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What We’re Doing with Your Money

Endangered Language ProgramEach year our Endangered Languages Program collaborates on local fundraising and advocacy priorities with our grassroots language program partners and advisors: The Euchee Language Project, the Northern Arapaho Language Lodges, the Sauk Language Department of the Sac and Fox Nation, and the Wopanaak Language Reclamation Project. We’ve recently added a new advisor and…

The UN as Truth Commission

After 25 years of negotiations, the UN General Assembly in 2007 adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, without doubt the most advanced human rights instrument created for sub-state peoples. The standards laid out in the declaration are a remarkable achievement for the international Indigenous movement. The right to self-determination; free, prior, and informed consent;…

The Big Picture

Rodolfo Stavenhagen served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from 2001 to 2008, the first person to hold that office. He conducted rigorous on-the-ground investigations of violations of Indigenous rights in a dozen countries, interviewing victims and collecting hard data on government actions. He also issued comprehensive reports that made specific…

Homemade Justice

Foster care is hard on children anywhere, but it’s especially hard on Native children who are placed with non-Native families—a process that strips them of their identity and heritage. A group of Wabanaki women in Maine have launched their own truth commission to explore the effects and implications of the state’s child welfare system, hoping to heal some of the damage, promote cultural…

Lift Each Other Up: An Interview with Chief Wilton Littlechild, commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

In 1976, Chief Wilton Littlechild had the distinction of being the first Treaty First Nation person to acquire his law degree from the University of Alberta. He also received his master’s degree in physical education in 1975. In addition to running his own law firm from the Ermineskin Reserve, Chief Littlechild is a strong advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples. He was the chairperson for…

Resolution: An Interview with Elder Joseph Williams

The Canadian Truth Commission process includes a group of elder Aboriginal advisors, to help guide the commission. One of those advisors is Joseph Williams Jr. (Taa-eee-sim-chilth), who is Nuu-chah-nulth and a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations in Meares Island, British Columbia. An elder and survivor of Indian Residential Schools, he is fluent in the Nuu-chah-nulth language. He is…

Indian Residential School Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Beginning in the 1880s, Aboriginal children across Canada were removed, often forcibly, from their homes and placed in Indian Residential Schools. At the schools, students were forbidden to speak Native languages and practice their culture. Testimony from surviving former students presents overwhelming evidence of widespread neglect, starvation, extensive physical and sexual abuse, and many…

The Reckoning

Papuan women have been suffering terrible violence both outside and inside their homes for the past 40 years, and for most of that time, they’ve suffered in silence. But now a group of women has launched their own truth commission to give support to the victims and to pressure the government to change its behavior. Papua (the western half of the island of New Guinea) has long been in a state of…

Indigenous Rights and Truth Commissions

Editor’s Note: This special theme section was produced in partnership with the International Center for Transitional Justice, which works to redress and prevent the most severe violations of human rights by confronting legacies of mass abuse. Among the many programs and efforts that ICTJ pursues is the Truth and Memory Program, which supports efforts to preserve memory of crimes committed by…

Growing Dreams: A Planter’s Society returns to the Ihanktonwan

We picked some 200 cucumbers and 30 stunningly beautiful yellow squash from the garden on a hot August day after weeding and watering. We drove through the Lake Andes housing development area with a van laden with the harvest. Many residents knew why we were there, and some came towards our van to talk about how good the cucumbers were from the previous distribution. Their eyes glittered as they…

Rvfo ‘Cuse, “Winter’s Younger Brother”

Last month I took the arrival of “Big Winter” as an occasion for exploring seasonal divisions in cokv-walv Mvskoke (the Mvskoke calendar) This time-honored calendar synthesizes the astronomical and ecological knowledge our agrarian forebears found to be useful. Based on evidence from the Mvskoke language, from Muskogean oral tradition, and from other Indigenous and scientific calendars around the…

Hollywood, Oscars, and Reel Injuns

Reel Injun, a documentary created and directed by Cree First Nations filmmaker Neil Diamond, chronicles Hollywood’s portrayals of Native Americans from the silent-film era to the present. The films range from stereotyped images depicted by white actors in “red face” to contemporary films like Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers, starring Adam Beach (Salteaux), and culminating…

Mother Tongue

Brooke Ammann’s mother still carries the scar from when she was punished for speaking Ojibwe on the playground at school with her cousin and sister. Hoping to help their daughter avoid such a fate, Brooke’s parents tried to make her speak English, even though they themselves could not speak it fluently. But as she got older, Brooke started becoming interested in learning Ojibwe, though it took…

Stepping Up

Hello and greetings to the membership, friends, and constituents of Cultural Survival. As I step into the role of executive director, I am both honored and challenged to take up the responsibility of leading an organization that works to represent the voices of Indigenous Peoples and their rights to protect their land, culture, and future generations. The enormousness of the issues globally is…

Cultural Survival Announces a New Executive Director

After an exhaustive international search, Cultural Survival’s board of directors has named Suzanne Benally as the new executive director of the organization—the first Indigenous director Cultural Survival has had. She is Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa from New Mexico. Benally, who took up her new duties on February 1, comes to Cultural Survival from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, where she…