Earth, Exploitation and Survival – Actions to Redress the Threats made to Indigenous Peoples’ Natural Environment, Languages, Traditional Livelihoods and Community Cohesion

Project location: Worldwide
Project start date: June 2013 - Project end date: June 2016
Project number: 2013-010
Beneficiary: UNPO


This project will focus its action on these indigenous people:
- the Awá tribe of Brazil, one of the most threatened tribes in the world
- The Mapuche, the indigenous people of Chile and Argentina
- the ethnic Degar-Montagnard population from Vietnam
- the Batwa, also called the pygmies of Rwanda
- the Haratin, who constitute the largest minority group in Mauritania
Indigenous peoples around the world share an integral association with their natural environments both economically and culturally. As such, any exploitation of natural resources found in their lands not only poses a threat to the natural environment but is an affront to their culture and livelihoods.
These five indigenous groups from Asia, the Americas and Africa confront similar obstacles on a daily basis despite their geographical dispersion. Threats to their land, resources and traditional cultures have also made an assault on their community cohesion. These commonalities can be addressed through positive action that assists their adaptation, builds community and youth capacity, reconstructs histories, preserves and promotes language and protects natural resources. Inter-cultural dialogue both between different indigenous groups and with non-indigenous groups is also paramount to creating greater harmony in societies in which different cultures must coexist.

The project foresees the partnership with the Association Witness Image, that will produce a photographic and multimedia reportage on Montagnard, Mapuche, Batwa and Haratin people. The partnership has been conceived in order to strengthen the public awareness campaign on the situation of these indigenous groups.

Awá Activities - Brazil
The aim of this project is to advocate for the rights of the Awá people of the Brazilian state of Maranhao. UNPO will cooperate with Survival International and Minority Rights Group International to provide support for the development of national and international advocacy activities to end illegal settlement, logging, mining and hunting on their traditional lands.
The project focuses on raising awareness about the cause of the Awá people in their relations with local, provincial and national levels of government in Brazil. Through an educational and institutional campaign, the Awá cause will build capacity and resilience to defend their recognized land rights. A long term objective of this effort to ensure cultural and territorial integrity is to lay the foundations for further empowerment of the Awá people.
The project will deal with the education of local civil society actors in the fields of Brazilian land rights laws, the workings of national and local government and indigenous and human rights legislation in Brazil. This training will be conducted by UNPO staff in collaboration with local civil society actors in Maranhao.
The second part of the project will consist in advocacy and awareness-raising activities, involving both national and international civil society actors, governments and corporate stakeholders. This component will follow a roundtable or conference format that will enable all the stakeholders to discuss their roles and approaches to the situation and to find realistic solutions that will ensure the preservation of the Awá culture and land.
The project will consist of the following activities:
1) Awareness-raising campaign about the situation facing the Awá in relations with land rights and human rights
2) Institutional lobbying with politicians, governments, civil society actors and corporate stakeholders.

Mapuche Activities - Chile
UNPO has recently concluded a successful culture and language project with the Mapuche in Chile through a Peretti Foundation endorsed program.
The project saw the realization of a series of seminars and trainings on Mapuche language, philosophy and culture. Thanks to a fruitful cooperation with the Mapuche-led "Escuela de Filosofía", Mapuche youth estranged from their own culture gained crucial knowledge on Mapuche traditions and language.
The new project will build upon this knowledge and improve it as well as target a wider audience. This project's over-arching aim is to empower children and youth to the right to education and enhancing the survival of the ancient Mapuche population. This will be primarily achieved through revitalizing ancestral knowledge of language and culture through education of indigenous values and principles, something widely disregarded by formal education. UNPO will contribute to supporting the emerging mechanism for achieving this (schools and education programs) by providing training programs and on the ground activities during sponsored visits.
The program will consist of a 6 day meeting aimed at filling the void in education, specifically in the areas of language, spirituality, philosophy science and culture. Methods employed will include simple and more importantly clear language, messages, images and games and include both day and evening sessions. Information that has been learnt will be disseminated amongst the pupils through interactive and media based forums including plays and videos. The overall objectives of this program's criteria will be to advance philosophical teachings on the cultural heritage of the Mapuche based on prior teachings.

