They live hundreds of miles apart but share a common destiny: they are the women of the Batwa, Tepeth, Ik,and Benet Indigenous communities of Uganda. All are mountain dwellers living on the fringes of forests they once called home. They and their families were forcefully displaced without compensation. Yet, these communities have strong economic, cultural, and spiritual connections to those lands, which have not been fully granted by the protected area management regimes.
Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine
Jannie Staffansson (Saami) is a renowned Indigenous climate change expert. She lives in Jokkmokk, Sápmi, in the north of Sweden, where she works with her partner and her beloved reindeer.
For centuries, our ancestors have known how to forecast the weather, predict future harvests, and cure diseases with natural medicines. In our traditional belief systems, the world is inhabited by spirits: the water spirit, the fire spirit, animal spirits, and ancestral spirits. Mother Nature is at the core of our values and belief systems. People feel an overwhelming reverence and respect for these divine powers and carry responsibilities towards these spirits.
Maricela Zurita Cruz (ChatNya) hails from San Juan Quiahije, Oaxaca, Mexico. She graduated high school with a scholarship for Indigenous women granted by the Guadalupe Musalem Fund. At the end of her studies, she began to collaborate with Grupo de Estudios sobre la Mujer Rosario Castellanos (GES Mujer), one of Mexico’s oldest women’s rights organizations, which works to improve gender equity and women’s well being through outreach, research, communications, and training in Oaxaca.
Boozhoo-aaniin, my name is Lindsey Balidoy. I am Bad River Ojibwe and Tiwa Pueblo. I am a scholar and an educator. I am a proud queer woman. I am a daughter, sister, friend, and relative. I am also someone who felt like all of these identities did not belong in the same place at the same time. That is, until I found a community of Indigenous scholars who refused to be invisibilized, teaching me what it means to decolonize my identity through academia.
Do you have an Auntie? Someone who is there for you in a way that other family members are not? A person you can confide in and ask for wisdom from because they are living life differently than your parents? I am Auntie to 32,000 nieces and nephews who have adopted me on Instagram. I’m not sure exactly how the community grew to be what it is, but I have accepted it and feel honored that so many look to me in this light.
My mother was a revolutionary. She lived her life authentically, expressing exactly who she was and exactly how she felt—even in moments that society deemed “inappropriate.” And that meant she felt everything as powerfully as the fire that burned inside of her, and she loved as fearlessly as the words that fell from her tongue every day. She was a living, breathing example of all the mothers and grandmothers who have upheld Indigenous insurgence, claiming a place for themselves in systems that were seeking to terminate them.
March 2021Read on Issuu Buy a copy