Indigenous web round-up

Each week we share indigenous news, stories and media from around the world in our weekly round-up. With a focus on arts, culture & promoting the strength of indigenous knowledge. We also introduce new members who have joined our global collaboration network.

This week, we’re happy to feature:

Dutch NGO FERN, concerned with counceling of the European union about possible threats to rainforests and the indigenous people that live there.

American documentary-maker Phil Borges and his project Crazywise, pointing out the importance of indigenous knowledge for our western health crisis.

Hope for Health wants to transform the ways in which indigenous Australians experience and engage with their own health. Founders Kama and Tim Trudgen have therefor recently developed a health retreat on Elcho Island, where Australian indigenous people can learn how to cook and eat healthy during a program of 2 weeks. The initiative is led by a core group of 12 Yolngu women, they are very good at explaining the advantages and sheer necessity of this program for their community and re-occuring health issues:


Samburu stand with Standing Rock

As a presidential memorandum aims to intimidate the resistance against the Dakota Access oil pipeline passing through the Standing Rock Sioux’s lands in North Dakota, Indigenous Peoples from all over the world have come out to show their solidarity while they, too, fight oil pipelines crossing their lands without their consent.

The Samburu community in Kenya demonstrated their support in a photo taken January 2017.  For the Samburu, a semi-nomadic Indigenous tribe from Kenya, the fight to protect their homelands and their water from oil development hits close to home. Dipa Lenaya, community leader, explained that when the Chinese government crossed their lands in searching for and now transporting oil, thousands of Samburu were displaced, brutalized by security forces, and their homes and lands were destroyed. The tribe faces the same fear of negligent oil spills that could harm people, wildlife, and their environment and water sources.

 “We all  need to stand together as Indigenous tribes across the globe to protect the earth and our own lands,” he urged.

Photo Journal – Abdislam Osman




Its amazing how much we let go, how we sit back, relax and yet go backwards. Are we afraid of change, hungry for power, angry for power… or just hungry for food? Do we wake up and imagine how much we can change? Do we wake up with dreams, are our long night drifts just blank? Do we get revelations at night, that, clan X will bring food home, or clan Y won’t honor the agreement? We arrange who’ll be more powerful, pull together resources, from far and wide, the mighty forget the Almighty. The crazy, the crazed, the little heart, craving change, deaf ears, only hears, clansmen, the love, the hate, the former, disguised in a pit of a dark dragon, spitting fire. The narrative, always, 5 to 5…. Years, hours and seconds, I am sorry, I am blind, blinded by hate, I won’t show it though, because he is my Muslim brother, but when push comes to shove, I don’t know what I am, why am I so rooted in the clan & clansmen? Once upon a time, half a century gone, a world beyond its 20s, a region, so dark and gloomy, weary smiles, dark souls, no roads whatsoever, do we pity ourselves or our motives? Do we blame religion or our elders, merits or endorsements? We cry foul, blame the unseen, the hypocrisy is gruesome, the good Lord, keeping count. They say, if you don’t wake up with a dream, go back to sleep, are you ready to go back? Are we ready to make tough decisions? My people are beautiful, their smiles, though dark and unreasonable, resonates far beyond the horizon, their love for clan impeccable, summing up their choices, rule over the other, the anarchy, torturous, ill motives, but their smile, good Lord.

Fine dining to support Amazonian tribes

At a fine dining restaurant in Panama City, customers are tucking into kalalu, a tropical fern with an earthy flavour, blanched like an asparagus, and brushed with olive oil and grilled.

As chef-cook Castrellón started to work with Panama’s flora and fauna to develop his menus, he found that indigenous farmers were losing out in the production and distribution process: much of the produce was lost or sold at low prices because of improper distribution channels. Intermediaries would take most of the profits by the time the produce reached his restaurants, and the farmers saw little revenue. Castrellón therefor decided to work by a very different principle: he buys directly off the micro-producers, with the help of local NGO Nutre Hogar and so far it’s a great succes.

“The indigenous people are always left behind or looked down upon,” says Castrellón. “From my point of view they are the real owners of this country. They have survived here without using up all of the natural resources. I just want to help empower them so they can live better lives.”

Indigenous groups that the restaurant works with involve tribes out of the Darien province, which are mostly Embera. The Embera have a very rich kitchen themselves, but unfortunately the government usually does not allow them to farm a lot of produce, which is something NGO’s like Nutre Hogar are fighting to change in order for these tribes to maintain their ways of living. Want to learn more about the culture of the Embera, have a look at this video:

You can take a look at the result of this project in the shape of Castrellóns’ small works of art.


Musical feature: waiata

This weeks’ musical feature is focused on the very extensive tradition of Maori music and dance. The Maori song (waiata) were written to mark important events such as childbirth, a wedding or the death of a chief.

Waiata serve many functions. They can be used to support a whaikōrero (formal speech) or sung to express grief after a death. Waiata were used to help teach children, to urge people to take up a cause, or to mourn in times of loss. Waiata can record a tribe’s past by referring to ancestors, events and places. They are sometimes used to settle historical debates.

Traditionally, waiata were always performed in unison with very few actions and with no musical instruments or choreography. While this is still the case today, contemporary waiata are commonly sung with accompaniment, include harmony, and are performed with complicated actions and choreography. Different iwi (tribes) often have their own waiata, with many composed centuries ago. However, there are a lot of waiata that are now generally accepted as common property. This often happens when a waiata has an appealing tune or the lyrics express the sentiments of a tribe so well that it is taken over by others.

Probably better known is the haka, haka is a subclass of waiata and a type of ceremonial dance. You can see an example right here: