Grants Awarded 2011
In 2011, Keepers of the Earth Fund awarded grants totaling $199,158.
Enterprise Development and Governance Facility - Ngemsibo Village Projects Association (Cameroon) - With support from the Keepers of the Earth Fund, the NVPA successfully obtained legal status and immediately began building fundraising and progressive advocacy capacity. It focused specifically on designing initiatives to help local communities retain youth because they normally move to more developed villages or urban places where clean water is readily available. Key participants improved the existing water catchment system while managing and maintaining water as a regional resource in ways that are mutually beneficial.
Association of Beekeepers (Ghana) - The Association of Beekeepers is a proactive initiative led by Fante Peoples living at the Twifo Hemang Lower Denkyira in the Central Region of Ghana. This project, which afforded farmers the necessary equipment for project needs, is improving cooperation among park management officials and members of the community at large. Farms have been destroyed by elephants living along the boundaries of the Kakum National Park, and hunters werekilling the marauding elephants. Beekeeping is a very simple but powerful and holistic solution; the beehive barrier is used along the perimeter of properties to keep crops safe while simultaneously reducing conflict. The presence of the hives naturally prevents elephants from crossing the grounds, and the honey production and sales increases income for farmers, improves local commerce and facilitates pollination throughout the forest.
Chepkitale Indigenous Peoples Development (Kenya) - The Chepkitale Ogiek are the Indigenous Peoples of Mt. Elgon. They utilized a grant from First Peoples Worldwide to effectively begin to take vital steps to redress the dispossession of ancestral land. Initially hunter gatherers tied closely to the earth, the Chepkitale Ogiek became pastoralists in the higher moorlands. They were strongly linked to the forest until the arrival of British administration in 1895, at which point imperialistic development unfolded into a systematic dispossession of Ogiek lands. With the land seizure under the title of “Crown land” around 1900, the Chepkitale were forbidden from building and felling or cutting trees, and were not permitted to light fires. After complaints to land tribunals, the moorland areas were set aside as a ‘Tribal Reserve’ (which eventually became Trust Land in 1942), because the British saw it as wasteland. Because they did not hold a title for this land, they were later moved from the location that later became Mt. Elgon National Park, completely excluding Ogiek from an entire section of their territory. As recent as 2007, the Ogiek continue to be forced to leave any area they settle. They have continuously returned to the moorlands as “squatters” and must endure constant threats of government evictions. As a result of the award from Keepers of the Earth, the Chepkitale Ogiek petitioned the government for change of tenure, and the group is now working collaboratively with the nearby Sengwer Indigenous Development Project, an NGO working for the Sengwer Peoples (who are facing similar problems in the neighboring Cheranganyi Hills).
Mama Helena Women Group (Kenya) - The grant disbursed to The Mama Helena Women Group is proactively working towards empowering the role of Indigenous women in alignment with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This initiative is a strategic education empowerment project for Indigenous women and girls; it is designed to promote traditional education for women in specific arenas to ensure they are fully supported in activities related to small business start-ups, management, livestock rearing, and health education. The broad aim of the mission is to foster a sense of self-determination in Indigenous women while also supporting them in asset management, which in turn contributes to the health of the community at large. The Mama Helena Women Group program rests on a foundation of historically significant, Indigenous knowledge that reflects an innate awareness of resources and reciprocity, where supportive relationships are the true backbone of local development.
Nyatike Interior Women Group (Kenya) - The Keepers of the Earth grant awarded to the Luo Peoples provides the necessary materials to install 250 multi-story food gardens and five new water catchment systems, all of which are monitored by twenty community health volunteers. With this project in development, rural, poor women have become immediate, effective agents of positive change. The NIWG exists to empower the Luo Peoples who are generally referred to as squatters in western Kenya after years of tribal clashes in the region. There has been a myriad of difficulties related to food insecurity, malnutrition and lack of clean water. Additionally, the community traditionally practices polygamy, and all of these cultural aspects combined have impacted the Luo women in severe ways. Despite the depressed economy and significant health issues throughout the region, this Indigenous community is now able to maintain viable goodwill in the community and facilitate cooperation. Labor has been dramatically reduced around water collection, and individuals have immediate access to clean, safe drinking water, as well as an increase in opportunities related to food production. The long-term benefit of this project is incalculable.
