Posts Tagged ‘Keepers of the Earth Fund’

May15

FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENT: Keepers of the Earth Fund Self-Governance and FPIC Initiative

[photo credit: Dzomo la Mupo]

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First Peoples Worldwide (First Peoples) is pleased to announce its new Self-Governance and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) initiative, a funding opportunity to create or strengthen existing dialogue between Indigenous communities and corporations with respect to Indigenous rights and resources. The colonial period left Indigenous communities deeply scarred; their land, culture, and rights were systematically stripped away by colonists looking to profit from the rich assets utilized by Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples have struggled in the modern world to have their rights and traditional cultures acknowledged by their respective governments, countries, and the world at large. Now, Indigenous Peoples are speaking up to stop this blatant disregard for their rights, and they are being heard.

In 2007, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration), which has since been ratified by 143 countries and sets a global standard for the treatment of Indigenous Peoples. This vital, though not legally binding, declaration is helping to secure Indigenous rights worldwide, and FPIC, which is part of the Declaration, acts as an informal guideline to bringing Indigenous communities closer to securing self-governance.

The primary purpose of the Self-Governance and FPIC initiative is to empower Indigenous communities to use their traditional knowledge and governance structures, decision-making processes, and alliances with other communities, to develop strategic approaches to working with corporations encroaching on their lands and ways of life. To further promote FPIC policy development, this initiative will strengthen Indigenous community organizing, capacity in policy formulation, and communication efforts with governing or corporate authorities.

Through its Keepers of the Earth small grants program and fund, First Peoples promotes Indigenous self-governance and capacity to exercise FPIC. Grant applications will be accepted on a monthly basis through October 31st, annually.

For guidelines and grant applications, please visit First Peoples website (www.firstpeoples.org/grants) or contact grants@firstpeoples.org.

To apply for the grant, please visit:
http://firstpeoples.org/grants/apply-for-a-grant

Apr02

“We Belong”: The Vancouver Native Health Society’s Story of Reconnection

By Katie Redmiles

Addiction, obesity, factory farming, added hormones, artificial flavoring, diabetes, and cancer: all negative effects of the way today’s society views and operates with food. Food has become something to be consumed fast and in large quantities, to satisfy an appetite rather than a hunger in many cases. Prices of food, with healthier options of organically grown produce on the expensive end and fast, unhealthy options such as McDonalds on the cheap side, cause many communities to suffer from major health issues. The East Vancouver area, with a high population of Indigenous people, is one such community whose high rates of poverty has led to high rates of food insecurity, with less accessibility to options beneficial to the body.

The Indigenous community residing in the East Vancouver area suffered greatly from being separated from their lands during colonization. These lands provided healthy food practices and allowed for Indigenous knowledge to be passed down through the generations.

What happens when a community is disconnected not only from its food but its traditional food systems? The disparity between a community and the nourishment it receives from its traditional foods is increased when their traditional way of obtaining, preparing, and connecting to the food has disappeared. After colonization occurred, a dominant European culture spread throughout the territories adding to the disappearance of Indigenous food systems. Today, the East Vancouver Aboriginal community experiences severe poverty with high rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other food related diseases.

The Vancouver Native Health Society is combating such adversities by helping East Vancouver’s Indigenous community to return to its traditional food systems, a process synonymous with its Indigenous values of healing the body and the self. The Aboriginal community in Vancouver, primarily comprised of Coast Salish territory with First Nation bands such as the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh, greatly values the healing power that exists from the sacredness of food, which provides energy and nourishment to the body and spiritual self.

Combining two great powers of nature – food and native lands, untouched by urbanization – VNHS’s Tu’wusht Garden/Kitchen Project has been working to lower the devastating number of serious diseases rampant in the community since 2005. The project teaches traditional healthy food practices while strengthening bonds between families, individuals, youth, elders, and adults across the First Nations East Vancouver community. The project uses the phrase “We Belong” on its emblem, reaffirming that the project will ultimately restore a sense of belonging for a community struggling to maintain its culture.

The Tu’wusht Garden/Kitchen Project includes harvesting food (fishing, hunting), cooking, and feeding up to 2,100 community members throughout the year. The project conducts weekly kitchens where healthy, culturally sensitive foods are prepared and served, and workshops are held for sharing the healthy practices and food knowledge derived from the Indigenous traditions.

The harvesting and hunting trips are supported by a grant from First Peoples Worldwide’s Keepers of the Earth Fund. In the 2013-2014 harvesting year, the project conducted two trips to adjoining Indigenous territories with about 30 community participants, and one hunting trip with eight participants. During these trips they harvested chum salmon in Cheam, Sockeye Salmon from the Musqueam territory, and tipi poles on the Bridge River First Nations Reservation, in British Columbia, Canada.

Harvesting Salmon

During the fall of 2013, VNHS led six community participants to Cheam, a valley in British Columbia located under a mountain known as “Cheam Peak”, or “Lhílheqey” in the indigenous language. In Cheam, they harvested 100 salmon and smoked half of their harvest during their stay. The other half was smoked during two sessions back at the University of British Columbia (UBC) farm, where the project’s activities are usually held. The process of catching and smoking the salmon are vital activities that demonstrate natural and healthy ways of procuring food as taught by the traditions of East Vancouver’s Aboriginal community.

Then, at the end of the harvesting year and beginning of summer, the project led another harvesting trip closer to home in the Musqueam territory where the UBC farm is located. There, 100 Sockeye Salmon were purchased, prepared, and served as the year went on.

The fish being prepared and smoked using Indigenous techniques. Courtesy of ubcfarm.ubc.ca.

The fish being prepared and smoked using Indigenous techniques. Courtesy of ubcfarm.ubc.ca.

 

Tipi Pole Harvesting

VNHS also led a third, and unexpected, harvesting trip to gather tipi poles on the Bridge River First Nations Reservation. The experience was especially rewarding because it gave a chance for children, youth, and elders to camp and immerse themselves in the rich land of the Bridge River First Nation band.

The campsite was surrounded by the beautiful natural landscape of the territory and the journey was led by two of the band’s elders through a nearby mountain, part of the Band’s ancestral lands. This experience allowed for exchanges between elders and youth, sharing in knowledge of the earth which surrounds them, deepening the connection to their culture that has been compromised because of colonization and urbanization. They came away from this trip with 10 new tipi poles to be used for the Tipi, a traditional tent, used for workshops, feasts, and other traditional activities – a safe space for community gatherings.

The festivities of preparing and sharing in the food harvested with the traditional tipi in the forefront. Courtesy of ubcfarm.ubc.ca.

The festivities of preparing and sharing in the food harvested with the traditional tipi in the forefront. Courtesy of ubcfarm.ubc.ca.


