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Grants Awarded 2014 | First Peoples Worldwide


Grants Awarded 2014

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In 2014, Keepers of the Earth Fund awarded grants totaling $231,085.




A World Institute for a Sustainable Humanity and Coalition for Community Transformation and Development (Sierra Leone) – Although AWISH continues to strive to reestablish the Inland Valley Swamp Rice network in Sierra Leone after a decade of civil war, it has been severely hampered by the Ebola epidemic. Working alongside the CCTD, the coalition deployed Ebola prevention and protection measures through provision of food, water, medicines and disinfectants along with training for mass groups of community peoples on how they can protect themselves against contracting the virus. In this instance, First Peoples Worldwide loosened its usually rigid granting parameters and provided two small grants from Keepers of the Earth Fund in response to an international crisis for humanity.


Ditshwanelo (Botswana) – The Basarwa/San peoples who inhabit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in Botswana have faced forcible relocations to fixed locations, and as a result, their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle is at risk. Ditshwanelo, the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, has teamed up with the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) NGO Coalition to develop a program that would help ease tensions between the Basarwa/San tribes and the CKGR management. KOEF provided funding to support this initiative, which maps land use in the CKGR and would allow the Basarwa/San peoples to actively take part in the preservation and environmentally-responsible use of the CKGR's delicate ecosystem. Two drafts of the mapping program have already been presented to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), and KOEF's funding will allow Ditshwanelo to continue its work in land use mapping.


Eco-Earth Environment for Peace Initiative (Uganda) – A small grant to the TEEP Initiative supports the Ethnomedicine Preservation & Documentation Project. Located in Gombe Subcounty of Kyadondo County in Buganda Kingdom, the project serves the Baganda Tribe, and brings together traditional healers and leaders to respond to the community's lack of health care programs that are affordable and culturally relevant. The TEEP documents the traditional knowledge of the local environment and revitalizes the plants and trees used in medicines that can treat the symptoms that come with malaria, HIV, and other diseases. The project responds to community healthcare and increases the communities control over its traditional, natural and human assets.


Grand Houroumi Initiative (Algeria/Niger/Nigeria) – Twice per year, the nomadic Farfarou Peoples, along with their life-supporting herds of animals, traverse the Grand Houroumi, a 2,000-kilometer stretch of land through Algeria, Niger, and Nigeria. The Farfarou experience mounting pressures to become sedentary by governments that do not understand the ecological and cultural importance of their lifestyles. With support from KOEF and the ICCA Consortium, the Farfarou are using participatory mapping and modern GPS technologies to delineate the Grand Houroumi. The project is a crucial step towards acquiring recognition of the Farfarou's collective rights to use and conserve the Grand Houroumi, and will be guided by pulaaku, a code of conduct that emphasizes patience, self-control, discipline, prudence, modesty, respect for others, wisdom, forethought, personal responsibility, hospitality, courage, and hard work.


Literacy Action and Development Agency (LADA) (Uganda) – Keepers of the Earth Fund helps LADA to continue its Batwa Water and Food Security Project, the main goal of which is to reduce community conflict over natural resources, and provide an alternative source of traditional foods in addressing the Batwa Peoples evictions from the forest. They are preserving and sharing water resources by installing ninety 500-liter rainwater harvesting jars in three Batwa communities. The jars have harvested up to 45,000 liters of clean and safe water from each rainfall. Funding from KOE will install another 40 water jars, provide protection of three water sources, and help strengthen the traditional-food-growing capacity with seeds and plantings of yams and other foods to which the Batwa are accustomed.


Ligue Nationale des Association Autochtones Pygmees du Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo) – The Keepers of the Earth Fund supported this community of Batswa Pygmies to protect their forest's biodiversity through reforestation. The community used their grant to restore Indigenous tree species and herbal seeds nearing extinction in the Bowele and Bolama villages. Community leaders also received training to sustainably manage the forest resources from which they draw their livelihoods and sustenance.


