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 “Having been nurtured by the teaching of our elders in our communities, most of us senior teachers are very much aware of the gradual but continuous erosion of indigenous values. The effects on the children is worrisome, hence we are more than willing to contribute to promoting and strengthening indigenous knowledge in any which way we can.”

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On a cool morning in December, Johnella LaRose stands in a 2-acre field in east Oakland, overseeing a group of volunteers preparing a section of this land that the Sogorea Te Land Trust stewards for the arrival of a shipping container. LaRose is dressed to work, wearing jeans and boots that look broken in.

The container will serve as storage for farming equipment, she says, and in case of a natural disaster, as a safe shelter for people to gather, sleep, and access resources.

LaRose is co-founder of the Sogorea Te Land Trust, an intertribal women-led organization that is in the final stages of securing nonprofit status. It’s working to acquire access—and ownership—to land in the Bay Area, where Ohlone people have lived for centuries.

The goal, says LaRose, is to establish a land base for the Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone people, whose ancestral territory includes cities in the East Bay. “The land gives us everything that we need in order to survive,” says Corrina Gould, a Lisjan Ohlone leader and the other co-founder of the land trust. “That’s how people lived for thousands of years on our land and other Indigenous people’s land. … You work with the land so that it can continue to provide, but that you honor that relationship by not taking too much.”

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Indigenous peoples’ livelihoods are highly inter-connected with nature and environment. These have nurtured them and accumulated into their traditional knowledge in which they have passed down from generation to generation.

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The goal was for every Melanesian to assert their right to good health and nutrition through their own cultural food solutions, indigenous innovations, and local knowledge systems. The project was implemented by Save PNG Inc., to increase community health, food sovereignty and agro-biodiversity throughout the Pacific countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia.

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The Centre for Culture ,Indigenous Knowledge and Experiential Learning in Gotu, is promoting transfer of culture and indigenous knowledge from the old generation to the young generation by making young people to go through experiential cultural learning activities. Culture champions are among the most active culture club members who have the desire for culture that Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Experiential Learning aspires to and who are assessed to have natural desire on culture knowledge.

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Indigenous peoples make up less than 6% of the global population, yet they speak more than 4,000 of the world’s almost 7,000 languages. There are dire predictions that up to 95 percent of the world’s languages may become extinct. Seriously endangered indigenous languages constitute the majority of these. The persistence of indigenous languages is clear proof of indigenous peoples’ assertion of their distinct identities and self-determination. When indigenous languages are threatened, so are indigenous peoples.

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The International Learning Exchange on "Traditional Seeds, Food and Agro-Ecology" was held in Cambodia on October 20 - 27th, 2018.

“To have this exchange all of our partners from different countries coming together to share, not only to share about our seeds, our food security but also to strengthen our relations, our solidarity as peoples,” says Joan Carling in the video.

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 In Sanggau District, West Kalimantan Province in Indonesia, more than 6,000 indigenous Iban Sebaruk people were involved in Institut Dayakologi’s project of strengthening their customary institution for an effective and credible customary law system.

They began with an assessment of the Iban Sebaruk Customary Administration as the highest legal authority and the indigenous territories under its jurisdiction. The series of workshops spread over a period of one year from June 2017 to May 2018 was attended by customary administrators, indigenous leaders, women, and youth from fourteen villages (or kampongs). The project’s objectives were explained and disseminated to all participants for them to appreciate the need to strengthen customary institutions and customary Laws.

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The recent trip to Aotearoa-New Zealand by the ​hlau​ was to further strengthen the bonds of Native Hawaiian and New Zealand Māori youth who are seen as international models of language and culture revitalization. The trip to Aotearoa-New Zealand built on earlier support of the​ hlau​ as a PAWANKA Fund partner in 2016.

The focus of that partnership was the project “​E Ola A Laupaʻi​: Long Live the Knowledge of the Ancestors Through the Descendants”. The project sought to inspire contemporary hula schools to make more use of the Hawaiian language. It culminated with a​ hōʻike​, or performance, for the Native Hawaiian community during the world famous Merrie Monarch hula competitions. As part of the Pawanka funded project, students and teachers of the ​hlau received specialized training in a number of dances and chants from a master of the art.

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Bees, like farmers all over the planet, are struggling with the onslaught of drought and extreme climatic changes. Additionally, deforestation, use of agricultural pesticides, pests, and diseases have contributed to an alarming decrease in the bee population that discourages beekeepers from pursuing this occupation.