Loiborkineji Self Help Group - Samburu Advocacy and Human Security Project (Kenya) - The Samburu are one of Kenya’s seven main pastoral tribes. They have raised and herded cattle since the 15th century on the semi-arid northern plains, but have been periodically assailed by droughts and famine; they usually travel among the region’s water sources and pasture lands but have (under violent pressure from the Kenya government) settled into permanent village sites. An emergency grant from Keepers of the Earth Fund provided vital support for the Samburu Tribe at a time when they were facing imminent eviction, along with social, political, and ecological crisis – and physical torture, including rape. They were being forced to leave lands they have traditionally occupied and used for generations. Thanks to funding from First Peoples, the community was able to engage in immediate capacity-building strategies and begin formal documentation as a foundation for critical work necessary to assert land rights. The situation finally attracted international attention because of the response from First Peoples and the publication of a media alert released by the organization in late December – newswires picked up the story and brought instant transparency to an otherwise invisible violence.
Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy (Kenya) - This Indigenous-led NGO is initiated by members of the Girgir group ranch, which was formed to establish an alternative method of land use in addition to livestock keeping. This diversifies the local economic base and improves the livelihoods of the community. In this Samburu community they commonly own and share their land registered as a group ranch. One of the programs of the conservancy is focused on sustainable management and utilization of natural resources. The conservancy strives to integrate the traditional livestock management system, ecotourism, and ecologically conscious management of natural resources - for maximum benefit and improved livelihoods of the community at large. The project is being carried out where Acacia refficiens has formed a closed bush, excluding growth of the grass beneath. One hundred twenty participants from the community wereemployed to manually clear the Acacia refficiens bushes and create terracing for grass seed planting. Seeds of naturally occurring, drought-resistant, and highly palatable Cenchrus ciliaries will be planted. The trees cut will be laid on top of grass seeds to hold the soil together and contain any water run off, and to protect the germinating grass.
Ogiek Peoples Development Program (Kenya) - In 2010, Kenya began implementing its new constitution. The Keepers of the Earth grant from First Peoples Worldwide supported efforts of the OPDP, an organization involved in strategic advocacy work to help ensure the needs of the Indigenous Peoples of Kenya were included in the new document. To ensure momentum toward recognition and equitable acknowledgement of the civil rights of Ogiek Peoples, the OPDP conducted collaborative workshops with key individuals in government, NGOs and Ogiek communities. All stakeholders worked transparently in developing policies designed to uphold the constitution in a multilateral scope. The OPDP is now a visible, significant institutional asset for the entire country.
Population Caring Organization (Liberia) - The KOE fund is affording the Putu Indigenous Peoples of Southeastern Liberia immediate support in culturally sensitive methods to help these individuals engage in legal processes related to land rights. The Putu are perceived as some of the world’s poorest people, but in fact the community maintains a deeply rich spiritual system – around their relationship with the K’gui God. They believe in this god for protection and strength, and whenever they face a major problem, they seek his presence, which then enters the villages to bless and care for the Tribe. The Putu live in and own one of the richest forestlands in the world, but the Forestry Development Authority of Liberia has asserted the Putu people do not have proper deeds for the land. First Peoples Worldwide has provided important funding and technical assistance to ensure the Putu Tribe is empowered to take steps to ensure they are able to acquire land legally and proceed in ways that preserve their beliefs.
Youth Organization for Health and Development (Malawi) - This youth-led advocacy organization serves as an Indigenous voice to policy-makers, promoting traditional knowledge and gender equity. The Chewa Tribe lives in remote areas and natural resources are vital and integral components of their lands and livelihoods. Guardians of these natural environments in Salima, they have built a vast store of traditional techniques, rites and rituals that are key to respectfully maintaining these natural resources for future generations. Unfortunately, their traditional knowledge, practices, and creativity continue to be exploited and despised. Others call for them to be banished entirely; individuals often associate Chewa beliefs and traditions with Satanism. Heavy campaigns have been waged to mobilize the Chewa to abandon their cultural beliefs and practices. Keepers of the Earth supports YOHAD’s ability to conduct its own anti-discrimination and anti–stigma campaigns, along with advocacy training for Indigenous leaders as they interface with local and government leaders. As a result, policy-makers and game rangers are sharing more about the Chewa culture and cultivating new relationships to replace others that were contentious.
Country Minders for Peoples Development (Malawi) - The Keepers of the Earth grant award for the CMPD has been a valuable asset in their work towards a sustainable food source and agricultural commerce. The project is located in an area of Malawi that once had good vegetative cover with both exotic and indigenous trees, maintaining soil fertility and promoting high crop yield. Now, the area is almost bare because of increased deforestation, resulting in an inability to maintain soil and crops. Most of the trees have been cut down to support tobacco farming, where trees are used for processing and storing the tobacco leaf prior to sale. Coupled with soil erosion resulting from deforestation, climate change takes an additional toll on the community’s food security, especially in the rainy season when they experience increased flooding, as well as water run-off that decreases crop yield. The lack of trees decreases water retention and leaves the region without the ability to provide irrigation for food projects. Specifically, the grant from the Keepers of the Earth Fund is providing funding for seedlings and infrastructure that will help to increase water retention as well as improve crop yields. It is also helping to mobilize community participation in developing bylaws for management of the forest and its resources. Both traditional and community leaders have donated land for a collectively managed productive forests project, and two schools have identified plots of land for nursery space; individual households have committed to establishing tree nurseries at their homes and in fields.
Generation for Green Environmental Education and Enhanced Renewal (Nigeria) - GREENER is an Indigenous Peoples’ organization comprised of young environmental activists from all of the oil producing villages in the Niger Delta Region. Participants are promoting access to social justice on behalf of their communities as a response to eviction, environmental degradation and economic deprivation resulting from oil exploration and exploitation. In their ancestral home, the Ogoni Indigenous Peoples are actively working together to establish the Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Authority and confirm financial backing for operation in the 2013 national budget. The Keepers of the Earth grant is supporting the organization in its efforts to align advocacy engagements with the national technical working committee on environment and health; the complete Vision Document is to be submitted to the Nigerian government in October 2012.
Edom Development Group (Nigeria) - Edom Development Group is an Indigenous-led grassroots organization that is reestablishing the Ipil-Ipil tree, traditional for the Igbo People, through a newly established tree nursery. It will distribute seedlings to Indigenous community peasant farmers and recruit 40 volunteers to participate in training about alley cropping as a means to increase food production. Grant funds are helping to improve food production, farmland conservation, and food security for the Igbo Tribe.
Young Green Women Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone) - This grant was timed to support organizing activities leading up to Sierra Leone’s Presidential and parliamentary elections in 2012, and First Peoples Worldwide provided both funding and technical support to assist the group in vital efforts to recover and redirect politically. Consequently, five thousand women would be empowered to participate in elections; these same women are in key positions to hold their parliamentary representatives accountable to gender equality issues and political rights. The elections are particularly significant as they are being held in a peaceful atmosphere after 10 years of brutal war. This project will enhance women’s participation in the elections and impact critical changes being introduced for use in the Constitution – the existing minimum quota for women in parliament is thirty percent. With culturally respectful education and training, Indigenous women are in a better position to articulate their concerns and expectations for the electorate, and they can effectively participate in decision-making at the legislative level.
A World Institute for Sustainable Humanity (Sierra Leone) - Keepers of the Earth Fund has been supporting AWISH over the past three years with financial and technical support to strengthen food security in the region. The organization is establishing food production projects in areas where land is underutilized by establishing inland valley swamp rice production. The food production project started with one community and over three years has expanded to sixteen. When no other funder provided support to continue the swamp rice production project, Keepers of the Earth helped the organization meet the spring planting season and increased the network of communities by facilitating an additional relationship with a new community: Gbeworbu Tonkia. The group joined the producers in a two-mile-long area of swamp land; rice is produced for community consumption, seed-banked for future seasons, and surplus is sold commercially. The grant award from First Peoples has helped individuals construct a regional presence that is both collaborative and economically progressive. The AWISH project has steadily evolved in a way that allows Indigenous stakeholders to assert their presence and cultivate leadership.
Namayina Rural Development Project (Uganda) - In Kampala, the NRDP was established to improve the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples known as the Baganda. They have a strong belief and solidarity in their cultural traditions. The leadership structure of the Buganda Kingdom is comprised of 52 clans. This structure unites and strengthens the Baganda under the king’s leadership, and every indigenous person belongs to a clan where he/she is identified as an indigenous Muganda tribal member from his/her family line. They perform communal activities known as Bulungibwansi, which include building and protecting spring wells using local materials, constructing village roads, cleaning up local towns and public clinics, building community schools, holding community meetings to discuss matters affecting their development, and making voluntary contributions to the Buganda treasury to support membership. One traditional saying is “Agali awamu gegaluma ennyama” meaning the teeth which are together can bite and chew the meat. In togetherness they find strength to address their issues. Through this grant, the community is addressing land use pressures brought on by increasing populations and poor national land laws in Uganda, lack of land and environmental management that is resulting in soil infertility, high levels of illiteracy and poverty, and malnutrition caused by food insecurity. The NRDP is training its community in soil renewal techniques such as making composite green manure, improving soil, and conserving land. A demonstration garden will serve as an interactive hands-on learning place as they simultaneously implement their Land Resettlement Programme. This entails purchasing a small plot of land so that evicted families can begin to grow food as they resettle.
Bambutuku Development and Cultural Union (Uganda) - Palm oil production has sustained the Bambutuku Peoples for generations. This powerful project is designed to improve palm oil processing and growing. The aim is to increase household incomes for the Bambutuku people by increasing their farming skills and capacity to utilize modern technology. Establishing palm tree nurseries will provide free seedlings to farmers, while modern processing equipment will decrease losses through timely processing, and the community can contribute monetarily to the purchase of the technology as they decide on its placement within the community. Together, individuals in the Bambutuku community are collectively responsible for its operation and maintenance. The community comprises 120 households – 30 families per village – on the outskirts of Matongo Forest near the DR Congo border. This is their ancestral land containing a natural palm forest from which palm nuts are harvested. Each village will purchase a bicycle for transporting the nuts to the processing plant, and ladders are being supplied to reduce the risk of injury or death from climbing to harvest the nuts. Because of the granting support, they are also in a position to construct a small market stand on the main road where they can display and sell their products. Production, and thus income, will be increased through the added technology and contribute toward more economic stability.
Foundation for Uganda Women Development (Uganda) - The Keepers of the Earth grant to the FUWD is helping to strengthen traditional local medicine programming in the Nakaloke Sub County through training, knowledge sharing, and developing home dispensaries (along with other mechanisms) to improve the local health care system. This grant alone is improving access to vital, traditional medical care in as many as twenty villages. An informal group of folk practitioners have organized around home-level dispensaries to expand awareness related to medical practices that are culturally valuable and significant. The group is planning to develop visual displays that can empower individuals to engage in their own health care. There is now instruction available on herbal remedy preparation and storage facilities, as well as support to establish backyard gardens and nurseries for the production of medicinal plants, improving access to traditional medicine.
Women Protection Society (Uganda) - As in other Indigenous communities, the Iteso, Bagwere and Bagishu Peoples do not have title to customary land; they live under constant pressure from corporations while facing eviction even as they rely on traditional agricultural practices to survive. The Keepers of the Earth grant is providing financial resources necessary for the WPS to implement its land and agro-forestry project in ways that align with traditional farming methods, which allows them to replant medicinal and fruit trees in order to serve the needs of their community.
Ponlok Khmer (Cambodia) - Ponlok Khmer is a group working to support Indigenous forest communities and local authorities in Cambodia looking to improve natural resource governance and management; initiatives are being designed to strategically expand regional economic opportunities that promote and/or revitalize Indigenous knowledge and skills. In doing so the Ponlok Khmer is continuously strengthening community culture and tradition. With a grant from Keepers of the Earth, the individuals are collectively seeking recognition and making strides towards the acquisition of legal land rights in two new communities. This adds significant regional support to the existing five communities that already completed the process and have since been recognized; they also own their land.
Bojoke Association of Pineapple and Plantain Farmers (Cameroon) - Keepers of the Earth is helping this community in the southwest region of Cameroon to promote traditional agricultural practices as an economically viable solution for improving household incomes and living conditions throughout the community. As a result of the grant award an additional eight farming groups are being added to the existing network of 15; further technical support is available for training on agro-forestry techniques that increase the capacity to establish and manage projects dedicated to food security issues.
Sunuwar Sewa Samaj (Sunuwar Welfare Society) (Nepal) – After 250 years of colonization, Nepal is in the process of developing a new constitution. This could mean the loss of customary land territory and cultural and linguistic viability for the Kiranti-Koits (Sunuwar, Bujuwar, Pirthwar, Mukhiya and Surel) Peoples, which is why the presence of First Peoples Worldwide has been so critical. With support from the Keepers of the Earth fund and added technical aid available through resources associated with First Peoples, the Tribe is implementing its Customary Ancestral Homeland Mapping of Kiranti-Koits project, and individuals are scheduled to teach GPS technology in order to ensure that everyone is able to participate in mapping their homelands.
Bundu Tuhan Native Residential Reserve Trustees Committee (Malaysia) - The Bundu Tuhan Native Residential Reserve was established in 1983 under Section 78 of the Sabah Land Ordinance, and the Trustees Committee was established by a community-wide general assembly in 2003. The Trustee Committee is comprised of elders and holders of adat (customary laws, beliefs and practices), and individuals are entrusted with the management and development of the Reserve, which includes oversight of the Bundu Tuhan Village Fund, the communal fund for the Dusun Peoples. These highland-based peoples have lived in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu since time immemorial but were excluded from access to the mountain and its resources in 1964 when the mountain and surrounding area were designated as Kinabalu Park, a fully protected area managed by the State Government of Sabah. The mountain is now a world renowned hotspot for global biodiversity and a prime tourism destination; the area was declared as Malaysia’s first World Heritage site in 2000. But for the Dusun community in Bundu Tuhan Village, the mountain is still a venerated sacred place of utmost spiritual importance. According to ancestral beliefs, the spirits of the dead rest on the mountain in their journey to the afterlife, and the mountain continues to be important for its spiritual significance. Under the current direction of Kinabalu Park, the Dusuns must pay fees to enter the park and climb the mountain; these fees have made it virtually impossible for them to visit their own sacred sites and have terminated the cultural access on which they previously relied to maintain integrity in their spiritual values and systems.
