Cultural Survival Projects - Annual Review
Since 1972 about 60% of Cultural Survival's limited funds have been channeled to field projects. Each year some projects end, others continue and new ones are undertaken. During the year we receive numerous requests regarding these projects. So rather than simply list new or active projects in all issues of the Quarterly, the final issue of each annual volume will include descriptive project summaries.
How Are Projects Selected?
Cultural Survival does not design or otherwise create projects; the organization responds to requests, either from Indian communities, their regional organizations or non-Indian support groups. But Cultural Survival cannot respond to all groups in need of assistance. Thus far our budget has permitted support for about 15% of the requests received. So projects selected must:
1) focus on representative problems faced by small societies in many areas, and
2) allow for extensive documentation and analysis.
By confronting common problems we hope to document their resolution (or failure] and disseminate this information to concerned individuals, human rights groups, development organizations, and, when deemed appropriate, national governments. The organization thus responds to particular groups' urgent needs while also generating data for case studies useful in developing methodology and theory to help a wider population. When necessary, Cultural Survival also provides emergency assistance such as medicine, travel funds, or advocacy for sudden violations of human rights.
What is a Representative Problem?
Physical decimation, either from murder or introduced diseases, threatens numerous Indian populations; it sparks justified outrage and demands immediate action in the form of denunciation, demands for cessation, or international intervention and monitoring. Unfortunately, such gross violations of human rights usually cannot be confronted by field projects. Local development projects nonetheless serve a vital function, and perhaps can prevent some gross atrocities. Genocide, or whatever term one chooses, often occurs after a long process of gradual social erosion, atomism, and economic marginalization which weakens a population's ability to defend itself as a group. Terms such as "assimilation" and "integration" usually serve only to mask, and thus make more palatable, the destruction of the social fabric which binds a group, provides it with a voice, and permits an integrated program for controlling their future.
Cultural Survival's field projects develop from a concept of culture which defines it as a set of social mechanisms which permit a society as a group to have a sense of itself, to comprehend its situation, and to adapt to changing circumstances. Cultural survival is not the preservation of a romantic status quo, but rather the maintenance of these mechanisms. Cultural Survival takes the position that societies are always changing, and it is not for outsiders to determine whether indigenous people are being true to themselves. The organization responds to the needs expressed by the native people themselves, not some outsider's idealized image of an appropriate life.
Requests fall into two general categories:
1. Specific proposals which request assistance to improve the lives of native people. Foremost among these is a secure territorial base. Following these are requests for appropriate education, access to credit sources, improved health care and opportunities for locally managed economic activities.
2. General requests to eliminate the abuses they face from the dominant society, such as:
- Political domination
- Violence and other forms of repression against ethnic minorities
- Absence of equal rights and justice under the law
- Distorted or Eurocentric histories
Territorial security and appropriate development practices allow small, relatively isolated groups to persist as viable, independent, and successful ethnic groups in the plural societies of which they are a part.
Cultural Survival's field projects generally assist groups anticipating or undergoing a radical social change and where, at some critical crossroad, choices and alternatives exist. In doing so, the organization attempts to demonstrate that culturally sensitive alternatives are not expensive, need not impede national development, and will incorporate ethnic minorities as productive members rather than as marginalized victims.
Several illustrative projects are described below.
The Impact of Uranium Mining
Australian Aborigines have occupied the Alligator Rivers region of Arnham, Northern Territory, for over 25,000 years. In 1980, the first of three large uranium mines began operations in an area recently awarded to individual Aboriginal families, some of whom had converted their tracts into a national park, to preserve the territory. Mining concessions were negotiated for both the park and private lands.
Environmental impact analyses for the mines were carried out nearly a decade ago, and monitoring agencies have existed since 1977. Nevertheless, an anthropologist familiar with the area wrote that the monitoring agencies are still "unaware of the extent of Aboriginal foraging on the plains near the mines. Accidental releases of toxins from [two of the mines] last year were ignored or downplayed. Although mining regulations are laid down in the Code of Practice, these were amended to allow production to proceed, despite statements or concern for human and environmental welfare. Aborigines are puzzled, angry, and fearful, and they are justified in their responses."
