Just What Is Conservation?

At Cultural Survival, conservation is a people issue, not a biological one. Trees don't cut themselves. Streams don't pollute themselves. the ozone layer is not self-destructing. We are the ones putting our environment in peril.

Conservation is the wise use of resources in such a way that future generations will be able to benefit from the same resources base. Conservation. however, does not mean preservation. It does not mean building fences, around the world's resources or buying significant amounts of land to preserve them. All of the world's land and resources are claimed by different peoples, and most have been used by these peoples since long before the creation of the states or legal systems that today control or regulate these riches. For indigenous peoples, conservation is nothing short of survival.

There are those who see indigenous peoples as the once and future resource managers, and there are those who see them as the main destroyers of some of the Earth's most fragile ecosystems. Many conservationists and biological scientists note that some indigenous groups are degrading their surroundings by using firearms, dynamite, and headlight hunting and by selling off timber and endangered species. Unfortunately, this conclusion plays into the hands of states and corporations that want to appropriate indigenous lands and resources, Conversely, anthropologists and human rights activists often err on the side of romanticism, praising the ways that indigenous peoples live in balance with nature.

The reality is somewhere in between: indigenous resource managements systems are in relatively sustainable balance with nature. But indigenous peoples are not do not try to tell us how to get our houses in order. Their world views and beliefs about the environment lead to specific systems of resource management - some of them sustainable, some not. Some individuals conserve more than others. None of this is terribly different from our own societies.

Which conditions encourage indigenous people living in fragile environments to conserve resources? The most important is land rights, if they own the resource base, they are less likely to degrade it. Local organization is important too. Autonomy and increased access to information, too, are key to their survival.

Indigenous peoples are also modifying their resource use in response to economic, social, population, and political pressers. For example, scientists probably conduct no more than one percent of the field trials for new crops, mixed cropping systems, or agroforestry experiments. These trials are performed primarily by indigenous peoples and poor peasants, whose living depend on such innovation.

Finally, as the world learns more about how indigenous peoples survive and prosper in fragile habitats, consumers must also renew efforts to halt or reduce environmentally degrading practices closer to home.


Our special issue on "Parks and People" 9 vol. 9, no. 1, 1985) explored in depth the often divergent interests of conservationists and indigenous people. Here's an excerpt from the introduction.

Since the founding of the first national park in the United States in the nineteenth century, indigenous inhabitants have, for the most part, been forced to move from regions designed as parks. Some of these inhabitants have been relocated to other areas by the government; more often, they have simply been told to leave the area and are given no alternatives.

In the last 25 years it has become obvious that the exclusion of traditional inhabitants from conservation areas has not always had the desired ecological or conservational effects. Yet the lack of any common international vocabulary for discussing parks and the problems they create has impeded resolving the conflicts that have arisen.…

People have developed a number of ways to live in fragile environments. We know very little about how these, systems evolved, how they function, or how they might be adapted to make them more productive and ecologically sound. We know, however, that the key to understanding sustained activities in fragile environments begins with the local residents. Their knowledge is valuable to the future of the earth's environment and peoples. Yet we will never learn about these systems of land use if the people who have developed them continue to be destroyed or otherwise prevented from continuing their ways of life.


In 1984 a plan was announced by Nambia's Department of Nature Conservation to turn about 6:,000 km 2 of Eastern Bushmanland into a nature reserve. The area's Julwasi inhabitants; numbering about 2:,500:, were to be robbed of their land and forced to live off government handouts. Only eight of the 34 "nature guides" provided for tourists were to be Ju/wasi. It was also proposed to let one group live within the reserve area as a "tourists attractions" - provided group members lived a traditional lifestyle and did not wear Western clothes.

If the nature reserve is proclaimed, the communities and their cattle will be evicted from their waterholes and forced to move far to the west to expensive boreholes they cannot afford to maintain. Their lives will depend at best on the budget of a government - at worst on the whim of an official. They will be compelled to live in a country they do not know where bushfood and game are scarce or absent, and gifblaar is prevalent. Or they will be herded back to Tshumkwe, an area completely inadequate to support their mixed economy. Instead of setting an example of self-support they will join the dependent many. Instead of providing an answer for the future self-development of the Ju/wa people, they will become part of the problem. All hope of Ju/wa people participating as self-supporting citizens of Namibia will be lost.

