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On May 26, 2015, the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Tribal delegates—Matthew Dana II and Wayne Mitchell, respectively—withdrew from the Maine legislature. Their reasons for doing so were a long list of grievances against the state of Maine involving fishing rights and, by extension, rights to Tribal sovereignty. These violations of Penobscot and Passamaquoddy rights undermined what should have been an equal, not subordinate, relationship with the state.

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On June 9th and 10th, 2015, Asociación Sobrevivencia Cultural (ASC), Cultural Survival’s sister organization in Guatemala, conducted a two-day exchange among seven community radios from El Salvador and Guatemala. As part of a generous grant from the Swift Foundation, ASC selected four community radios in Guatemala to travel to El Salvador and visit, as well as learn about the work of, three community stations in El Salvador.

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International human rights organizations Cultural Survival and Rainforest Foundation US stand behind Maya Leaders as they Peacefully Protect their Lands.

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Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has concluded, in a summary of their final report released June 2, 2015, that residential schools amounted to “cultural genocide” of First Nations peoples. Residential schools existed in Canada between the 1870s and 1996, when the last school closed; in the 150 years of their existence, an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were sent to the schools, often against the wishes of their parents.

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On June 15th, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear the first Tribal jurisdiction case in 7 years. The Dollar General Corporation operates a store on land which belongs to the Mississippi Choctaw reservation; the Tribe issued a license to the store for use of the land.

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On June 11 and 12, 2015, Asociacion Waqib’ Kej hosted the Third Annual Indigenous Youth Gathering in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. These events target Indigenous youth to discuss the current political situation of Guatemala and the role Indigenous youth have and will continue to play. A fourth gathering is scheduled to be held in the western region of the country next month.

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An Update From Nepal

On April 25th, 2015, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. It caused a death toll of over 10,000 people, injured over 30,000 people, and destroyed thousands of homes and buildings. Three weeks later, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake killed at least sixty-five people in Nepal and seventeen people in India, injured thousands, and brought down buildings that were weakened by the first quake. The United Nations estimates that the earthquakes have affected approximately eight million people.

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On Tuesday, May 26, 2015, Cultural Survival delivered a radio console and microphone to Radio Snuq Jolom Konob in Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. A generous grant from the Swift Foundation allowed Cultural Survival to donate this equipment to the station. Radio Snuq Jolom Konob was shut down on January 19, 2015, by the mayor of Santa Eulalia and his supporters for publicizing protests against hydroelectric companies operating in the region.

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Since a report was released on April 16, 2015 by the International Center Against Impunity in Guatemala revealing a disturbing political scandal involving high ranking political figures, Guatemala has been politically unstable. From the resignation of the vice president to the continued protests demanding the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina, Guatemala approaches one of its hardest election years. Not since the 1950’s have the various ethnic and social populations of Guatemala united for a common cause. Preliminary elections are set to be held on September 6, 2015.

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On May 6, 2015, the delegation of Panama came before United Nations Human Rights Council during the 22nd session of the Universal Periodic Review to address its human rights violations and the progress that it had made since its initial review in 2010.

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Held on May 20, 2015, at the University of Ottawa, Canada, the Symposium on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) brought together a diverse array of Indigenous experts and advocates to discuss what FPIC entails, why it is so crucial, and how it can be most effectively implemented.

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In April 2015, Cecilia Mérida, the partner of an environmental defender who was arrested and falsely charged and imprisoned in Guatemala testified at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.

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Together, We Can Support Indigenous Communities in Nepal

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Cultural Survival is not a disaster relief organization. We work towards a world in which the rights of Indigenous Peoples are respected, protected, and fulfilled.

Bikalpa Gyan Kedra, an organization in Nepal founded by our Board Member Stella Tamang offers alternative educational opportunities to Indigenous girls and is not a disaster relief organization either, but since the earthquake they have been acting as a shelter to 300 local families. They need basic items like drinking water and food.

Radio Kairan in Kubu-Kasthali is asking for help with purchasing a power generator to get his community radio station back up and running to provide an essential means of communication for villagers on relief efforts as well as to power his community. Cost for this generator would be about $2,500

We have set up a special fund to assist our Indigenous contacts in Nepal. With your help, we can provide some limited assistance to our friends in desperate need.

Donate to Nepal