In 2015, Keepers of the Earth Fund awarded its first grants supporting community-led Free, Prior and Informed Consent and Self-Governance strategies, established three Shareholder Advocacy Leadership Training Centers, and funded a variety of Indigenous values-based community development projects.
Bajoh Indigenous Development Association (BIDA) (Cameroun) – The Bajoh Indigenous Development Association (BIDA) works to preserve the culture, traditions and rights of Indigenous Bajoh People in Southwest Cameroon. Keepers of the Earth Fund helped BIDA preserve Bajoh traditional healing practices by teaching them to community youth, and to identify, process and apply traditional medicines.
Buhaguzi Action for Rural Development Foundation (BUARDEFO) (Uganda) – The goals of BUARDEFO include improved access to safe drinking water and food, promoting formal primary and secondary education, and fighting for the rights of women, people with disabilities, and children. The local belief is that collaboration is the solution to development challenges. The community depends on food production and sales income to meet basic family needs and school fees. Keepers of the Earth Fund provided resources for constructing a community-use maize mill to process food efficiently, reduce food waste, and increase family incomes.
Bunyaruguru Indigenous Peoples’ Environment Protection Radical Trust (BIPEPRT) (Uganda) – The Bunyaruguru people rely heavily on culturally significant natural resources but the lack of government set restrictions, a growing population, and water scarcity are threatening preservation of the peoples’ medicinal herbs used for healing. Keepers of the Earth Fund supported the Medicinal Herbs Sanctuary Project to help the community retain traditional health and spiritual practices by reestablishing herbal medicine gardens and reforestation.
Chepkitale Indigenous Peoples Development Project (CIPDP) (Kenya) – In the ongoing battle against evictions of Indigenous Peoples from their lands, the CIPDP works to restore Ogiek Peoples’ rights to ancestral land that was converted to a game reserve without their consent. Keepers of the Earth Fund enabled the CIPDP to engage with the Kenya government to restore the Ogiek Peoples’ access to the land and resources thereon.
Ensemble pour la Promotion des Peuples Autochtones (EPAP) (Congo) – The EPAP was established to promote the best interests of Pygmeé Peoples and preserve Congolese forest protected areas. The Pygmeé Peoples have the responsibility to co-dependently exist within the forest just as their ancestors have done for many years. Funding from Keepers of the Earth Fund helped EPAP to combine ancestral responsibility and modern GPS navigation to produce a community resource map for sustainable stewardship of the local ecosystem.
Indigenous Heartland Organization (IHO) (Tanzania) – The mission of IHO is to assist mobile Indigenous groups in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. The IHO facilitates partnerships between the Indigenous Peoples living in or adjacent to the Ngorongoro protected areas and conservation initiatives. Pastoral communities lack livestock and the cost to restock is prohibitive. A grant to IHO helped purchase, transport, and treat livestock for Maasai pastoralists in the region. Maasai leaders named the project “Ewoloto” which means mutual assistance in the local language.
Kilhambayiro Rural Women Development Association (KIRWODA) (Uganda) - The organization represents a community that is 60% women and 40% youth in a variety of social classes living below poverty level. The organization helps community members engage with each other around creating a greener, healthier ecosystem. The KIRWODA used its small grant to help the community protect its water sources and soil through reforestation.
Maasai Community Outdoor Educators (MACORE) (Kenya) – The Maasai Community Outdoor Educators was created in 1998 by eight Indigenous Maasai women teachers to address illiteracy among Maasai women in Kenya. It envisions a world where social justice, equity, dignity, and respect for Indigenous Peoples, the environment, and human rights are the foundation of all development. With funds from Keepers of the Earth Fund, MACORE provided capacity-building to the community through its Formulating and Implementing Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) project to address marginalization of the Maasai community at the Olkaria Geothermal Power Plant.
Ogiek People Empowerment Project (Kenya) – Ogiek People Empowerment Project was organized to give a voice to Indigenous Maasai Peoples in matters of conservation, tourism, and natural resources management. The organization aims to be a catalyst for Maasai involvement in eco-tourism and cultural tourism. They have invested in beekeeping as a revenue source for their communities, and Keepers of the Earth Fund gave them the funds to design a brand name, packaging, and processing for Ogiek honey.