"How can a government take away my land like this - take away my living? What will I do without my cattle and my garden? Without bushfoods and mangetti nuts that are near? N/=amtchoa is my N!ore. It is my land to live on," dictated Black/Kwi in a recent letter to the Administrator-General.

For Ju/wasi the death blow of a nature reserve is not a figure of speech. It is not a metaphor for social disintegration and collapsing values. The death blow of dispossession means their lives.

Tourism, coupled with conservation, also was the official government explanation for resettling the Basarwa people in Botswana in 1988. Shuting indigenous groups out of development decisions by moving them out of the way is a common theme in the conservation-versus-people debate.

Two ministers who toured the central Kalahari in mid-1988 offered several reasons as to why resettlement was necessary. First of all, they noted, the move would help ensure conservation of the resources base in the reserve. Secondly, they argued that a move to other areas would increase people's access to social services and development assistance. Finally, they stressed that such a move would enhance the tourism potential of the region and would serve to expand economic opportunities for local people in the tourism industry,

It is ironic that conservation and tourism are being used as arguments to dispossess people in the kalahari. In recent years there have been an increasing number of calls for alliances between indigenous populations and conservationists (Clay 1985:5; Crespi and Greenberg 1987:25). Scientists and development planners have postulated that environmental, social, and economic goals can bests be achieved if local people are allowed to participate in development decisions. Given that one of Botswana's four main planning objectives is to promote social justice, it might well be worth the effort to reconsider some of the effects of conservation and tourism expansion policies in order to ensure that sustained and equitable development can be achieved.

In another example from the African continent, Patrick McAllister outlines the South African government's policy of "betterment planning," one arm of its large-scale Surplus People's Project to uproot black South Africans in the name of apartheid. "Betterment" schemes, however, take place in the name of conservation and agricultural development.

Also known as "soil conservation," "agricultural rehabilitation," and "betterment planning," these schemes involve the following steps: (1) dividing a given area (usually a rural ward or administrative area) into residential, arable, and grazing land; (2) relocating people from their dispersed homestead sites to sites in new, village-type residential areas; and (3) demarcating and fencing arable lands and establishing fenced grazing camps .…

As far as the ecology is concerned, concentrated settlement is likely to lead to increased erosion around the villages, as has occurred in other "betterment" area (de Wet 1985). Factors such as the destruction of the traditional management system and the unlikelihood of abandoned fields reverting to grazing (they tend to be coarse thatching grass) will probably led to overgrazing. Water resources near the large villages could become polluted and nearby wooded areas overexploited. The scattered settlement system, on the other hand, allows for more controlled and easy access to water and wood, as well as to land. The plan itself makes no provision for agricultural extensions services, for combating erosion, or for environmental conservation. Grazing camps detailed on it are not going to be implemented due to lack of money for fencing; the estimated amount for establishing boreholes and reservoirs in the village, too, is likely to never materialize.


Some conservation schemes ship indigenous inhabitants out of their traditional lands only to give hunting or farming rights to nonnatives. In the case of the Chapleau Crown Game Preserve in Ontario, the Brunswick House Ojibwa Indians were denied rights that others, such as the Cree Indians, were permitted to exercise.

the creation of the Chapleau Game Preserve removed 60 percent of the land base of the [Brunswick House] band, the lands most intensively exploited by the Indian people. Created to halt a perceived decline in the numbers of game and fur-bearing animals in the Chapleau region, the severity of the decline probably had little or nothing to do with native subsistence economics; there is abundant ethnohistorical documentation which indicates that the major cause of the problem was the influx of Euro-Canadians to the Chapleau area after construction of the railways.…

The loss of their traditional lands plus the lack of alternative meant that band members were subject to an enforced 60 percent of inactivity. The establishment of the game preserve took place shortly before the Great Depression, and for a decade work in the lumber mills was nonexistent. The commercial fur industry survived to the extent that the Hudson's Bay Company spent most of the 1930s battling itinerant fur buyers for control of the trade, and provincial game wardens were kept busy chasing whites who were poaching furs in the game preserve. Fragmented as a social entity in an increasingly oppressive social and economic environment, the Brunswick House Ojibwa were put on relief rolls a full generation before other northern Indians.

