March 17, 2020
Dear Cultural Survival community,
We are facing unprecedented times in light of the global CoronaVirus pandemic which is now affecting over 162 countries out of 195. The situation has forced all of us to reconsider our lifeways and re-evaluate rugged individualism for the good and well being of the collective, something Indigenous Peoples have been advocating for decades to regain balance in the world.
This global pandemic, and other infectious disease epidemics in recent history, cannot be separated from the broader societal issues are related to the same problems that Indigenous Peoples battle every day: the climate crisis, deforestation, threats to food security and the marginalization of rural communities. Protection of biodiversity, Indigenous lands, rainforests, and the traditional knowledge within Indigenous communities is a central part of global infectious disease prevention. Correspondingly, protection of rainforests and other Indigenous-stewarded landscapes and the healers and cultural practitioners that protect knowledge of those lands is a central part of global infectious disease prevention.
Indigenous Peoples are among the most vulnerable to this pandemic for a number of reasons. The geographic and community features of rural and remote Indigenous communities, along with conditions of economic and food insecurity and marginalization from services, can make them more vulnerable. Although most who are infected with this virus will experience flu-like symptoms, the elderly and immuno-compromised will require urgent and intensive respiratory care in areas where it is difficult to access medical care. Measures taken by governments to avoid the spread of the virus, including closing public transportation in some countries, reduce Indigenous people’s access to paying jobs, to food, and to health care. As well, for many Indigenous communities, access to clean running water for frequent hand-washing is scarce.
We hope that disruption to mechanisms of global oversight for Indigenous rights will be minimized. A majority of our staff already works remotely as we are based in several countries around the world, and although travel and in-person meetings have been cancelled, we are continuing our daily operations.
For our partners who have received funding from Cultural Survival for community projects, we understand this global circumstance will imply forced delays, and we welcome continued communication with our partners as we all adapt to the new reality.
To address the urgent need to share information with Indigenous communities on the Corona virus and ways people can limit its spread, we are currently working on Public Service Announcements in several Indigenous languages to share with our radio network of over 1,000 stations worldwide. If you speak an Indigenous language and might like to help with translation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, if you have information on the status of your community health that you want us to share publicly, let us know.
Our staff is thankful, as always, to you all for your ongoing support and for being part of the Cultural Survival community.
Please stay safe, we are all interconnected and interdependent in the web of life,
Galina Angarova (Buryat)
Image source: Wikipedia.