Mengbwa Actions Jeunes (Cameroon) – The Bagyeli Pygmies of Bandewouri are a community of 25 families who live exclusively by hunting, gathering, fishing, and harvesting. They trade the products of their livelihood for agricultural products from their Bantou neighbors. Bagyeli Pygmies also typically sell some products in order to pay their children's school fees. Recent forest legislation has created a landless situation for these once forest-dwelling people, destroying their traditional way of life. The legislation has placed this community at the bottom of the social ladder, and they have become victims of discrimination because of it. Two small grants from the Keepers of the Earth Fund enabled them to create a storage space for food and traditional medicine gathered from the forest, and to dig a well and install a pump so that the community could have better access to potable water. The Bagyeli believe that access to clean water strengthens them physically in order to fight against insecurity and open conflict, and the storage space has allowed the community to protect their last vestiges of traditional knowledge.


Mission Shalom International (Senegal) – This project serves the Diola Peoples that inhabit the coastal plain between the Gambia and Sao Domingo rivers of Senegambia and Guinea-Bissau. These wet-rice farmers, and particularly women, have a long-established tradition of farming together, growing food to feed their families. Five rural Indigenous women networks in five villages in the Casamance region, supported by Shalom International, conducted community building workshops to rebuild the Diola values system in improving food production, and adapting knowledge and local contexts to conform to Diola values and beliefs.


Young Green Women - Sierra Leone (YGWSL) (Sierra Leone) – The Keepers of the Earth Fund supported a third organization in Sierra Leone in 2014, in response to the Ebola crisis. When the government of Sierra Leone announced the positive results of suspected Ebola virus cases in June 2014, the Young Green Women of Sierra Leone sprung into action and conducted a rapid needs assessment to determine the immediate needs of their communities in preventing the spread of this deadly virus. Keepers of the Earth Fund supported YGWSL in training both community members and additional public health workers in preventing the spread of and treating Ebola. The KOE funds were also used to provide cleaning and disinfectant supplies and food items.




Bamenda-Nkwe Youth Association (BAYA) (Cameroon) - The name Bamenda-Nkwe is composed of three root words: "Ba", meaning the people of, "Menda", a group of Tikari who were forced out of their homeland during the migration period, and "Nkwe", which comes from the name of the Fon Nkwe I. Bamendankwe features a domesticated landscape characterized by cultivated fields, woodlots, compound farms, and natural pastures. Due to fertile soils, the tradition of agriculture has remained a culture in Bamendankwe. Community or group agriculture is still practiced to date as the profit from the sales is used for village development, however Government seizure of land has recently hindered collective community development. This grant supported the Bamenda-Nkwe to gain title to their remaining hectares and focus on increasing agricultural productivity and community development.


Cordillera Peoples Alliance (Philippines) – The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) represents the Igorot Peoples of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. The CPA believes that music, dancing, theater, and other forms of cultural exchange are the best methods of preserving traditional knowledge, educating their youth and disseminating information about unwanted development in Igorot territories. The CPA used their KOEF grant to form a youth group that performs cultural productions in eight communities threatened with development aggression throughout the CAR. The final performance is held on Cordillera Day, an annual celebration commemorating the death of Macliing Dulag, who was murdered in 1980 for his opposition to the Chico River Dam Project.


Lumad Mindanaw Peoples Federation (Philippines) –The only three Indigenous tribes from the Philippines' Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) (collectively known as Lumads) were excluded from peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front concerning ongoing conflicts in the region. As a result, an emerging peace framework called Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) contains no specific protections for Indigenous Peoples, despite the damages the conflicts have had on their communities. KOEF funded the Lumad Mindanaw Peoples Federation to coordinate advocacy efforts among various Lumad groups in the ARMM, and to conduct national-level advocacy to ensure the rights of Indigenous Peoples are incorporated into the BBL.