The band's present reserve lands offer little in the way of economic development potential. A small, on-reserve logging operation, though a remarkable adaptation under the circumstances, is not on a sustained yield basis, with virtually all existing timber stands intensively logged. Without meaningful opportunities to reestablish their economic base, the Brunswick House people's chances for improved self-determination are minimal.

The provincial government continues to reap economic benefits from the band's original lands....The game preserve is billed as the second largest game preserve in the world and is therefore an excellent area for observing wildlife. It also functions as a breeder pool for indigenous faunal species and as a source of valuable timber for private logging firms.

A government agency charged with the responsibility of preserving these outstanding cultural and natural features, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is in fact involved in selective preservation. While very diligently working at preserving ancient native cliff paintings, it denies access by the descendants of the artists. Similarly, the ministry permits the trapping of nuisance beaver and some subsistence hunting in the game preserve by more "traditional-looking and behaving" Cree Indians from James Bay, while it denies access by those Indians who are the rightful and legitimate heirs to the preserve lands under the pretext that, as one ministry official put it, "There aren't any real Indians around Chapleau anymore." This last point is interesting because it serves to point our the power that white society has in defining what is Indian. In fact, a local newspaper annually features laudatory articles about the James Bay Cree, contrasting their "good behavior" with the "bad behavior" of the Brunswick House people.

In Thailand the government's Royal Forest Department targeted some 3,000 - 5,000 Hmong for resettlement. It said it was concerned over the presence of tribal peoples in protected areas because of the threats that their agricultural practices posed to the habitat - a complex euphemism for the government's desire to bring such groups under its political control.

The residents of Huai Yew Yee were self-sufficient farmers, growing short-grain rice, corn, and a variety of vegetables and fruits. Although they did poach some wildlife, the people maintained large numbers of chickens and pigs (and some cattle) for food and had cattle for farm work Opium poppy also was grown in the area, but the amount of land allocated to this cash crop was small in comparison to that devoted to subsistence crops. The larger households, consisting of extended families with married sons and their offspring, had anywhere from 30 to 100 rai planted in rice and corn, but a maximum of only 4 to 6 rai planted in poppy (2.5 rai equal one acre). Prior to the evacuation of Huai Yew Yee village, the Thai press had published articles saying that the Hmong had encroached on Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary and were supporting themselves by growing opium and poaching wildlife.…

Before the Hmong were to be relocated in Phop-Phra subdistrict, they were to be kept for as long as one to two years, apparently in isolation to two years, apparently in isolation, at a "temporary" holding site at Ka Ngae Kee village (sometimes referred to as Krakakee village), an area of degraded forest adjacent to the road leading northward to Umphang from Thung Uai Naresuan. The Provincial Forest Office in Tak may have proposed this area as a resettlement site for the sanctuary Hmong, but the decision was made in Bangkok to declare the land a protected area instead.…

In April 1986, the watershed survey and planning subdivision of the Royal Forest Department indicated that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Thailand had offered to assist with the relocation of the Hmong. the US Embassy-based head of the Narcotics Assistance Unit may have encouraged the Royal Forest Department to approach USAID for assistance with the relocation. The Hmong's habit of raising opium as an easily transportable cash crop has increased their vulnerability to development schemes supported by outside agencies, even though the opium produced in Thailand has little relevance to the international market (McKinnon and Bhruksari 1986; McKinnon 1987). The Royal Forest Department planned on requesting assistance only for transporting the Hmong to the relocation site and for developing an irrigation system there. Subsequent discussion between USAID Thailand and the Royal Forest Department appears to have focused instead on a feasibility study of the proposed relocation site. However, the Royal Forest Department never followed through on submitting any proposal for USAID…

Protection of forest habitat and wildlife may or may not require relocation of hill tribes or ethnic Thais. At a time when growing consideration is being given to the material benefits that ethnics. Thais may derive from protected areas - sometimes referred to as "social forestry" - the absolute exclusion of hill tribes from protected areas seems almost paradoxical. If relocation is deemed the most appropriate conservation strategy, however, then the people affected - ethnic Thai or tribal - should be permitted to participate in every step of the design and implementation of the relocation program (Eudey 1986; Brockelman 1987). The government must be willing to enter into dialogue with those people vulnerable to relocation.


