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09/29/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/28/2021 08:03

Protecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to Self-Determination

Together, these efforts increase awareness about Indigenous cultures and the struggles they face to maintain their land and their ways of life.

For example, Cultural Survival is elevating the work of Donatila Girón Calix, leader of the Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz, Honduras, who is working to defend the environment and human rights of the Lenca people in Honduras. Calix has fought against hydroelectric dams that extract river water for energy, while leaving many people without water. She has also helped to prevent logging companies from cutting down forests on Indigenous land.

"For us, some of the fundamental parts of being Indigenous are our way of taking care of water, our way of seeing the forest and our territory, our way of coexisting in harmony with nature," she says. "Our water, forest, and territory are non-negotiable because they are parts of a whole, a path of learning, a way of life, an entire cosmos."

Cultural Survival is also raising awareness about the work of Philip Kujur, a Kudukh tribesman and activist who is spearheading efforts to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Jharkhand, India. Kujur has been working to protect the forest economy of Indigenous Peoples from industries intent on logging these areas for their own development projects.

"Not only are Indigenous Peoples being massively displaced from their natural homes, but thousands of square kilometers of primary forests are being ravaged as well," says Kujur. "That is why we consider our fight to protect our forests, water, and land inherited from our ancestors no different from our fight to protect our identity and existence."