The course will provisionally cover:
• Visual perception of Mapuche
• Tales on Pueblo Mapuche's origin
• Relationship between Mapuche and the Nature
• Teaching the Mapuche cosmovision perspective
• Teaching of Mapudungun language
• The role of the Mapuche in modern Chilean culture

The territories considered for the summer school include: Ngulumapu (8th, 9th, 10th Metropolitan) and from Puelmapu (Patagonia). The idea is that activities and training that is developed by Mapuche School (Mapuche specific) will be amalgamated into UNPO training for the staff members. During the proposed visit, UNPO will access the on the ground development of the school, its criteria and assist in the teaching of technical topics such as; Human Rights, Constitutional Law, Indigenous Law and on the significance of the ILO Convention.
The second part of the project will include the publication of material relating to different facets of Mapuche culture that can be easily disseminated and shared among Mapuche communities, including through an expansion of the website that was set up during the previous project. Mapuche communities living in non-Mapuche communities will be able to access this material and maintain a link with their traditional culture. UNPO will cooperate with the "Red Por Los Derechos Educativos y Lingüísticos De Los Pueblos Indígenas de Chile" and academics to produce a booklet that can be used by Mapuche estranged from their communities to learn basic Mapudungun vocabulary.
The final part of the program will be centered on a prioritized forum being established for Mapuches from Chile and the community living in exile. Whilst it is immediately important to highlight the differences in the situation between the two communities, there is an urgent need to unite the two, build capacity between both communities and collaborate through shared experiences. It is vital for the two communities to work together and by helping create, cement and manage direct channels of communication, open and constructive dialogue can be established. The forum would also seek to integrate academic professionals within the communication channels, to provide academically sound approaches, to help understand wider issues, contribute to analysis and construction of policy and offer niche expertise that community members will not have. Overall, the hope is that by connecting the two communities and supporting some form of unification, the forum can help provide an opportunity for open dialogue between the two countries (Argentina and Chile) on Mapuche indigenous issues and perhaps find a common policy approach.

The project includes:
1) Two summer schools (August 2013, August 2014) bringing together forty Mapuche young people into one region for 6 days of philosophy, language and culture classes.
2) Ongoing support of three Mapuche leaders to direct and coordinate the work in Temuco and in the Mapuche spiritual highlands.
3) Publication of material compiling different facets of the Mapuche culture (cuisine, traditional tales, language booklets) and expansion of the existing website to disseminate it.
4) Provide selected members of the community both from the European diaspora and Chile with a series of trainings in human rights and United Nations mechanisms.

Montagnard Activities - Vietnam and North Carolina
As one of the oldest tribal groups in Southeast Asia, the Montagnards, numbering 1 million, inhabited the Central Highlands of Vietnam, along the border of Cambodia, Laos and China. Historically, they lived in tribes that practice traditional agriculture, hunting and fishing and are recognized as indigenous people by the UN Working Group on Indigenous Population. Over the years, the Montagnards have been struggling to survive in their homelands and many have been forced to flee. A large community has settled in North Carolina, but many young people feel estranged from their families and homeland.
Through a series of trainings on Montagnard language and culture, UNPO has laid a solid foundation for the preservation of the Montagnard rich culture. The communities in North Carolina that benefited from the previous project have experienced a renewed sense of identity and recreated links with the communities living in Vietnam. The objective of the new project will be to further enhance this renewal of identity and to strengthen the bonds between the diaspora and the communities in Vietnam, as well as their capacity to participate effectively in decision-making processes.

This project seeks to:

1) Provide a forum for young Montagnard people to learn about their culture and language.
2) Publication of media compiling different facets of the Montagnard culture (cuisine, traditional tales, language booklets, testimonies) and expansion of the existing website to disseminate it.
3) Provide selected members of the community both from the diaspora and Vietnam with a series of trainings in human rights and United Nations mechanisms during United Nations sessions in New York and Geneva.

