Native Village 
Youth and Education News

September 1, 2013

World Indigenous Conference: Melding Conservation and Land Rights
http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/
Condensed by Native Village

Africa: Conservation seems like a great way to protect diverse natural areas from logging, over-hunting or environmental  contamination? But sometimes it comes with a catastrophic cost: The eviction of Indigenous Peoples from lands that are integral to their physical and cultural survival.

At the World Indigenous Network conference in Australia, Indigenous leaders from around the world discussed stewardship of land and water, conservation and land rights.

James Anaya is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He says the international community has entered a new era of awareness, and that new laws exist to defend Indigenous rights. However, making those rights a reality is an ongoing struggle.

Anaya cited Nambia's Hai//om San people. In the 1950s, the Hai//om San were forced out of Namibia's Etosha National Parks and banned from hunting and gathering there. This destroyed their livelihood and forced many to live in poverty on the edge of the reserve.

Anaya contrasts their situation with Namibia's indigenous Ju/'hoansi San people from the Nyae Nyae Conservancy. The Ju/'hoansi are managing tourism and hunting rights while staying on their own lands.

Other African groups are threatened with removal from areas designated for conservation. The Botswana government is trying to remove Bushmen (also San) indigenous people to create a wildlife corridor on their lands.
Survival International says the Bushmen were told that if they refused to leave, government trucks would remove them and destroy their houses.

Indigenous Peoples' exclusion from their lands is not limited to Africa. In fact, it is a global issue. Anaya points to the Black Hills, stolen from the Lakota Sioux by the U.S. Government in 1876 in violation of the Treaty of Fort Laramie.

"The Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, the monument, stand as ongoing representation of the unjust separation of  Indigenous Peoples from land that once sustained them, and that remains sacred to them," he said.


 

Map showing the Republic of Lakotah, as dictated by the 1858 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

But Anaya mentions positive initiatives, such as the Oglala Sioux working with The National Park Service to develop the nation's first Tribal National Park.

"The paths for moving forward to build just and environmentally sustainable  arrangements in consonance with the rights of Indigenous Peoples are potentially  many, and they can only be discerned by using our powers of imagination," Anaya  said. "By imagining both what the future should hold as well as what might go  wrong if bad decisions are made. By imagining with the foresight that draws from the wisdom of our ancestors."


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