Posts Tagged ‘Cultural Survival’

Oct23

Indigenous Rights Radio On the Air in Rural Ghana

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Ghana is home to a rich diversity of languages and cultures, and a mosaic of community radio stations reflect and celebrate this diversity by broadcasting in dozens of tribal languages. Radio Gurune is one of these stations. Located in the town of Bolgatanga in the Upper East region of Ghana, a 20-hour bus ride from the capital city of Accra, the station’s coverage is estimated to reach 2 million listeners in rural areas and carries just over the border into Burkina Faso.

The station was founded by local community leader Lydia Ajono as a development tool for her community to address the needs of marginalized peoples like Indigenous women, farmers, and youth. In telling how she got her start working broadcasting government health programs before the station was founded, Ajono recalled fondly that she “was the first person to speak our native language of Gurune on the radio.”

Radio Gurune broadcasts almost entirely in the Indigenous Gurune language, with a small slate of programs in English, the language of colonization in Ghana. “We know the best thing is to give voice to the voiceless, and in our area the women are voiceless. In our part of the world it is always a challenge to push women to come out and talk or to share their experiences and share their stories, not just to pass on their stories for others to tell for us. So that’s the angle that we try to do,” Ajono said.

Indeed, the station makes a special effort to involve young women as news gatherers, studio managers, and on-air personalities. Radio Gurune has been part of a program to empower rural women in family farming, which is a traditionally male-dominated area.

“We have a strategy to get our women in our radio to understand [farming] issues first. So we empower our women to take the microphone and then be in the studio and go to the field to understand how to interact with women farmers, and also the challenges for women to participate in family farming,” Ajono said. Ajono trains the women in broadcast skills, production skills, news gathering, and in learning all the proper terms in their language.

At a recent conference on community radio in Accra, hosted by AMARC, Ajono shared her experience: “Land is a very critical issue here. Women have access to land but they don’t own land. We see women engaged [as] farm workers but not farm owners. The radio empowers women to understand to be able to come together and to dialogue with community leaders and household leaders who are mostly men, to be able to access fertile lands. We empower them to use compost to be able to enrich the soil so that they can produce. In the area of crops, seeds are now a problem. The seeds that the government or the companies bring in are not always favorable to our farmers. For example, the maize seed—the farmers here raised it and the maize didn’t come, and later they realized the seeds need chemical fertilizer for it to survive. They didn’t harvest anything that year. So the community radio engages them and encourages them to use their traditional seeds and use compost so that they will be able to manage their own farms and store and keep some seed that they can always use.”

For the past two years, Radio Gurune has also been broadcasting Indigenous Rights Radio programs. “I listened to them and thought they really talk about issues that we face here, so we decided to translate them into our local language,’’ Ajono explained.

The station used the scripts provided by Cultural Survival to create a 20-minute radio drama involving two recurring characters from their station’s usual drama programs, in which a male and female character discuss the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent in their community and the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ right to be consulted about development projects. The program, which aired weekly on Sundays, became very popular with listeners, who flooded the phone lines with calls to discuss the topic. “The listeners are so inspired by the programs. They realize that these are real issues that we are facing,’’ Ajono said.

In fact, the community is currently addressing illegal logging by an Indian company felling ancient mahogany trees within tribal lands. The trees are crucial for agriculture in the area because they surround a stream that provides water into irrigation channels for local farmers. When the trees are cut down, the water is more prone to dry up. Ajono believes that the radio station’s programming on Free, Prior and Informed Consent was central to creating an uproar in the community in response to the logging company, and now the issue has been brought to the forefront of debate by local political leaders.

Station volunteer Akolga Samuel noted, ‘’The radio is coming out with programs that enlighten people to understand the terrain of policies and understand how they can wake up themselves to fight for their rights. Once you are aware of your rights, no politician can cheat you or influence you in any way. [The audience] was much appreciative of these educational programs, which have brought these issues to light in this municipality and across the district.”

Listeners frequently call in to the station to weigh in on the issue of participatory community development. “The Indigenous have their rights to information and development and participation. If you are informed about a project in your community, it makes you ready to participate and decide what will benefit you and what will not benefit you. This right to information is something that will help make decisions to be taken at the grassroots level and run to the top level,’’ one caller said.

Another commended the program for informing local people, in the local language, with a local explanation. “You know, there are certain issues talked about that people don’t understand. But this is being brought to the local level, making the people more aware of what is happening,’’ he told the station in his native Gurune language, urging them to continue broadcasting the program.

A female caller concurred, saying she was very happy to hear the information and praised the station for doing a wonderful job. “This program brings you to life, whether you are literate or you can speak English or not; it’s involving citizens’ participation in development projects. If this is implemented it will help us. Sometimes people who haven’t gone to school think they are vulnerable, but this [policy] will not exclude anyone because it involves participation in decision making,’’ she said.

Another called in to thank the station. ‘’If there is going to be a development or construction, it needs to involve the people who are going to be beneficiaries. For example, take constructing a road. You need to let the people understand why you are constructing it, where the road is going, and what the road is going to do for them. The chiefs, the opinion leaders, the farmers, and the youth all need to understand the content and the benefits of a project before it goes on. In some cases, you see a bulldozer constructing a road through people’s farms without informing them! So it will hurt the people and they have to take a violent way of stopping it. But if this right to informed consent is implemented it will make people aware of how to handle community involvement, or even how to do any participatory work, by sharing techniques of bringing people together to understand the issues before they begin developmental projects. It will make the people live in peace through unity and development for all of them.’’

Indigenous Rights Radio at Listen Here.

Source: Cultural Survival

Oct16

We Want to Chage that Stigma

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Doreen Demas (Dakota) from Canada is a member of the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network and the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Caucus. The following is an excerpt from an Indigenous Rights Radio program interview at the 14th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Our focus at the UNPFII has been twofold: one, to get into the Permanent Forum, which I believe we have been successful in doing just from having the formation of the caucus and our network. And [two], the numerous interventions we have been able to make on the floor. The message I believe that we’ve been putting out there is around inclusion and participation, and this year I have tried to more specifically define what we mean by inclusion and participation. People see us here participating, they see us in the meeting rooms, they see us on the floor making interventions. But what we want is not only [them] seeing us as being there, but also seeing us as capable to be successful and to achieve; moving away from the charitable perspective or the medicalized perspective, seeing us as sick or needing protection, and often times pitied. We want to change that stigma. We want to remove those barriers that keep people thinking of us as incapable. Instead we want people to see us as Indigenous Peoples first, and then as Indigenous Peoples that have disabilities. But that doesn’t preclude us from fully participating in the Permanent Forum and other UN processes.

I don’t consider myself an Indigenous person with special abilities or disabilities. I actually dislike that word, “special,” because somehow to me it connotes or implies it’s something outside the ordinary and I want people to stop thinking of us in that way. As a person with a disability, my people, the Dakota People, and other nations within Canada, I think have fallen under all the impacts of colonization. It’s something that I’ve been talking with other people about, culturally looking at the beliefs and traditions and values that our people have held about people that were maybe a little bit different, people with disabilities, even people that were too spirited, that kind of thing, and how they were viewed. And so far, what I have seen tells me that we were seen possibly as being different, but at the same time we had a role within the community, we had a place. Some people believe that Indigenous Peoples with disabilities are gifted, that they have some kind of spiritual ability, that kind of thing. My personal view is that I don’t think most of us have a gift, or are special, not any more than what you say you might have. If you are a spiritual person and you believe that the creator can give you a gift, then obviously I think that can go to anybody.

What I think is important is that as an Indigenous person with a disability, that lived experience that I’ve had because of having a disability has helped shape who I am as a person. And if I have any gift or if I have anything that perhaps distinguishes me for who I am, it is the passion that I have for working to change the environment, to change the lives of people with disabilities, for myself and anybody else. As Indigenous Peoples with disabilities, we have rights. We have rights like anybody else. We have the right to expect, to be treated just like anybody else. We have the right to dream and to aspire to do things like be successful, whether it’s in education or it’s in some kind of a job or career; to raise a family, if we want to get married. We should have those same expectations as anybody else. Just because you have a disability, whatever that may be, whether it’s physical, sensory, intellectual, or whatever, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right to live like anybody else. And I think that it is important to empower people with disabilities because once people are informed, [once] you give people information, they can begin to stand up for themselves, they can speak out for themselves. That’s how you make changes. That’s what I would say to people that aren’t here.

What I would say to government and other policymakers, those people that have some ability to change, what I would ask them to do or what I would remind them is that again, we as people with disabilities, we have fundamental human rights that give us protection through things like the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and other international, national, or local instruments. In Canada that would be the human rights treaties, the Constitution, that are there to protect everybody, including people with disabilities. I think government has a responsibility to try and view us as people with disabilities, as Indigenous persons with disabilities, view us from a rights perspective, not a charitable perspective, not a medical perspective, like we don’t need to be fixed.

What we need is for the systems to change, we need people to adopt things like the principle of universal design, universal access, which means that when they create something or are fixing something, whether it’s a physical building or an environment, that they fix it in such a way that it benefits not only a person with a disability, but everybody, so it’s not something special; it’s something that will benefit society as a whole. And I remind people also that a disability—maybe it’s not the most trendiest or sexiest issue—but disability knows no boundaries. Not to scare people, but disability can happen to anybody. That should hopefully urge people to pay attention. Because one day if it happens to you, or someone else, you’re going to need the environment to be user-friendly to you as a person with disabilities. So that would be my caution, what I would ask people to think seriously about: look at us as people that have rights. Don’t pity us, don’t feel sorry for us, but help us and make things so they are supportive. Help us to be independent.

Source: Cultural Survival 

Oct02

The Shapeshifting Artist: Ty Defoe

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An artist who boldly, profoundly, defies definitions: Ty Defoe can be introduced so, with the strictest parsimony for words. To explore the true breadth and depth of this young artist’s life and work so far is to encounter a rich kaleidoscope of identities, talents, and skills, each deserving its own narrative. He is a writer, musician, storyteller, hoop dancer, theater artist, and flautist. He dances the Ojibwe eagle dance, resplendent in the regalia made with the feathers he has collected since childhood, just as effortlessly as he mesmerizes a crowd in New York with a western musical piece he wrote. He won a Grammy Award in 2011 for his album “Come to Me Great Mystery.” He travels across the United States, leading educational workshops and raising awareness on themes ranging from American Indian history, ethnomusicology, food security, and climate change—a true shapeshifter of artistic expression. Defoe hails from Wisconsin with roots in the Giizhiig, Ojibwe, and Oneida Nations, and is currently in New York pursuing a fellowship on equity, inclusion, and diversity at the Theatre Communications Group.

Defoe’s forays into the art world started with dancing, which he says he learned from his mother as soon as he started walking. Then came hoop dancing. He recalls, “it wasn’t long before one of my Name-keepers gave me a willow hoop and then an iron hoop. I was a rambunctious kid . . . the balance of these two, the willow and the iron, was a way to teach me the balance of things. You weave the hoops in and out through your body. With the willow hoop you have to be gentle or it will snap and break. The iron hoop, it’s heavy and strong, and if you aren’t careful and whip it too hard, you hurt yourself.” Weaving in and out of as many as 30 hoops, transforming from eagle to butterfly to coyote, a hoop dancer uses hoops as a powerful storytelling device. As Defoe was being given the gifts of arts and perspectives by a remarkable community of family, friends, spiritual mentors, and even strangers who came to visit the reservation, he was diligently piecing them together to form an enquiry and expression of his true self. He remembers his Uncle Joey, who defied conventions and taught him drumming. He remembers his Uncle Jim who “learnt instruments by ear” and passed on that gift of music.

Eagle being his father’s clan, Defoe soon learned to shapeshift into an eagle as he danced the Eagle Dance, embodying the platonic wisdom of rising above and seeing contours of reality from a higher perspective. Rising above, bravely evolving, he found an external expression for his true identity of being a Two-Spirit.

“The concept of Two-Spirit, where the masculine and the feminine coexist in a person, has always been there among Native people; it’s just that it has been shamed and oppressed,” Defoe explains. “I have been progressively evolving. For me, changing form and name was a process I undertook to make the flow a little bit easier and help others on the same path. Being a Two-Spirit person, it’s not about a gender identity overpowering the other. The soul craves movement around these concepts of masculine and feminine we have created. Right now it’s a time for healing for the Two-Spirited community . . . there is tremendous creative potential and an amazing sense of fearlessness.”