Organisation d’Accompagnement et d’Appui aux Pygmees (OSAPY) (Democratic Republic of Congo) – Indigenous Pygmeé Peoples are not recognized in land, forest, mining, and agricultural laws. Keepers of the Earth Fund assisted the OSAPY to work with its local community in understanding community rights and developing land laws that benefit Pygmeé Peoples through Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.
Rays of Hope Development Agency (Uganda) – The Rays of Hope Development Agency is a community based organization serving women and children. In a world where women are not allowed to make decisions because of existing customary law, the organization is addressing gender violence and negative cultural practices, and promoting socio-economic opportunities for all. Keepers of the Earth Fund empowered the Acholi Peoples to enact fair and just land use and management practices by including women in the decision-making process and developing land use policies.
Skylight Trust Group (Uganda) – The Skylight Trust Group is a youth-led organization in Western Uganda committed to finding solutions to local development challenges. They organize educational forums for the community on the importance of caring for the environment and planting trees. Keepers of the Earth Fund’s FPIC special initiative supported Building Kiburara Indigenous People’s Capacity project, which mobilized the community to negotiate a clean water deal, and an MOU between the community and companies seeking to operate on community land.
Taia Development Programme (Sierra Leone) – The TDP is an Indigenous-led community based organization that promotes human rights and community development through child abuse prevention, preventing Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs), and organizing youth into self-help agricultural projects. Keepers of the Earth Fund helped to build a solar-powered poultry house, purchase an initial brood and the necessary veterinary services, and train community members to be poultry care-takers. The project increased community nutrition and helped finance traditional and cultural community meetings through sales of eggs and poultry.
Yiaku Laikipiak Trust (YLT) (Kenya) - The YLT was established to promote and protect the rights and freedoms of the Indigenous Yiaku people. It does this through offering capacity building, advocacy, and networking activities. Keepers of the Earth Fund supported the organization’s education and training forums about reinstituting Yiaku Peoples rights.
Yayasan Planet Indonesia (Indonesia) – Yayasan Planet Indonesia works with Dayak women who are well known for their weaving. Traditionally, Dayak women of Borneo use natural dyes in their weaving but deforestation and environmental degradation have forced women to use chemical dyes. The price and quality of their products have fallen and poverty levels have increased. First Peoples supported the West Kalimantan Craft Network Project, an economic empowerment project primarily focused on women in West Borneo to preserve traditional Dayak weaving and handicrafts production. The group assessed the feasibility of developing a community craft house for all Indigenous groups in the region.
Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP) (Guatemala) – The IMAP is an educational center that empowers communities in Guatemala and beyond to attain food sovereignty by integrating permaculture and ancestral knowledge. The center trains communities and NGOs around the Lake Atitlan region in crop diversification, climate change adaptation, and reducing malnutrition through developing school gardens. They organize technical trainings for organizations that want native seeds and fruit trees, as well as building ecological houses, community gardens, and grey water systems for those affected by hurricanes. Keepers of the Earth Fund IMAP provide scholarships for its training to Indigenous farmers as a method to conserve traditional knowledge of Mayan cosmology.
Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) (Belize) – SATIIM defends Mayan customary land rights and the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. It deals with oil companies drilling on ancestral land, creates sustainable agricultural projects that combine modern and traditional farming, facilitates community organizing, and provides education and training on Mayan human rights. In recent years, the Government of Belize has accelerated its plans to drill for oil on Mayan traditional lands. Keepers of the Earth funds supported land use and demarcation workshops and creation of land use and boundary maps. With KOE’s support, SATIIM was able to help Mayan communities secure legal land titles and strengthen cultural connections with other Mayan communities across national borders.
Associação Xavante Wara (Brazil) – The Associação Xavante Wara represents and works on behalf of A’uwe Xavante people from seven distinct Xavante territories in the Indigenous Reserve Sangradouro in the state of Mato Grosso. The Association regularly works with more than 200 communities located within the reserve. The Keepers of the Earth Fund supported teaching about Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) and how FPIC can help the Xavante Wara understand how to work with corporations and government entities that want to initiate extractive activities on their territories. They were then able to create and implement new development strategies that benefit them.
