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#StayAtHome with new Indigenous Media Library

When #StayAtHome mandates began rolling out across the globe, Mexican media producer and activist Iván Sawyer García began getting inquiries from friends and readers: Do you have any recommendations for indigenous films we can watch while we are sheltering in place? As a matter of fact he did — as founder of the bilingual collaborative documentary and multimedia lab Voices of Amerikua, indigenous films and media projects are his life.

Para leer este artículo en español, vea aquí.


Those requests gave him an idea. He pulled together dozens of films from his own archives, and began reaching out to filmmakers to ask permissions to include theirs as well, and the 100+ entry Voices of Amerikua Indigenous Film Library was born. The project has been a huge success, beginning with the first weekend, when the internationally acclaimed “Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians” was offered for free and drew more than 30,000 views.
 
We invited Iván to share a few of his favorites, and here’s what he came up with.

An invisible enemy has paralyzed the world and left us immersed in a long pause. We can either complain or take advantage of this precious time to reflect on our walk and on the place we occupy in this network of life that we call Planet Earth.

From Voices of Amerikua we stand in solidarity with you in your isolation and introspection and we have created for you an archive of more than 100 documentaries, films and music videos that portray the indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America. We want to share them with you so that the word and the struggles of our peoples inspire you and accompany you during this confinement that we hope will be the preamble to a collective metamorphosis towards a planetary consciousness.

Are you tired of Netflix? Are you interested in the culture and knowledge of indigenous peoples? At Voices of Amerikua you can find a variety of content that will expand your mind, extend your horizons and connect you with your roots.

Access the library HERE.

Here are some of our top recommendations.

José “Katira” Ramírez, protagonist of the internationally acclaimed Huicholes, The Last Peyote Guardians

No. 1: Huicholes, the Last Peyote Guardians (Mexico)

Documentary about the struggle of the Wixárika (Huichol) people of Mexico to save Wirikuta, their most sacred territory and the land of the peyote, the traditional medicine that keeps alive the knowledge of this iconic culture of Mexico. When they learned that these ancestral lands were under threat by transnational mining companies, Wixárika leaders issued a call to civil society to support their fight for territorial and cultural survival, and so the drama begins.

Directed and produced by Hernán Vílchez, cofounder of the Esperanza Project Foundation and Esperanza Project Film & TV, and co-produced by Paola Stefani, the film has won a dozen awards. It is currently available for rent throughout the English-speaking world and is free in Latin America. The team made the film available for free worldwide during the month of April as an offering for the global Covid-19 quarantine; in the first weekend of its release it attracted more than 30,000 views.

Read more about Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians here.

No. 2: Wisdom Weavers of the World (New Release!)

As humanity stands at a crossroads, 13 Indigenous Elders from diverse cultures around the globe gather in Hawai’i to discuss the state of the world, inviting the filming of their councils and ceremonies to co-create a message for humankind. This film is a gateway into the ongoing connection between these Indigenous Elders and people around the world. To join the global family following the wisdom of these elders and to join them for virtual gatherings — talking circles, wisdom sharing with Elders and other inspirational content, future films and videos, and collaborations with organizations of like mind and heart,  sign up for their newsletter on their website www.wisdomweavers.world.

“Wisdom Weavers of the World” is produced by Academy and Emmy Award Winning Producer, Jeffrey D Brown – Medicine Wheel Films. Filmed and edited by Daniel “El Suchi” Garcia with support from extended film crew.

No. 3: Pachakuti.The Golden Path (Peru)

Disillusioned after two years of living in the urban world, Arnold Silva remembers the stories told to him by his grandfather, a great leader of the Machiguenga people, about the great importance of maintaining balance with the jungle. The film follows his return to the jungle to follow a calling and continue the work of his grandfather.

Directed by Reed Rickert and co-produced with Anna Fishkin, it narrates Arnold’s return to his native community in the Peruvian Amazon after living in the urban world. This is his latest production, presented by NatGeo WILD, winner of the award for best short film, in association with Modern Maya Media.

No. 4 – Biidaaban- The Dawn Comes (Canada)

Biidaaban, a young Anishinaabe gender non-binary person that can see through multiple dimensions while existing and moving in their present time and space. Biidaaban is sometimes accompanied by their shape-shifter friend Sabe (Sasquatch). Ghost Caribou, Ghost Wolf and ancestors are also embedded within the story, but only Biidaaban can see them. They act as reminders of what exists in this space and provide lessons about honesty, humility and working for the people.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. called the unusual stop-motion film, by acclaimed director Amanda Strong, “a work of both stunning beauty and incredible technical achievement.”

