By Steve Sachs

Environmental Activities

As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate talks opened in Panama, at the beginning of October, Indigenous leaders from across the globe gathered in Finland and called upon the international community to remove scientific bias against Indigenous knowledge from climate change science and policy. The “Sevettijärvi Declaration” (,adopted at the meeting hosted by the Skolt Sámi Nation and Snowchange Cooperative, calls on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to include Indigenous knowledge and local perspectives in its assessment processes (“Indigenous Leaders call upon the UN to Respect Traditional Knowledge in Climate Change Policy,” Cultural Survival, October 4, 2011,

The Cultural survival Global Response campaign, launched in February 2004 to protect the rainforest and rights of Indigenous peoples in the Democratic Republic Congo from industrial logging sponsored by the World Bank, showed a video at the World Bank meeting in September 2011, produced by Global Witness, showing that the logging the bank sponsors in DR Congo continues to violate the Banks standards and policies. The film was based on interviews and research in 67 communities of the Democratic Republic of Congo,telling the personal stories of the impacts of large-scale logging. As a result of a Global Response letter campaign, the Bank’s Inspection Panel undertook an investigation of logging in D.R. Congo with a report, released in 2007, that found the Bank in violation of many of its own policies and standards. As a result of the filming and other evidence discussed at the September meeting, the World Bank is undertaking a new review of its forest policies, including those implemented in Democratic Republic of Congo (“ Campaign Update - DR Congo: Video Reports Impacts of World Bank's Industrial Logging: DR Congo: Protect Rainforest and Indigenous Rights,” Cultural Survival, October 10, 2011, ).

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the branch of the World Bank Group that loans money to private corporations, announced a new policy , in late August, that will require clients to obtain the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous communities that could be affected by their projects. Approved as part of an updated Sustainability Framework by IFC’s board of directors on May 12, 2011, the policy will take effect on January 1, 2012. The Sustainability Framework’s Performance Standard 7 concerns Indigenous Peoples. The introduction states:1. Performance Standard 7 recognizes that Indigenous Peoples, as social groups with identities that are distinct from mainstream groups in national societies, are often among the most marginalized and vulnerable segments of the population. In many cases, their economic, social, and legal status limits their capacity to defend their rights to, and interests in, lands and natural and cultural resources, and may restrict their ability to participate in and benefit from development. Indigenous Peoples are particularly vulnerable if their lands and resources are transformed, encroached upon, or significantly degraded. Their languages, cultures, religions, spiritual beliefs, and institutions may also come under threat. As a consequence, Indigenous Peoples may be more vulnerable to the adverse impacts associated with project development than non-Indigenous communities. This vulnerability may include loss of identity, culture, and natural-resource-based livelihoods, as well as exposure to impoverishment and diseases.2. Private-sector projects can create opportunities for Indigenous Peoples to participate in, and benefit from project-related activities that may help them fulfill their aspiration for economic and social development. Furthermore, Indigenous Peoples may play a role in sustainable development by promoting and managing activities and enterprises as partners in development. Government often plays a central role in the management of Indigenous Peoples’ issues, and clients should collaborate with the responsible authorities in managing the risks and impacts of their activities. Objectives: To ensure that the development process fosters full respect for the human rights, dignity, aspirations, culture, and natural-resource-based livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples.To anticipate and avoid adverse impacts of projects on communities of Indigenous Peoples, or when avoidance is not possible, to minimize and/or compensate for such impacts. To promote sustainable development benefits and opportunities for Indigenous Peoples in a culturally appropriate manner. To establish and maintain an ongoing relationship based on Informed Consultation and Participation with the Indigenous Peoples affected by a project throughout the project’s life-cycle. To ensure the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of the Affected Communities of Indigenous Peoples when the circumstances described in this Performance Standard are present. To respect and preserve the culture, knowledge, and practices of Indigenous Peoples. Scope of Application.The complete text is available at (