Defoe’s own multi-disciplinary artwork exemplifies that bold creative potential, much of which he directs at exploring the structure, functions, and mutability of identities. In one of his recent musical theatre works, “Clouds are Pillows for the Moon,” he collaborated with Tidtaya Sinutoke, a composer from Thailand, to weave a story of two teenage girls—one from Thailand and another from an Ojibwe reservation— who are exploring and contesting their identities in the melting pot that is America.

Having walked the liminal world of multiple identities, Defoe feels strongly about being sure of one’s identity before spreading out one’s branches. “In the hoop of life, as you stand next to your friend, uncle, aunt, or even a stranger, you want to be just as vibrant as the other person next to you. To do that you need first know your own roots and identities,” he says. “Roots before Branches” is also the title of a show Defoe put together for the National Museum of the American Indian, which talks about such a process; his work aspires to manifest as well as facilitate that individual expression of uniqueness without cultural appropriation.

Through his experience as a Native artist, Defoe has learned the hard way that such creative spaces do not come easily. He says the traditional values of humility and shared leadership he was raised with often put him at odds with the competitive model of contemporary society that requires an artist to self-promote and surreptitiously guard his or her ideas and creations. He notes that the formulas of privilege that exist elsewhere are reflected in the world of art too: “One of the biggest challenge to art is access. There are notions about what is art, who deserves art and who has access to it. It’s often people who have power and privilege that gets to decide all these.”

Still, Defoe remains undaunted, forging new permutations of alliances and artistic expressions to counter such dynamics in the art world. In collaboration with the PA’I Foundation, he recently toured Hawai’i devising and activating community skills in the practice of art exchange. He was a founding member and artistic director of Native Punx, a venture that sought to enhance the diversity within Native and non-Native artist communities. He collaborated with The Civilians, artists in residence at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, to develop a theatrical performance titled “The Way They Lived,” which is based on the iconic piece of Native art, “End of the Trail.” He is also collaborating with Ibex Puppetry, helping develop the show “Heather Henson’s FLIGHT: A Crane Story,” for the cause of crane conservation.

Defoe aspires to create dynamic, multi-disciplinary artistic expressions for global social change and is passionate about creating inclusive platforms for people to create and access art. “I think it would be so amazing to do an art piece that goes around the world that elevates people, but also creates systemic change for underrepresented people or oppressed people, whether it be for LGBTQ, Indigenous people, or communities affected by climate change,” he says. “It is interesting, the idea of a cause. But what I want to create is something that activates people globally to activate things within themselves. Logistically that way we can create a ripple effect. Because people are different, that’s got to be done through music, through visual assistance . . . through some kind of dancing and rhythm changing. And then on the role outside, through educational pieces.” To this end Defoe plans to collaborate with digital storytelling, a project that enables the merger of different disciplines within art and help propagates potent ideas of change.

Defoe’s vision is literally a “Circle of Art,” a “Hoop of Life” that connects and engages the global community without boundaries. Having wrestled and negotiated with many stereotypes surrounding his identity, he has emerged with an authentic perspective on why a link between seemingly disparate modes, causes, and alliances is not just viable, but also necessary. As he explains, “art levels fields. It dispels the myths of a hierarchy as it allows humans to connect to each other and also to the rest of the living world, be it two-legged, four-legged, and even the elementals . . . nature, the wind. It allows us to be not just free thinkers but also feelers. It allows us to drop our masks and be ourselves. With the kind of transparency art facilitates, the world becomes such a better place.”

—Febna Reheem Caven is an independent researcher and writer on communities in contested environments.

Learn more about Ty Defoe’s art at: www.tydefoe.com. 

Source: Cultural Survival

Sep25

Simply, Real Consultation: Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Demand Action

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It is estimated that over 1 billion people, about 15 percent of the world’s population, have disabilities. No global data exists regarding Indigenous persons with disabilities, however, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues estimates that the number of Indigenous persons with disabilities could be as high as 54 million. Statistics show that Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately likely to experience disability in comparison to the general population, and are likely to face discrimination based on their Indigeneity and disability.

Both the international Indigenous rights and the international disability rights movements have achieved great advances in recent years. In 2007, the General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In 2006, the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force in 2008. Both movements have been active on the rights of subgroups within their constituencies, and the Declaration and the Convention each include rights for Indigenous persons with disabilities, but historically these rights have not been adequately addressed by either movement.

The need for greater attention and promotion of the voices of Indigenous persons with disabilities was the focus of Intersectionality of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in AsiaPacific, a side event at the 14th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on April 27. The event was co-sponsored by the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network and the International Disability Alliance.

The international Indigenous Peoples with disabilities movement has gained much visibility over the past three years, due in large part to global organizing efforts led by the US-based Disability Rights Fund (DRF) and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF). “We brought Indigenous leaders with disabilities to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2012 and that’s here the seeds for this network began, when they started wanting to establish a global network to get more presence of disability rights issues at the Forum,” said Diana Samarasan, founding executive director of DRF and DRAF.

Aside from establishing the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network and a Disability Caucus at the Permanent Forum, a major achievement was the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples with disabilities in the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Outcome Document. Said Samarasan, “We hope to see people looking at Indigenous Peoples with disabilities with more of a rights perspective, moving away from a charity approach. We as a funder really recognize the importance of funding cross-movement work, like the work of the Global Network, because we all have multiple identities. Indigenous Peoples are also women, are also feminists, they are also members of the LGBTQ community, and they’re also people with disabilities.”

“This network achieved a lot at the global level,” commented Vladimir Cuk, executive director of the International Disability Alliance. “It is a very young network, but what they have achieved is really disproportionate to how long they have existed.” Cuk credited the Network with being a bridge between the disability community, which is increasingly referenced in Indigenous rights rhetoric, and Indigenous Peoples, who are referenced in the disability movement, stating that “this is particularly important in [regards to the] post-2015 development agenda and in implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Peoples with Disabilities. [We need to] hold accountable and support governments in really implementing post-2015. And for us, the people with disabilities, we will continue to remind [them] of the relevance of the Convention, so that nobody will forget about the government’s responsibilities.”