Batwa Activities - Rwanda
Despite being the original inhabitants of the Great Lakes region, the Batwa have remained practically invisible in Rwanda. The lack of disaggregated data on their community and the adamant refusal of the State to acknowledge their indigenous status has impeded their development at the economic and social level, making them the poorest population group in Rwanda. Batwa women have suffered even more from this ongoing discrimination and lack of development. The intersectionality of their status as both female and Batwa have made them the most vulnerable parts of Rwandan society. The conjunction of a patriarchal society, extreme poverty and the widespread discrimination against the Batwa have made them the victims of most targeted victims of ethnic and gender-based violence.
Their plight has long remained unknown, until an extensive report by Minority Rights Group International uncovered it. The results of their investigation were appalling. 80% of the interrogated Batwa women from Rwanda knew of instances of violence committed against Batwa women. They listed the most common types of violence as physical violence, psychological violence and marginalization of natural resources, rape and sexual violence. The main causes behind these cases were overwhelmingly identified as being poverty and contempt for Batwa women, as well as the lack of reporting mechanisms and access to effective justice for the victims of violence.
In its conclusions, the report outlined potential solutions, including raising awareness of the rights of Batwa women, creating and improving reporting mechanisms and access to justice, and empowering women at the economic level. Consequently, the project will seek to address the issue of gender-based violence against Batwa women by implementing these recommendations. Working jointly with the public authorities, women's organizations, human rights organizations and civil society actors, the project will provide a series of trainings in Batwa communities to raise awareness of Batwa women's rights. It will also establish a women's network in Rwanda. These women will travel Rwanda and investigate cases of gender-based violence. Using text messages, they will report to a national coordinator who will compile the information, which could subsequently be used for a publication on the situation. Additionally, to increase the confidence of Batwa women and provide female role models in their community, 30 Batwa women will benefit from a vocational training, so as to develop an income-generating activity. The main objective of the project will thus be to improve the situation of Batwa women in their community, as well as obtain more data on gender-based violence against indigenous people in Rwanda.
While the report by Minority Rights Group examined the situation of Batwa women in other countries (including Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi), it only focused on the issue of education for the latter. Even though Batwa in Burundi enjoy slightly better conditions, being recognized there as an ethnic group and holding seats in the Parliament, they are still facing dire instances of discrimination. To extend the data available on their situation, the project will also include a country visit to Burundi, in order to assess the extent of violence committed against Batwa women in that country.

The project will be divided in two main parts, each addressing a facet of the problem:

Women's Economic Empowerment:
1) Selection of 30 local Batwa women
2) Biannual bookkeeping and marketing workshops to ensure the practitioners fulfill their maximum potential
3) Ongoing vocational workshops for each of the 30 women led by 2 local leaders. Each practitioner will be given a set of tools to practice and hone their skills in either beekeeping or basket weaving
4) After 18 months, these practitioners will attend a training of trainers workshop and will be requested to go into their communities and share their skills.

Addressing gender-based violence:
1) Workshops involving the community to raise public awareness of gender-based violence
2) Paralegal training for selected members of the community to increase access to justice for victims of gender-based violence
3) Creation of a national network of women to investigate and report cases of gender-based violence against Batwa women
4) Visit the region (visits to Rwanda and Burundi) to document the current situation of indigenous women and provide selected members of the community with a capacity-building training in basic human rights.

Haratin Activities - Mauritania
The aim of this project is to empower former slaves in Mauritania through local business development and health education training, so that they might develop sustainable and healthy livelihoods free from slavery.
The project focuses on empowering the Haratin people of Mauritania, of whom a disproportionate number of women remain slaves of the country's Arab-Berber minority. Through local business development workshops and a health education program, freed slaves will receive assistance in gaining economic independence, leading healthy lives and minimizing risk of return to slavery. A long-term objective of this project is to generate opportunities for freed Haratin slaves and help to end the practice of slavery in Mauritania.