Harvest Feasts

The project also hosts two feasts each year commemorating the start and end of harvest. All of the Tu’wusht activities take place on the Musqueam territory. The Musquem tradition is also greatly rooted in the vision of “One Heart One Mind” which strives for the unification of a strong community based on the cultural values and ideas.

Each time the Tu’wusht project gathers on the land, they give thanks to the Musqueam people and ancestors for the honor of being on their beautiful land and use of natural resources. The recognition given to the Musqueam and to the Indigenous people participating in the activities is key to keeping the connection strong between the Indigenous community of East Vancouver and the land they were separated from.

Volunteers cut and prepare the fish to be cooked. Courtesy of lfs-indigenous.sites.olt.ubc.ca.

Volunteers cut and prepare the fish to be cooked. Courtesy of lfs-indigenous.sites.olt.ubc.ca.

The VNHS, through the Tu’wusht project, is now able to feed and teach the community healthily and in accordance with their traditional culture. Where it once saw the insurmountable health problems of increasing numbers of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, they now realize the knowledge and traditions of their own culture are the best solution. Prevention is always stressed as the best option to combat serious issues, and the Tu’wusht project has been working for a decade toward the goal of preventing the health adversities faced by so many in the community.

A major cornerstone of the VNHS’s mission is their use of the medicine wheel. The medicine wheel is a way of approaching healing of the body and mind by acknowledging a person is made up of a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self. The Tu’wusht project is remarkable in its ability to heal each component of the self represented on the medicine wheel. Through the healthy feeding of their community the physical self is healed. By learning and participating with the whole community as well as close loved ones, the emotional state of their people improves. By giving a sense of belonging and community, as well as hope for the state of their health, the peoples’ mental selves are comforted. When they take excursions to Indigenous territories, the spirit resonating in themselves is reacquainted with the spirituality that is present in the land. The VNHS uses the Tu’wusht project activities to help bring balance to individuals and to the community as a whole.

The emblem used for the project, courtesy of Tu’wusht Project twitter

The emblem used for the project, courtesy of Tu’wusht Project twitter

Sources:

VNHS grant application to the Keepers of the Earth Fund, 2013
VNHS grant report for Tu’wusht Garden/Kitchen project, 2014
VNHS grant application to the Keepers of the Earth Fund, 2014
http://www.musqueam.bc.ca/
http://www.vnhs.net/programs-services/tuwusht-project

Feb27

How We Make Progress, How We Have Change: Rebecca Adamson

Reposted from the Cultural Survival Quarterly

By Agnes Portalewska

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Her voice reflects her passion. Her work reflects her commitment. Her legacy is an inspiration for many. Rebecca Adamson (Cherokee) is a businessperson and Indigenous rights advocate. She is the former director, president, and founder of First Nations Development Institute and the founder of First Peoples Worldwide. Born to a Swedish-American father and a Cherokee mother, Adamson grew up in Akron, Ohio and spent summers with her Cherokee grandmother in North Carolina. Reflecting on these early years, she says, “My journey and my vision has been driven by knowing we could solve our own problems and really wanting to listen to the ways our cultures helped us and supported our problem solving.”

Early in her career Adamson was hired by the coalition of five Indian Controlled Schools in the country. As she tells it, “the schools sued [then-President] Nixon to release the Title IV Indian Education funds. Title IV provided funds for parental involvement, among other things.” With the release of that money, the Coalition of Indian Controlled Schools were able to help tribes start their own schools. “All of this dovetailed into the Indian Education Self Determination Act. After they won and then they hired me, and I got to work in our communities, and it was amazing.” She also worked to get the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 passed, giving tribes authority for how they administered the funds.

Adamson’s background was in philosophy, a field she entered with “an undying belief that as Indigenous Peoples, we needed our own models. People constantly look at our systems and they talk about them being quaint. We get pushed back on two things: one is that the principles that I call ‘fundamental design principles’ are called romantic notions in Western thinking. But then they get caught up thinking that we’re saying individual Indians are better than individual Westerners. Both of those are just wrong. We [have] built systems that actually incentivize the good behavior.”

Later, as she pursued a graduate degree in economics and “began really looking into the finances of it,” she says, “what really hit me was how all the models that we were taking out into our communities carried Western values—they weren’t our values. So I thought if we had a development process that really listened and brought the technical and the resources together with the brilliant thinking and problemsolving of Indigenous peoples, we would get new models.” This is how the idea for First Nations Development Institute was born in 1980.

Initially, the primary purpose of First Nations Development Institute was to create a development process for Native people to do their own problem solving. The Institute created the land consolidation model, the tribal investment model, marketing, arts, food sovereignty, traditional food processes, agriculture, and the first micro-loan fund in the United States. The first 15 years were devoted to exploring Indigenous economics domestically, and the Institute began global outreach in 1994. Their first international field project grew into First Peoples Worldwide.

Since 2007, First Peoples Worldwide’s Keepers of the Earth Fund has awarded nearly $1.5 million to Indigenous communities around the world representing 427 Indigenous groups in 53 countries. “Making that international transition has been extremely rewarding,” Adamson says. “It is magnitudes more difficult, more violent, and more discriminatory internationally, with what other Indigenous groups are facing. The grants are really what bring the energy and excitement and the heartbeat into our work.” She adds that the fund has supported projects that are “really struggling in dealing with huge global corporations and the pressure of being surrounded by the extractive industries and the governments that want the resources. In those cases we may be the only funder out there that is funding our communities to make their own decisions. One-third of our grantmaking portfolio had never had funding before. So we’re building those links back up to national and international groups so that we build that political machinery, bit by bit.”

For Adamson, getting corporations and governments to respect Indigenous rights requires a multipronged approach. “In the long run I think the activist groups keep the heat on. Social media has absolutely been bringing attention to it. If corporations want to manage by headlines, we’ve got to get them headlines. The activist groups are doing good work on that. Legal and rights groups are trying to get legal precedents set. What hasn’t really been approached in all this is the market. That’s why First Peoples Worldwide did the Indigenous Rights Risk Report (see page 14), to try to get one more strategic tool out there that we could all use. I think it really will bring more power and augment what we’ve already got underway,” she says.

Forward progress, however, isn’t always linear: “We don’t have a silver bullet anywhere. We could win a court case and the government decides not to uphold it. We could win an activist and media campaign, and as soon as the headlines die down they turn around and do it again. We make progress and then we slide back. [But] that is how we make progress and that is how we have change. “

After concluding its risk assessment of US-based extractive companies, First Peoples Worldwide is now turning its attention to Canada; Adamson estimates that about 70 percent of the global equity capital financing oil, gas, and mining comes from the Canadian exchange. “What we hope to do is bring the Indigenous groups in areas where we’re researching together with the other groups in the areas we’ve already researched. That’s the idea, to really start sharing this information among ourselves,” she says.

