7:22 Now Playing
The indigenous people of Sungai Utik, a Dayak Iban community in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, have maintained a strong traditional connection to their forests despite continuous pressure from logging and palm oil companies intent on taking their land. Their forests remain intact and their traditional values are keeping their community together. If we want to keep forests we need to trust and support communities like the indigenous Dayak Iban. As they tackle the impacts of climate change, through the sustainable forestry traditional both to their culture and to their understanding of nature, they can offer us climate solutions and hope for the future.
3:18 Now Playing
Sungai Utik - Kalpataru & Equator Prize Winner
Filmed by young filmmaker Kynan Tegar.
From their 214-metre long house in West Kalimantan, the Dayak Iban have protected an estimated 1.31 million tons of carbon. For decades they have protected their 9,504-hectare customary forest against corporate interests, following the dictate that healthy nature is more important than monetary wealth. They have been awarded the 2019 Equator Prize.
6:06 Now Playing
Reclaiming and strengthening indigenous culture is vital to maintaining ancestral connections to nature. This must be passed onto future generations by celebrating indigenous traditions. Embera youth are spearheading a cultural revival, after decades of assimilation, through traditional body painting and storytelling. Meanwhile sustainable community forestry initiatives are creating low impact income for communities that rely on healthy forests for their survival.
8:28 Now Playing
Behind the Bayano
Film by Ivan Jaripio, indigenous filmmaker from the Embera community of Piriati, Panama.
A hydroelectric power station was constructed in Panama in the 1970s – displacing indigenous Embera communities. Despite agreement from the state that their relocation would enable them to remake their lives through their traditions and customs, 40 years later they continue to fight against the erosion of their culture.
13:42 Now Playing
Ka'a Zar Ukyze Wà - Forest Keepers in Danger
Indigenous filmmakers from Midia India release documentary alerting to the grave situation faced by their uncontacted relatives the Awá Guajá, from the Araribóia indigenous territory, one of the most endangered in the Amazon.
The Awá Guajá depend intrinsically on the forest for survival – for hunting, for gathering, for water. However, the forest in the Araribóia indigenous territory is under serious threat. Around it nothing is left standing. Official data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) show that Maranhão has already deforested 46% of its forest cover. In the six municipalities around the indigenous territory, this number is even higher: 52.5%.
The uncontacted Awá Guajá indigenous peoples, share Araribóia indigenous territory with their Guajajara relatives. There are 120 Guajajaras who fight to protect the remaining forest in their land and to guarantee the existence of their uncontacted relatives through their surveillance and monitoring activities.
Indigenous filmmaker Flay Guajajara took this footage, creating this documentary to mobilize forest defenders globally.
Erisvan Guajajara of Mídia Índia says:
“We didn’t have the Awá’s permission to film, but we know that it’s important to use these images because if we don’t show them around the world, the Awá will be killed by loggers. We need to show that the Awá exist and their lives are at risk. We’re using these images as a cry for help and we’re calling for the government to protect the lives of our relatives who don’t want contact with outsiders.”
8:57 Now Playing
Burning the Bananal
Wildfires are increasing in their frequency and ferocity worldwide – they consume forests and destroy lives. Is there a more effective way to fight them?
Fighting fire with fire
Traditional fire management practices hold many answers. Controlled fires, which were widely banned by colonialist authorities, had long been used by indigenous peoples to maintain their land and forests and to protect their peoples from large-scale wildfires.
In recent years, the Brazilian Environment Ministry has been working in partnership with indigenous communities. They have been learning from elders about fire management, employing indigenous firefighters and investing in the application of these practices on a vast scale. This approach has evolved into the Integrated Fire Management strategy, using prescribed burns at particular times of year so as to prevent large-scale destruction when the hot and dry wildfire season arrives. Traditional knowledge is the basis for all the work of prescribed burns in indigenous territories and is already being carried out in 7 Brazilian states (Mato Grosso, Roraima, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, Maranhao, Tocantins, Amazonas) throughout roughly 11 million hectares of indigenous territories.
See it in practice in this short film Burning the Bananal.
Societies across the world will struggle to deal with the increasing impacts of climate change – at this crucial juncture in our humanity we need to listen, learn, respect and support indigenous traditional knowledge.
2:38 Now Playing
Justice For Saweto - 5 years on
Five years ago, Diana Rios’ father, an #indigenous leader & environmental defender, was murdered.
Diana has been fighting for justice ever since.
In December 2019 the accused finally go to court.
Why is it important?
The need to support the cause of Justice for Saweto is even greater today given the persistent harassment and murder of environmental defenders and Indigenous leaders across the Amazon.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of these crimes go unpunished, which is why the successful prosecution of these murders is so important to the cause of environmental defenders across the Amazon and the world.
Follow the case #JusticeForSaweto
Playlist - XR Youth: Internationalist Solidarity and Indigenous Voices
In partnership with Extinction Rebellion Youth and their Internationalist Solidarity Team we have curated a selection of short films that explore the link between the fight for climate justice and the fight for indigenous rights.
“The legacy of colonialism, combined with current forms of capitalism based on never-ending extractive growth is literally killing us. The reality is that 4 environmental defenders a week are being killed in the Global South. We in the Global North need to honour their work and join their struggles by also throwing our own bodies on the line.
“Ending domination over nature goes hand in hand with tackling all forms of domination and hierarchy. The struggle for climate justice is also the struggle for racial, gender, sexual and economic equality.”
Farhana Yamin, international environmental lawyer and climate change and development policy expert turned activist.
We first visit the Sungai Utik community in Indonesia as the impacts of climate change encroach their hard-won way of life. Kynan Tegar, 14 year old filmmaker then shows us a farming ritual in his community. Then we move to Panama as we learn about the links between culture and strong biodiversity and forests. Young filmmaker Ivan then explores the issue further; cultural erosion when communities are displaced. In Peru, we go back to 2014 following the lives of Ashnenika widows after the murder for 4 leaders by illegal loggers. We hear from Diana, who we then follow her powerful life as an activist to continue her father’s work. Finally, we watch Flay‘s film on protected their uncontacted cousins, the Awá peoples, and learn how deforestation puts their lives in danger.
“The extermination of biological diversity and of indigenous cultures…is part of one extinction, one interconnected war against life. Ecocide and genocide are one indivisible process, and they began with the idea of the colonisation of the Earth.”
Vandana Shiva, Eco-feminist and food sovereignty advocate
To watch more films made by young indigenous storytellers, visit this playlist.