Cultural Survival has joined Native American and First Nations peoples and a variety of environmental organizations in calling on President Obama to reject a proposal to build the Keystone XL Pipeline that would carry crude oil from the Tar Sands of Alberta, Canada, across the United States to the Gulf Coast.The UN Special Rapporteur on IndigenousPeoples’ Rights reported that TransCanada Corporation obtained permission from the Alberta Utilities Commission to build the pipeline without first obtaining the consent of the Lubicon Lake Nation, whose lands, natural resources, and public health would be affected by the project . The Indigenous Environmental Network charges that the project’s Environmental Impact Study did not adequately consider potential damage to American Indian Tribes and Tribal members in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, whose water aquifers, water ways, cultural sites, agricultural lands, animal life, public drinking water sources and other vital resources could be damaged by the project. Indigenous peoples and organizations from around the world, including Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu, are protesting the pipeline, and many Native people have been arrested during the non-violent protests in Canada and the United States over a number of weeks.Objections are on two levels. First, is the damage that might be done from leaks or spills of the especially dirty oil in the pipe line, noting that pipe line security is poor in the U.S., and spills are common. Second, is the objection that the oil being piped is from mining tar sand, which destroys millions of acres of much needed forest for combating global warming, while destroying huge arias of habitat, using up vast quantities of increasingly scarce water to process the oil (at least 3 barrels of water per barrel of oil), and creates huge quantities of extremely toxic water and sludge, enough of which is getting into the Athebascan river to cause an epidemic of extremely rare cancers in a down stream Indigenous community, that previously did not suffer from these cancers. (Cultural Survival, ”United States: Urge President Obama to Block Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline,” October 2011, Among those protesting, and arrested, at the White House asking President Obama not to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, in early September, were a number of American Indian leaders (“Indigenous Leaders Arrested at White House,” Cultural Survival, August 8, 2011, On September 26, 2011 over 200 peopleprotestingCanadian government'ssupport for Alberta's Tar Sands and the Keystone pipeline XL were arrestedtrying to carry outa sit-in in the House of Commons in Ottawa. Over time, Hundreds have been arrested on Parliament Hill while protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in protests organized by First Nations and environmental organizations, and endorsed by Dene Nation. (“ Campaign Update – USA: Hundreds Arrested in Tar Sands Protest in Ottawa: USA: Block Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Cultural Survival, September 29, 2011,

In Honduras, where Indigenous peoples and others opposing the government continue to suffer repression, on October 10, 2011, over 100 protesters marched to the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa, to demand a halt to the construction of the Patuca III hydroelectric dam. Miskitu, Garifuna and Lenca marchers called on the government to address 16 issues of concern to the Indigenous peoples of Honduras. MASTA, the governance body of the Miskitu people, released a statement calling for government action to: Halt construction of Patuca III dam project; Implement ILO Convention 169 on all issues of land use within Indigenous territories; Authorize property titles on traditional lands; Halt the expropriation of land for the cultivation of African palm, conservation areas, and the construction of prisons, which is currently occurring without the consent of Indigenous peoples; Remove all national and foreign military bases located in Indigenous territory; Improve the educational infrastructure and tailor the education system to meet the needs of the Indigenous communities; Provide reparations to Miskitu divers who have been disabled due to inhumane practices among lobster companies; and Authorize legal recognition of Indigenous autonomy. On September 10, 2011, the Honduran president’s office announced that the Minister of Finance signed a contract with the Chinese company Sinohydro to build three dams on the Patuca River, with construction scheduled to start in 2012. Sinohydro expects to fund the project with loans from Chinese financial institutions. A previous contract had only contemplated one dam, Patuca III, which will be built first. For more about the fight to stop the Patuca III dam inGlobal Response’s Action Alert issued in May of 2011 visit: A full explanation of MASTA’s objectives is available in Spanish via: (“Campaign Update – Honduras: Indigenous Peoples March on the Capital: Honduras: Don't Dam the Patuca River!,” Cultural Survival, October 11, 2011,; “Campaign Update – Honduras: Contract for Three Patuca Dams Signed, Culturl Survival, September 26, 2011, ).