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The Deatnu River flows between Finland and Norway and into the Atlantic Ocean. Alongside it lies Veahčak, a small Saami village. Fishing for North Atlantic salmon in the Deatnu River is the core of Saami culture in the Deatnu Valley and it has provided a livelihood for local Saamis since time immemorial. Fish define their community life, economic routine, relationship with neighbouring communities, and are the basis of their handicrafts, arts, and folklore.  The Saami people own about 95% of local fishing rights and salmon-fishing is primary to their subsistence and survival. Salmon fishing in Deatnu has been regulated through bilateral agreements since 1873.

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The pride among the Nuba people is palpable as they reclaim their identity through their language. “Community members are writing their names in our language and calling each other with our traditional names. It’s amazing that we can now confidently write our own names in our language and do so proudly,” Kabashi Rahma enthused.

Mary Kuku, DNWDO Director summed it up:  “During the war, our language played a big role in keeping us safe. Our language is our secret and our peace. This program is important especially because we are in a country that has discriminated against us. It is our responsibility to ensure that we continue to jealously protect our language and culture for ourselves and the future generations.”

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Mt. Kinabalu is held sacred by the indigenous peoples of Sabah in Malaysia. They believe the mountain is where the souls of their departed rest before ascending to higher realms.

The mountain was also the epicentre of an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 in June 2015. Aside from the physical damage, the earthquake caused economic displacement and mental and spiritual devastation among the indigenous peoples settled around the mountain, as well as the local population in Sabah. The physical impact of the earthquake lingered, with rocks, soil, and trees remaining loose and causing mud floods during the rainy season. There were dramatic effects on forests and rivers, a critical source of drinking water and irrigation that crop production and livelihoods very much depend upon.

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“Changes in society are fast-paced. Cash economy affects our ways of life. Our traditional values and practices are fast disintegrating. It is our duty as elders to promote these, educate the people on the importance of safeguarding our ancestral lands and resources, and assert our indigenous ways of governance and resolving conflicts to prevent tribal wars.” This precise analysis of CEA pioneer Abraham Batawang frames the continuing role of indigenous institutions in their survival.

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In the Northern Kenya region live the Boran Waso peoples. Traditional healing is one facet of their culture and in their pastoralist communities, medicinal plants abound. To revitalize this tradition and sustain their environment from which they derive their healing resources, the Faiya Women’s Group embarked on a project that mapped the whereabouts of their healers and their expertise.

Traditional healers were searched and identified by location, age, and gender, making it easier to access them. They were registered as traditional healers and recognized by both the community and government institutions which made their healing systems widely acceptable and validated. Healers involved in the treatment of specific ailments were identified with the corresponding healing procedures they perform. Meetings with government medical institutions and policy makers enabled traditional healers to understand laws that govern the use of medicinal plants.

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The Chin Hills Regulation (1896) was the basis of the enactment of the Chin Act in 1948 which was also the year of Burma’s Independence. The enactment was to recognize and promote the Chin traditional customs and culture. After 65 years, the State Assembly of Chin State (Union of Burma) initiated a review of the Chin Customary Law in 2013. The review and proposed amendments aimed to promote the indigenous Chin peoples’ customary laws and practices, and for the Act to conform to international norms and standards such as the UNDRIP. The Chin peoples’ recommendations were crucial to the review of the Chin Act. The incumbent Chin State assembly, civil society organizations (CSOs), and other stakeholders such as the Chin tribes, youth and women, and members of the review committee were united in ensuring the respect, protection and enhancement of Chin traditions and customary systems.

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The municipalities of San Juan Cotzal,  San Gaspar Chajul, Santa María Nebaj, are known as the Ixil Triangle in Quiché, Guatemala, home to the Ixil Maya indigenous women who are known for their traditional weaving skills. To learn about their culture is to learn the intricacies, meanings, and colors of their woven materials and the many external forces interplaying in their lives.

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The Miskitu people’s ancestral territory in the North Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua is a site of magic and wisdom. Here, Avelino Cox, a native of the Wangky or Coco River, was born.

As a boy, he accompanied his grandparents all over the territory where he heard stories and learned about the life and traditions of his people. He lived his youth in the 80s in the midst of war, a time of great suffering for his people. Many  sought refuge in Bilwi. For him, migrating meant leaving ancestral customs, making him wonder: “What should I do to maintain the cultural practices of my people?” This tormented him because all he knew was to share what he learned from the elders and leaders of the communities.

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