Cultural Survival provided funds to permit Paul Robinson, an environmental analyst from the Southwest Research and Information Center, to study the impact of uranium mining on the health and general well-being of Aborigines in the Alligator Rivers region. Robinson has expert knowledge of mining and its social impact, having served as consultant for numerous environmental organizations and indigenous groups in the United States. Guided by Carmel Shrire, an anthropologist with many years' experience in the Northern Territories, Robinson spent eight weeks in Australia visiting mines and interviewing Aborigines, park personnel, mine regulators, and legislators. The team subsequently met with Aboriginal leaders to explain the potential and actual impact of uranium mining on Aboriginal travelers and foragers who visit, sojourn, hunt, gather, or tend animals in the vicinity of the mining operation. To illustrate, Robinson demonstrated the threat to ground water and nearby lakes from seepage creeping beneath a dam constructed to contain toxic wastes.
The long-term aims of this U.S.-Australia collaboration are to define the areas endangered by toxic releases of waste material, educate the Aborigines about the dangers associated with land use there, and to provide them with the necessary information for legal procedures to compensate for their loss of land, sacred sites, and foraging rights. A report on the initial observations, including comparisons with areas in the U.S., will be prepared as an Occasional Paper in early 1983.
APCOB - Leadership Training
In April 1980, Cultural Survival approved support for a leadership training program directed by APCOB (Assistance to Indian Communities of Eastern Bolivia). By contrast to Indians in similar environments in neighboring countries, information exchange and solidarity among Bolivia's 41 lowland Indian groups is low. APCOB's goal is to help unify these groups and develop skills essential for their social and economic survival in an area of rapid change.
Working initially with 2 groups relatively close to the city of Santa Cruz, the Chiriguanos (total population, 40-50,000) and Ayoreode (total population, 3-4,000), APCOB helped organize meetings between and among the two groups. The Chiriguanos near Izozog, the most numerous and well-organized of the region, also maintain a strong cultural identity despite enormous external pressures. By contrast, the Ayoreode, a recently displaced nomadic population, are experiencing extreme difficulty in adjusting to sedentization and urban growth; many have become beggars or prostitutes. The Chiriguanos have been aiding and advising the Ayoreode through meetings arranged by APCOB.
Eventually, APCOB hopes to expand these experiences to groups throughout the Oriente. Consequently, the Chiriguano-Ayoreode meetings have been recorded on film and tape. Cultural Survival has provided funds to prepare reports based on these meetings; one will be an illustrated training manual for use in subsequent meetings of native people, the second will be written for development workers and others concerned with problems like those being confronted by APCOB. The latter report will be available as an Occasional Paper.
Brazilian Indians Under the Law
In October 1980, Cultural Survival supported a conference attended by Brazilian lawyers, anthropologists, and representatives from the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI). A brief, preliminary publication which summarized the situation of Brazilian Indians and recommended policy changes and implementation of existing legislation is available from Cultural Survival. In 1982 Cultural Survival awarded a small grant to the Federal University of Santa Catarina, the hosts of the meeting, to publish the complete proceedings of the conference. The document is in preparation.
FUNCOL Legal Assistance
Cultural Survival continues to support FUNCOL's legal assistance work in Colombian Indian communities. During 1982, FUNCOL lawyers successfully defended Indian land claims and other civil cases. The organization also took on criminal cases, which are often neglected by others concerned with indigenous rights. In several regions FUNCOL also has conducted seminars and short courses on Indian legislation to inform leaders of various communities of their civil and other rights.
In all areas additional work is essential, but some modest successes have been achieved. FUNCOL lawyers helped to resolve a long-standing and occasionally violent land tenure dispute between Katio Indian residents of the Resguardo of Cristiania and private landowners who had been whittling away at Cristiania's land. Here, Colombia's agrarian reform agency, INCORA, was persuaded to cut through a labyrinth of delays created in the courts by non-Indian claimants, and subsequently recognized lands awarded to Cristiania in the late 19th century. This was a major victory for the community and an important precedent for cases still pending final decision. Among these is the case of the Resguardo of Purace which FUNCOL, in collaboration with the Regional Indian Council of Cauca (CRIC), presented at the Fourth Russell Tribunal in 1980. This case is summarized in the recently published study, Native Peoples in Struggle.
FUNCOL also continues to represent Indians in criminal cases and other areas where little or no legal assistance usually is available, and where one's status as an "Indian" frequently results in lengthy pre-trial detention and harsh subsequent sentences. FUNCOL's assistance has helped to assure due process and a culturally sensitive defense of Indians involved in criminal cases. Cultural Survival has obtained funds for a third year of support to FUNCOL but anticipates that other monies will be needed in 1983.