The Chipka Movement in India, also known as the "Embrace the Tree" Movement, began in the 1970s when women used their own bodies to protect tress about to be chopped down by contractors. One offshoot of this movement is the Chipko movement protesting limestone quarrying in Doon Valley in northern India, featured in the first excerpt. The Appiko Movement protesting limestone quarrying in Doon Valley in northern India, featured in the first excerpt. The Appiko Movement on India's western coast also uses nonviolent resistance and education as a way to raise awareness about forest destruction. In this second case, though, the movement workers found themselves caught in a bind.

On the morning of 20 March 1987, four truckloads of armed goondas (hired thugs) stormed - with revolvers, spears, knives, iron rods, and sticks - the Sinsiaru Khala camp of volunteers of the Chipko Movement, who were continuing a long, arduous nonviolent struggle against ecologically hazardous limestone quarrying in Doon Valley. Another attack that evening left a large number of men, women, and children wounded and profusely bleeding. Itwari Devi and Chamandai, the leading lights of the movement, were stoned; Ramesh Kukreti and his colleagues suffered serious injuries and had to be rushed to Doon Hospital, 20 km away.

In the history of peaceful resistance to environmental devastation in India, this was undoubtedly one of the bloodies incidents of assault on grassroots activists. The current situation in Doon Valley stands in stark contrast to the situation in 1985 when, under official support, it was fashionable to become an environmentalist in the valley. Environmentalism then was nor only safe but also offered an easy way to win prestige and power. When the poor and the rural people also asserted their right to fight for conservation in Doon Valley, however, the nature of the movement underwent a change, as did the nature of the reaction of the quarry operations.

For the "last man" of Doon Valley, conservation has become a matter of life and death. Environmental destruction undermines the life support system of the poor, and their environmental struggles invite brutal attacks from truckloads of goondas hired by the quarry "mafia." The limestone quarry in the Nahi-Kala region of Doon Valley, the locale of the struggle, has devastated the precious dense forests and the vital water resources that support the livelihood of villagers in the Thano-Malkot area. Chipko resistance against the limestone quarrying aims to conserve these irreplaceable, life-supporting resources. The organized attack on movement activists seems clearly aimed at removing the people's peaceful injunction against quarrying with brute force.…

While the spirit of satyagraha (non-violent resistance) stays alive in Chipko, the movement has transcended its original association of hugging the trees in the Garhwal Himalayas. The Chipko Movement in Doon Valley shows that supporting the movement is not merely a matter of embracing trees, but of embracing the living resources of nature in all their diversity, including the living mountains and the living waters.

In 1950, Uttara Kannada district's forest covered more than 81 percent of its geographical area. The government, declaring this forest district a "backward" area, then initiated the process of "development," Three major industries - a pulp and paper mill, a plywood factory, and a chain of hydroelectric dams constructed to harness the rivers - sprouted in the area. These industries have overexploited the forest resource, and the dams have submerged huge forest and agricultural areas. The forest had shrunk to nearly 25 percent of the district area by 1980. The local population, especially the poorest population, were displaced by the dams, groups were displaced by the dams. The conversion of the natural mixed forests into teak and eucalyptus plantations dried up the water sources, directly affecting forest dwellers. In a nutshell, the three major p's - paper, plywood, and power - which were intended for the development of the people, have resulted in a fourth p: poverty.

The Appiko Movement uses various techniques to raise awareness: foot marches in the interior forest, slide shows, folk dances, street plays, and so on. The movement has achieved a fair amount of success: the state government has banned feeling of green trees in some forest areas; only dead, dying, and dry trees are felled to meet local requirements. The movement has spread to the four hill districts of Karnataka Province, and has the potential to spread to the Eastern Ghats in Tamil Nadu Province and to Goa Province.

The second area of the Appiko Movement's work is to promote afforestation on denuded lands. In the past. Appiko activists have successfully motivated villagers to grow saplings. Individual families as well as village youth clubs have taken an active interest in growing decentralized nurseries. An all-time record of 1.2 million saplings were grown by people in the Sirsi area in 1984-1985. No doubt this was possible due to the cooperation of the forest department, which supplied the plastic bags for growing saplings. In the process of developing the decentralized nursery, the activists realized that the forest department makes extra money in raising a nursery. The cost paid for one sapling grown by a villager was 20 paise (US 2¢), whereas the cost of a single sapling raised by the forest department amounted to a minimum of Rs 2 (US 15¢). In addition, the forest department used fertilizers and gave tables to saplings. The Appikko Movement's experience has brought an overuse of chemical fertilizers into the forest nursery, making it a capital-intensive, money-making program. The nursery program propagated by the forest department is really a means for utilizing village labor at cheap rates. Appiko activists have learned lessons from this experience, and they are now growing saplings only to meet their own needs, not to give to the forest department.


Conservationists, environmentalists, and anthropologists alike sometimes promote the myth that indigenous people are the world's "natural and first" conservationists. While indigenous systems of resources management undoubtedly have contributed to the preservations of the world's ecosystems. Westerners can also fall into the trap of promoting Rousseau's "noble savage" - to the detriment of native people and the environment.

Just as indigenous misunderstand conservation tradeoffs, so also may conservation planners misjudge the extent to which aboriginal groups living within or adjacent to proposed protected areas actually wish to work for (or guard) the attainment of conservation objectives. For example, assumptions that traditional lifestyles practiced by the indigenous necessarily complement conservation objectives often turn out to be wide of the mark.…

To illustrate how choice of new technology poses awkward problem to conservationists, the following indicative examples might be noted: * Some Inuit whale hunters now favor using explosive harpoons and other contemporary technology. * Gasoline-powered chainsaws accelerate land clearing by slash-and-burn agriculturists. * Explosives are occasionally used to stun or kill fish in traditional Maori hunting and fishing areas of New Zealand.

These examples suggest that some contemporary manifestations of traditional "lifestyle" no longer can be assumed to conform to a harmonious prototype.…

In the world of today there are two systems, two different irreconcilable "ways of life," The Indian world - collective, communal, human, respectful of nature, and wise - and the Western world - greedy, destructive, individuals, and enemy of Mother Nature. [from the International NGO Conference on Indigenous Peoples and the Land, 1981].

Similar views embellish pronouncements from the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. While the sincerity of such statements cannot be disputed, the likelihood of their being true is open to question. Such formulations by the indigenous themselves support the view that indigenous lifestyle are, almost by definition, compatible with conservationist goals. Such statements not only ignore past adoption of biologically disruptive technology by aboriginal peoples, but also in a curious way butters the fallacy of the "noble savage," a uniquely European concept. The same misconception lies buried in the automatic assumption that indigenous peoples will accept or even welcome cultural stasis as a condition of their involvement in conservation managements.

Countless examples make it clear that indigenous people can be either forced, seduced, or tempted into accepting new methods, new crops, and new technologies. No better example exists than the near-universal adoption of firearms for hunting by Indians in the Neotropics. Shotguns or rifles, often combined with the use of flashlights and outboard motors, change completely the interaction between human hunters and their prey.

There is no cultural barrier to the Indians' adoption of means to "improve" their lives (i.e., make them more like Western lives), even if the long-term sustainability of the resource base is threatened. These means can include the sale of timber and mining rights to indigenous lands, commercial exploitation of flora and fauna, and invitations to tourists to observe "traditional lifestyle." Indians should not be blamed for engaging in these activities. They can hardly be faulted for failing to live up to Western expectations of the noble savage. They have the same capacities, desires, and, perhaps, needs to overexploit their environment as did our European ancestors. Why shouldn't Indians have the same right to dispose of the timber on their land as the international timber companies have to sell theirs? An indigenous group responded to the siren call of the market economy in just this spirit in Brazil in 1989, which Guajajara Indians took prisoners in order to force the government Indian agency, FUNAI, to grant them permission to sell lumber from their lands.…

[We] need to learn from Indians. We need to enlist their help and modify their methods - selecting, refining, innovating what is appropriate to a given situation - in order to meet the demands of development in the Neotropics..…

Indigenous knowledge is tremendously important for many reasons. If reflects the accumulated wisdom of unique cultures; it echoes the experience of groups whose survival is threatened; it offers fascinating insights of ecologists value. And occasionally, only occasionally, it offers methods that, when modified, can be of use to inhabitants, native and non-native, in the modern Neotropics.


Indigenous peoples' concern fro their environment has taken form in declarations, statements, and open letters intended in further their own agendas in the wave of the growing environmentalism of the nineties. This statement, by the president of the Union of Rural Workers of Nova Aripuana, in Amazonas, Jaime da Silva Araujo (also a member of the National Council of Seringueiros [Rubber Tappers], was directed in the World Commission on Environment and Development in Sao Paulo in October 1985.