Currently, community members work as porters or guides to earn enough to pay the fees and access the mountain, but the Tribe is losing its spiritual connection with the mountain. Youth do not have the cultural knowledge of what the mountain represents to the people -- cultural identity, customs, practices and beliefs – because of commercialization. After years of asking the park management to allow the Dusuns unimpeded free access, the Sabah Park system finally granted the community permission to climb the mountain - but only for a single day each year. The Dusun conducted their first pilgrimage to the mountain in conjunction with the 10th anniversary celebration of the park receiving World Heritage status, and their visit was highlighted as a groundbreaking example of cooperation among the Indigenous Peoples, government ministries, parks board, press, and tourists from all over the world. Keepers of the Earth helped continue this powerful momentum of cooperation by covering fees associated with the second pilgrimage to the mountain in 2011. The Dusun People are hopeful now - and feel reconnected spiritually.
Apo Man ohay Clan (Philippines) - This grant is to help the Clan work on their application for a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title. This group is a dynamic Indigenous Peoples NGO in Barangay Dologon, Maramag, and the main aim of work is to protect ancestral land from destructive and rampant environmental activities. With Keepers of the Earth funding, they are organizing for political recognition and taking steps to stop illegal resource extraction, along with other action that causes long-term environmental destruction of their forest and region.
Nagkakaisang mga Tribu ng Palawan (Philippines) - NATRIPAL is a federation of three Indigenous Peoples: The Tagbanua, Pala’wan and Batak. The chief mission of the organization is to establish avenues for the formal recognition of Indigenous rights in issues related to land ownership and ancestral territories. They are considered to be the most neglected among the existing Indigenous Peoples groups in the province of Palawan. Currently the federation has a total of 59 associations, which are spread across the province. The habitual denial of their legitimate ancestral rights by contemporary mainstream society has obstructed their culture and forced them into abject poverty. NATRIPAL is utilizing support from Keepers of the Earth to work toward their vision of political and social recognition as important sectors of society.
Community Awareness and Services Ecological Concern (Philippines) - CASEC was organized by two tribes: The Higaonon of Tagoloan river territory and the Visayan Eskaya of Bohol Island. The group used its grant to document oral customary laws and tribal practices for use in the reclamation of ancestral domain and strategically significant territories. With documentation, the local government would recognize the tribes’ decision-making processes as a mandatory component of ongoing acknowledgement and implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act. Once documented, these records were included in the communities’ long-term governance plan.
Nirmanee Development Foundation (India) - A grant from Keepers of the Earth helped NDF in Sri Lanka to design a program for traditional snakebite healers. There are approximately 25 varieties of snakes; not all are poisonous, but not everyone is aware of which ones are poisonous - and which ones aren’t. People not traditionally trained to recognize the difference between safe and dangerous instinctively try to kill any snake that threatens their safety. In these attempts, most individuals are bitten and can die from the poison. Snake bite anti-venom is not readily available in the contemporary Sri Lankan medical care system; only traditional healers are prepared with anti-venom and know how to administer it, and the government requires all traditional healers to be registered in order to practice medicine, which means traditional healers must pass Westernized medical exams. Keepers of the Earth has helped these individuals formalize their presence in a way that documents Indigenous, traditional knowledge about snakebite medicine. This way healers can both legitimize their ancient practice and also engage the contemporary Western medical field in a way that expands their abilities to instruct members of their community about special protocols – while also being adequately prepared to administer medicine in critical moments. Additional mechanisms for education were are also established as part of the programming.
Changing Winds, Inc. - First Voices Indigenous Radio (USA) - This radio program is reaching Indigenous communities around the globe with news and information focused on current events that impact Indigenous Peoples. Keepers of the Earth is helping to test the power of information on effecting systemic change in Indigenous communities. It is the only Indigenous-led radio broadcast offering weekly programming for all Indigenous communities, all of which is dedicated to informing Indigenous Peoples about ways to take steps and collaborate together to ensuring the continued survival and shared participation of Indigenous cultures and nations.