To aid in this information sharing, First Peoples Worldwide is currently developing curriculum on shareholder advocacy and planning to organize Indigenous shareholder advocacy leadership training centers in Indigenous areas where resource extraction is rampant. “We are organizing these centers so that our people in those places have the accountability they need to really negotiate and control their destinies with these corporations and with the government,” she explains.

Getting resources and information to the grassroots is a must for Adamson. “Real successes have been primarily [achieved] by us, by Indigenous people. We’ve got thousands of grassroots groups out there, and we need to be able to link them with the international and national groups. We have an ability to build the political machinery globally that we need to achieve change. We need more local capacity. Funders right now tend to build somebody else’s capacity, to study us, to work for us, to be an intermediary with us, but never fund us.” She cites the adoption of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as a prime example: “We saw hundreds of thousands of dollars going out to non-Indigenous groups to do FPIC studies. The Indigenous groups are the ones having to figure out how to implement it, and yet all of the resources went to other folks to study us in doing it.”

Adamson believes that Canada, at the epicenter of so many protests and recent controversies around FPIC and Indigenous rights, “is really the microcosm of all of this. What the First Nations have made [Prime Minister] Harper’s administration understand is they can stop his resource development agenda.” She also points to the Amazon region, which “has had the lowest bids on concessions in its history,” a cause she attributes directly to protests and work stoppages. “We can stop the production and the extraction of these resources and get heard, but it’s a path that could lead to violence, which in many cases has been a struggle for our lives,” she says.

As the First Peoples’ risk report illustrates, in-country risk is one of the biggest drivers of corporate risk. “Corporations want to go to where there’s the least risk, and if it’s working with us, we can be at the table directing the government to title our land, uphold our rights,” Adamson says. “We are finding out through the risk report that it’s good business when countries uphold Indigenous rights. My hope is that we can get the results into the market quicker; that we can prove that countries that want economic performance have to uphold our rights to get it, and companies that want profit have to uphold our rights to get the profit. We’ve got to get that message out more and more.”

Cultural Survival helps Indigenous Peoples around the world defend their lands, languages, and cultures as they deal with issues like the one you’ve just read about. To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.

Feb26

Indigenous Women as Development Practitioners: conducting equality-driven projects without sacrificing cultural significance

By Elizabeth Gunggoll

The encroachment of Western culture on Indigenous communities has posed a myriad of consequences for Indigenous peoples – Indigenous languages are increasingly endangered; western education is replacing traditional knowledge; youth are moving to urban areas in droves. What starts as marginalization of an entire community by the government or state can turn into a power struggle of the sexes. More often than not, Indigenous women find themselves losing the social status they traditionally held, to have it replaced by a role that gives them less influence in their household or community.

In this way, Indigenous women are marginalized twofold: one, as being Indigenous, along with the rest of their community, and two, as women. For example, non-Indigenous women across Africa lack rights to inheritance, property/livestock ownership, and land tenure. The same lack of rights for Indigenous women, paired with ethnic and political marginalization that all Indigenous peoples face, predisposes them further to situations of poverty, gender-based violence, a lack of education, and other disadvantages.

 

Ma’an – The Forum for Bedouin Women’s Organizations in the Negev

For the Negev Bedouin community in Israel, women have lost their traditional respected status and societal roles due to increased discrimination from the state, to the point where many Bedouin villages are considered “unrecognized”. This marginalization from the state gave rise to the marginalization of Bedouin women from their own community. Bedouin women face a multitude of gender-based challenges, including polygamy, domestic violence, child marriages, and a patriarchal family and community structure that has lasting consequences into adulthood. For Negev Bedouin women, their greatest limitation is a lack of both individual and community awareness of rights and entitlements. So the question is: what could be done to help Indigenous Bedouin women regain their autonomy, and restore their ability to trust others?

Ma’an – The Forum for Bedouin Women’s Organizations in the Negev works to provide spiritual, emotional, and physical healing for Bedouin women who are or have been subjected to domestic violence and/or sexual abuse. In a community where seeking help is often discouraged, trust is developed between those reaching out for help and those lending “first aid”, by offering sympathy as well as practical solutions to their struggles. The fact that most of the volunteers are Bedouin women with similar experiences offers a degree of comfort to those seeking help, because “they themselves [face] the traditional and patriarchal codes.” With the help of First Peoples Worldwide’s Keepers of the Earth Fund, Ma’an has created a comprehensive system for women’s protection, which involves a Hotline, the Ma’an legal team, and staff to address the welfare and wellbeing of Ma’an’s beneficiaries. Such an attentive project enables an environment where Indigenous Bedouin women can work toward their own security.

“With guidance and support the beneficiaries will develop to be able to effectively advocate for their rights within the community, so creating and contributing to an inclusive society by participating in decision making processes that impact upon their lives and that of the wider community.” – Ma’an– The Forum for Bedouin Women’s Organizations in the Negev

Ultimately, Ma’an’s goal is for Indigenous Bedouin women to regain the respect, strong social footing, and economic capabilities they once held alongside their male counterparts. By promoting women’s rights and status in the Negev Bedouin community, the project will build on the community’s traditional values and strengths of respecting women’s roles.

 

Kakenya Center for Excellence

While some Indigenous women’s groups are trying to return to their traditional gender roles, others are looking to transcend traditional values in order to broaden their horizons. As a young girl growing up in a Maasai village, life is usually predetermined according to cultural traditions, and girls are expected to halt their schooling at a young age to become wives and mothers. Young Maasai women might not consider more prosperous and enlightening opportunities, simply because they aren’t aware of them. This cycle of marginalization is reinforced from one generation to the next, as a combination of doubting teachers and tribal elders “dictating [their] present and future without considering [their] social, financial, or emotional well-being”. So, while young Indigenous girls are essentially dissuaded from continuing their education in order to assume the role of the childrearing homemaker, they lose the opportunity to gain important insight into their rights.

This is where the Kakenya Center for Excellence, another Keepers of the Earth Fund recipient, comes into play. Kakenya Ntaiya, born and raised in the Maasai village of Enoosaen in south Kenya, diverged from the traditional path of women in her village to attend higher education in the United States. After completing her studies, she returned to Enoosaen to create a school which works to “empower and motivate young girls to become agents of change in their community and country.”

[photo credit: Kakenya Center for Excellence]

[photo credit: Kakenya Center for Excellence]

“Girls are a valuable part of the community, and since the entire community is connected and thrives when each individual thrives, it is important to invest in girls as crucial members and contributors of society rather than only wives and mothers.” – The Kakenya Center for Excellence

The center works to reinforce the fact that women are independent, and therefore capable of carving their own path, however it does so without sacrificing traditional Maasai values. To do this, KCE provides an environment where the girls can thrive. The teaching of leadership skills and the spreading of knowledge in order to make informed decisions about reproductive health forms a curriculum that not only empowers, but also enlightens. In the Maasai village of Enoosaen, as in many rural villages of Kenya, Female Genital Mutilation is a rite of passage into adulthood that also traditionally prepares them for marriage – however the procedure is extremely painful and often inflicts lasting physical damage to young girls. Instructors in the center let the girls know that FGM is not an obligation while also maintaining the spirit behind the ritual, and the ushering into adulthood it represents, through their own graduation ceremony. All in all, the Kakenya Center for Excellence demonstrates that it is indeed possible to hold on to cultural values while still developing one’s community in a direction of gender-equality.

 

Highland Women’s Association

Indigenous women living in microregions of Guatemala are confronted with similar challenges. The Maya population, making up much of the country’s rural poor, suffered genocide from the Guatemalan government during their civil war. In 1992, four years before the end of the war, AMA, or the Highland Women’s Association (Asociación de Mujeres del Altiplano), started working with widows and orphans in the Quiche region, one of the most affected by the armed conflict. AMA’s goal was to help the most isolated and marginalized women living in the highlands of Guatemala through community organizing, educational instruction, utilization of economic resources and production, and partnership that allows for a life of dignity, while initiating sustainable developmental processes.

“The mission of AMA is to break cycles of dependency by providing accompaniment and support to grassroots community leaders to foster transformational processes with Indigenous women.” The transformational process, meaning lifting people out of poverty through social change and economic dependency, is facilitated through small organized women’s circles led by trained community organizers, often of Maya descent. Empowerment and leadership skills are developed through a curriculum organized around four focal areas: self-esteem and mental health programming, education, civic participation, and private enterprise.

Traditional Maya practices and values are not lost with the installation of these new programs.

“In our meetings, we try to harmonize the material aspects of our daily lives with our spiritual life through our Maya worldview taught to us by our grandparents.” Guadalupe Ramirez Blevins, Directora, Asociación de Mujeres del Altiplano

This is in part a large reason for their success as a system of development practitioners. The Indigenous Maya women are able to regain pride and empowerment in their traditional values, as opposed to distancing themselves from the culture that sparked a civil war wishing to extinguish their existence.

AMA’s success has helped to re-instill freedom of expression among Maya women as more respect is being given to Indigenous Maya communities since the end of the civil war. Three generations starting from AMA’s founder, Doña Carmen Romero, her daughter Alejandra, and now her granddaughters Jesica and Yolanda are able to vouch for the success and empowerment that AMA has brought to Indigenous Maya women. They say that community organization is required for community development, for having a voice and power in community decision making, and also in order to inspire other women to be active among their own group of women – whether they are serving in their local school, community committees, or being an active member in their church.

 

Pastoral Women’s Council

Safeguarding cultural values while escaping gender inequality continues to be an important factor in other community development projects as well. The Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC), based in Northern Tanzania, implements a variety of programs with this goal in mind. Not only does PWC work towards providing an education for Maasai girls, but it also lifts marginalized Maasai women out of poverty through exposure to property ownership and opportunities for income generation, while preserving an ancient Maasai practice of livestock herding.

[photo credit: Pastoral Women's Council]

[photo credit: Pastoral Women’s Council]

Aside from working with the Maa Council of Elders to lift the ban on women as livestock owners, exposure to women in leadership has had a great effect on the women of the Maasai community. Additionally, women are encouraged to openly discuss the positive and negative aspects of Maasai culture, to act on their findings, and to mobilize local efforts and resources. These factors, on top of increased awareness of their individual rights, caused Maasai women to finally feel empowered. The encouragement of such expression lets the Maasai women know they have a voice worth hearing, and everyone is capable of being an agent of change.

Since becoming a Keepers of the Earth Fund grantee, PWC has been able to undertake community meetings and gain community support, acquire and vaccinate livestock for Maasai women to breed, therefore facilitating economic independence, and train women on the diagnosis and treatment of livestock diseases.

 

All women, Indigenous or not, feel the effects of gender inequality on a daily basis. However, for women of Indigenous communities, the effects are often compounded by the unique marginalization of their Indigenous identity. As Western culture inevitably continues to influence more Indigenous nations, it is important to bring attention to and promote Indigenous values that value Indigenous women. Feelings of empowerment grow and thrive in programs where Indigenous women are sharing education and leadership with other women from their own communities, empowering them to be autonomous, independent members of society. There is still quite a bit of work to be done, yet more and more Indigenous women are living the lives of development practitioners, and being agents of change within their communities. As it becomes more evident that the entire community thrives when each individual is empowered, the reality of gender equality within Indigenous cultures comes more clearly into view.

 

Sources

Feb05

Building the Spirit Wheel: FPW’s Values-Based Evaluation Tool for Indigenous Grant Making

spiritwheelfinaltitle

By Katie Cheney

Indigenous Peoples’ lives and livelihoods are comprised of their spirituality, however formed or manifested. It is important to recognize that all of Indigenous life is based in spirituality, and that spirituality is demonstrated through the value system of each unique community. That value system is inextricably connected to all that we think about and do – from traditions and ceremonies, to hunting or fishing practices, to strategic planning activities and entrepreneurship, and for First Peoples Worldwide: grant making.

In December 2014, our Keepers of the Earth Fund (KOEF) completed its 8th year of grant making to Indigenous communities around the globe. Distributed grants total nearly $2 million USD, supporting Indigenous communities in over 60 countries. The KOEF has supported cultural youth camps, legal registration, mapping of ancestral lands, community celebrations, farming and agricultural projects, and even more projects in other areas. How does our value system align with the projects we support?

One of the most integral pieces of our work at First Peoples Worldwide centers on the Spirit Wheel, a conceptual tool that guides us in evaluating grant applications from Indigenous communities based on an Indigenous values system and spirituality.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.43.40 AM

At the heart of the Spirit Wheel is Spirituality, from which we gain our sense of vision, self, and our meaning within the community and the larger universe. Grant making cannot be accomplished effectively in our communities without including spirituality.

For Indigenous people, spirituality is a sense of inter-connectedness, in itself a basic value system, that includes a return to, or rebirth of, traditional values and beliefs.

spiritwheelcircles2

Moving from the center outward, the circles represent the individual, community, nation and world.

spiritwheelquadrants2

The four axes provide a guide for the rest of the wheel, designating values to four areas: Values, Personal Efficacy, Kinship, and Control of Assets.

Values: For Indigenous people, values are the ideas and beliefs interwoven throughout projects that, together, form a foundation of spirituality. Values include reciprocity, respect, responsibility, caring for one another, honoring, and the interconnectedness and interdependence of all life.

Control of Assets: This element refers to the ability of the community to control the decision-making around their assets in order to create wealth, whether cultural or financial.

Personal Efficacy: To have a strong community and economy you must have people or human capital with a strong sense of confidence in their own ability. Indicators of improvements in personal efficacy at the individual level include self-esteem, ability to problem solve, positive outlook and increased knowledge and skills.

Kinship: In traditional Indigenous systems, assets and wealth were distributed through their kinship network. Kinship is the basis for circulation of goods and services and the method by which generations share their culture and values. Kinship indicators can be measured through tracking subsistence activities involving barter and trade, and through evolving hunting, gathering, fishing and other resource usage codes that reflect traditional kinship systems for distribution to the community.

spiritwheelvectors

In addition to the four main axes, each vector within the four quadrants measures specific conditions within the project and community.

Trade/Exchange: captures changes in the economic relationship between the community and others by measuring both the direct and indirect impact from economic activities.

Income: refers to improvements in the financial wellbeing of the community. Changes in financial wellbeing can be measured at the individual, organizational, or community level.

Productivity Skills: refers to changes in employment, skills and knowledge in the community. It is related to building human capital and measures the number of jobs created, number of training workshops held, number of individuals trained, etc.

Vibrant Initiative: This refers to the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit within the community, and is related to leadership and innovative use of resources.

Responsibility and Consequences: This element relates to strengthened integrity and accountability within the community. Specific indicators include the number and type of new organizations and entities established, financial stability, staff and leadership stability, ability to leverage resources, and increased community inclusion in decision-making processes.

Health and Safety: This element refers to a sense of security and wellbeing within the community. Defined broadly, indicators include an improvement in health status, a decrease in the crime rate, and an increase in the availability of food resources.

Political and Civic Participation: This refers to the degree to which the community engages in the political and civic life both within and outside the community.

Social Respect: Social respect is closely related to political and civic participation, but refers to the type of networks and collaborative partnerships formed between the community and others. Specific indicators include the number of collaborative partners, the number of new partnerships and networks formed and the quality and diversity of networks.

Cultural Integrity: This element captures the maintenance and strengthening of traditional knowledge and cultural practices, such as the degree to which indigenous knowledge is protected and promoted, the maintenance of language, and the continuation of traditional practices.

Choices and Vision: This element refers to the expansion of opportunities in the community and engagement in long-term strategic visioning.

Hope/Future Orientation: Closely related to choices and vision, this element captures the level of community investment in its future and its people. Specific indicators include the number of youth and elder participants in projects or the number of young adults who stay in the community.

Environmental Balance: This refers to the environmental or ecological impact of economic activities, and the degree to which a balance is maintained between ecological and economic outcomes.

spiritwheelfinaltitle

The Spirit Wheel’s 16 vectors represent the evaluation questions our reviewers apply to each project. Although these questions are not exhaustive of all the aspects of a project, they are the primary questions that allow First Peoples Worldwide to measure spirituality as it exists in a holistic development process.

Finally, we are able to “map” a project’s growth in each vector over time by plotting baseline data gathered at the beginning of a project, and applying new data when we receive interim or final reports. This way, we are able to measure the true impacts on a community’s development, as a result of our funding and technical assistance.

 © First Peoples Worldwide, 2015. When referencing this material, please credit First Peoples Worldwide.

Jan22

Grantee Highlight: The Genesis of a Values-Based Mapuche Banking Alternative

The Llaguepulli Mapuche community of Chile teams up with Oregon-based MAPLE Microdevelopment to create the first ever community-managed Mapuche financial institution

Budi’s colors, no photoshop! Textiles made by Nadia as a gift for new donors. [photo credit: MAPLE Microdevelopment]

Budi’s colors, no photoshop! Textiles made by Nadia as a gift for new donors. [photo credit: MAPLE Microdevelopment]

By Katie Cheney

The Indigenous Llaguepulli Mapuche community’s story of resilience is similar to many Indigenous peoples’ stories from around the world – for 300 years the Mapuche fought Spanish, Chilean, and Argentinian forces, struggling to retain their lands and cultures from colonizers. In the past half-century, the Llaguepulli Mapuche have experienced the brunt of globalization and climate change, facing loss of their livelihoods as their eco-system is damaged, loss of culture as urban centers grow, and loss of their ancestral lands to national governments or corporate entities. Despite, also like many Indigenous communities across the globe, the Llaguepulli Mapuche have an incredible story of retaining and protecting their most threatened assets.

Lake Budi [photo credit: Lewfu Budi Llaguepulli]

Lake Budi [photo credit: Lewfu Budi Llaguepulli]

Recognized as a tribal organization under Chilean law 19253, the Mapuche community of Llaguepulli resides in the ancestral Mapuche territories of Lake Budi in south-central Chile. 12,000 Indigenous Mapuche peoples live on these ancestral territories, co-existing with and preserving the salty lake’s diverse and productive eco-systems through traditional livelihood practices, including artisanal fishing, small-scale agriculture and textile production. Over the centuries, the Mapuche have preserved their ecological traditional knowledge, language, ceremonies, and a strong sense of ecological stewardship in the Lake Budi basin, now designated as an Area of Indigenous Development and Conservation Priority Zone.

Yet, in the past 50 years, Mapuche territories have suffered massive losses of native forests to logging and tree plantations, contributing to the degradation of waters, wetlands, and biodiversity in the region. Indeed, the area’s wetlands house dozens of endemic and migratory species that are at risk of extinction. As the wetlands also house Indigenous livelihoods, the Llaguepulli Mapuche peoples’ food security, traditional ecological knowledge, and herbal medicine have become increasingly threatened, a situation further compounded by rising rates of poverty in the in recent years.

The families and leaders of the Llaguepulli Mapuche community began addressing these challenges by organizing into the Llaguepulli Mapuche Tribal Organization, consisting of 80 families in the Lake Budi region that work collectively for Mapuche self-sufficiency, through entrepreneurship, self-management, and education.

[photo credit: Chile.Travel]

[photo credit: Chile.Travel]

“Here in the community we had no job opportunities, which caused our youth to go to the city in search for different paths for their lives,” said a local Mapuche project manager. “So the question is how, from now, can we as youth here in the community become involved, and how the children, when they grow, will have the capacity to help their community and do something good.”