No. 5: Mamo Lorenzo Izquierdo and CAAENOCANM invite the Integration of the Original Peoples (Colombia)

In 2016, an unprecedented meeting was held in Sasaima, Colombia, where 60 representatives of different tribes and 120 elders came together for the first time. In this meeting, the importance, the necessity, and the urgency to create an alliance between indigenous groups of Colombia and the world was established.

The goal of this alliance is to strengthen, safeguard and recover their ancestral knowledge and to gain recognition on the authority that they have as protectors of the environment. With this purpose, they created a representative organisation called CAAENOCANM, Confederation of Ancestral Authorities of the Original Nations from Colombia, Native America. Together with the Arhuaco Mamo Lorenzo Seuny Izquierdo and other elders, the film undertakes a journey to document and stimulate the dialogue between different ethnicities in Colombia while supporting the growth and expansion of the Confederation.

From our blog: Good news has come from the jungle from the Yuruparí nation.

This year, the fear, confusion, anguish, courage, bravery and many other human feelings that the inhabitants of the entire world are experiencing have reached the ears of the inhabitants of that area of ​​the Amazon. The COVID19 virus is advancing and people in the jungle are always thinking about the future and prevention. Faced with such a powerful ‘enemy’ as this virus, the sacred ritual of Yuruparí stands as a powerful tool that can help indigenous people face the fearsome eventualities that may arise when the pandemic reaches this corner of the Amazon.

Read the full story HERE.

And as if all of this wasn’t enough, we would like to present Voices of and Colors of the Earth, a web repository with games, interactive maps, web documents that explore the cosmovision of different cultures from around the world accessible to all ages in these times of staying at home.

Discover the Voices and Colors of the Earth at : voicesandcolorsoftheearth.com

How You Can Help During the Covid-19 Crisis

  • Many people write to us asking how they can help indigenous communities during the COVID-19 crisis, so here we share a selection of campaigns and fundraisers you can support !
  • Urgent Support for Comcaac Community for Coronavirus Pandemic. Find out more HERE
  • Support Huwã Karu Yuxibu Center, Acre, Brazil Find out more HERE
  • Huni Kuin People COVID-19 Relief Fund. Find out more HERE
  • Land is Sacred: Stand With the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Sign Petition HERE

Voices of Amerikua Featured on One Forest Forum

Join One Forest and Voices of Amerikua as we gather experts in Amazonian science, NGO leaders, and indigenous representatives in a panel discussion to better understand the current crisis in the Amazon region and raise money for the Amazon Emergency Fund for Covid-19 relief. The Amazon Action Forum is a platform to share knowledge and connect with direct avenues of change to support the Amazon forest and its people.

Streamed on One Forest Facebook page and more, stay tuned!

Iván Sawyer García is a media producer, environmental activist and educator. He is the founder of Voices of Amerikua, a collaborative documentary and multimedia lab featuring Indigenous communities of North, Central and South America and their efforts to protect their culture, land and rights using impact campaigns, social media, and documentary films. 

Voices of Amerikua works with musicians, media creators and the communities themselves to share and produce stories and media that express the reality of the critical environmental and human rights issues different communities are facing, in this region of the planet today. The term “Amerikua” is an ancient Mayan name for the American continent – also known as Turtle Island – and meaning “place of the Four Winds.”

The Vision Council: An Ancient Way of Gathering in Modern Times

Since the beginning of human history we have been gathering together as families, tribes and communities, to strengthen our relationship with each other, to council about important community matters, to exchange seeds, medicines, gifts and to simply celebrate life; to sit by the fire and hear the stories of our elders; to heal and honor the spirit and the body.

A prominent gathering in Mexico and several parts of Latin America, the Consejo de Visiones- Guardianes de la Tierra or “Vision Council- Guardians of the Earth” has been in the forefront of cultural, environmental, social innovation for over two decades. This unique event has managed to combine ancient with modern ways of converging together as human beings in a way that achieves a strengthening of community ties while inspiring the creation of new communities and planetary transformation networks.

In the Consejo de Visiones, environmentalists, representatives of sustainable communities, , indigenous leaders, artists, healers, and people from all paths in life have been gathering together. These gatherings also have the purpose of supporting the host community by improving infrastructure, boosting the local economy with the influx of visitors and also supporting specific environmental protection and restoration efforts in the area.

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Vision Council, Chiapas, Mexico, 2002. Photo: Svante Vanbart

The Consejo de Visiones’ is a  temporary “peace village” that has been a source of inspiration for a great number of regional events, gatherings, ceremonies, festivals, exhibitions and caravans in various parts of Latin America and worldwide. In the same manner the Consejo has been greatly inspired by the Bioregional Movement North America, which has held 10 Continental Bioregional Congresses since 1984 and by the Rainbow Gatherings that begun in the U.S. in the 1980s.

What’s a temporary peace village you may ask? It is a temporary ecovillage that is built and maintained by any group of people bringing together different areas of interest in sustainable and community living to strengthen bonds between each other, to celebrate life and discuss pressing challenges. A temporary peace village typically uses a consensus decision making and a council-based form of organization that is deeply influenced by  ancient governance models and spiritual practices of Native American and tribal cultures from around the world.

The Consejo de Visiones uses a unique organizational structure based on different thematic areas or ‘Consejos’ ( Councils), where specific groups of interest create their own scheduled  activities during the entire event.  These councils are the following: Arts and Culture Council, Ecology Council, Health Council, Social Movements Council, Natural Time Council, Children’s Council, and the Elder’s Council. All the Consejos are autonomous and come together each morning at the general plenary. They also prepare a presentation, performance, ceremony or song to present in the final plenary, on the last day of the gathering.

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Photo: Ivan Kuxan Sum/ Ancient Futures
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Photo: Ivan Kuxan Sum/ Ancient Futures
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Photo: Ivan Kuxan Sum/ Ancient Futures

The “peace village” model also includes the following areas of convergence:

1 – Central Camp

The Central Camp is the village’s main community space and is used for cultural presentations, workshops, circle dances in the evenings, films at night and many other activities. Every morning a community plenary is held here where large board is informing participants regarding the program and different activities for the day.

2 – Eco-kitchen and Café

Catering all-natural and organic food, the Eco-kitchen is managed by a team of experts in the field of sustainable food, serving two or three healthy and delicious vegetarian meals. The Café offers different snack and food items as well as teas and natural drinks throughout the event for a very low price and which is the basis for the financial maintenance of the kitchen, and support for the local community projects.

3- Youth Camp

The Youth Camp held by the Youth Council, aims to be a space for youth to gather, to offer workshops on different subjects. This space also includes an outdoor fire and/or tent used to prepare cultural activities for the young and not so young.

4 -Health and Healing Tent

Area used by the Health Council for their activities. This place also includes a first aid and medical response team as well as holistic health practitioners that can offer their services for all participants in the event.

5 – Moon Tent

The moon tent is a space dedicated to the honouring of the sacred feminine energy. In this space different activities take place such as women’s circles, ceremonies, discussions and workshops, eco-feminism, women’s spirituality, etc.

6 – Kids Zone, Flower Beehive

Children are the new consciousness and will be the future guardians of the planet. In the Village,  we reserve a space for mothers, fathers and children, where Ecopedagogy  activities, workshops, circus, theatre, plays, children’s games and presentations are offered.

7 – Bioregional Village

This is the specific area for internal management of the temporary Ecovillage. The Bioregional Village will focalize on such tasks as management of composting toilets, solid waste, composting systems, security, water, communication and internal programming of the village.

8 – Fair Trade and Exchange Market

This is the convergence point for the commercialization of goods such as crafts, clothes, natural foods mostly consisting of local and natural products and for incentivising the use of local currencies as well as bartering .

9 – Sacred Fire

On the first night of the event, a Ceremonial Fire is lit which will remain all during the event and which will be guarded  by a team of fire keepers. During the day and in the evenings this fire is used to lit the fire in the sweat lodges. This sacred fire receives the community prayers and invites for the purification of our minds and bodies.

10 – Permacultural Technology

Scattered around the village,  there are numerous environmental low-cost technologies, available for all participants. Examples of this eco-technologies are:  composting toilets, compost, greywater filtering systems, green roofs, recycling station, solar oven, earth oven, bicycle generators, bamboo construction and other natural building techniques.

In the Consejo de Visiones  we are all participating in the creation of the world we wish to live in. This is usually a very empowering experience for those who are more used to being spectators rather than co-creators. In the context of the need  to create new types of festivals and gatherings, the Consejo de Visiones may not be a new perspective, nevertheless, it will always be the ground for creating new valuable experiences and templates for permanent and temporary communities.