The Permanent Forum has welcomed the active participation of the Disability Caucus. As Joan Carling, an expert member of the Forum from the Philippines, explained, “The whole UN Declaration also applies to Indigenous Peoples with disabilities. The issue of our collective rights is also an issue of persons with disabilities. The issue of our full and effective participation includes Indigenous Peoples with disabilities, as well as women, youth, and the elderly. We need to . . . make sure that the Indigenous movement is inclusive of Indigenous Peoples with disabilities as well as being mindful to the particular circumstances and needs of Indigenous Peoples with disabilities.” In terms of achieving such inclusion, Carling suggested that the UN assist the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network and Disability Caucus in promoting the principles of non-discrimination and equality. “We hope that the Caucus will provide more information on the situation of Indigenous Peoples with disabilities, and more importantly identify areas of collaboration with the organizations of Indigenous Peoples with disabilities. Inform us if you have any activities or events that you think it is important for the Permanent Forum to also make its contribution,” she said.

Carling spoke of other possibilities for collaboration, such as participation of Indigenous Peoples with disabilities in the sessions of the Permanent Forum; organizing a special session on Indigenous Peoples with disabilities; preparation of a special report on Indigenous Peoples with disabilities in collaboration with the Forum; raising the issues of Indigenous Peoples with disabilities with UN agencies; and appealing to the UN Voluntary Fund to ensure that it funds Indigenous Peoples with disabilities in every cycle of funding. “There should be at least one or two persons with disabilities that can participate in this Forum, as well as in other sessions where there is funding available for Indigenous Peoples,” she said. Perty Maguru of the Nepal Indigenous Civil Association spoke on behalf of the Disability Caucus, focusing especially the burden of sexual discrimination. “In the context of Nepal, Indigenous persons with disabilities face multiple discrimination and intersectional discrimination. If we see the context of South Asia, the status of women is more vulnerable. They are deprived of services, they are ignored and limited within their home. They are excluded from the Indigenous disability and national organizations, and they are silenced. We find that more that 50 percent of Indigenous persons [have disabilities]. But, the services for Indigenous persons with disability are only 5 percent. [Neither] the State nor the National Federation of Disabled People has any kind of policies and provisions to incorporate the issues of Indigenous Peoples with disabilities. They have a 5-year strategy for 2015–2020. Even though Indigenous Persons with disabilities are rights holders, we are not being incorporated in this 5-year plan. Most Indigenous persons in Nepal and Asia are not aware of the organization. Indigenous persons with disabilities in larger populations are compelled to remain in silence and segregated because they lack education, they lack understanding in issues, and in services. The first thing we want is participation, documentation, and we want to be stakeholders,” Maguru said.

Ipul Powesau, co-chair of the Papua New Guinea Assembly of Disabled Persons, focused on the issues of women and girls and on access to justice and services, particularly education, in Pacific Island nations. “In Papua New Guinea, with a population of almost 8 million people, women are trying to have their issues heard at the national level. When it comes to access to justice, a lot of women and girls with disabilities are raped. They are violently abused by their family members, and the justice they lack is compensation. This is the issue—that our voices are not heard. We don’t have the services that help us to have our voices heard. There are no interpreters, and even the justice system does not have people that are trained to have women with disabilities’ voices heard.”

Some of the recommendations for improving the inclusion of Indigenous persons with disabilities included mainstreaming the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; bringing Indigenous groups to disability events; and greater involvement on national and international levels. Samarasan spoke of the Convention as an essential advocacy tool and as opportunity for Indigenous Peoples because it is a legally binding treaty. She gave an example of an Indigenous woman from Mexico with a disability who used the Convention to argue for the establishment of a Disability Rights Commission in the state of Hidalgo: “She made sure the Indigenous voice was a part of this commission. It could be used to advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples with disabilities.” Panelists also urged different sectors to work together to build bridges. “We need to bring a human rights approach to the issues, leaving no one behind,” said Maguru.

Follow the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network at: www.facebook.com/IPWDGN.

Sep18

Realizing Women’s Rights: The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

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The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international human rights treaty pertaining to women to guarantee gender justice. Enacted on September 3, 1981, it created a comprehensive legal standard codifying the rights of women in public international law and a committee to regularly review the process on elimination of discrimination against women. The revolutionary spirit of CEDAW is its applicability in private and public realms of society, as it focuses on all forms of discrimination against women around the world.

Composition and Consideration of Country Reports
A 23-member committee of experts reviews States as guarantors of the rights in CEDAW’s upholding principles of universality, indivisibility, inalienability, and interdependence of all rights. Equality and non-discrimination against women is central in all deliberations and actions of the committee. Experts review reports prepared by States and strongly encourage consultation with civil society, specifically women’s associations. When a country ratifies the Convention, it must submit an initial report within one year. Periodic reviews are subsequently due every four years.

The committee meets three times a year for sessions of at least three weeks to review State reports, host dialogues on imminent issues facing women fighting for fundamental freedoms, and draft concluding recommendations based on these interactive dialogues. On the opening day of the session, civil society can speak directly to committee members. During the lunch session the day prior to review of one’s State, there is also an opportunity for civil society to discuss the main issues that deserve attention during the interactive dialogue with the State. It is important for individuals to be succinct in raising specific rights to be respected, protected, and fulfilled.

—Joshua Cooper is a professor at the University of Hawai’i, West Oahu, Kapolei and director of the Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights.

Source: Cultural Survival

Sep11

A Call to Action: Catherine Murupaenga-Ikenn

Māori activist Catherine Murupaenga-Ikenn is no stranger to the international Indigenous rights movement. She is often heard and photographed making moving and passionate interventions, calling on Pacific countries to respect Indigenous rights. Murupaenga-Ikenn hails from the iwi Māori of Te Rarawa and Ngāti Kuri in Aotearoa (New Zealand). She is an executive member of Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa, the governing authority for her Te Rarawa peoples, and a member of the Ahipara Komiti Takutaimoana, a committee that manages the customary fisheries and coastal environment interests of traditional family groupings of her village of Ahipara. She was also an iwi negotiator for the Ngāti Kuri Historical Land Claims Deed of Settlement with the Crown. This extremely important settlement returned to Ngāti Kuri thousands of hectares of traditional lands and cultural sites and other redress for Crown violations of Ngāti Kuri’s rights under Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the English version is the Treaty of Waitangi) signed with the Crown in 1840.