Ma'an - The Forum for Bedouin Women's Organisations in the Negev (Israel) – This is an organization run by Bedouin women for Bedouin women. They work on human rights and gender issues in the Negev desert region of southern Israel. The Bedouin community has recently been particularly affected by increasing suppression of minorities in Israel - women from the community are discriminated against by the state because they are Bedouin, and marginalized by their own patriarchal community because they are women. This KOEF grant has a special focus on women who are or have been subjected to domestic violence and/or sexual abuse. Through training of staff in a crisis support center, availability of a crisis hotline, and provision of legal advice, Bedouin women find spiritual, emotional and physical healing.


Nirmanee Development Foundation (Sri Lanka) – The Nirmanee Development Foundation works to restore traditional snakebite medicines, and to catalog medicinal plants and herbs available in the region to validate and reintroduce Indigenous medicine into today's Western medicine practices. This KOEF grant supported the organization's infrastructure development to more effectively carry out their cataloging and documentation work.


Pgaz K'Nyau Association for Sustainable Development (Philippines/Thailand) – Through the Pgaz K'Nyau Association for Sustainable Development, KOE supports members of Higa-onon communities in the Philippines and Karen communities in Thailand to attend the first meeting of the Mountain Communities Initiative in Bhutan. The meeting convened practitioners and activists from twelve mountain-dwelling Indigenous communities around the world, forming a network of mutual support for preserving traditional food systems, customary laws, and other elements of Indigenous mountain culture. The Mountain Communities Initiative preceded the fourteenth Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology, a collaborative network of individuals and organizations working to preserve vital links between human societies and the natural world.


Sain Tus Center (Mongolia) – Sain Tus Center is located in Mongolia, the country with the largest share of Indigenous peoples in the world. While Sain Tus Center has a long history of development funding for their community, they wanted to work on a project that focused on preserving their traditions. Specifically, they wished to preserve the Uriankhai Tuuli, a traditional epic (or story told through song) and has been declared "a tradition in urgent need of protection" by UNESCO. Sain Tus Center used funds from KOEF to create a documentary about the Uriankhai Tuuli, teach several school children how to deliver the Tuuli, and film a television program to raise local awareness about their traditions.


Tribes and Natures Defenders (TRINAD) (Philippines) –Located in the Higa-onon and Manobo tribal communities, Tribes and Natures Defenders previously received a grant to support their Hilltop Tribal School project that allowed Filipino children to attend school. With their second grant, TRINAD will implement a sustainable economic development project to reestablish farms destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan). The basis of this project is recovering the community's traditional food system based on Higa-onon values and beliefs, and building capacity in the community for implementing a tribal farming system.


South America


Asociación de Productores de Semillas y Alimentos Nutricionales Andinos Mushuk Yuyay (Ecuador) - According to legend, the Cañari community originated in the Andean territory of Ecuador where they suffered through Inca and Spanish conquests. Although they have been able to maintain their traditions, beliefs and spirituality, much of the male work force has emigrated away from the community in search of temporary employment. This movement has shifted the gender roles within the community, giving women more leadership in household and agricultural duties. A small grant from KOEF helped the Cañari community meet their goal in reviving traditional Andean grains and other foods, and improving community health by fostering better eating habits. Improving health ensures the Cañari community maintains natural equilibrium and harmony with Mother Earth.


Asociación de Grupos de Mujeres Tejedoras Ixiles Q'imb'al (Guatemala) - during the colonial period in Guatemala, Indigenous Ixil Mayan communities in the Ixil region suffered loss of their ancestral lands. Then, from the 1930's to the 1990's, the Guatemalan Civil War ravaged Indigenous populations throughout the country. With the signing of the Peace Accords, Ixil Mayan women have organized around recovering their lives without violence, educating their sons and daughters to demand their rights, and initiating textile production to generate income to support their families. The Keepers of the Earth Fund helped to promote Ixil Mayan values and culture, increase the number of women's groups, and strengthen women's roles in caring for the environment.