The Ngöbe (or Ngabe-Bukle) people of Panama, who have been staging actions to protect their rights and land throughout 2011, held a series of peaceful demonstrations in Chiriqui, Veraguas, in the autonomous Indigenous region of the Ngöbe in Panama on September 1st to protest the hydroelectric project known as CHAN-75 on the Changuinola River as well as others planned within Ngobe territory. In a statement, Ngöbe authorities repeated a demand that the current legislation which bans mining in Ngöbe territory should be retroactive to apply to the 61 concessions that have already been given out with their autonomous territory. Without this, they said, "the government will have mocked the Ngöbe people by passing a law that cannot be executed."They also are protesting interference by the Panama officials in the candidacy of local indigenous leaders and called for a boycott on the electoral tribunal scheduled for September 11 (“ Campaign Update – Panama: Ngöbe Demand Retroactive Application of New Anti-mining Laws,” Cultural Survival, September 2, 2011, ).

Cultural Survival was engaged in a campaign, in October 2011, supporting numerous Indigenous peoples in Bangladesh and a consortium of environmental groups in opposing Global Coal Management Resources (GCM), a British company, from bulldozing 12,000 acres of Bangladesh’s most productive agricultural land to replace it with one of the world’s largest open-pit coal mines, the Phulbari open-pit mine. By GCM’s own account, the project would forcibly displace 40,000 people in the Phulbari region, including at least 2,200 Indigenous people whose history in the area dates back 5,000 years. A government-sponsored study estimates that 130,000 people in more than 100 villages would be immediately displaced, and another 100,000 would gradually be forced to leave as their wells and irrigation canals run dry from the mining. Independent researchers and the Jatiya Adivasi Parishad (National Indigenous Union) estimate that 50,000 Indigenous people belonging to 23 different tribal groups would be displaced or impoverished by the mine. Tens ofthousands of Bangladeshi citizens have protested against the Phulbari mine project since 2005. After government forces opened fire during a nonviolent protest in 2006, killing three people and wounding hundreds, a national strike closed down the country for four days. It ended when the government agreed to ban open-pit coal mining in Phulbari and kick the British company (then known as Asia Energy) out of the country—a pledge they have not fulfilled. Instead, the government will announce a new coal policy by June 2011, and Global Coal expects to be in business soon thereafter.The National Indigenous Union and a broad coalition of human rights and environmental organizations have been appealing for international support to prevent an ecological and humanitarian disaster in Phulbari (“Bangladesh: Ban Coal Mine, Save Forests and Farms,” Cultural Survival, October 2011,

The Telengit people of Russia and China and Russian environmental organizations were calling on the international community, in October 2011, for help tore-route construction of the gas pipeline to carry natural gas from Siberia to China that would bisect the sacred Ukok Plateau and the Golden Mountains of Altai UNESCO World Heritage Site in Russia, and the Kanas National Park in China, one of China’s last undeveloped wilderness areas (“Russia/China: Pipeline Threatens Sacred Highlands,” Cultural Survival, October 2011,

Indigenous people in the Philippines , in September, were pushing Congress for responses to outstanding issues stemming from the passage of the Mining Act of 1995, with Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat, chairman of the House Committee on Cultural Communities, working for a new mining law to respect Indigenous Peoples rights with a focus on claims of ancestral domains. The effort follows the then recent passage of Peru’s law calling for consultation with Indigenous people on extraction projects. As in many places, mining has had devastating consequences for Indigenous Philippinos (“ As Storms Hit the Philippines, Indigenous Peoples Wait on Congress Approval,” Indian Country Today, September 28, 2011, .