“I’m often thinking about the juncture between this political world and campaigning back home, about advice on working for the rights of our peoples,” she said in a radio interview with Cultural Survival at the 14th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. In a struggle against what she refers to as “juggernauts of corporates,” it is important to connect with networks of people, including NGOs and faith-based groups.

To understand how Indigenous Peoples could win against the powerful, wealthy forces that threaten their ways of life, Murupaenga-Ikenn referenced the book David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. “It talks about the underdog going up against the big dude, and for us to critically analyze the Achilles heels and the weaknesses in those big powers,” she said. “When you look at them, they do have weaknesses. We just got to figure out what they are and use all the potential we have. And we have so many strengths. We have to galvanize those strengths, and one of those strengths [is] numbers, of course. We are the citizens of our countries, and citizens [need] to stand up whether you’re Indigenous or otherwise.”

The business sector, Murupaenga-Ikenn said, is another potential source of support—and crucial funding—for Indigenous Peoples. Socially minded businesses as well as philanthropists from wealthy families can make powerful contributions to social and environmental causes. “There are people out there. Go actively looking for them,” she urged. When asked about her thoughts on consumerism, consumption of oil, and individual responsibility to solve environmental problems, she responded, “We as Indigenous Peoples, actually all humans, should take responsibility for being stewards of a kind.” But, she continued, “We, Indigenous Peoples are not just stewards—we are in a family that has connections with Mother Earth and Father Sky. And so we are part of the bigger family. We are in it. And we are part of nature.” This connectedness with the natural world makes environmental issues, and the harmful risks of oil in particular, a “life and death situation.”

Murupaenga-Ikenn did not mince words about modern value systems that ignore the environment, calling them consumerist, competitive, and destructive. If it’s true that money can’t buy happiness, gross domestic product may not be an effective way to measure a country’s progress, and indeed, Murupaenga-Ikenn believes that this system is deeply flawed. “[GDP] only values those things that consumers can put a dollar sign on,” she said. “You know, the marketplace, if you look at it, can’t value things like love. Even your health, well being, even your community’s sense of security and harmony, and our environmental well being—all those things Indigenous Peoples value—the GDP system [as] a measuring stick cannot.”

Instead, Murupaenga-Ikenn argues that countries must shift to what she called a “true well-being index,” where a healthy environment is one key factor. “When the environment is degraded anywhere in the world, the Indigenous Peoples are also suffering,” she said. This shift to a more environmentally conscious value system should take place not only in national policies, but also at the local level: “Communities need to have their own value systems . . . families need to have their own value system. It all comes back to the individuals at the end of the day. What are our values?”

To effect change at the individual level, there is no better place to begin than in schools. Children, said Ms. MurupaengaIkenn, must “understand the importance of human rights and treating their fellow humans in the environment with dignity and respect,” and school curriculums must include these subjects. “When that platform is solid, you’ll see a whole lot of transformation happening,” she said. “But it’s just not happening in schools, unfortunately. So I encourage people to go and champion that transformation at a school with all young people.”

One of the most important issues Murupaenga-Ikenn called attention to at the Permanent Forum was deep sea oil drilling. She pointed out that such drilling could pose a threat to marine life as well as the many Indigenous people who depend on that marine life for food. For Murupaenga-Ikenn’s peoples, the coastline is a spiritual pathway for those who have passed away, making pollution from deep sea oil drilling an “incomprehensible” spiritual threat. Oil drilling is also contributing to climate change—an issue that has been a “big ticket item” at the United Nations. “We know fossil fuels and carbon-based fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, and all that sort of thing [are] directly related to oil production . . . don’t give any permits for exploration, for crying out loud. And at the same time, really ramp up the renewable energy production infrastructure and ensure the legislative policy regimes back home. Help the average person to use renewable energy,” she implored.

Murupaenga-Ikenn also focused on the importance of the Pacific Ocean, naming the problems of sinking States due to rising sea levels, depleted fisheries and food sources, and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima and the immense dangers nuclear energy poses to oceans. Radiation from Fukushima, she said, has a flow-on effect, and the harms it causes to the northern Pacific will eventually affect the southern Pacific as well. “Does anyone have an exit strategy if [we] decide we want to get out of nuclear?” asked Murupaenga-Ikenn. “No! Nobody had one. They didn’t think about if there was an earthquake, like in Fukushima. What happens if the nuclear power plant is broken and all this radiation gets out? Do we have a mop-up plan? Is there an international organization that’s dedicated to going in there and fixing it up and locking it down? No. Nobody thought about that.” When disasters strike, Indigenous Peoples are often the most affected. For geographic and economic reasons, she explained, Indigenous Peoples simply “don’t have the capacity to just uproot and go and relocate to some other place.”

Among Murupaenga-Ikenn’s successes at the United Nations was helping to achieve a more internal focus among Indigenous delegates. In past years she has focused on communicating with the UN and with government officials, but this year, she said, “We’ve taken conscious, intentional steps towards creating a regional mechanism for the Pacific.” Murupaenga-Ikenn also supported a proposed funding group for Indigenous Peoples inspired by an effective coordinating committee at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. “We need a strategy and it can’t just be about a strategy inside the UN, because we have been banging on their door for so long and they keep pushing us back. We will continue with that, but we need our own Indigenous strategy,” she said. Such a strategy would indubitably involve Indigenous people writing history for themselves: “Let’s talk about strengthening ourselves and our self-determination, strengthening our sovereignty. Let’s use that language.”

Source: Cultural Survival

http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/call-action-catherine-murupaenga-ikenn

Jun05

Perseverance and Strength of Radio Snuq Jolom Konob

20150526_105449On Tuesday, May 26, 2015, Cultural Survival delivered a radio console and microphone to Radio Snuq Jolom Konob in Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. A generous grant from the Swift Foundation allowed Cultural Survival to donate this equipment to the station. Radio Snuq Jolom Konob was shut down on January 19, 2015, by the mayor of Santa Eulalia and his supporters for publicizing protests against hydroelectric companies operating in the region. The station’s premises have remained shut since and all the volunteers have faced threats to keep them from attempting to re-open the radio cabin. Despite these risks, on March 19, 2015, radio volunteers, with the support of various organizations, marched the streets of Santa Eulalia demanding that the mayor unlock the doors to the radio. The event ended in chaos and protests as the mayor and his supporters attacked various journalists and the radio cabin remains shut down.

