If you weren’t following Intercontinental Cry this year, there were a lot of great victories and milestones you probably missed. Indigenous peoples quashed more than five dozen mining concessions that threatened their territories. Four pipeline projects were stalled–including Canada’s wildly controversial Trans Mountain pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline in America’s heartland. At one point, a community in the Philippines used a map to physically block a mining company from entering their lands.
With the rights of nature gaining more legal traction this year, we also began to see a much deeper respect for the powerful role that Indigenous peoples play as guardians of 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity. We saw this most notably with the formation of a major coalition that plans to mobilize billions of people of faith in defense of the rainforests and their protectors.
As with every year, we also saw a seemingly endless line of Indigenous Nations take bigger and bolder steps to protect their lands and languages, their food ways, their medicine practices, their legal systems and, of course, their models of self-governance.
Read on for some of the uplifting stories that we loved in 2018.
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1. The Return of Lakota Food Sovereignty
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is well-known for being the poorest county in the United States. But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Oglala Lakota. Thanks to groups like the Lakota Food Sovereignty Coalition, there is hope. We traveled to Pine Ridge to learn how this coalition is helping to restore Lakota foodways.
2. A climate change coalition that integrates Indigenous knowledge
From South America to Africa, Indigenous groups started joining forces with international organizations such as UNESCO and the German sustainable development group, GIZ, to bring their knowledge and visions to the legislative forefront. Read more here.
3. A Much-needed Maasai Victory
Just one year after the Tanzanian government violently evicted Maasai villagers from their homes in Loliondo, the East African Court of Justice awarded a major victory to four Maasai villages fighting for their land rights. Click here to learn how the Maasai protected 1500 km2 of land in northern Tanzania.
4. A landmark win for the Kofan
The Kofan people of Sinangoe in the Ecuadorian Amazon won a landmark legal battle that nullified 52 mining concessions granted by the government in violation of the Kofan’s right to consent. Read all about it here.
5. An app that’s saving the planet
Members of the Masenawa community in Peru are using a real-time monitoring app to protect the rainforest from illegal mining, even in areas outside their titled lands. The same tech is also being utilized in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana. Learn more here.
6. Celebrating 20 years of self-governance
On July 27th, the Maya Mam community of Nuevo Amanecer celebrated twenty years of successful democratic self-governance. Building their sustainable way of life without any support from government, the founders of Nuevo Amanecer fled genocidal violence and government repression in the 1980’s during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala. Learn more about this community’s powerful story.
7. Rekindling interest in Siekopai culture
With the help of social media, two Siekopai youth have merged the world of modern technology with the world of a deep and diverse forest filled with ancestral knowledge. In the process, they have been able to inspire a sense of pride and interest among the Siekopai youth to explore the profound knowledge of their last living elders. Read this fantastic story here.
8. Sami Parliament endorses rights of nature
The Sami Parliament decided to support the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, joining forces with the many indigenous peoples, local communities, organizations and people throughout the world who are working together to help consumerist societies be grateful and respectful toward nature. Read about the decision here.
9. Grassy Narrows bans Logging on their territory
Grassy Narrows First Nation issued a “Land Declaration” banning all industrial logging in their territory. After decades of government-sanctioned forest theft, the declaration comes none too soon. Learn more.
10. Wampis Nation moves closer toward full independence
After declaring their autonomy in 2015, the Wampis Nation is continuing to work hard to regain control of their lives. Among other things, they are implementing strategies to revitalize endangered flora, utilizing technologies that lessen their dependence on fossil fuels and recovering their agrobiodiverse food systems. Get a close look at their inspiring work here.
11. Purépecha municipality celebrates seven years of self-governance
The Purépecha municipality of Cherán celebrated its seventh year of self-governance after rising up against a wide variety of characters, including government officials and cartel thugs working alongside illegal loggers. Here is their story.
12. New open-source app helps to preserve storytelling traditions
The Matawai of Suriname broke new ground by using a new open-source geostorytelling app to help future generations of Matawai learn about their history, culture, and identity in the way that their people always have: through the words of the elders. Read the story here.