Esther Vivas, “The Food Crisis Strikes Again,” Posted on: 19/10/2011 by Americas Program, October 19, 2011,, reports, “The threat of a new food crisis is already a reality. The price of food began to rise to record levels again, according to the FAO Food Price Index of February, 2011, which does a monthly analysis of global prices of a basic food basket made up of grains, seed oils, dairy products, meat and sugar. The Index came to a new historic maximum, the highest since the FAO began to study food prices in 1990. In the past months, prices have leveled off but analysts predict more hikes in the coming months.” The increase food prices, especially basic grains, has serious consequences for developing nations with low incomes and dependency on food imports, as millions of families in these countries devote between 50% and 60% of their income to food, and up to 80% in the poorest countries, where increase in the price of food products makes them inaccessible. As the poor reach a population of a billion people—one out of every six on the planet—that today do not have access to adequate food, World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, affirms that the current food crisis has increased the number of people who suffer chronic hunger by 44 million. In 2009, this number was surpassed, reaching 1.023 billion people undernourished on the planet, a figure that went down slightly in 2010, but without returning to the levels before the food and economic crisis of 2008 and 2009. “The present crisis takes place in the context of an abundance of food. Food production has multiplied over the three decades since the sixties, while the world population has merely doubled since then. There’s plenty of food. Contrary to what international institutions like the FAO, World Bank and World Trade Organization say, it’s not a problem of production, but rather a problem of access to food. These organizations urge an increase in production through a new Green Revolution, which would only make the food, social and ecological crises worse.” Food inflation is a major cause of popular unrest. “The popular rebellions in northern Africa and the Middle East had among the many catalysts the rise in food prices. In December of 2010, in Tunes, the poorest of the population occupied the frontline of the conflict, demanding, among other things, access to food. In January of 2011, youth demonstrated in Algeria blocking highways, burning stores and attacking police stations to protest for the rise of prices in basic foods. Similar cases were seen in Jordan, Sudan and Yemen. Egypt is the largest importer of wheat in the world, and depends on food imports. Evidently other factors came into play in the uprisings: high unemployment, lack of democratic freedoms, corruption, lack of housing and basic services, etc. In any case, the rise in food prices was one of the initial catalysts.” Among various causes of the price increase, from climate change, weather and replacing food production with biofuel raising, the most prominent is financial speculation in raw food materials. “There has always been some speculation in the price of foods and this is the logic behind futures markets. In their current form, futures markets date back to the mid-1900s when they began in the United States. These are legal standardized agreements to buy and sell physical merchandise in a previously established time period in the future and have been a mechanism to guarantee a minimum price to the producer faced with the oscillations of the market.” “This same mechanism is used by speculators to make money off the deregulation of the raw materials markets that was spurred in the mid-nineties in the United States and Great Britain by banks, free-market politicians and high-risk funds in the context of the process of deregulation of the world economy. The contracts to buy and sell food became “derivatives” that could be traded independently of the real agricultural transactions. A new business was born—food speculation. Speculators today have more weight in the futures markets, even though these transactions have nothing to do with real supply and demand. Mike Masters, manager of Masters Capital Management, points out that in 1998 speculative financial investment in the agricultural sectors was around 25% and today it is close to 75%. These transactions are carried out in the markets, the most important of which on the world level is the commodities market in Chicago, while in Europe food and raw materials are traded in the futures markets of London, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.” Food speculation that provided such handsome profits increases the price of food, makes it inaccessible to large parts of the population in the global South and condemns thousands of people to hunger, poverty and death in these countries.” “Another element that exacerbated the food crisis is the heavy dependency on oil of the current model of food production and distribution. The rise in the price of oil had a direct impact on the similar rise in the cost of basic foods. In 2007 and 2008 the price of oil and the price of foods reached record levels. Between July of 2007 and June of 2008, crude oil went from 75 dollars a barrel to 140 dollars, while the price of basic foods went from 160 dollars to 225, according to the FAO Food Index. Food and agriculture have become heavily dependent on oil. Following the Second World War and with the Green Revolution in the sixties and seventies, and with the supposed increase in production, an intensive and industrial model of agriculture was adopted. In the current system, our food travels thousands of kilometers before it arrives on our tables; production requires the intensive use of farm machinery, chemicals pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. This model could not exist without oil. The rise in the price of oil and the strategy of governments to combat climate change has led to a growing investment in the production of alternative fuels, agrofuels, such as biodiesel and bioethanol, made from sugar, corn and other crops. But this production has entered into direct competition with food production for consumption and is now another cause of the rise in food prices. The World Bank recognizes that when the price of oil goes over fifty dollars a barrel, a 1% increase causes a 0.9% increase in the price of corn, since “for every dollar that the price of oil rises the profitability of ethanol rises and consequently the demand for corn grows. Since 2004, two-thirds of the rise in world production of corn was destined to satisfy the North American demand for agrofuels. In 2010, 35% of the corn harvest in the United States, which is 14% of world production, was used to produce ethanol. And the tendency is on the rise. But beyond the causes such as food speculation and the rise in oil prices that has an impact on the growing investment in agrofuels, leading to competition among grain production for consumption and for transportation, the food and agriculture system is profoundly vulnerable and in the hands of the market. The growing liberalization of the sector in the last decades, the privatization of natural resources (water, land, seed), the imposition of a international model of trade at the service of private interests, etc., has led to the current crisis. As long as agriculture and food continue to be considered merchandise in the hands of the highest bidder, and business interests prevail over food needs and the limits of the planet, our food security and the welfare of the earth are far from assured.”