Combined Traditional-Western Medical Program
Pleased with FUNCOL's legal assistance work in Colombia's isolated northeastern Llanos, several Piapoco Indian communities from the area asked the organization to help develop a medical program which could provide primary care in a culturally sensitive form. No hospital exists in the region, and occasional visits by doctors rarely took them to isolated Indian communities, and never resulted in treatment which respected traditional curing techniques. Following a period of research into traditional curing techniques, community leaders and anthropologists worked with FUNCOL to develop a program which:
1) combines traditional and Western techniques
2) places health workers directly under community control, where authority-and responsibility normally lies in Indian communities.
Local leaders and traditional curers select candidates from their respective communities to participate in a program of primary health care training (local selection virtually assures the paramedics' acceptance by community members after training). Subsequently, trained nurses, under the guidance of a Colombian public health physician, conduct an intensive two-week course in basic anatomy, health, and health care at San José de Ocuné on the Vichada River. Students then receive basic equipment and medicine, and are sent back to their communities. There they are visited by the nurses, who guide and evaluate the students' initial practice, both in terms of medical and social skills. Initial programs were so successful that other communities have requested similar training.
By bringing together trained local paramedics who are familiar with traditional curing and local curers, the program is a unique effort to overcome the common, and unfortunate, rejection of either Western medicine or traditional curing by their representative practitioners. This problem has been the subject of much research, but few field programs. Cultural Survival provided support for the initial training and equipping of health workers, and is presently seeking funds to expand the program to the additional communities which requested aid.
Cubeo Chili Project
Approved in May 1981, the Cubeo chili project was designed to increase the production and subsequent distribution of chili peppers by the Cubeo Indians of Colombia's Vaupes River. Chili production was seen as an ecologically viable and technically simple way to achieve long-term economic benefits for a population not yet drawn into the coca (for cocaine) production which dominates large areas of Colombia's Amazon region. Moreover, the project was expected to stimulate similar specialized production of local foods, thus eliminating the need to introduce untested exotic plants, or ecologically unsound extensive production of crops such as coca.
The project was expected to begin in early 1982. In the meantime, however, demands to produce coca were placed on the Cubeo. Added to this was the incentive for quick wealth, as well as opposition to the project by non-Cubeo who benefit from coca trade. Cocaine traffic, therefore, has halted temporarily a project which would have produced modest, but long-term economic benefits in favor of one which involves the Cubeo in a capricious and uncontrolled international cocaine boom.
Siona-Secoya, Cofán, Huaorani Land Demarcation
In 1980, as a response to Amazonian Indian requests for secure land tenure in a rapidly developing region, the Ecuadorian government established a commission consisting of representatives from Cultural Survival, the National Agrarian Reform Institute, the Forestry and National Parks Department, a regional development agency, and 22 Indians representing 3 groups. The commission spent 3 months in the Amazon, studying the land needs of Ecuador's most seriously threatened Indian groups, the Siona-Secoya, Cofán and Huaorani. The commission's report documented land requirements and recommended specific borders for land holdings to satisfy these needs. A report on the project has been published and distributed. Formal demarcation is underway.
Aside from the land guarantees which the project supports:
a) Indigenous land rights and national parks - Territory for hunting and fishing would have required large expanses of virgin forest, amounts difficult to justify considering the anticipated population pressure in the area. To resolve this problem communal land holdings were established adjacent to existing national parks and/or faunal reserves. This served three functions:
- Provided the Indians with access to extensive forest areas for subsistence hunting and fishing, thereby allowing the maintenance of a traditional lifestyle while they evaluated options for coping with changing circumstances.
- Established an inhabited "buffer zone" between the parks and encroaching non-Indian colonists who, in other areas, had done irreparable damage to park land and fauna.
- Provided indigenous people with titled land suitable for market-oriented economic activities.
b) Rational, sustained-yield, tropical forest agro-ecosystems - Indian land-use systems on titled land were a major consideration. Some feared that titled land would lie untouched while Indians obtained essential cash through overexploitation of the national forests and faunal reserves. Others feared that titled land would be converted to pasture, a practice now recognized as unsuitable for sustained-yield production. To provide an appropriate land-use scheme, newly-titled Indian lands were incorporated into a large forestry development and management project in Ecuador. In this way Indians will utilize their titled land in programs of controlled deforestation, reforestation, and agro-forestation.
