March 25, 2020
Dear Cultural Survival community,
At this difficult moment for all of us, we wish each and every one of you health and strength. We ask you to join us in sitting in gratitude for a moment, to recognize what we each might have that others may not. Whether that is a roof over our heads, sufficient food and water, the company of family, the safety of solitude, or –for all reading this message–access to technology that brings us together in this moment.
As the Coronavirus spreads into countries where many lack these privileges, with low-resourced governments, high poverty and malnutrition levels, high levels of inequality, and structural discrimination against Indigenous Peoples, we know that this crisis will only continue to have a deeper and more widespread impact.
As Indigenous communities around the world are bracing for the impact of COVID-19, we at Cultural Survival recognize our unique position – and responsibility – to respond in this crisis– and we are asking your help to do so.
Inequities already exist in the information being provided; much of which is online; available to only those with access to the internet, the ability to read and write, and speak a majority language. Many of the preventative solutions exclude Indigenous Peoples and those in poverty: frequent hand washing is an important preventative strategy, but is not feasible for those without running water. Closure of public transportation excludes rural communities from access to hospitals.
Yet, Indigenous Peoples also have solutions within their communities. Indigenous traditional knowledge means many communities know how to make their own soap or grow their own food and are not reliant on supplies in overcrowded and raided supermarkets. Elders carry knowledge of traditional plant medicines to boost the immune system and treat symptoms. Indigenous communities have faced these crises before and are resilient when empowered with the wisdom of our ancestors.
Cultural Survival is equipped to inform and support Indigenous Peoples in immediate need. Our staff, based in their home communities, have always worked remotely as an international team and our operations are largely uninterrupted.
Here is what we are working on in response to COVID-19:
- We have produced and distributed Public Service Announcements in 13 languages for broadcast at Indigenous community radio stations about preventative measures against COVID-19. These programs will be distributed to our network of 1000+ radio stations globally who broadcast to Indigenous audiences.
We are crowdsourcing hundreds of volunteers from around the world to create more Indigenous language programming to get the crucial information out to communities who don’t have access to the internet and don’t speak majority languages. (Speak an Indigenous language? Let us know here- English / Spanish)
Working on arranging emergency funding to our grassroots grant partners to respond to the crisis in their local communities using Indigenous solutions. This crisis requires urgent action, but also investment in long-term solutions for Indigenous health, food security, mental health and healing, and Indigenous sovereignty.
We are also launching an Emergency Response Manual for Indigenous community radio stations in several languages, covering topics such as: How to maintain operations of a radio station during a crisis? What are the responsibilities of a community radio station to its audience at this time? What are the key messages that need to be delivered?
There is so much more to be done, and we need your solidarity to support this crucial work. Please make a donation today to help inform communities and save lives. Please stay safe, we are all interconnected and interdependent in the web of life.
Galina Angarova (Buryat)