The answer: a cultural eco-tourism initiative, which over the last 12 years has developed into a network of 20 family businesses managed through community self-governance and based on Mapuche traditional knowledge. One such business is a textile production started by Mapuche women, that now not only generates revenues but also creates a space for cultural transmission of textile knowledge to community youth. Compelled by this network, it is common for Llaguepulli Mapuche households to dedicate one or two hours per day to community initiatives.

[photo credit: Lewfu Budi Llaguepulli]

[photo credit: Lewfu Budi Llaguepulli]

By combining ceremonies and storytelling with modern technologies, the community is educating Mapuche youth today on their Indigenous traditions and values. The community has also started the first Mapuche-managed School in Chile where students can learn the Mapudungun language, Mapuche history, and artisanal skills, along with Western education.

With this strong sense of community as a foundation, the Llaguepulli Mapuche community began to realize their lack of access to adequate financial services. While the community did have access to financial institutions, they did not fit Mapuche priorities or values, ultimately hindering the community in improving their entrepreneurial endeavors. In 2011, Mapuche leaders met with a MAPLE Microdevelopment consultant and expressed a need for a self-managed financial institution in which the community could save, make financial decisions, and invest collectively.

MAPLE Microdevelopment, founded in 2008, is based in Eugene, Oregon. MAPLE is a global organization with presence in Uganda, Chile and Oregon, specializing in creating and consolidating self-sustainable and self-managed financial institutions from within marginalized communities. MAPLE develops intercultural teams that serve community partners in using multidimensional “microdevelopment” methodologies that stem from interaction and mutual learning. MAPLE’s experience in supporting community-led strategies among refugees in Uganda poised them as a viable partner for the Llaguepulli Mapuche community, which invited MAPLE to join them in building Indigenous financial autonomy and socio-environmental resilience through an innovative, value-based Mapuche banking alternative.

MAPLE Microdevelopment along with the Mapuche Community in Budi are developing a mechanism for financial access under the control of the Mapuche community. As part of the initial stage of this project, MAPLE and Mapuche Community members will conduct a collaborative study which will enable us to identify the Community’s needs and strengths to adopt a self-managed model of financial access and services for its members.”

– Emilio Painefíl Calfuqueo, representing the Llaguepulli Community, and Mauricio Painefil Calfuqueo, representing the Mapuche Tourism Committee

[photo credit: MAPLE Microdevelopment]

[photo credit: MAPLE Microdevelopment]

In April 2013, MAPLE and the Llaguepulli Mapuche community began a comprehensive needs assessment, including community dialogues and training activities, to create the necessary assets and capacities in developing the financial institution. Over the next 6 months, supported by a $2,400 grant from First Peoples Worldwide’s Keepers of the Earth Fund, The MAPLE Llaguepulli Mapuche team set out to produce an innovative and grounded financial institution model that incorporated community values, practices and priorities in its governance mechanisms and benchmarks; a model that enabled community members to self-sustainably build assets and sustain livelihoods on their own terms.

The MAPLE team, including two Llaguepulli Mapuche community managers, set out to accomplish three tasks: conduct community-based research through reciprocal learning and capacity-building; build community consensus by working within community traditions of dialogue and feedback; and create an innovative design for a community-managed financial services institution. Working closely with 60 Llaguepulli households, local organizations, and leaders from surrounding communities, the needs assessment process engaged community members of all ages and livelihoods, further prepared and empowered the MAPLE community managers to take on future development of the financial institution, and identified ways to enhance traditional trust-based exchanges of monetary and non-monetary assets between families through the new institution.

One unanticipated outcome of the needs assessment was the formation of the Elder’s Advisory Council by decision of the lof, or the basic social organization of the Mapuche. Also a surprise, the assessment illuminated a key group of beneficiaries: Llaguepulli Mapuche women entrepreneurs. From all ages, these women are leading sustainable businesses based on their Mapuche heritage, such as ethno-ecotourism and textile production. It is not uncommon for the Mapuche women to be major financial decision-makers in the home, and so in the emerging Mapuche new economies.

[photo credit: MAPLE Microdevelopment]

[photo credit: MAPLE Microdevelopment]

After completing the assessment, MAPLE and the Llaguepulli Mapuche community were ready to pioneer the first ever tool for Mapuche community finances. With a second grant from the Keepers of the Earth Fund, the Team continued community dialogues, took on two more community practitioners, and in May 2014, the Lafkenche Mutual Support Group (LMSP) was launched.

In forming the LMSP, each of the 25 founding members made deposits in either currency or local produce and services. This collective deposit served as an initial mechanism of inclusiveness, built upon traditional Mapuche practices. One of the first orders of business for the LMSP was to agree on by-laws that established Indigenous autonomy and self-regulation of the organization. These were based on az-Mapu, or Mapuche cultural norms, and were to be safeguarded by Llaguepulli’s Longko (leader or headman) and other leaders gathered in the Group’s Resolution Council.

Within a month after the LMSP launched, they made their first loan; by November 2014, the LMSP had inaugurated a fully operating office where the Group can provide regular mutual support services to community members. One of the biggest challenges facing the MAPLE team is safeguarding the strengths of the institution, making it a sustainable venture for the community. Toward this goal, the LMSP organized a trafkintun in September, a traditional practice of gift-exchange within the Mapuche community. Over 150 people attended the trafkintun, not only sharing local products but ideas and forward-thinking discussions about strengthening Mapuche economies.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 8.09.18 AM

In the Lake Budi region, the Llaguepulli Mutual Support Group is now becoming part of every day life – evolving to evermore reflect the essence of Mapuche values as it becomes part of the Lof.

“Our ancestors were able to overcome a myriad of challenges, including the usurpation of their lands by the State. And what did they do? They left us a democratic form to make the best decisions: the ‘futake trawun.’ Now we are replicating this system of political participation that our ancestors designed for us, and which continues to live in the ‘Lof’ (communities), in order to craft a project of social, political and cultural development from within the Mapuche context, so as to also leave for the future generations the ways in which we should create strategies and design methods of projection and development of what we want for our People, our culture.” – Mapuche Longko (headman)

 

Sources:

  • MAPLE Microdevelopment grant application to the Keepers of the Earth Fund, 2013
  • MAPLE Update from Lake Budi Mapuche Territory, Chile 2013
  • MAPLE Microdevelopment and Lllaguepulli Community Grantee Report, 2014
  • MAPLE Microdevelopment Chile Field Update – November 2014
  • Llaguepulli Mapuche Community grant application to the Keepers of the Earth Fund, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Dec17

World Bank Makes Killing Indigenous Peoples More Profitable

The World Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework draft neglects Indigenous rights

Washington, D.C. – Not only does the World Bank’s new Environment and Social Framework (ESF) draft incentivize governments to ignore Indigenous peoples, it strategically neglects Indigenous and human rights of Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) and protection from forced evictions. Despite the Bank’s repeated “alignment” with international human rights laws and standards, the new ESF draft prioritizes rapid loan approval for borrower countries over protection of human rights, by allowing countries to “opt-out” of FPIC requirements if they do not recognize Indigenous peoples within their border. The neglect of Indigenous rights in the new ESF draft sends a clear and false message that protecting Indigenous peoples, let alone basic human rights, should drive up the cost of lending.

A set of environmental and social safeguards designed to support borrower countries’ Bank-funded projects, the Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) draft was released for consultation on July 30, 2014. A concerned letter from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHCR) accuses the World Bank of continually prioritizing rapid approval of loans over the enforcement of safeguards, likely due to increased competition from other lenders to secure the “business” of developing country borrowers. However, incentivizing governments to adopt poor engagement practices with Indigenous peoples is counter-intuitive: countries that have negligible or non-existent policies toward Indigenous peoples are found to pose a much higher business risk than those that do have Indigenous policies, according to a recent study by First Peoples Worldwide. The Bank is cultivating a more hostile environment, both for Indigenous communities and business, with this safeguard draft.

While the ESF draft does require borrower countries to obtain Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) from Indigenous communities, it allows countries to define who Indigenous peoples are to begin with. Countries where “the existence or notion of Indigenous peoples is contested” can choose to opt-out of the ESF’s FPIC requirements – essentially incentivizing governments with fewer standards to comply with if they choose to not recognize Indigenous peoples within their borders. If countries decide to opt-out, the piecemeal treatment of rights throughout the document fails to protect Indigenous rights under any other safeguard clause. Even if countries do comply with the FPIC requirement, the processes for acquiring FPIC outlined in the ESF draft don’t comply with international standards, and don’t require requesting parties to have meaningful consultations with or participation of affected Indigenous peoples.

The Bank also backpedaled on their land acquisition, restrictions on land use, and involuntary resettlement standards, particularly concerning for Indigenous peoples. While an existing standard (ESS5) states that involuntary resettlement should be avoided, the new ESF draft fails to prohibit projects that will cause forced evictions, and fails to recognize that forced evictions violate international human rights law. There is also no reference to the need for prior notice before resettlement, security of tenure, access to public services and facilities, and most alarmingly, no prohibition on use of bank funds for land grabbing and the consequent displacement of people.

Photo Credit: The Guardian

Photo Credit: The Guardian

Moreover, the recent evictions of Sengwer peoples in Kenya due to a Bank-funded project demonstrate the Bank’s regard for Indigenous lives – that they have none. When a Bank-financed watershed conservation project in the Embobut Forest of Kenya resulted in forced evictions, the Sengwer community challenged the project through litigation in Kenyan courts and filed a complaint with the World Bank. “As the World Bank started to defy their own safeguards, the Sengwer started looking for ways to end the negative impacts the project was having on their community,” says Rebecca Adamson, president and founder of First Peoples Worldwide. “We’re all familiar with a race to the bottom in the business world, but now we are seeing it in the international aid world too.” The Sengwer Indigenous Peoples Programme is a grantee of First Peoples Worldwide’s Keepers of the Earth Fund.

The ESF draft egregiously avoids significant mentions of human rights or international human rights law throughout most of the document. Although the Bank has aligned itself and its operations in support of human rights through its Articles of Agreement, the ESF fails to stipulate how. While the draft includes a new standard on Indigenous peoples rights, they are built into the document incrementally. The ESF draft does not include a comprehensive safeguard that addresses all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights collectively, as in other international human rights laws and standards. Furthermore, the human rights norms expressed in the ESF draft fail to reflect any existing human rights laws and standards, which may muddle implementation and enforcement. The UNHRC calls for the World Bank to include human rights within its overall program objectives, and incorporate due diligence into its risk management policies.

Read the UN Human Rights Council’s letter of concern here.

Nov25

Grantee Highlight: Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative

By Katie Cheney

Setting up the conference site [Photo Credit: Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative]

Setting up the conference site [Photo Credit: Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative]

At this year’s 40th Anniversary International Indian Treaty Conference, conference attendees had the privilege of meeting, sharing meals, and discussing challenges facing Indigenous peoples in a traditional Seminole Chickee, built by the Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative (SSPI). With just a $5,000 grant from First Peoples Worldwide’s Keepers of the Earth Fund, the SSPI was able to rebuild a dilapidated Chickee that not only served as a meeting place for this conference, but shared Seminole traditions with visitors, inspired people to continue working to protect Indigenous values in their own communities, and created the potential for future gatherings in the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma.

The International Indian Treaty Council’s 40th Anniversary Conference was held on September 10-12, 2014 in the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma, at the home of the late Phillip Deere, one of IITC’s co-founders, in a traditional Creek “Roundhouse”. Initially, SSPI set out to restore the Seminole Chickee that had been built next to the Roundhouse twenty years ago. However, after inspecting the structure, the SSPI decided that it needed to be rebuilt.

Building the Chickee [Photo Credit: Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative]

Building the Chickee [Photo Credit: Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative]

Weather and access to needed materials delayed the Chickee construction, to a point where SSPI was still working on the structure as participants arrived for the conference. What started as a mere construction project became a cultural demonstration – participants were able to observe how the Chickee was built. Situated between the Roundhouse and the kitchen, participants interacted with the construction of the Chickee, sparking conversations about traditional structures from their own Indigenous communities and how they compared to Seminole traditions.

The Chickee used palm fronds from Florida, and represented Seminole traditional housing alongside the Roundhouse of the Southeastern Peoples. Of the Chickee construction, SSPI said:

“By educating our youth with hands on experience in building the Seminole Chickee, our traditions and our way of live as Seminole people will be carried on to future generations. The chickee also demonstrated a tangible bond between the Seminoles of Florida and the Seminoles of Oklahoma. Chickees of this kind are still common in Florida, but less so in Oklahoma – having this one in Oklahoma will hopefully inspire more of our traditional structures to be built in Oklahoma.”

For the SSPI, building traditional Chickees is just one way that they maintain their traditional culture – they also retain culture uniqueness through their tribal language, clan kinships, traditional foods and clothing, and storytelling of Seminole history. SSPI was able to leave behind a structure that will be used for future events at the Phillip Deere Roundhouse – the Deere family plans to continue to make the space available for future gatherings of traditional meetings. The project has also motivated the Initiative to apply for 501c3 status, so that they can seek more funding and build a foundation for a strong community center and Seminole organization.

