Despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has posed, Cultural Survival's 2020 Indigenous Community Media Youth Fellows are hard at work researching, interviewing, recording, editing, broadcasting, and teaching. The Fellowship Project aims to support young Indigenous leaders between the ages of 16-26, who are committed and eager to learn about technology, program development, journalism, community radio, media, and Indigenous Peoples’ rights advocacy.
Lino Tupuk Tsamach Wampash (Sapara) from Ecuador
Lino’s fellowship project focuses on strengthening communication in defense of the Sapara territory. He trained students from the Tsitsanu School in audiovisual skills. They were able to create short videos that reflected their concerns about the construction of a highway that would cross through Sapara territory. “We take care of the selva because it is our roots and our blood. Our ancestors are there, now we need to take care of it,” said María Jeuneka Ushigua. Short videos, in the Sapara language with Spanish translation, also include insight into the Sapara culture, knowledge, dreams, and traditions. A communication house is being built to continue work of the fellowships project.
Arnab Chaudhary (Tharu) from Nepal
Arnab’s fellowship project is a program series about the Kusunda Peoples promoting and strengthening their critically endangered language and culture. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been temporary pause in this project, however, Arbab continues to be active in delivering a writing workshop for Tharu youth in journalism. He has also taken leadership in organizing tree planting in this community with youth and they are tending to rice crops to ensure a more sustainable food source and increase food security.
Estrella Jhonaí Gutiérrez Vásquez (Mixe) from Mexico
Estrella’s fellowship project continues to focus in revitalizing the Ayuujk/Mixe language, culture, ancestral knowledge and traditions in Tlahuitoltepec. She launched a call for children and youth to share poems, songs, riddles, tongue twisters, stories, and remedies in Ayuujk via Facebook and Instagram. Via social media, Estrella was also able to recruit youth to collaborate with her in promoting Ayuujk literatura. Estrella also conducted interviews with elders about the Ayuujk worldview, spirituality, language, territory, history, value of the natural world and its relationship with human beings, agricultural sustainability, and ceremonial practices. These programs are still in the editing stages and will be aired soon on Radio Communitaria Mixe Jënpoj.
Luis Enrique Amador Tlatilolpa (Náhuatl) from Mexico
Luis’ fellowship project focuses on revitalizing the Náhuatl culture and language to address intergenerational language gap. He is awaiting approval to continue facilitating educational material in Náhuatl in elementary schools. In the meantime, he recently produced a video on customs of the people residing in Xochinanacatlan, Puebla, in Náhuatl with Spanish translation. He shares with us the importance of giving thanks to life, how to heal with ancient ways and by communicating with the Earth.
Virginia Salcedo Rosa (Aymara) from Peru
Virginia’s fellowship project aims to educate youth in revitalizing and strengthening their rights in Aymara and Quechua using the ILO Convention 169. Due to COVID-19 and restrictions on mobility, she has adapted her workshops to be virtual and launched a call for opinion articles which aim to promote the creativity of the members of the Network of Indigenous Communicators of Puno, Peru (RED-CIRP) in analyzing and reflecting on their rights. Three articles were published in Indigenous languages to improve literacy in Aymara and Quechua, and can be accessed at https://umaperu.org/#
Carolina Trayen Rain Ancan (Mapuche) from Chile
Carolina’s fellowship project is about enhancing community media communication and Mapuche knowledge through oral traditions by using modern audiovisual technology. With increasing COVID-19 cases in the community, there have been closures and suspensions of activites. The Aylla Rewe Budi is a territorial space that is part of the Mapuche Lafkenche territory. Many community members have had time to reflect on their lives and look at the wealth that they have as a culture. In the Mapuche worldview everything is renewed and there is always passage to a new cycle. People are in a permanent process of reflection that allows us to enter into the dynamics of renewal and physical and spiritual strengthening with nature. Carolina is documenting this process through a short video in Mapuche. Stay tuned.
Juan Pablo Jojoa Coral (Quillasinga) from Colombia
Juan’s fellowship project aims to protect sacred ancestral medicinal plants of his people. During the pandemic, he has not been able to travel outside of his community and put on hold a few interviews with elders, however, this encouraged him to work on the Pachawasi farm to cultivate organic produce and restore traditional medicine and food sources. Juan has been able to document this experience and share with the youth how to continue the conversation on the importance of protecting sacred plants during this time of scarcity. “Medicine is important for our people because it is the medicine of our grandparents and it puts us in connection with the higher being that heals our body, mind, and spirit.”
Liliana López Ortíz (Mixtec) from Mexico
Liliana’s fellowship project highlights the stories of Indigenous women leaders, promoting their abilities and contributions to the community. She has been able to do one-on-one interviews with Indigenous women from her community, capturing the stories of struggle, resilience, strength, and love. The realities are imaginable, however the power of storytelling binds and mends the heart and the spirit. The stories collected will be aired at the local community Radio Ñu Kaan.
Lorena Jamioy Tisoy (Inga-Kamëntsá) from Colombia
Lorena’s fellowship project seeks to strengthen ancestral knowledge and history through storytelling at local radio station, Radio Waishanya. Lorena has been able to adapt her project by facilitating online weaving workshops and sharing information on social media for other members of the community to participate. Weaving allows the history, traditions, and customs of the Kamëntsá-Inga people to be kept alive.
Bryan Edmundo Garces Guatatuca (Kichwa) from Ecuador
Bryan's fellowship project aims to promote the Kichwa language among children and youth. There has been temporary suspension to project activities due to the pandemic, however, with quarantine being lifted and communal spaces reopening recently, he is able to continue working on proposed project in delivering radio spots in Kichwa. During quarantine, Bryan has been active with his community responding to the needs of the community along with advocating for their rights to proper stationary health stations.