The #Indigenous, Educators & Custodians of our Future

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Gill Fickling - Indigenous Wayuu Children, Pessuapa, Colombia

There are more than 370 million Indigenous people living in more than 90 countries across the globe.  (Rainforest Action Network)  The theme this year at the United Nations for International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is – “Indigenous Peoples and the Right to Education” — and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be the framework for all Governments.

UNSG Ban Ki-moon stated that “in some countries less that 40% of indigenous children attend school full time and in many others, few complete a high school education.”  He deplored that language barriers such as no instruction in indigenous languages, stigmatization of cultural identity, and non-recognition of heritage, traditions, and values adds to the marginalization. There must be increased commitment to education for indigenous women and girls who have suffered historical patterns of discrimination and exclusion. This is unacceptable if sustainable development goals are to be achieved.

On a positive note for shared commitments, UNESCO head, Irina Bokova commended “indigenous peoples’ crucial role as custodians of rich cultural diversity, carrying unique wisdom for sustainable living and respect for biodiversity.” Their unique knowledge systems may hold the key to mankind’s sustainable future and for mitigating consequences of climate change.
(For a memorable photo collection & more information from the UN, see: “On International Day, UN Spotlights Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education”)

Outside the auspices of the UN, Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network furnished an update on the Amazon Sao Luiz Tapajos mega dam yesterday which is cause of celebration and testament to the power of social media.

Rainforest Action Network:   

“We know that Indigenous peoples have been the best stewards for protecting the forests and have provided the best solutions to protect ecosystems that we love so much for generations. And through that knowledge and commitment, they also act as great protectors of climate and wildlife.

The Munduruku, for example, live along the Tapajós River in Brazil. This community has been fighting for over a decade to have their land rights officially recognized by the government. But when the São Luiz do Tapajós Dam construction was proposed, their land dispute attained an even greater urgency. If constructed, this dam would not only flood and destroy three Munduruku villages, it would also flood an area of pristine rainforest the size of New York City.

For years the Munduruku fought this construction, and recently had a major victory when the Brazilian government finally recognized 178,000 hectares of land as Traditional Munduruku land. That decision suspended the license for the environmentally and culturally destructive dam. Though cancellation of the dam has not been finalized and the Munduruku people will not stop their fight, their achievements in this fight have been huge. The resolve and persistence of the Munduruku have not only defended their livelihood and culture but a significant portion of their regional rainforest as well. When the Munduruku people speak up and take action for their rights, they speak up and take action for thousands of sentient beings that can’t: manatees, freshwater dolphins, pink porpoises, caimans, river otters, and Amazonian turtles — just a fraction of species whose lives and habitat were protected when the Munduruku fought for their rights.”

In summary, the Indigenous have much to teach us. Respect and honor for their way of life will be the building blocks for a more sustainable future. Our lives depend on each other.

By, Susan Sacirbey @DiplomaticallyX

See More Stories from  “Indigenous Peoples Seeking Rights

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World Day for Cultural Diversity, Dialogue, Development


Huffington Post: “Is Education a Human Right?


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