If you are interested in participating in the Consejo de Visiones consider attending the 14 Vision Council – Guardians of the Earth will take place in the community of Kalpulli in Jalisco, Mexico from the 21 to the 18 of November 2015. More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1431711597149505/

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Video from Consejo de Visiones 2013

References and Links:

Eagle and Condor Meet in Visionary Gathering of Souls by Tracy Barnett.-

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tracy-l-barnett/eagle-and-condor-meet-in-_b_790439.html

Offical website for the Consejo de Visiones-Guardianes de la Tierra- www.consejodevisiones.org

Offical website for the Coucil of Sustainable Settlements of the Americas or C.A.S.A (acronym in spanish). This is the Latin American branch of the Global Ecovillage Network –  www.casacontinental.org

Tepoztlan : Chronicle of eviction and repression. Memories of July 23, 2013

Today its exactly 2 years since the state police of Morelos, Mexico evicted by force the people’s  camp: “the Caudillo of the South”, installed by the  Los Frentes Unidos en Defensa de Tepoztlán as a means of peaceful resistance to the imposition of federal highway by the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes del Estado de Morelos of the State of Morelos and the company Tradeco. Here a personal photo gallery of what happened that morning in July 2013.

2 years of repression and eviction of the camp ” El Caudillo del Sur”. The struggle continues !

MORE INFORMATION: http://subversiones.org/archivos/28524

Igniting regeneration: a Latin American Permaculture Convergence in Colombia

The recent Latin American Permaculture Convergence (or CLAP ) was held from the 15th to the 21st of June in Varsana Ecovillage south of Bogota Colombia. For 5 consecutive days the different open air and indoor spaces of the host community hosted a buzzing 140 people from over 16 countries, which shared tools and strategies in the process incubating and birthing the Latin American Permaculture Network. Some of the countries present included Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentina, Germany, United States, and even Russia!

Continue reading Igniting regeneration: a Latin American Permaculture Convergence in Colombia

Faces of India

These pictures are part of the work entitled “Faces of India” taken during a journey to the heart of this facinating country during the months of December 2009 to March 2010. It was in this period that I participated various religious and cultural festivals and in order to portray the color and spirit of its people and culture. Among other I participated in the Kartikai Deepam Festival in Tiruvanamalai in the state of Tamil Nadu; in the Desert Festival in Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and the Shivaratri festival in Varanasi, the Holy City of Shiva.

Greening the Sacred Desert: Permaculture workshop and hands on learning experience in Wirikuta, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

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Huichol pilgramage to Wirikuta. Photo: desinformemonos.org

Wirikuta is a region in the desert of San Luis Potosí, Mexico that is considered by the Wixarika or Huichol indigenous people in Mexico one of their most important sacred sites. The Wixarika people are known worldwide for their unique visionary art and for proudly preserving their spiritual identity despite a destructive civilizing process of over 500 years. Each year, for probably thousands of years, the Huichol people make ​​a pilgrimage that has, as its starting point, the Sierra Madre Occidental (specifically the states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Durango) where they live permanently. The pilgrimage culminates in the desert of Wirikuta and recreates what they consider to be the path of their ancestors. In the desert, the Huichol greet the sun, leave offerings and perform ceremonies that are designed to maintain harmony and balance on Planet Earth.

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Huichol woman and child. Photo: Yvonne Negrín

Located in the plains and mountains of the Sierra de Catorce, in the state of San Luis Potosi, Wirikuta is a place of extraordinary cultural, spiritual and natural wealth. In 1999 UNESCO declared it one of the 14 sacred natural sites in the world to be protected. It is also one of the Natural Protected Areas of semi-arid climate with the highest biodiversity in the world. However, the Mexican government has conceded a large part of this region to companies that seek to exploit the mineral wealth of the area. This threatens not only the permanence of the semi-arid eco-system and biodiversity, but also the cultural heritage of the Huichol people. Recently Project Nuevo Mundo along with several Mexican environmental organizations such as Manos a La TierraOrgani-K A.C. and the local team ‘Colectivo Patas Verdes’, organized a 3-day hands-on permaculture workshop that took place in ‘La Flor del Desierto’, a community ecotourism project located precisely in the region of Wirikuta.

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La Flor del Desierto. Photo: Ivan Sawyer

Continue reading Greening the Sacred Desert: Permaculture workshop and hands on learning experience in Wirikuta, San Luis Potosi, Mexico