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Showcasing Youth Voices on Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2018

August 9th is recognised and celebrated as International Indigenous Peoples Day across the world. Among the stories of social injustice, land grabbing and deforestation there are also powerful positive stories in equal measure.

Today we recognise and celebrate the fantastic work being done by indigenous youth – as activists, as educators and as storytellers. We speak to four indigenous youth from Indonesia, Mexico and Panama about their campaigning activities – but crucially what they want other youth from around the world to do with their stories.

Anastasya Dita – Indonesia

Dita is a Dayak youth, filmmaker and activist, working with Ranu Wellum in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Building on successes in previous years, Dita is organising a special celebratory event; “Indigenous Leads’ Bringing forth the ancient sound and embracing our heritage.” To “empower the indigenous community leaders to be actively speaking as the voices on behalf of indigenous people.”

What do you want other youth in the world to do with your stories?

I really want all the young people to be aware and take the action. Do not be silent with all the struggle around. I would love to inspire through this story and everyone should know that you are the hero.

Iván Jaripio – Panama

Iván is also a filmmaker from the Embera indigenous community in Panama.

After participating and winning awards for his films at film festivals around the world, Iván took it upon himself to host an indigenous film festival for his community; “to give voice to indigenous peoples from all the nations, to make their fights, their beliefs, their culture, customs and cosmovision visible”. More than 1000 people participated in the 3 day event.

What do you want other youth in the world to do with your stories?

I would like other youth to narrate their own stories from their own point of view, making in particular indigenous cinema, that way we can make a difference and have a cinematic style with identity.

Ivan has released a new film, Behind the Bayano, watch it here.

Ivan Jaripio Embera Piriati

Kalfein Michael Wuisan – Indonesia

Kalfein is a an avid storyteller from Minahasa, Indonesia.

In a similar way to Iván, Kalfein has received training in video and storytelling – and he decided to take that learning back to his community and organise a writing workshop. Fifteen young writers came together, “ith the aim to pass knowledge onto young indigenous members and emerging writers in Minahasa, on documenting their villages’ history.”

What did you want other youths in the world to do, or to learn with your stories?

Writing is a form of struggle. A struggle against our memories that have aged; likely to forget our own identity, homeland, and rights to live as a human being. Therefore, writing is a very relevant and contextual option that can be used for young indigenous groups to preserve their homeland, culture, and tradition. Also, writing is an effort to deliver knowledge for present and future generations.

Bertha Pech – Mexico

Bertha is indigenous Mayan from Mexico, she integrates for cultural legacy to conduct workshops on environmental education for children. She adds, “Young people as leaders can channel other young people towards a commitment to a dignified life, to trust again and make us valuable people for nature.”

What would you like youth around the world to do with your stories? 

Build a global network of environmental activists in order to consolidate a space for participation, debate and international consultation. So, start thinking about environmental education from our own processes of application, appropriation and environmental reinvention.