Interim Executive Director’s Message: The Time to Act is Now!
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Suzanne Benally (Santa Clara Tewa and Navajo), who has led Cultural Survival for the past eight years and who stepped down on June 1 to attend and focus on caring for her family. The Board of Directors appointed me to serve as the interim executive director until our new executive director, Galina Angarova (Buryat), begins her role in October.
This issue of the Cultural Survival Quarterly is focused on traditional knowledge. You will read the voices of Indigenous leaders who are advocating for the protection, support, and transmission of traditional knowledge to younger generations. We live in a critical time where action needs to be taken now to save the planet and Indigenous voices must be listened to. As I write this, the Amazon rainforest is burning, the Taiga in Siberia is burning, ice caps in the Arctic are melting, and salmon are dying en masse due to elevated water temperatures. Indigenous Peoples are at the forefront of climate change and hold the knowledge that can address and mitigate some of today’s greatest challenges. Transferring this information across generations is vital, and promoting Indigenous languages, which hold knowledge accumulated over thousands of years on medicine, meteorology, agriculture, and the like, is imperative. At Cultural Survival, we strive to amplify Indigenous voices by supporting community media efforts, grassroots advocacy, and development projects that are led by Indigenous people and rooted in Indigenous knowledge.
The Cultural Survival staff is diverse, spanning 8 countries and speaking 15 different languages—all from a staff of only 21 people. I am proud that we do a tremendous amount of work with a small, talented, and dedicated team. As Cultural Survival nears its 50th anniversary, I must also remind you, our readers, that Cultural Survival relies on you to do our work. Fully 65 percent of our budget comes from individual donors giving what they can and making purchases at the Cultural Survival Bazaar. Last year, 3,000 individuals decided to invest some of their own money in Cultural Survival. I say “invest,” because when you give to Cultural Survival, you are helping to build something. You are investing in the defense of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, lands, and cultures. And you are investing in Indigenous women and youth. We hope we can count on you as we embark on a new era with a new leader.
Interim Executive Director