Friends of Akwesasne Freedom School (USA) - This Indigenous-led institution is a Mohawk immersion school pursuing vital work towards cultural survival. It also supports other programs with a shared mission to protect and promote Indigenous ways of life. In this capacity, funding from Keepers of the Earth supported the Moon Lodge Society and the program entitled Sisters in Spirit on the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation. The Moon Lodge Society exists exclusively to provide ancient, critical support to a sisterhood of spiritual women by sharing in the sacred practice of Native American ceremonies that honor the feminine spirit. A woman's natural role to nurture is a life-long process that must be renewed periodically; the Sisters in Spirit project is a yearly cleansing ceremony for women from around the globe that helps them to renew their strength to carry out traditional roles in communities - while also sharing the teachings that guide their daily lives, both with families and with society at large.
Association of Women Weavers of Kelkanka (Peru) - Like other Indigenous Quechua communities in the Peruvian highlands, the people of the Kelkanka inhabit a cultural sphere distinct from those who live on the valley floor. The AWWK is an organization with a mission to revitalize the Kelkanka weaving tradition by establishing its place of importance in cultural education and improving the quality of life for members of the Quechua community. The Empowering Quechua Women Weavers with Skill and Shelter project promotes the value and marketability of the ancient Andean weaving tradition – with funds from Keepers of the Earth. As a bridge between Quechua women weavers and the free market, AWWK is in a unique position to provide technical and economic assistance that ensures the weavers are capable of maintaining their traditional, agricultural ways of life. Funds are invested in the association to advance the Kelkanka weaving cooperative through the physical construction of a weaving center where workshops and production can take place simultaneously to generate income and cultural support for Quechua women.
Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (Belize) - With previous funding from Keepers of the Earth Fund, SATIIM has been safeguarding the ecological integrity of the Sarstoon Temash region and utilizing its resources in an environmentally sound manner for the economic, social, cultural and spiritual well being of its Maya and Garifuna Indigenous Peoples. SATIIM was established by five Indigenous villages and actively co-manages the Sarstoon Temash National Park (STNP), which is located in southern Toledo; the group works to defend its land and culture with a special focus on media outreach channels. Through the Keepers of the Earth granting program, First Peoples Worldwide is helping SATIIM develop its Mayan language radio program in Belize – programming addresses critical issues related to international law, as well as discussions on the progress of activities unique to the Maya and Garifuna villages. This particular grant funded a year-long broadcast designed to inform the communities and villages about current events while also enabling members to participate in the development (along with corresponding translations) of ads. Additional outreach efforts included community meetings that utilize the traditional governance system of community consultation practices, consensus-building mechanisms, and general promotion for the cultural survival of Maya and Garifuna communities.
Nucleo de Cultura Indigena (Brazil) – This grassroots organization has been working with the granting support from First Peoples to design and implement training workshops for participants looking for ways to develop fundraising tools that can be used over time in a local scope. As the Guarani People develop projects to improve the quality of life, as well as engage rights to territory, education, culture, and health, they encounter conflicts with several government- and corporate-sponsored projects. The village is often excluded because of a lack of technical training and fundraising expertise, even as a cadre of Guarani youth works to bridge language differences among the community and surrounding populations. Since they can communicate in Portuguese as well as their native Guarani language, these individuals are establishing new methods of communication to enhance collaborative practices in conversations that can be inclusive for the Indigenous decision-making process. They are exchanging information on fundraising, proposal writing, and project management.
Instituto de Permacultura de El Salvador (with Red Ecológica de Agricultoras del Nor-oriente de Morazán) (El Salvador) - The Permaculture Institute of El Salvador (IPES) supports a movement of subsistence farming families who are working together as a collective to grow healthy food and survive climate change disasters. Remembering their traditional ways to care for Mother Earth and live in community, they are cascading their knowledge across villages and between generations. IPES runs year-long programs that support leadership development and apprenticeship programs to establish a community permaculture network. Its education center demonstrates climate resilient systems for food security to farmers, NGO’s, government and international agencies. The Keepers of the Earth Fund is supporting the Kakawira Peoples in determining their own development through this system of community supported family food production.