1) Vocational training
2) Local business development training
3) Health and hygiene training

1. Vocational training
In order to help former slaves develop marketable skills, they will receive training in crafts and trades, especially in the dyeing of veils, a traditional and popular activity in the region. These skills will allow freed slaves to secure employment or become self-employed. This training will be conducted by UNPO staff in collaboration with local civil society actors in Mauritania.
2. Local business development training
For those former slaves wishing to utilize their vocational skills to start a small business, the project will provide training in basic business competencies, including basic education in mathematics, accountancy, savings and investment. This training will be conducted by UNPO staff in collaboration with local civil society actors in Mauritania.
3. Health and hygiene training
Another major challenge amongst impoverished former slaves is access to health education and healthcare. High mortality rates amongst former slaves and their families will be combatted with training in the crucial areas of reproductive health, nutrition and children's health. This training will be conducted by UNPO staff in collaboration with local civil society actors in Mauritania.

The stories of many minority groups and indigenous communities around the world have been left untold for centuries. Often their voices are stifled by authoritative governments so that they can be controlled and their land exploited for the benefit of the rich and powerful, with little consideration for the rights and traditional practices of the communities who suffer. Cultural practices die silently every day without have been documented.
Under this project entitled "Invisible Faces", a professional photographer will visit four different UNPO Members in three years. UNPO will cooperate with Luca Catalano Gonzaga, a professional specialized in this field of photography. He will go directly to the heart of the Members' areas, and witness their living conditions and traditional culture. He will shoot pictures depicting the cultural practices of the Member, both with the intent to celebrate and preserve these traditions. After his return, UNPO will cooperate with him in selecting pictures to showcase them in an exhibition presented to the general public. Some of the pictures will also be available online so as to reach a wider audience. At the end of the three years, the best pictures will be selected and compiled into a book.
The project will consist of the following activities:
1) Yearly travel and photo shoot to one of UNPO Member countries, with a view to document the human rights situation as well as the traditions and cultures.
2) Yearly exhibition of selected pictures
3) Online exhibition of the pictures on a website for larger access and diffusion
4) After the third visit, publication of a book compiling the best pictures
Expected Outcomes
1) Increased public knowledge about indigenous peoples
2) Documentation of traditional practices of the visited Members
3) Publication and dissemination of a books examining different cultural facets of three Members

This project received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation. The following is a brief description of its goals.

Through the empowerment and advocacy activities, the project aims to achieve the following outcomes:
1) Protection of the territorial integrity of the Awá's legally recognized ancestral lands.
2) Improved relations between members of the Awá community and local, national and international civil society actors.
3) Improved relations with local and national levels of Brazilian government regarding issues of interest to the Awá, including land rights.
4) Preservation of Awá culture and language through political and social empowerment.
1) Two summer schools (August 2013, August 2014) bringing together forty Mapuche young people into one region for 6 days of philosophy, language and culture classes.
2) Ongoing support of three Mapuche leaders to direct and coordinate the work in Temuco and in the Mapuche spiritual highlands.
3) Publication and dissemination of 3 books examining different facets of the Mapuche culture: traditional story book, Mapuche cuisine book and a Mapudungun language booklet.
4) Increased cooperation between Mapuche living in exile and Mapuche communities.
5) Increased participation of Mapuche in the human rights process.
1) Two forums for young Montagnards (approximately 70) in the diaspora to learn about their histories and cultures and to document the past for their future.
2) Publication and dissemination of 3 media supports examining different facets of the Montagnard culture.
3) Increased participation of Montagnards in decision-making and human rights processes.
Women's Economic Empowerment:
1) Three bookkeeping and marketing training sessions for 30 Batwa women
2) 15 fully trained and equipped female beekeepers receiving regular support, technical training and assistance over one year.
3) 15 fully trained and equipped female basket weavers receiving regular support, technical training and assistance over one year.
Addressing gender-based violence:
1) 3 workshops to mobilize the community, local enforcement personnel and 67 households on the issue of gender-based violence and its causes
2) 15 people, including at least 50% of women, will have gained paralegal skills and will be able to report and help out victims of gender-based violence
3) 20 women functioning as a network in the country, communicating via text messages and reporting to a national coordinator compiling the information on gender-based violence
4) Collection of data on the ground about the situation facing Batwa women and publication of an extensive report.
1) Prevent former slaves from returning to slavery
2) Former slaves develop sustainable and independent livelihoods for themselves and their children
3) Reduce maternal, neonatal and under-five mortality amongst former slaves and their families


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