Comunidad Indigena Te Hoe Manu (Chile) – The Te Hoe Manu Community of Easter Island is building toward self-determination for the Rapa Nui people, who are of Polynesian decent. Because Easter Island possesses great cultural and archaeological treasures, it is considered one of the main tourist destinations in the world, and the Rapa Nui are exploited culturally and economically. A small grant from Keepers of the Earth Fund empowered the people to engage in developing internal laws for the Rapa Nui People to be submitted to the Chilean State and its different ministries for consideration in passing public policies for the island.
Indigenous Lafkenche Community of Llaguepulli (Chile) - Although the economy of Chile is growing, Indigenous Mapuche communities remain the poorest while concerns grow about access to water, land, education, and culturally appropriate integral health and well-being. First Peoples Worldwide supported a Mapuche-values-based mutual support group focused on developing a Mapuche-initiated and –owned community financial institution. The entity enables community self-management of its cultural and land-based financial assets.
Wiracocha Foundation (WIRA) (Perú) – The WIRA’s mission is to rediscover and promote vegetable species that were domesticated and cultivated in ancient times by civilizations in the Peruvian Andes. The Foundation cultivated these crops in the rural mountainous communities of Peru where poverty is most prevalent. A small grant from Keepers of the Earth Fund aided the Foundation to become a legally registered and recognized NGO under the Peruvian government.
Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim (USA)- The KOEF funded the Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim to create a business model for Mayan artisans to market authentic Mayan art and clothing, as well as to provide training to Mayan artisans from Central America in marketing their creations in US markets. The organization is based in Omaha, Nebraska, and was established for the advancement of the Akateko, Chuj, Popti, and Q'anjob'al Maya Self-Governance.
Friends of the Akwesasne Freedom School, Inc. (USA/Canada) – The Friends of the Akwesasne Freedom School is a Mohawk cultural immersion school. It preserves and strengthens the identity of the Haudenosaunee People by immersing youth in the Mohawk language and culture. Funds from Keepers of the Earth leveraged opportunities for cultural and traditional interaction between Haudenosaunee youth and elders during the annual Great Law Recital, which presents the core principles upon which the Haudenosaunee Confederacy is founded. It is a reminder to the Haudenosaunee People of their traditional roles, responsibilities and duties. Teaching the Great Law of Peace helps to unify the Six Nations communities and traditional protocols are an integral part of the School’s curriculum.
Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative (SSPI) (USA) – The SSPI is a grass roots community organization whose purpose is to promote and strengthen the Native community through advocacy, community organizing, and skill-building. The group values the principles of self-determination, cultural sustainability, justice, empowerment, and a responsibility to future generations. Keepers of the Earth Fund helped the group organize and take the necessary steps to gain tax exempt status, further strengthening their ability to attract resources for youth and social programs.
Shareholder Advocacy Leadership Training (SALT) Centers
The SALT initiative teaches Indigenous leaders how to work with corporations to develop Indigenous-friendly policies for working on Indigenous territories.
International Mayan League/ USA, Inc. (IML) (USA/Guatemala) – The International Mayan League convenes Mayan Peoples and promotes, preserves, and transmits their ancestral traditions and knowledge into solutions to current threats against them, the earth, and humanity. The IML builds leadership capacity through education and resources in Mexico and South American Indigenous communities. The IML gained SALT Center status and convened leadership workshops in both Mexico and Guatemala, and served as the networking point for bringing together all three SALT Center grantees in 2016 in Guatemala.
Matawa First Nation, Inc. (Canada) – This First Nations organization provides technical support to nine Matawa First Nation communities in the areas of health, education, environment, training, economic development, and leadership coordination. As an established technical assistance provider to its communities, the Matawa First Nation SALT Center focused on leadership development to address natural resource management on treaty lands in Canada.
Treaty 8 Tribal Association (T8TA) (Canada) – This organization provides political and technical priority to their First Nation communities. The T8TA provides advisory services for the purpose of achieving economic prosperity, self-sufficiency, land management and support while preserving culture and tribal rights and interests. The T8TA SALT Center is developing tribal management teams to lead its Human Resources and Treaty and Land Resource development.