Dan Bacher, “Tribes Join Together to Restore Eel River,” Indian Country Today, October 21, 2011,, reports, “Native American Indian tribes from throughout Northern California are banding together with Friends of the Eel River to take ‘spiritual, scientific, and legal’ action to save the waterway and the fish that swim in it. Since 2009, multi-tribe ceremonies have taken place in different parts of the nearly 3,600-square mile Eel River watershed; the most recent, in which the Wiyot Tribe, Friends of the Eel River were joined by members of the Bear River, Cahto, Grindstone, Sherwood Rancheria, Round Valley, Pomo, Hoopa, Yurok, and Karuk Tribes, occurred on September 10 and focused on returning the Eel River and the fisheries it supports to a healthy, sustainable state.”

The Sierra Club, in October, protested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “rubber stamping” two permits for Peabody Western Coal’s Kenyata Mine, over the objections of the Hopi and Navajo Nations, charging the EPA had mot seriously examined the environmental impacts. The agency finalized a water discharge permit despite tribal and environmentalist objections that the wastewater contains heavy metals that may contaminate drinking and irrigation water (Cindy Yuth, “Sierra Club blasts feds for ‘rubber-stamping’ mine permits,” Navajo Times, October 13, 2011).

Birds, Bees and the Americas Program, September 2011,, notes, Honey produced by thousands of Mexican beekeepers is at serious risk of contamination from genetically modified (GMO’s soybeans, corn, cotton and other GMO crops. Producers have called for a new model of social production that does not include GMOs.

Alfredo Acedo, “ Agrotoxins Kill,” Americas Program, October 18, 2011,, comments, “A beautiful green and gold checked carpet hides the tragedy of the Yaqui Valley. This northeastern region of Mexico has been devastated by intensive use of agrochemicals under a capitalist model of agriculture that has polluted the air, soil and water, and lethally affected the lives of its people for more than half a century .”

U.S. Activities

The National congress of American Indians (NCAI) hosted a gathering in Washington DC, October 9-11, 2011, of hundreds of tribal leaders to present a united front to Congress on a variety of issues important to Indian country, the most central of which was protecting Native programs from cuts, given the dire budgetary situation and the super committee then considering making cuts in federal programs. The final day of the meeting featured a strategy session in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Among the issues discussed were protecting the Indian affairs federal budget; securing a congressional Carcieri fix to the land-into-trust difficulties created by the Supreme Court in 2009; ways of preventing violence toward Indian women, and best practices for uniting the divergent interests of 565 unique federally recognized tribes, which often is not easy to achieve. While on Capitol Hill, most tribal leaders visited with members of Congress to be sure they understood the value of federal funding for tribes and the importance of the trust relationship. Concerning Carcieri, John Dossett, NCAI’s general counsel, commented that the land-into-trust situation remains uncertain for tribes, especially since a fix is stalled in Congress and a recent D.C. Circuit Court ruling found that the Quiet Title Act does not protect Indian lands. He said that this situation “threatens all tribes.” Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, agreed, saying that one of his legislative priorities remains amending the Indian Reorganization Act to make clear that the U.S. Department of the Interior can take land into trust for tribes regardless of when they were recognized by the federal government. (Rob Capriccioso, “ Tribal Leaders Gather in D.C. to Protect Indians from Budget-Slashing,” Indian Country Today, October 20, 2011,

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) heartily supported the announcement, in December, by the Obama Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) proposing a change to the Stafford Act to give federally recognized tribal governments the authority to make disaster declaration requests directly to the President of the United States. The Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act currently allows only states, through a governor, to make these requests to the president. ((“Just like states, when disaster strikes, tribal nations must act swiftly to respond to protect and secure lives, infrastructure, and public health. We call on Congress to fix the Stafford Act and incorporate the sovereign status of tribal nations in this important law. These changes will also provide tribes and states critical flexibility in responding to catastrophic events when communities need it most,” said Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI. “The support of the Administration and FEMA for a legislative change recognizes not only the sovereignty of tribal nations, but also acknowledges the critical role tribes play in the network of emergency response and disaster relief at the local and national level.” tribal nations represent a unique and important sector of the United States (NCAI Commends FENA Support for Direct Authority of Tribal Governments to Apply for Presidential Disaster Declaration, NCAI, December 7, 2011,[tt_news]=799&tx_ttnews[backPid]=9&cHash=288dc8d985)

In October, the annual campaign to abolish Columbus Day because it celebrates the launching of genocide took place in many locations with the continuing support of Cultural Survival:

International Activities

At least 60 vigils were held, on October 4, in Canada, from Prince Edward Island to Haida territory, to commemorate and ask for investigation into the at least 720 aboriginal women who are known to have been murdered and disappeared. This was the anniversary of the day that Sisters in Spirit, the initiative of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) who first documented and totaled up statistics on the overwhelming proportion of aboriginal women subject to violence compared to the rest of the population, designated to honor the fallen and disappeared, and the sixth year the vigils have been held. The day included a Unity March on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, that wended its way to Victoria Island, led by the NWAC, Amnesty International Canada and other groups. The groups called for a comprehensive, cohesive plan to eliminate such violence, including improving public awareness and accountability; funding the organizations that provide assistance to indigenous girls and women; address root causes of violence, especially by closing the economic gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, and eliminate inequities in the child-welfare system so as to better serve aboriginal children. NWAC was joined by Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS), the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA), the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), Families of Sisters In Spirit (FSIS) KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Minwaashin Lodge, National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau Area: Work, Educate and Resists (POWER) and Project of Heart. The events capped the annual 30 Days of Justice campaign, organized by Families of Sisters in Spirit, to raise awareness of the issue while honoring the women’s memories and demanding a cessation of violence toward aboriginal women. ( Valerie Taliman, “Nationwide Vigil for Missing and Murdered Women,” Indian Country Today, October 4, 2011,

The Third National Forum Building Resistance to Protect our Land was held in Capulalpam de la Sierra Juárez in Oaxaca, Mexico, May 20 and 21, 2002 with villages, communities and organizations from all parts of Mexico, including many indigenous people represented. The goal of the event was “a critical analysis of the current model of development, and the compilation of a list of demands so as to allow the communities to form a united front in the defense of their lands.” People from Oaxaca and all over the country came together with the common goal of protecting their land against politicians and projects that threaten their natural resources. While the participants held a variety of views, wide spread were concerns about threats and damage from mining, including to sacred sites (Miguel Ángel Vásquez, “Capulalpam, the Babel of Land Disputes,” Americas Program, June 15, 2011,

Survival International lodged a formal complaint with the British regulator the Press Complaints Commission, in October, over the “highly offensive and ludicrous” claims in the world’s press that a German tourist missing in the South Pacific has been ‘eaten by cannibals,’ suggesting that newspapers that have described the indigenous people of the Pacific as ‘cannibals’ are promoting “a false and offensive notion that tribal people are primitive savages” (Survival International, “Survival and tribal people denounce ‘ludicrous‘ cannibal claims,”October 20, 2011,