Radio Snuq Jolom Konob launched their online radio in late March, broadcasting only online since their cabin was still locked down. Lorenzo Mateo, radio volunteer and representative, has been actively seeking help from other organizations to support their efforts in returning the radio to the community. There is a warrant for his arrest and his family has received continuous threats from the mayor and a small group of his supporters. “Most of us volunteers are taking precautions when we travel and work. I know they can arrest me anytime but they can never silence me,” said Mateo.

Upon meeting Cultural Survival staff in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, to receive the equipment, Mateo expressed his sincere gratitude for the continued support for Radio Snuq Jolom Konob. “We are grateful that organizations like Cultural Survival encourage us and are attentive to our well-being as well as that of the community of Santa Eulalia,” said Mateo. “We have launched our radio online and our community at home and abroad continually send us their support via social media. We continue to hope that our radio will return someday.”

Radio Snuq Jolom Konob is still only broadcasting online but will continue to seek legal action against the mayor of Santa Eulalia for violating its freedom of expression. Cultural Survival values the important work Radio Snuq Jolom Konob does for its community and will continue to support its efforts to secure its freedom of expression.

Source: Cultural Survival

May28

Cultural Survival Launches New Indigenous Rights Radio Website!

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Cultural Survival Launches New Indigenous Rights Radio Website!
Indigenous Rights Radio uses the power of community radio to inform Indigenous communities of their rights. We envision a world in which Indigenous communities, equipped with knowledge of their rights, are empowered to protect their lands, languages, and cultures.
Cultural Survival’s Indigenous radio producers gather stories from Indigenous Peoples around the world. In English, Spanish, and a growing array of Indigenous languages, we bring the voices of the Native peoples of Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas into dynamic dialogue about the meaning of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, their common struggles, and their evolving and innovative solutions to the problems they face today.

Source: Cultural Survival

Dec24

14 Grantees to Celebrate in 2014!

Happy Holidays from First Peoples Worldwide! As 2014 comes to a close, we are honored to share just a few of the Indigenous organizations that our Keepers of the Earth Fund supported this year. Totaling $220,059, our grants reached 43 organizations in 29 countries. Every year we are more amazed and thankful for the amazing things Indigenous communities are doing across the globe.

CKGR village of Molapo

CKGR village of Molapo

Ditshwanelo (Botswana) –The Basarwa/San peoples who inhabit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in Botswana have faced forcible relocations to designated re-settlement areas, and as a result, their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle is at risk. Ditshwanelo, the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, has teamed up with the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) NGO Coalition to develop a program that would help ease tensions between the Basarwa/San tribes and the CKGR authorities. KOEF provided funding to support this initiative, which maps land use in the CKGR and would allow the Basarwa/San peoples to actively take part in the preservation and environmentally-responsible use of the CKGR’s delicate ecosystem. Two drafts of the mapping program have already been presented to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), and KOEF’s funding will allow Ditshwanelo to continue its work in land use mapping.

 

AWISH Community Brushing for IVS Rice Project

AWISH Community Brushing for IVS Rice Project

A World Institute for a Sustainable Humanity (AWISH) and the Coalition for Community Transformation and Development (Sierra Leone) – Although AWISH continues to strive to reestablish the Inland Valley Swamp Rice network in Sierra Leone after a decade of civil war, it has been severely hampered by the Ebola epidemic. Working alongside the CCTD, the coalition deployed Ebola prevention and protection measures through provision of food, water, medicines and disinfectants along with training for mass groups of community peoples on how they can protect themselves against contracting the virus. In this instance, First Peoples Worldwide loosened its usually rigid granting parameters and provided two small grants from Keepers of the Earth Fund in response to an international crisis for humanity.

 

Grand Houroumi Initiative (Algeria/Niger/Nigeria) – Twice per year, the nomadic Farfarou Peoples, along with their life-supporting herds of animals, traverse the Grand Houroumi, a 2,000-kilometer stretch of land through Algeria, Niger, and Nigeria. The Farfarou experience mounting pressures to sedentarize by governments that do not understand the ecological and cultural importance of their lifestyles. With support from KOEF and the ICCA Consortium, the Farfarou are using participatory mapping and modern GPS technologies to delineate the Grand Houroumi. The project is a crucial step towards acquiring recognition of the Farfarou’s collective rights to use and conserve the Grand Houroumi, and will be guided by pulaaku, a code of conduct that emphasizes patience, self-control, discipline, prudence, modesty, respect for others, wisdom, forethought, personal responsibility, hospitality, courage, and hard work.

 

Mission Shalom International (Senegal) – This project serves the Diola Peoples that inhabit the coastal plain between the Gambia and Sao Domingo rivers of Senegambia and Guinea-Bissau. These wet-rice farmers, predominantly women, have a long-established tradition of farming together, growing food to feed their families. Five rural Indigenous women networks in five villages in the Casamance region, supported by Shalom International, conducted community building workshops to rebuild the Diola values system in improving food production, and adapting knowledge and local contexts to conform to Diola values and beliefs.

 

“Sain Tus Center” Business Management Training Course, May 23-24, 2013 – Khuvd, Mongolia

“Sain Tus Center” Business Management Training Course, May 23-24, 2013 – Khuvd, Mongolia

 

Sain Tus Center (Mongolia)Sain Tus Center is located in Mongolia, the country with the largest share of Indigenous peoples in the world. They had a long history of development funding for their community, but wanted to work on a project that focused on the preservation of their traditions. Specifically, they wished to preserve the Uriankhai Tuuli, which is a traditional epic, or story told through song, and has been declared “a tradition in urgent need of protection” by UNESCO. With their KOEF grant, Sain Tus will be able to create a documentary about the Uriankhai Tuuli, teach several school children how to deliver the Tuuli, and film a television program to raise local awareness about their traditions.

