Since the beginning of the 20th century, Indigenous peoples worldwide have been fighting for their rights to be recognized and respected. The restless work of Indigenous-led organizations has been remarkable.
Many of these groups empower Indigenous communities to speak up and push forward their agenda, but they have also raised awareness of the enormous contributions that Indigenous communities have made to the world in all aspects of life.
When it comes to food, traditional medicine, language, and art, the work of Indigenous-led organizations is necessary to know and support.
In the face of climate change and food insecurity, Indigenous Peoples all over the world are reviving their food systems and traditional agricultural practices. This has proven vital especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed the vulnerability of global food chains.
The Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance (NAFSA) brings together Indigenous farmers, wild-crafters, fishers, hunters, ranchers, and eaters in the fight to restore Indigenous food systems and self-determination.
2. Land is Life
Up to 2.5 billion people worldwide depend on Indigenous and community lands to survive. These lands collectively cover more than 50% of the world’s surface, yet Indigenous peoples legally own only one-fifth.
Land is Life was founded in June of 1992 in Brazil during the United Nations Earth Summit. Since then, the organization has worked in partnership with Indigenous communities all over the world to advance their rights both and the national and international level.
The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) was founded in the US in 1990 to address economic justice and environmental issues. Their mission is to “protect the sacredness of Earth Mother from contamination and exploitation by respecting and adhering to indigenous knowledge and natural law.”
In 2019, a UN-backed report noted that nature on Indigenous peoples’ lands is degrading slower than in other areas. The special relationship that Indigenous communities have with their surroundings and the way they have been managing the environment for centuries can teach us a great deal about conservation.
4. Jaqi Aru
In 2019, the United Nations calculated that - despite making up less than 6% of the global population - Indigenous Peoples speak more than 4,000 languages. Yet, it's estimated that one Indigenous language dies every two weeks, leading to a tremendous loss in cultural and linguistic diversity.
Jaqi Aru is a community of bilingual and trilingual Aymara youth located in El Alto, Bolivia, that has been carrying out work related to the promotion of the Aymara language, especially on the internet. Some of their projects include Use of Social Media in Aymara and Aymara Cyberactivism.
The line between inspiration and cultural appropriation in fashion is often blurred. Indigenous peoples have long witnessed their traditional clothing and prints being used, then reproduced without credit.
First Nations Fashion Design is an Australian independent initiative created to ensure the preservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture through fashion. Their Fashion School equips Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the skills they need to grow a self-sustaining fashion ecosystem.
Indigenous art is a form of self-expression and an effective vehicle for the transmission of culture. In their efforts to preserve and pass on Indigenous knowledge, many organizations are using art to connect with younger generations and rebuild a sense of community. The Art For Aid Project provides access to art programs for the Canadian First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities. They equip remote schools with craft supplies so that Indigenous youth have access to methods of artistic expression.
Over the centuries, the marginalization of Indigenous peoples has led to a huge loss of traditional medical knowledge. This has resulted in growing health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
The Anishnawbe Health Foundation is a Canadian registered charity working to support the Indigenous community's health and well-being in Toronto. The Foundation fosters the reclamation, preservation, research, and application of traditional healing methods to revive traditional medicine.
Native American women are murdered and sexually assaulted at rates as high as 10 times the average in certain counties across the United States. Marginalization, poverty, racism, and sexism are all underlying factors that make Indigenous women more likely to be victims of violent crimes.
The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW) provides first responders and shelter assistance through domestic violence and sexual assault programs. They focus on four main service areas: support, technical assistance, training, and policy advocacy.
Indigenous youth face a varied range of social and economic difficulties. They often lack the platforms and opportunities to speak up and become part of the broader conversation on Indigenous rights.
The Asia Young Indigenous Peoples Network was created to educate Indigenous youth on various issues related to their communities and to provide them with the platforms, spaces and opportunities to participate in local, regional and international processes.
Cross-country collaboration between indigenous organizations has proven effective in building capacity and in strengthening their collective efforts to see Indigenous rights recognized and respected.
The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee is a great example of collaboration and solidarity. With 135 Indigenous Peoples' organizations working together to advocate for Indigenous rights across the continent, the organization is the largest Indigenous Peoples' network in the world.
Article written by Camilla Capasso, Non-profit communications consultant, freelance writer and content creator specialized in human rights, social justice and environmental issues. Changing the world one story at the time. Contact: www.camillacapasso.com