The Ecuadorian land project stands as a model for international and inter-institutional collaboration, respect for indigenous land rights, protection for national parklands, and sustained-yield forestry agroforestry programs in tropical rainforests.
Cultural Survival/Mundo Shuar Publications
In late 1981 Cultural Survival provided funds to support a second, joint publication with Mundo Shuar, a publication series working in conjunction with the Shuar Indian Federation of the Ecuadorian Amazonian region. This volume, Pueble de Fuertes [The Strong People] will detail Shuar history from the Indians' viewpoint. The book will be used in Shuar secondary schools, as a complement to required history texts.
Initially, a relatively brief study was scheduled for publication in 1982. However, as research and writing got underway, the authors decided to prepare a more lengthy study. A three-volume study is now in preparation. The first volume has been completed. The authors anticipate publication during 1983. The first, joint publication, Amazônia Ecuatoriana: La Otra Cara del Progresso, includes studies of Shuar culture and recent change precipitated by local and national development needs. Copies are available from Cultural Survival.
Since the early 1960s, the Shuar Indians, about 1/3 of eastern Ecuador's 90,000 native people, have organized their dispersed jungle communities into a politically independent federation which now manages a bilingual radio school and a series of economic development projects. The Federation's visible and powerful presence has given its leadership direct access to high government offices and influence in regional development decisions. Not surprisingly, other indigenous groups have federated after the Shuar's model.
Recently, these federations coalesced to form the Confederation of Indian Nations of Ecuadorian Amazonia (CONFENAIE). Their goals are to organize and consolidate all Indian communities in the area, first to obtain land titles and subsequently to develop locally managed, sustained-yield, ecologically appropriate agricultural and forestry projects. CONFENAIE selected two representatives to attend the conference "Native Resource Rights and the Multinational Corporate Challenge".
Without neglecting a proud understanding of Indian history, the leadership has gone beyond a rhetoric which focuses myopically on past oppression and is concentrating on plans for the future. CONFENAIE has become interested in the land demarcation/agroforestry project mentioned in this report and has asked the Inter-institutional commission to assist them. The organization could become the vehicle to transfer to other communities the technology developed by the unique pilot land rights/development project. This could insure greater acceptance than any government-directed efforts to encourage innovation.
Cultural Survival provides CONFENAIE with its core support, plus funds and technical assistance for the preparation of a quarterly news and analysis bulletin.
Indians of the Province of Imbabura, known commonly as Otavaleños, have achieved international recognition for weavings which are sold in markets throughout Ecuador and Colombia. Some Otavalenos travel back and forth to Miami, New York, and Madrid. They have thus earned a reputation as successful, rich Indians.
But the few smartly dressed entrepreneurs in urban areas contrast sharply with a large majority of Otavaleños who obtain a meager existence by combining agricultural production from small hillside plots with wages from irregular day labor in urban areas. Regional community leaders have joined together to improve such conditions. Project Imbabuela, supported by funds from Cultural Survival, was designed as an experiment to increase local food production and stem migration to urban areas.
In 1780, the community of Imbabuela received title to land which included lower slopes and high areas of scrub growth and grasslands. The lower lands have been farmed regularly. However, in the early 20th century, thieves and rustlers prevented the use of the upper slopes. By 1970, when banditry had ended, Ecuador's agrarian reform agency threatened to expropriate the high lands which were deemed "underutilized." Since then, community members have been trying to expand production on high communal lands. Aided by technical and administrative assistance from Fundación Natura, a private non-profit ecology and conservation organization, community members are working to guarantee land tenure and sustain production through a program which combines ecologically appropriate agriculture and animal husbandry. Fundación Natura's role is one of consultant; the project, they write, "represents a first step towards an ecologically sound development scheme conceived, planned, and executed by an Indian community."
Initially, the community successfully experimented with a reforestation program involving species of specific local value. In about 10 to 15 years they can begin to harvest the trees.
The social value of this initial project, however, outweighs the eventual economic return. The new activity produced a progressive shift from individual to communal labor. Moreover, community members have subsequently decided that on Mondays, rather than travel to Quito in search of day labor, they will work on community agricultural production for both the home and the market. During 1982, they cleared the land and planted seed for potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, beets, and cauliflower. Pasture also has been prepared for the anticipated introduction of pigs and sheep.
