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Capacity Building

For the past 10 years, Cultural Survival has provided workshops and tailored capacity building opportunities for our Indigenous partners, especially women and youth, on topics such as leadership, human rights, Indigenous community media, technical skills in radio production and more. We are expanding our workshop sessions and curriculum to include content focused on our thematic areas, including climate change solutions, land and livelihoods, cultures and languages, Indigenous community media, and Indigenous women and youth leadership as a cross-cutting child. Cultural Survival's Capacity Building Program includes workshop strategies (in-person and virtual), youth scholarships, community-to-community exchanges, regional meetings, networking, support for representation in international forums and one-on-one mentoring.

Our objective is to increase and strengthen the leadership, technical, organizational, advocacy and sustainability capacities of Indigenous communities to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, self-determination, and ways of life, and elevate their cultures and languages. Our strategy is based on the expressed needs and existing capacity of our partners and our specific experience in international mechanisms for Indigenous rights, community radio and sustainable ways of living. Here we hope to raise the voices and develop the capacities of Indigenous women, youth, and relatives from the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Through our programs, we build trust and long-term relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations that inform our work and enable us to continue supporting them, especially women, other vulnerable genders, and youth in developing their skills in community media, leadership, rights humans, defense and care of Mother Earth.

Indigenous Youth Fellowships

Cultural Survival believes that young people hold the power to shift the dynamics of the world. We must support Indigenous youth leaders to make that change possible if we want lasting change. The participation of our Indigenous youth is crucial in strengthening self-governance, protecting land rights, fighting climate change, containing the loss of biodiversity, restoring ecosystems, and stewarding our cultural heritage. 

For five years, we have supported individuals and groups of youth in building communication and technical skills in radio, audiovisuals, and written documents. Fellowships have allowed youth to build capacities in Indigenous rights, Indigenous languages, cultures, and Traditional Knowledge. Through a one-to-one mentoring strategy, CS accompanies youth from the start to the completion of their projects. Since 2018, we have awarded 62 fellowships that supported 82 fellows. Our geographic focus for capacity-building includes the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua, Chile, Nepal, Peru, Northern India, Suriname, and South Africa; however, we are not restricted solely to these regions. 


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Supporting Indigenous Women's Leadership

Since 2016, Cultural Survival has organized more than 25 workshops for our Indigenous partners, especially women, on issues of leadership, defense of their human rights, Indigenous communication philosophies, radio production, and more in Central America, Mexico, and Nepal. We are currently planning to expand to other countries and have a more holistic approach to combine technical communication skills with Indigenous worldviews, human and collective rights, land defense, climate change solutions, and women's rights. In 2022, we launched the virtual workshop, "Defense of Life and Land in the Amazon Basin", a space for Indigenous women community leaders and land defenders to share experiences and knowledge, strengthen actions to develop work plans in their communities, and implement tools, knowledge, and skills acquired during this training.

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Indigenous Writing and Arts Residence Opportunities 

As part of Capacity Building, we provide opportunities through not only our youth fellowships, training, gatherings and community exchanges, and international fora participation, but also remote residency opportunities for Indigenous artists and writers. 

In 2022, we launched our Indigenous Writer's Residency Program. This is a meaningful opportunity for Indigenous writers to continue their creative work, share their expertise, and enhance their knowledge and exposure to writing related to topics important to them and their communities.

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Community meetings and dialogues

Environmental convenings are gatherings of various stakeholders interested in promoting Indigenous-led solutions to climate change based on land rights and collective rights. Participants are Indigenous Peoples, scientists, policymakers, students, educators, community members, and environmental and conservation organizations coming together to address the challenges of a changing and variable climate, extreme weather events, and research and policy needs. Our goal is to center Indigenous perspectives on climate change based on traditional knowledge and science, and the understanding and practice of our collective land-based rights.

In 2018, we hosted an environmental convening at Eco-turixtlán in Oaxaca, Mexico, an eco-forestry project that is owned by a local Indigenous community; we discuss issues of environmental stewardship, traditional knowledge, Indigenous science, climate science, development, and Indigenous rights. In 2019, we were co-organizers of the 4th International Maize Conference of Indigenous Peoples in Vicente Guerrero, Tlaxcala, Mexico. In 2021, we held a three-day virtual conference on Indigenous language revitalization. At the end of 2021, we supported four community radio stations to achieve an important victory in the Sumpango vs. Guatemala, which will allow them legal and safe access to radio frequencies. We are currently working with legal partners and community radio stations on the implementation.


Partner Exchanges and International Forum Participation 

As part of our Indigenous Community Media Program and the Keepers of the Earth Fund, we continue to facilitate the exchange of experiences of community partners through visits and training. Our strategic plan calls for the creation of exchange opportunities with organizations in different regions. For instance, organizations with expertise in land defense and Free, Prior and Informed Consent visit other communities affected by palm oil, hydroelectric, and mining projects to share their stories and strategies. 

Every year, we support our partners at international conferences where they can share their work and experiences as Indigenous organizations and changemakers in their communities. These international fora include events at the regional level such as communication summits, and at a global level with their participation at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and many others.