Communication and solidarity

Published as an e-newsletter for the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), a rights-based advocacy NGO in Copenhagen

The completion of the most recent IWGIA yearbook, The Indigenous World 2013, is a timely reminder of the similarities between the problems faced by all indigenous peoples. The yearbook contains stories of peoples facing the same fundamental struggles, albeit with varying access to their rights.
The past year has seen indigenous peoples subject to increasing human rights violations and loss of land at the hands of extractive industries. Violations are often committed with impunity while indigenous peoples lack access to justice and face criminalization.

The urgent need to monitor these developments calls for the rights of indigenous peoples to establish and access media as recognized in Article 16 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In the coming months we will be developing a book on indigenous communication experiences in Latin America, providing a snapshot of the region’s indigenous peoples as they use new communication technologies to make their demands known, share information for enhanced decision-making and encourage dialogue with non-indigenous society. 
Good examples of how to use information technology to enhance empowerment and the sharing of experiences among indigenous peoples appear around the world. The state-funded Maori Television channel in Aotearoa New Zealand provides information services for Maori as a way to encourage uptake of the language in Maori youth. It presents an award-winning news programme every evening on Maori and indigenous news and has recently produced a documentary on the Guarani-Kaiowá people in Brazil who are threatened with forced land evictions – something Maori were subject to in the late 1800s. Government redress of their lands is still ongoing today.
As nations and peoples develop, the focus on the problematic shifts: today a key issue on the Maori agenda is one of language preservation. A similar situation is seen in North America where online newspaper The Navajo Post recently reported that Navajo speakers have been invited to audition for voice parts in the Navajo dubbing of the film Star Wars – a modern effort to reinvigorate the language for the next generation.
Indigenous peoples globally share a set of common struggles. Here at IWGIA we house 45 years of knowledge on indigenous peoples from all corners of the world. If you are receiving a copy of the Yearbook this year, we encourage you to dip into a chapter on a people you know little about. The more we understand about each other, the stronger we stand in solidarity.
Copies of The Indigenous World 2013 will be available on our website from Monday 27 May.