Imbabuela's initiative to strengthen the community's economic base has not occurred in isolation. Community and regional leaders, aware that "pilot projects" are often perceived by other communities as little more than special favors, obtained the written support of the regional Indian federation and have invited other communities to observe their activities. If Imbabuela succeeds, the project will not only demonstrate indigenous economic development in a single community, but will serve as an example which can be adopted by other Imbabura communities through a regional organizational framework already in place, thus strengthening social as well as economic conditions of the region.
Project Tuapuri: A Huichol School-Workshop of Carpentry
In November 1980, Cultural Survival provided support to establish the Center for the Preservation of Huichol Sacred Art in Guadalajara, Mexico. The project had two goals. The first was to collect and preserve Huichol sacred art. The project simultaneously served to organize dispersed settlements, and thus provide a structure to defend natural resources located in Huichol territory, particularly the forests which were being indiscriminately lumbered by national and international firms.
The collection of sacred art is now established, as is a regional organization of Huichol elders. In August 1982 a follow-up project was designed to create a school workshop of carpentry in the Huichol community of Santa Catarina. The program will help the Huichol selectively utilize forest resources, demonstrating the community's claim to surrounding forest resources while developing a sustained-yield forestry program for the region surrounding the community.
The first classes will be coordinated by a forestry professor from the University of Guadalajara who will teach students to identify trees suitable for cutting, remove the lumber to the school, then convert it into finished wood products. These will be sold in local and regional markets, providing community employment and stemming the migration to urban areas. Cultural Survival will provide funds for the first three months course, planned for early November 1982. If successful, the project will be expanded to other communities in early 1983.
As with indigenous groups throughout the Americas, the Miskito Indians of Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast (population 90,000-100,000) want a voice and a vote regarding the economic development of their homeland. During the first year of Nicaragua's Sandinista government, prospects of Miskito self-determination appeared good: a broad-based and democratically organized regional organization, Misurasata, was officially recognized, given a seat on the Council of State, and permitted to design a multilingual literacy program.
But in late 1980, the sudden announcement of development plans on the Atlantic Coast sparked the Indians' concern for land, and led the government to establish a regional development ministry (INNICA). Tensions between the Indians and the government subsequently increased to such an extent that much of the Indian leadership went into exile.
In February of 1982, many Indian residents were relocated forcibly from the Honduran border region to camps in Nicaragua's interior, further alienating many from the government. Some of those in exile have openly allied themselves with counter-revolutionary Somocista forces fighting to return Nicaragua to its deplorable pre-revolutionary situation. Other Miskitos argue that the treatment of Indians and the rejection of Indian self-determination runs counter to the revolution's stated goals, and they ask that the revolution only be true to itself.
Unfortunately, now widely-acknowledged efforts to topple the Sandinista government, with US support, led to the recruitment of some exiled and angry Miskitos. Thus, most news reports have focused on Miskito involvement in counter-revolutionary violence and have blurred some Miskito Indian representatives' insistence that their disagreement with the government concerns rights to land and control over natural resources. These are concerns echoed throughout Latin America. Where they are respected, both the Indians and the nation benefit.
Cultural Survival, aware of and saddened by the fact that any support for Nicaragua's Indians is sometimes misinterpreted as support for counterrevolutionaries, is working nonetheless to support Indian efforts to regain recognition and to obtain a degree of local control over regional development. Working with legitimate representatives in exile, Cultural Survival has sponsored lectures, organized formal and informal meetings, and published scholarly and popular articles on the problem. All efforts are aimed toward ending the violence and opening a dialogue which will permit the Miskitos' active, corporate participation in national life.
Udirbi Resource Management Project
The Panamanian government has plans for a 44-kilometer highway which will penetrate the western section of a Kuna Indian communal land holding, the Comarca de San Bias. The Kuna want the road, which will provide access to the rest of Panama, but many fear it could permit uncontrolled colonization and subsequent destruction of the Comarca's forests and other natural resources, under the pretext that Kuna land is underutilized.
Consequently, Kuna leaders developed an experimental resource management program, Project Udirbi. This will combine agro-forestry, small coffee plantations, and a biological-botanical park to promote what the Kuna describe as "scientific tourism." The overall plan is to establish a rational, sustained-yield, Kuna-managed project which can generate income and protect the Comarca from land invasion. Before requesting major funding, however, Kuna leaders wanted to inform all Kuna of the projected program and solicit their support. Cultural Survival provided a grant to prepare an eight-page informative pamphlet which was distributed during mid-1982.