The UN launched a campaign, in August 2012, to protect 35 indigenous tribes from extinction in Colombia. The campaign responds to a barrage of threats that could wipe out the Indians, including internal displacement, disappearances, massacres, anti-personnel mines and forced recruitment of youngsters into armed groups. a UN article prior to the campaign warned that “‘the risk of physical or cultural disappearance remains, and in some cases has risen”. The tribes it singled out as being in critical danger included the Nukak-Maku, Guayaberos, Hitnu and Sicuani. Colombia’s national indigenous organization ONIC also claims, that as of August, 60 indigenous people had been murdered in the last eight months. Guerrilla groups, such as the FARC are often blamed for much of Colombia’s crime, but ONIC’s findings link paramilitary and state forces to majority of the killings. Through its campaign, the UN hopes to raise awareness of Colombia’s most vulnerable tribes. Its desire to “join people in solidarity with actions that promote their (tribes) protection’, is reinforced by the campaign’s title: ‘If they disappear, a part of you disappears.” In one instance, Colombia’s civil war has driven many of the Nukak people from their traditional homes, placing them in extremely difficult conditions on the outskirts of towns. Contact with outsiders has been fatal for the Nukak. Since their first meeting with outsiders in 1988, more than half the Nukak have died of common illnesses. Now, the once nomadic hunter-gatherers suffer constant bouts of ill health and depression, and face an uncertain future. For more information contact Chloe Corbin: T (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (+44) (0)7504543367,,, or in the U.S.: Christina Chauvenet (202)525-6972, (Survival International, “Anti-extinction campaign launched to protect 35 Colombian tribes,” August 31, 2011,

Survival International reported, in August, that thousands of people around the world protested against building of the Belo Monte dam in Brazil, that would displace many thousands of Indigenous people. In Brazil, groups across the country called on Brazil’s President Rousseff to halt the construction of the destructive dam on the Xingu river. Earlier in 2011, Survival supporters joined Amazonian Indians in their protest outside the London office of Brazil’s state development bank BNDES, which is providing much of the funding for the Belo Monte project (Survival International, “Worldwide protests against Amazon mega-dam,” August 22, 2011,; and

Grassroots International,, is organizing against land grabs in Africa, including AgriSol Energy attempt to purchase 800,000 acres of land in Tanzania that is currently home to 162,000 people, mostly small farmers. Grassroots is concerned that “one of the major contributors to the food crisis in Africa is the theft of farmland from local communities by foreign industrial agriculture giants.” For more information go to:

The Democratic Republic of Congo is Search For Common Ground’slargest program, with seven offices across the country. “We are actively engaged in retraining the Congolese army to prevent sexual violence against women and to carry out a broad array of other peacebuilding activities. This spring, we scored a great success in Equateur Province where two tribal groups had been fighting over fishing rights. There had been scores of deaths, and more than 130,000 Congolese had become refugees. With support from the UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – the UN Stabilization Mission, and the National Endowment for Democracy, we used mediation, facilitation, participatory theater, film screenings, and music to help defuse the violence. We went so far as to organize a traditional ritual to "cleanse" the region of bad spirits. All this culminated in the signing of a non-aggression pact, which includes creation of an inter-tribal management committee for the disputed fishing ponds.(To learn more about the process, please go to: (Search for Common Ground (SFCG) Fall 2011 Common Ground Newsletter,

Activists from Bangladesh, Great Britain, and the United States gathered at Amnesty International's headquarters in London , December 12, 2011, to educate the public about the dangers of Global Coal Management Resources' (GCM) proposed Phulbari coal project in Bangladesh. The seminar was organized by the (Phulbari Solidarity Group, the London Mining Network, and International Accountability Project, just days prior to GCM's annual shareholder meeting on December 15. Speakers informed the public about potentially dire consequences of the British company's Phulbari project. Independent (researchers estimate that 50,000 Indigenous people's lives and livelihoods would be altered drastically by the project, which would also be devastating for the( environment. ((For details, a new Phulbari Fact Sheet is available at: (“Campaign Update - Bangladesh: Protests at GCM's Shareholders Meeting,” Cultural Survival, December 13, 2011,

Survival International reported in late September that tourists arriving on the Andaman Islands were being given leaflets about the 'human safari park' boycott. Exotic beaches make the archipelago a top holiday destination, but tourism is also leaving tribes increasingly vulnerable, as sightseeing tours turn into ‘human safaris.’ This trend means recently contacted tribes are now in immediate danger from outside influences. Some tour operators treat the Jarawa like animals, encouraging tourists to ‘spot’ them and throw biscuits and sweets as they drive along the Andaman Trunk Road. A local Andaman organization called Search is working with Survival to put pressure on the Indian government to develop a new route, which will not disturb the Jarawa. Leaflets appealing for a tourism boycott of the road have been distributed at the islands' airport, to coincide with this year’s World Tourism week. Four out of five of the Andamans’ main tour operators have come out in support of the boycott. For more information go to:>