terraba communities in preparing their strategy in response to the dam project.

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