 

cordilleralogoCordillera Peoples Alliance (Philippines) – The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) represents the Igorot Peoples of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. The CPA believes that music, dancing, theater, and other forms of cultural exchange are the best methods of preserving traditional knowledge, educating their youth and disseminating information about unwanted development in Igorot territories. KOEF funded the CPA to form a cultural youth group that will prepare and perform cultural productions in eight communities threatened with development aggression throughout the CAR. The final performance will be held on Cordillera Day, which is an annual celebration commemorating the death of Macliing Dulag, who was murdered in 1980 for his opposition to the Chico River Dam Project.

 

Tribes Defenders 2Tribes and Natures Defenders (Philippines) – The project is located at the Higa-onon and Manobo tribal communities. Previously, this community received a grant to support its Hilltop Tribal School project that enabled Filipino children to attend school. With its second grant, TRINAD will implement its sustainable economic development project to reestablish farms destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan) in order to recover from hunger created by this natural disaster. The basis of this project is recovering the food system based on traditional Higa-onon values and beliefs and capacity-building for community people in implementing a tribal farming system.

 

Centro de Mujeres Aymaras (Bolivia) – Although traditional laws and customs emphasize respect for women in Aymara communities, Aymara women in La Paz, Bolivia frequently experience inequality, discrimination, and abuse. With support from KOEF, the Centro de Mujeres Aymaras will facilitate the written documentation of traditional laws regarding women. They will then spread awareness of these laws to traditional and legal authorities, and to Aymara communities throughout the region, through a combination of seminars, conferences, radio programs, and days of reflection.

 

Fundacion Mujeres del Agua (Venezuela) – In southeastern Venezuela’s Gran Sabana (Great Savannah), the traditional lifestyles of the Pemon Peoples are rapidly transforming due to the influx of mining to the region. As young men go to work in the mining industry and become increasingly influenced by mainstream culture and the cash economy, women are left as the primary guardians of Pemon traditional values, which emphasize peace, self-sufficiency, and respect for the earth. KOEF supported Fundacion Mujeres del Agua to convene gender-focused and culturally-oriented leadership trainings aimed at enhancing the presence of Pemon women in traditional and contemporary political forums throughout the Gran Sabana.

 

img_1883Cultural Survival (Guatemala) – Cultural Survival’s community radio program is designed to unify and strengthen communication among Mayan communities in Guatemala, many of which live in remote and rural areas of the country. KOEF supported Cultural Survival to produce and broadcast radio programs on Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). The programs, which are developed by community members and aired in Indigenous languages on more than fifty radio stations, informed Mayan communities about their government’s granting of concessions on their traditional territories, alerted them to the potential consequences, and offered strategies for asserting their right to FPIC.

 

downloadIndigenous Lafkenche Community of Llaguepulli (Chile)The Lafkenche-Mapuche peoples of Llaguepulli were already working towards Indigenous autonomy and preservation of their heritage when they began to develop a microfinance institution with the help of Maple Microfinance. With a small school run by the community which teaches students their native Mapudungun language, as well as a history of successful self-managed development, starting their own community financial institution seemed like the next step for the Lafkenche-Mapuche peoples. The community received generous support from several funders, in addition to the funds received from First Peoples. Their KOEF funds will specifically support a stipend for two female community managers to work on the microfinance institution.

 

FamiliaAwUnidad Indigena de Pueblo Awa (Colombia) – The Awa Peoples of southwestern Colombia experience massive and systematic violations of their rights due to the presence of various armed groups in their katza su (territories). KOEF supported the Unidad Indigena de Pueblo Awa to organize a forum of leaders from various Awa reservations to exchange traditional seeds and discuss the history and mythology behind them. The leaders then began the process of planning and creating a self-sustaining Awa farm, which will infuse their traditional farming practices with contemporary permaculture techniques. The farm will serve as a model for other farms in Awa territories, and as a means of combating poor nutrition, environmental degradation, and cultural deprivation in Awa communities.

 

Chickee Completed! [Photo Credit: Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative]

Chickee Completed! [Photo Credit: Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative]

Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative (United States) The Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative (SSPI) is a community organization located in Oklahoma that strives to support the local Native peoples, which include the Seminole and Muscogee Creek tribes. KOEF provided funding for the SSPI to participate in the rebuilding of a Seminole chickee—a structure used for housing, cooking, and eating—that had been damaged by a lightning strike. The financial assistance provided by KOEP allowed for the transportation of traditional cypress and palm fronds that were used to rebuild the chickee in time for the 2nd Annual Corn Conference and the 40th anniversary celebration of the International Indian Treaty Council Conference (IITC).

 

Hui Malama I Na Kupuna o Hawai’I Nei (United States)The “Hui” is a Native Hawaiian organization working to identify and repatriate the remains of Native Hawaiian ancestors. The people are ‘Oiwi, which literally means “of the bone” and refers to one’s parents, their parents, and their parents, ad infinitum (ancestry). They believe in an interdependent relationship between themselves and their relatives, and the responsibility of care and protection between the living and deceased. The organization received a second grant to continue its work in identifying Hawaiian skeletal remains, specifically in the collections at Oxford University, Museum of Natural History in England. The organization waited four years for a determination from the University as to whether or not four skulls thought to be Native Hawaiian were indeed Native Hawaiian. Three of the skulls were determined to be Native Hawaiian and two of these were repatriated with funds awarded in the first KOE grant. One of the remaining two was found to be Native Hawaiian and one Egyptian. The second grant was used to repatriate the third skull. By returning the ancestors home for reburial, the Hui restored and strengthened the Native Hawaiian ancestral foundation.

 Stay tuned for more news from FPW in January 2015!

 

 

Oct03

What Is Important: Indigenous Youth Speak

Reposted from Cultural Survival

At this year’s UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Cultural Survival radio producers interviewed dozens of delegates about the issues pertaining to their communities and their work. The following are excerpts from three interviews with youth delegates.

wakinyan_right_is_thorne_by_tiana_lapointe(Photo by Tiana LaPointe, from Cultural Survival)

Thorne and Wakinyan LaPointe

Thorne (23) and Wakinyan LaPointe (24), Lakota brothers of Rosebud, South Dakota, are American Indian Movement (AIM) West delegates whose community development efforts aid youth “to further their goals in their communities and reflect their values as Native Peoples” by reconnecting them with the land. In their words, the brothers want to “develop and integrate relevant cultural aspects as well as build political, economic, and social bodies that will provide the influence and political power that Indigenous youth need.”

Thorne explained: “We want to remind young people that Indigenous People are strength-based. We show them the strengths that our people have had since time immemorial on these lands. We seek for our youth a transformative experience, the experience that our ancestors had before us…Too often our youth are too focused on the deficits that they say we have. They say that we’re the poorest of the poor; that’s all that our youth grow up and see. They internalize it. We want to teach them to grow our nations in a sustainable way.”

Wakinyan added, “One of our education programs with Indigenous youth in the Minnesota area is a long-term project called Mde Maka Ska; to the Dakota that translates to ‘White Earth Lake.’ It’s part of a body of water that they hold sacred. What we aim to do is simply help reconnect youth with the importance, the sacredness, of water and also the land. Often in the urban areas that these Dakota children live in, there’s a diminishment of that relationship to the land. So enhancing their experiences with the water through canoeing, through visiting with their elders near the water, or interacting with other Native youth from different tribes on land and sharing stories—learning and re-learning to visit again is the most sustainable way that we see in strengthening the values of the Dakota people.”

When youth go into nature with the LaPointe brothers, Wakinyan said, “they learn that the sort of values they picked up in an urban, artificial environment are not sustainable. They’re forced to re-evaluate what they do and who they are in relation to the natural world; what kind of choices they want to make that are sustainable to them and their families. They derive that sense of future from the interactions and relationships they’ve built with the land and its life forms.”

The brothers impart their traditional values, language, and stories as a way of strengthening the impact of this education. “We’ve found what really sticks with them is their language,” Wakinyan said. “When we take them out into a natural setting and use even just one word, you tell a story to that word, reconnecting youth with their origin. Their stories provide them with experiences to give a basis for their values as Indigenous people. We see the international human rights framework as a base to help support that continued learning for Native youth.” Thorne added, “Engaging them in the natural world and showing them how to fight politically, legally for their rights as well, that’s a very powerful thing.”

 

a445f666e41e36713487daf94a653225(Photo from Twitter)

Alexey Tsykarev

Alexey Tsykarev of the Russian Federation represented the Republic of Karelia. A member of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, his role is to maintain Indigenous youth voices. He also serves on the advisory body of the UN Human Rights Council and is leading studies on access to justice for the promotion and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, with a special focus on youth with disabilities and Indigenous women.

Tsykarev recently attended the World Conference on Youth and was impressed by the attendance: 1,500 participants representing every country in the world, including the UN President of the General Assembly; Special Envoy on Youth of the Secretary General; and the President of Sri Lanka. The main topic of the conference was the post-2015 development agenda; in Tsykarev’s words, “how youth, including Indigenous youth, can contribute to the preparation of sustainable development goals. I hope that Indigenous voices will be heard through this very important document.”

Tsykarev stressed the importance of language for youth development; he and his colleagues recently submitted a study on language and culture for the promotion and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. “For me, it’s a very important study,” he said. “Language and culture are very important for mentality, for self-identification as Indigenous persons. In my movement of Indigenous Peoples, we come to build language preservation and language development and we, as Indigenous communities, need support from the UN. In my republic, we have so few families in which parents transfer our Native language to children, from generation to generation. We have so few youth who can speak our language.”

Tsykarev said he has faced backlash for his efforts to incorporate Native language into school curriculums. “If we teach Native language to children, the government is concerned that these children cannot go to school and learn effectively because we have no education in Native language. They can learn Russian everywhere. But they should get also Native language, because this is very important for the development of a child. It’s good for their brain. In language exists a code for culture, for mentality.”

7398999006_3af404668c_z(Photo found on Flickr)

Ta’Kaiya Blaney

Ta’Kaiya Blaney (13) of the Sliammon Nation, British Columbia, traveled to the Permanent Forum with her own funds to advocate for Indigenous youth rights. There, she shared her aspiration to establish an Indigenous Children’s Fund in collaboration with the Permanent Forum.

Blaney’s passionate speech highlighted the challenges faced by Indigenous youth today: “Children under 18 account for 61 percent of the Indigenous population, the true majority and foundation of Indigenous societies. For centuries, our nations have sustained the familiar cycles of poverty and cultural extinguishment, as well as inadequate healthcare and education, infant mortality, drug abuse, language loss, distance from self-sustaining traditional practices, and suicide. Due to the continuation of historic exclusion, attacks on our cultures, and discrimination, Indigenous youth are subjected to colonization and the devastating after-effects of residential and boarding schools. Indigenous youth are a product of our communities, and so these negative factors become parts of our identity and discriminate against our human rights.”

Blaney proposes an Indigenous Children’s Fund specifically to address culture and language: “because when a language dies, the sense of community and belonging, especially in a youth perspective, dies along with it;” health: “because all Indigenous children are most likely to die under the age of five than live to be an adult in all regions of the world;” education: “in 2009, over 60 percent of Indigenous youth had not completed high school in Canada;” environment, poverty, and well-being: “isolated Indigenous Inuit youth communities alone commit the highest rates of suicide in the world;” and sport: “[this is] a fundamental human right integral to maintaining healthy human relationships [and] a way to help disputes between states.”

The children’s fund incorporates “all essential elements of a youth’s medicine wheel of healthy living: spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical activities.” As Blaney explained, “Our elders are dying before they can effectively pass down the culture. [And so] we recommend the creation and establishment of the Native Children’s Survival Indigenous Children’s Fund, which includes an elders, youth, and children advisory board to exchange wisdom, tradition, and opportunity between the generations. Indigenous Peoples are in a constant hidden war with governments, and children fall victim to such hidden wars.” Blaney hopes to fill a void where existing programs have failed, as she said, “to recognize the essential importance of re-establishing culture in the lives of Indigenous children so we may become successful.”

To read more about Ta’Kaiya Blaney’s activism, visit: goo.gl/KRLnDg.To listen to the full radio interviews and hear programming on Indigenous rights, visit: consent.cs.org.