Achual Land Demarcation
In May 1981 Cultural Survival initiated support for a land demarcation project among the Achual Indians of the northwest Peruvian Amazon. Here 42 Achual communities lacked legal title to their land, located in areas undergoing oil exploration, and already the site of a large petroleum pipeline. The regional office of the Ministry of Agriculture, the department charged with titling Indian lands, recognized its obligation to the Achual but said that funds were insufficient to conduct the required topographical survey and socioeconomic studies essential for titling. Cultural Survival's support permitted the communities to employ a government surveyor and social scientist to conduct the demarcation.
When the project was initiated, few indigenous communities in Peru were receiving land titles, and there was considerable pessimism regarding the possibility for the Achual. However, by using government surveyors and maintaining regular and cordial relations with the regional offices of the Ministry of Agriculture, the team conducted the essential field studies along the Nuasaga, Manchari, and Huituyacu Rivers. Demarcation also took place for 3 Candoshi-Murato settlements nearby. Thus, about 63% of Achual community land has been demarcated, not only with the approval of government officials but by government personnel. In this way the likelihood of transforming the demarcation, a technical problem, to titled land, a legal act, is considerably enhanced.
To demarcate the remaining 37% of the Achual communities, the Peruvian government has approved additional support; Cultural Survival also has agreed to expand support of the project to permit demarcation of all communities, and will provide funds for subsequent legal assistance to process land titles. When completed in 1983, the project not only will provide land to the Achual but it will serve as an excellent case study collaboration between Indian communities, government officials, and international organizations.
CIPA/Cultural Survival Joint Publication
One of the most frequently voiced concerns of Latin American Indian groups and their supporters is the lack of facilities for exchanging information between different groups in the hemisphere. Recently, Peru's Center for the Promotion and Investigation of the Peruvian Amazon (CIPA), a private support group for Amazonian Indian populations, requested permission to translate and reprint the CSQ issue which concentrated on deforestation, since the articles were directly related to concerns in the Peruvian Amazon. Cultural Survival agreed and suggested that the number of copies printed be increased to permit distribution among many Indian groups and support organizations in Latin America. This will inform a wider audience and, more important, could stimulate interest and collaboration in a regular series of bilingual publications to link and inform groups presently working independently.
Amuesha Bilingual Education
In May 1982 the Projects Director visited the Amuesha Committee on Bilingual Education headquarters at the Amuesha Casa Cultural in Cacazu, Peru. They discussed the progress of the program initiated in 1980 with Cultural Survival support. The bilingual committee was functioning well; fifteen bilingual instructors are teaching in dispersed communities and meeting monthly at the Casa Cultural. Publications of basic texts for courses in reading, writing, and arithmetic have been completed and are being used in the schools.
The preparation of new, culturally unique studies of history, geography, music, and social studies have been completed, and they are being prepared for publication. Once these texts are prepared, the committee hopes to begin Phase II of the program, which includes preparation of a wide range of additional texts, such as agriculture, indigenous songs, astronomy, medicine, architecture, and several other themes relating to Amuesha cultural life and its environment. Cultural Survival will consider subsequent assistance when Phase I of the project is completed.
Indian Law Resource Center
In 1982 the Indian Law Resource Center, a private, non-profit, Indian-controlled law office devoted to the advancement and protection of Native peoples' rights, expanded its activities to include Central and South America. Aided in part by Cultural Survival's support, the project will document human rights violations and bring them to the attention of appropriate international forums. In addition to responding to violations of individual and group rights in several Latin American nations, the ILRC also helped to establish an international forum to consider general violations of Indian human rights. This international body, the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, was established in early May 1982 and is now a subgroup of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities within the U.N.'s Commission on Human Rights. The Working Group will receive and evaluate complaints annually.
In preparation for the first meeting, several Indian and support organizations drafted the "Principles for Guiding the Deliberations of the Working Group on Indigenous Population." Article II of the Principles states that indigenous people "shall be free from any action or course of conduct which directly or indirectly may result in the destruction or disintegration of their physical, cultural, or political integrity." Acting on this principle, the ILRC presented the case of Guatemala's Indians before the Working Group's first meeting in August 1982. This problem was deemed the most urgent violation of indigenous rights in the hemisphere. Additional cases will be considered and evaluated for the next annual meeting. Cultural Survival expects to contribute directly and indirectly with ILRC's South and Central America Project.
A second general aspect of the new ILRC project involved collaboration and preparation for the conference "Native Resource Control and the Multinational Corporate challenge: Aboriginal Rights and International Perspectives".,/P>
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