International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

INDIGENOUS PARTNERSHIP FOR AGROBIODIVERSITY & FOOD SOVEREIGNTY (TIP) and NESFAS celebrated the United Nation’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous People by vowing continued support for the well-being of the communities they work in.

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We will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals if we fail to address the educational needs of indigenous people.”— Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

On the occasion of the United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on 9th August 2016. NESFAS celebrates its relationship with its partner villages in the region.  And in tandem with the thought behind this day, we will continue to promote and support the rights of the world’s indigenous population in the Northeast region of India with our national and global partners. This day also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

The UN theme for the year 2016 is “Indigenous People’s Right to Education” whereby the UN enshrines that “Indigenous people have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.” This day pays tribute to the world’s 370 million indigenous people, and reaffirms UNESCO’s determination to safeguard and promote their identities, languages and knowledge systems. Indigenous peoples are seen as the custodians to rich cultural diversity, carrying unique wisdom of sustainable living and respect for biodiversity. Nurturing and harnessing this potential calls for inclusive and equitable quality education for all.

Asibon Mawa in Mustoh/Shella Traditional Attire. Photo: NESFAS/ Andre J Fanthome

Asibon Mawa in Mustoh/Shella Traditional Attire.
Photo: The Indigenous Partnership/ Andre Fanthome

The Indigenous Partnership (TIP) gathers international support for this vision and the team at NESFAS channelizes it locally through its activities. They also believe that the Right to Education must also be supported by the right for indigenous knowledge to find its place in the education system. Our work with the village schools in creating community gardens, and with the communities to develop the Ark of Taste, Millet, Rice and Pollinators Networks, PGS Training are channels of creating a platform for a balanced equation where Indigenous heritage becomes the narrative within the education system for the continuance of this rich harvest of knowledge. Says Phrang Roy, Chairman NESFAS and Coordinator for TIP, “Out of desperation, out of temptations and sometimes out of ignorance many of us may tend to abandon our traditional practices even before we could clearly understand their intrinsic values.

At the Indigenous Terra Madre 2015, when we called out for the ‘Future We Want’ we realized the way forward is often chaotic, adhoc and fragmented even as we recognize as the challenge itself is profound. We as indigenous peoples of the world have suffered land grabs, cultural oppression, and intellectual property violations. We have also suffered from the forces within our own communities because of our greed for position, power and quick prosperity. In our greed for quick prosperity we have often commodified some of our lands and territories and in some cases we have become, even, victims of landlessness. Martin Luther King said that “we have a dream” but sometimes in our despair we tend to say, ”we have a nightmare”. We have to change this, and we need to offer hope. We need to offer to our youth a hope for growth and prosperity that is within the ecological boundaries of our lands and territories. As a modern matriarchal society we the people of Meghalaya want to portray to be a society of hope that continues to be socially egalitarian, economically balanced and politically based on consensus decision taken as we used to in the years gone by. On this occasion of UN International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples, on behalf of each and every team member at TIP and NESFAS, I wish our Indigenous communities in Indian and the world, another glorious day and year of safeguarding their heritage with pride.

 

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