“The IITC conference brought many participants from all over the Western Hemisphere to Oklahoma, it was an honor to have the Chickee there for all the conference participants to see. The Chickee is a reminder to all of the way of life of our ancestors as well as the traditions of the Seminole People.” – The Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative

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

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

Nov10

PRESS RELEASE: The Indigenous Rights Risk Report

PRESS RELEASE
November 10, 2014
Contact: Katie Cheney, communications@firstpeoples.org
www.firstpeoples.org

 

The Indigenous Rights Risk Report: How Violating Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Increases Industry Risks

New report finds that US extractive companies expose shareholders to risks by neglecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – On November 10, First Peoples Worldwide released the Indigenous Rights Risk Report at the SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing, a product of two years of consultations with investment analysts, industry professionals, and Indigenous Peoples. The report analyzes 52 U.S. oil, gas, and mining companies with projects operating on or near Indigenous territories around the globe, impacting some 150 Indigenous communities. These projects were assessed against five indicators (Country Risk, Reputation Risk, Community Risk, Legal Risk, and Risk Management) to determine their risk of Indigenous community opposition or violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The report found that most of the U.S. extractive companies analyzed are poorly positioned to manage the risks they face when working on Indigenous lands. Furthermore, the Report shows that poor governance and negligible policies for Indigenous peoples in host countries is bad for business. Nearly 60% of all projects operating in high-risk countries were rated as high risks themselves. You can read the full report athttp://firstpeoples.org/indigenous-rights-risk-report.

When analyzing risks associated with the operating country, companies’ reputation, the engaged Indigenous community, legal action, and risk management, the report found that 35% of the 330 projects assessed had high risk exposure, and 54% had medium risk exposure. Despite these risks, the vast majority of companies and projects are exhibiting suboptimal efforts to establish positive relations with Indigenous communities, and 92% of the companies assessed do not address community relations or human rights at their board level in any formal capacity. Companies with high risk scores at 100% of their projects on or near Indigenous territories were Alpha Natural Resources, Kosmos Energy, Southwestern Energy, and Whiting Petroleum. Other companies with high risk scores at 50% or more of their projects on or near Indigenous territories were Anadarko Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, Continental Resources, Murphy Oil, Royal Gold, SM Energy, Southern Copper, and WPX Energy. A searchable database of the 330 oil, gas, and mining projects assessed under the new methodology is available on First Peoples’ website athttp://firstpeoples.org/wp/.

FPW also analyzed risks associated with Indigenous recognition by host governments, land rights, and community consultation, demonstrating how resource-rich countries’ negligible or non-existent policies towards Indigenous peoples affect the companies that work within their borders. This is becoming increasingly evident in Canada, Indonesia, Ecuador, Peru, and other emerging resource economies. In 2013, a consortium of Canadian leaders (including industry representatives) warned that Canada is “heading for a gridlock in energy development that will rob the country of future wealth unless it can solve vexing environmental and Aboriginal conflicts.” Indonesia has become saturated with violent resource conflicts, with more than 2,230 Indigenous communities requesting investigations into violations of their land rights. Also in 2013, auctions for oil and gas concessions in Ecuador and Peru encountered both vehement opposition from Indigenous Peoples and “underwhelming” interest from companies – raising speculations that the Indigenous protests influenced companies’ decisions. Poor governance is bad for business – governments that disregard Indigenous rights are propagating volatile business environments that threaten the viability of investments in their countries.

Not only are Indigenous voices becoming louder, the media spotlight on Indigenous Peoples and resource extraction is shining brighter: 126 projects were exposed to negative attention from the media in 2014. Legal risks are also becoming more prominent, as legal protections for Indigenous Peoples’ rights around the world continue to strengthen. Indigenous community opposition is an especially perilous investment risk because Indigenous Peoples have the international legal framework for Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) – the right for a community to give or withhold consent to projects that may affect their lands. Over the past several decades, Indigenous Peoples have secured unprecedented recognition of their rights from governments, but these impressive legal gains are matched with chronic gaps in implementation, especially as they relate to resource extraction. Using market forces to financially incentivize business practices that respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights – including the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent – presents opportunities for communities to exert powerful leverage over corporations operating on or near their lands.

First Peoples Worldwide is an Indigenous-led organization that builds upon a foundation of Indigenous values and rights to achieve a sustainable future for all. Our Keepers of the Earth Fund provides grants directly to Indigenous-led development projects. Since 2007, we’ve given $1.7 million in grants to hundreds of Indigenous communities across 58 countries. Our corporate engagement program makes the business case for respecting and upholding Indigenous Peoples’ rights through vigilant monitoring of corporate practices, affecting policy change, and advocating best practices in Indigenous community engagement.

View the full report online at http://firstpeoples.org/indigenous-rights-risk-report.

Contact Katie Cheney at First Peoples Worldwide for media inquiries at (713) 560-6378 orcommunications@firstpeoples.org

Learn more about First Peoples Worldwide at www.firstpeoples.org.

 

IR3 FB Cover

Oct06

FPW Funds Conference in Defense of Native Food Sovereignty

In June 2013, First Peoples Worldwide (FPW), through its Keepers of the Earth Fund, funded a gathering of more than a hundred participants from Canada and the U.S. at the “An Indigenous Peoples’ International Gathering to Honor, Protect, and Defend the Salmon,” conference in Northern California. Over 10 tribal communities discussed all the factors that threaten the health of fish populations, habitats, and spawning areas – including decreased water levels, temperature changes, snowmelt, dam construction, gold mining, fossil fuel extraction, and potentially the FDA’s tentative approval of genetically engineered salmon.

In the conference leader’s words:

“The cycles of our lives and the countless generations of our Peoples are merged with the life cycles of the Salmon. Salmon is our traditional food but also defines who we are. Our spiritual and cultural existence and the survival of our future generations are based on the survival of the Salmon and the exercise of our sacred responsibilities to protect the rivers, oceans, watersheds, and eco-systems where they live. The health of the salmon is one with the spiritual, cultural, and physical health of our Peoples.”

The Indigenous Youth Foundation, the International Indian Treaty Council, and the Yurok Tribe Wellness Court hosted the conference, where people from the Karuk, Hupa, Tolowa, Wintu, Northwest Indian Fisheries Tribes, Chickaloon Alaska, Pit River, Warm Springs, Pomo, and British Columbia coastal tribes were in attendance.

As Simon Senogles, Ojibwe, Food Sovereignty Safety & Health Organizer at the Indigenous Environmental Network says, “This is not just an indigenous issue. It’s about our relationship to the land and water and each other.”

Source: International Indian Treaty Council

Source: International Indian Treaty Council

 This post includes excerpts from an article published October 3, 2014 on Mint Press News. To read more about threats to Native food sovereignty in North America and FPW’s grant to support the conference, read the original article by Christine Graef here. To learn more about FPW’s grants globally, click here.