Alianza Verde/Indigenous Tawahka Federation of Honduras (Honduras) - The Tawahka People of Honduras are the only sub-group of Mayanga; they live in the Mosquitia region of eastern Honduras. FITH is entirely Tawahka-led and functions as the technical arm of this partnership. Together they are working to achieve the signing of a new co-management agreement for the Tawahka Asangni Biosphere Reserve (based on the perspective and interests of the Tawahka People), along with participation of the state-run Honduran Forestry Agency. The Tawahka Biosphere is a 233,142-hectare expanse of highly diverse broad-leaf rainforest; it is also the ancestral home of more than 2,000 Tawahka and rests in the heart of a bi-national biodiversity corridor extending across western Nicaragua and eastern Honduras. The Indigenous Peoples residing in this area were involved in workshops to facilitate a development initiative that reflects their shared preference for managing the biosphere in accordance with Indigenous principles. No efforts to halt the illegal extraction of hardwoods were being made, and the rate of illegal timber harvests and ongoing forest destruction had increased in the decade since the original designation of the biosphere reserve perimeters. At the current rate, the reserve would be so biologically degraded within 25 years it would not sustain the existence of its Indigenous inhabitants. The ongoing, active involvement of Tawahka communities was written into the new General Management Plan for the Biosphere. Our grant provided both financial and technical aid.
Consejo Shipibo Konibo Xetebo (Peru) - The Shipibo Peoples in the Peruvian Amazon used their grant from Keepers of the Earth to map of ancestral territory and significant resources within the territorial boundaries. Our support provided this project with financial means to evaluate and assert their environmental, social, economic, cultural, and political assets, so they can act strategically on repatriated information in ways that assert autonomous regional governance when appropriate. This initial phase of a larger project enabled the Shipibo to design a survey instrument, travel to 58 Shipibo communities to document their traditional knowledge, and then analyze and synthesize the information for ongoing reference.
NERCO GEMORRA - Association for Indigenous Development (Cameroon) - The association has a mission to improve the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples by promoting education, health and wellness; the group is committed to natural resource management principles that reflect the traditional ways of the Kako People. With funding from Keepers of the Earth, the Association formally registered with the government and has a home base from which to facilitate learning exchanges, art and culture programs, and models of traditional resource stewardship. The organization faced conflicts related to resource management issues, social marginalization and social amenities, as well as inadequate infrastructure, limited health facilities, and difficulty accessing potable water.
Dzomo la Mupo (South Africa) - The Vhembe District, a former Apartheid independent homeland known as Venda, is the most northern and most rural province of South Africa. Each one of seven clans is a custodian of a sacred site, and together these locations form a network of sacred forests in their territory, all of which are vital to the health of the land and communities, for rain, crops and livelihood. Dzomo la Mupo means Voice of the Earth. The group was organized as a sacred sites committee to revive culture and protect forests in a special initiative. The Ramunangi sacred site was facing the urgent threat of deforestation by the Department of Tourism and Environmental Affairs - in order to build a tourist lodge. Grant funds support a collaboration between the Dzomo la Mupo and Mupo Foundation to develop policies that would create a No-Go zone for extractive industries.
Indigenous Women and Children Foundation (India) - The Naga Peoples are indigenous hill peoples whose homelands span several administrative states in the northeastern corner of India and in northwestern Myanmar. They have been living under intense militarization for more than 50 years, and massive resource extraction projects are wreaking havoc on this once culturally and environmentally pristine region. The Nagas have resisted construction of the Tipaimukh Mega Dam, which would submerge ancestral land and displace 40,000 people. Dam construction and oil drilling are happening without the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous communities. The IWCF is using funds from Keepers of the Earth to reach out to remote villages and increase Naga Peoples’ knowledge – in order to encourage critical, extensive participation in advocacy and political organization.