I am a seringueiro. My people live from the forest that some want to destroy. We want to take advantage of this opportunity to meet so many people gathered together with the same goal - to defend the environment, to defend the conservation of tropical forests. We Seringueiros call for this struggle to be intensified, for pressure to be applied on the banks that send foreign money to Brazil to destroy our forests. We insist that we live from the forest. We insist that it be preserved. We want the whole world to benefit from this forest, in spite of the great difficulties that surround us in living there. We Seringueiros want to follow the example of the indigenous nations that rightly want their lands demarcated. We Seringueiros want extractive reserves created, since the same banks that finance the large projects also finance the capitalists who benefit from our work, through all the native vegetable products that we exact.

In a document addressed "To the community of concerned environmentalist," the Coordinating Body for the Indigenous Peoples' Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) outlined its concerns at being left out of conservation and preservation plans and offered some suggestions for working together with environmentalists. This document was presented by a COCIA delegation in the United States in October 1989.

We are concerned that you have left us, the Indigenous Peoples, out of your vision of the Amazonian Biosphere. The focus of concern of the environmental community has typically been the preservation of the tropical forest and its plant and animal inhabitants. You have shown little interests in its human inhabitants who are also part of that biosphere.

We are concerned about the "debt for nature swaps" which put your organizations in a position of negotiating with out governments for the future of our homelands. We know of specific examples of such swaps which have shown the most brazen disregard for the rights of the indigenous inhabitants and which are resulting in the ultimate destruction of the very forests which they were meant to preserve.

We are concerned that you have left us Indigenous Peoples and out organizations out of the political process which is determining the future of our homeland. While we appreciate your efforts on our behalf, we want to make it clear that we appreciate your efforts on our behalf, we want to make it clear that we never delegated any power of representation to the environmentalist community not to any individuals or organization within that community

We are concerned about the violence and ecological destruction of our homeland caused by the increasing production and trafficking of cocaine, most of which is consumed here in the US…

We propose that you work directly with our organizations on all your programs and campaigns which affect our homelands.

We propose that you swap "debt for indigenous stewardship" which would allow your organizations to help return areas of the Amazonian rain forest to our care and control.

We propose establishing a permanent dialogue with you to develop and implement new models for using the rain forest based on the list of alternatives presented with this document.

We propose joining b\hands, with those members of the worldwide environmentalist community who: * recognize our historical role as caretakers of the Amazon Basin. * support our efforts to reclaim and defend our traditional territories. * accept out organizations as legitimate and equal partners.

We propose reaching out to other Amazonian peoples such as the rubber tappers, the Brazil-nut gatherers, and others whose livelihood depends on the nondestructive extractive activities, many of whom are of indigenous origin.

We propose that you consider allying yourselves with us, the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon, in defense of our Amazo - COICA, "Two Agendas on Amazon Development," vol. 13, no. 4 (1989) Education at the grassroots level is essential in stemming the tide of development and the destruction of the Amazonian rain forests. Satellite photography can provide visual images of such rapid changes and can be useful in distributing pictures quickly and accurately.

Our experience with community health programs elsewhere in Brazil (Brown et al. 1984) verifies that visual illustrations of land use help people to focus attention on specific problems of their region. Pictures enable all residents - including those who cannot read - to grasp quickly the physical dimensions of their community and the impact of activities outside their immediate surroundings. A problem exists, however, in getting the information to those who need it.

Our first steps in distributing in Rond"nia the images described in this article have been to provide them to rural extension agents, state environmental agency officials, and a local community organizer. One extension agent uses them to orient colleagues and to map land use in the township. The state officials employ them to communicate with other government groups in charge of protecting forested areas (Brown et al. 1988). The community organizer uses images as a way to encourage local farmers to join a community association. Much more work is needed in distributing this type of information at the grassroots level; the authors welcome suggestion for making this distribution more widespread and effective.

Satellite images offer timely information on - and in some cases the only evidence of - the dramatic changes in land use in Amazonia. Under the "open skies" policy these images are available to anyone, and searches to determine what images exist are free. These images can serve to enable indigenous peoples and local communities to influence the decisions that affect their well-being and survival.

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

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