August 9 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, and Cultural Survival joins the world in recognizing and honoring of the strength, resilience, dignity, and pride of Indigenous Peoples around the world. Despite our long histories of struggle, we continue to weave our stories, our songs, our rituals and ceremonies into rich, colorful, textured, and beautiful tapestries that portray landscapes of our Indigenous experience and indigeneity.
We continue to pray and give thanks in sacred places for the knowledge and materials offered to us from this earth, and for all the relations that keep us connected to the heavens, earth, each other, and all beings. We seek to speak our language to our children so that they speak to their children of this ancestral knowledge. We seek to be recognized as Indigenous Peoples with inherent rights, and we fight for those rights. As Indigenous Peoples we stand up and survive and weave our futures.
That spirit is honored each year on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, and this year Cultural Survival is marking the day by launching a new campaign to support the Telengit people of Russia.
The Telengit are resisting the building of a natural gas pipeline from Siberia to China that will cross their lands, undermine their way of life and spiritual traditions, and threaten the delicate ecosystem that has supported their lifeways. The pipeline would bisect the sacred Ukok Plateau and the Golden Mountains of Altai UNESCO World Heritage Site in Russia, and the Kanas National Park in China, all of which are home to endangered wildlife that includes the snow leopard, argali mountain sheep, the black stork. The construction will destroy the sacred lands where the Telengit People have journeyed for thousands of years to give offerings to the spirits of the heavens, the mountains, and the waters, and where they conduct ceremonies to bury their dead.
Your letters and financial support can help the Telengit people defend their lands, their traditions, and their rights. To learn more and support the Telengit click here.
Suzanne Benally (Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa)