Educating the Youth to Preserve the Traditions of the Ogoni and Mapuche People

Project location: Various Countries, NIGERIA and ARGENTINA
Project start date: August 2009 - Project end date: August 2010
Project number: 2009-19
Beneficiary: UNPO


This project co-funded by the Nando Peretti Foundation aims to educate children and young ethnic Mapuche and Ogoni , teaching them the language and cultural traditions of these ancient people.

The Mapuche are the original Amerindian inhabitants of Central and Southern Chile and Southern Argentina. They have an economy based on agriculture; their social organization developed in extended families, under the direction of a leader.
The Mapuche successfully resisted many attempts of the Inca empire to subdue them, although they lacked proper state organization. From 1500 to 1800, the Mapuche fought the conquistadores and managed to resist their attempts at colonization. When Chile separated from from the Spanish crown, some Mapuche leaders supported the settlers. Once Chile actually managed to achieve independence from Spain, the Mapuche tried peaceful coexistence and a fusion with their new neighbors, but in vain.
In 1876 the government of Chile was able to sign a treaty with some Mapuche leaders to incorporate Araucani territories with the Chilean State. In fact, this resulted in a situation of domination by Chile of the Mapuche, which ended up in their decimation. Half a million Mapuche were reduced to 25,000 within a generation.

The Mapuche descendants now live in southern Chile and Argentina. Some maintain their traditions and continue to support themselves through agriculture, but a growing number moved to the cities in search of better economic opportunities. In recent years there has been an attempt at reconciliation by the government of Chile through, for example, recognition of Mapuche language teaching in their territories, and measures to protect their culture. Most of the Mapuche, however, is not satisfied and continues to face discrimination, including arbitrary arrests. For this reason, representatives of the Mapuche organizations have joined UNPO, seeking recognition and protection for their culture and their territorial rights.

The Ogoni is an African ethnic group that inhabits the region of the Niger Delta and relies primarily on agriculture and fishing, organized in small rural communities rather closed. The Ogoni ethnic group is composed of three clans, divided into six tribes which occupy around 111 villages. It is estimated that the total Ogoni population is approximately 500,000 units.
In 1958, Shell oil company has begun to drill oil from Ogoni land, starting a process that now affects the whole of Nigeria. Currently, oil exports account for 90% of all exports from Nigeria. 90% of exported oil comes from the Niger Delta.
Since the nineties the Ogoni ethnic group set up a political organization, which claims with nonviolent means self-determination of the Ogoni people and opposes the destruction of the Niger Delta, caused by oil spills by plants in the area.

This project will take place in the territories of the Ogoni (Nigeria) and the Mapuche (Argentina and Chile), where the association UNPO will organize courses for children and young descendants of the Ogoni and the Mapuche. Activities will involve their ancestral traditions, their languages and their cultures. The courses will be at various levels and at the end certificates of graduation will be awarded. Some courses will also be on environmental education, particularly for the Ogoni.

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