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Our Lands, Our Rights, Our Responsibilities

Author
Galina Angarova

 

Dear Cultural Survival community,

It is our pleasure to present this latest issue of the CSQ dedicated to Indigenous land stewardship, the struggles to secure Indigenous land rights, and our rights and responsibilities to our ancestral territories. In November 2021, Cultural Survival launched our new strategic framework prioritizing lands and livelihoods as one of the top issues for Indigenous Peoples that require immediate attention.  Indigenous Peoples and their lands and territories are inseparable: what happens to the land happens to us as Peoples. Our cultures, languages, cosmovisions, and ways of life are connected to the lands from which we originate.


Indigenous Peoples and our landscapes have co-evolved together, and it is this sacred, interdependent, and reciprocal relationship of place and its people that creates such richness of biodiversity and culture. As Jack Collard (Nyoongar) writes, “The universality of the totemic system across the globe speaks to its effectiveness as a mechanism to ensure balance is maintained within this web of life. As we come to know these animals, trees, plants, and elements as our brothers and sisters, we treat them as such. This intimate and profound connection is the vested interest we have in ensuring they are cared for and protected.” 


Highly biodiverse areas throughout the world have been found to be a direct result of Indigenous stewardship. Supporting cultural and language diversity and revitalization also directly supports biological diversity, conservation, and climate change mitigation. We believe that Traditional Knowledge is the key to protecting the land we have inhabited for millennia, and Indigenous languages are essential to maintain and transmit our Traditional Knowledge to future generations. The erosion of languages and cultures leads to the erosion of biodiversity, land, and soil.


This issue of the CSQ is devoted to bringing the voices of Indigenous leaders across the globe who are risking their lives to secure land titles, protect their territories from extractive industries, rematriate and restore land, get land back to its original stewards, and ensure that Traditional Knowledge is passed on through our Indigenous languages and arts. Indigenous Peoples are fighting for the future of our planet and to protect the remaining biodiversity on Earth, of which 80 percent is found on Indigenous territories.


Unfortunately, as we know, Indigenous leaders are disproportionately represented in attacks against land and environmental defenders. According to the International Land Coalition, nearly one-third of the 536 land and environmental defenders who were victims of non-lethal attacks in 2020 were Indigenous defenders; 86 percent of these attacks targeted land activists defending their land and customary rights, and 50 percent were against Indigenous women. As we work towards a Just Transition to a green economy, we need to support strengthening Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination, sovereignty, land defense, land titling, their traditional ways of managing natural resources, biodiversity conservation, and the proliferation of traditional economies and livelihoods. 


Join us in backing Indigenous communities in securing their land rights and in continuing their stewardship of their territories. Our 50-year legacy of advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ rights is thanks to you, our community, who help make our work possible. Support us in shifting the narrative and resources for Indigenous languages, solutions, and leadership to build a better world for us all. Donate today to sustain this meaningful and impactful work. 

 

In Solidarity and Gratitude,

Galina Angarova (Buryat)
Executive Director