Comunidad Mbya-Guarani Yryapu (Argentina) – The Mbya-Guarani community of Argentina has suffered from attempted eviction and relocation, resulting in the loss of over half its territory. After a long struggle, the provincial government gave them community ownership of 265 hectares out of the original 600 hectares they inhabited. For the Mbya-Guarani population, the Teko'a, "way of being", is the territory where the Guarani way life unfolds. The territory is essential for economic reproduction and sociopolitical organization of these groups. This grant ensured that the community's ownership of the land is respected and enforced, as established by an international treaty.


ECOSALUD (Honduras) - ECOSALUD is an afro-Honduran-led organization of men and women working to promote community participation, strengthen leadership, and revitalize their culture. The KOEF grant supported the development of a training project for youth promoters of the Garifuna culture. The project centered on developing a process for youth to experience the ways in which their ancestors passed on knowledge, analyzed difficulties, generated solutions, and made decisions.


Cacalenel Car Sa Nima (CCSN) Riverfish Protectors (Belize) – This community based organization conserves part of the upper Rio Grande River in Belize, from San Miguel Village to the headwaters near Tiger Cave, by integrating effective Indigenous and contemporary land management practices within the upper Rio Grande watershed. The Q'eqchi' Maya People of Southern Belize used their KOEF grant to develop and effectively manage their land resources through a blend of oral tradition and mapping.


Centro de Mujeres Aymaras (Bolivia) – Although traditional laws and customs emphasize respect for women in Aymara communities, Aymara women in La Paz, Bolivia frequently experience inequality, discrimination, and abuse. This Indigenous women's group used its grant to document traditional Indigenous laws regarding women and to promote awareness of these laws to traditional and legal authorities. They also delivered a series of seminars and a radio program to other Aymaras communities in the region.


Congreso Local de Ñurüm, Comarca Ngõbe Buglé (Panama) - The Ngõbe Buglé of the Ñurüm district of Panama survive on subsistence farming, but live in extreme poverty. These living conditions cause migration towards the city, especially among the youth. The Ngõbe community develops its leadership through capacity-building workshops that help men, women and youth more effectively manage the Congress and community projects, while also promoting cultural and environmental awareness among youth.


Cultural Survival (Guatemala) – Cultural Survival's community radio program is designed to unify and strengthen communication among Mayan communities in Guatemala, many of which live in remote and rural areas of the country. The KOEF grant supported Cultural Survival to produce and broadcast radio programs on Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). The programs, which are developed by community members and aired in Indigenous languages on more than fifty radio stations, informed Mayan communities about their government's granting of concessions on their traditional territories, alerted them to the potential consequences of companies implementing these concessions, and offered strategies for asserting their right to exercise FPIC.


Fundación Maya (Guatemala) – Communal land tenure and agrarian living are among the core values of the Mayan Ixil Peoples. Because the Guatemalan government's efforts to formalize ejido (collective land ownership) are largely ineffective, Fundación Maya partnered with Ixil University (an Indigenous-led educational institution that emphasizes traditional methods of knowledge transmission) to engage Mayan Ixil youth in revitalizing the farming and living practices of their ancestors. The project explored the importance of owning land, water, and other natural resources collectively, and promoted the cultivation of native seeds in ways that protect the soil, reduce economic dependence on monoculture exports, and strengthen the spiritual unity of the Mayan Ixil Peoples.


Fundación Mujeres del Agua (Venezuela) – In southeastern Venezuela's Gran Sabana (Great Savannah), the traditional lifestyles of the Pemon Peoples are rapidly changing due to an influx of mining to the region. As young men go to work in the mining industry and become increasingly influenced by mainstream culture and the cash economy, women are left as the primary guardians of Pemon traditional values, which emphasize peace, self-sufficiency, and respect for the earth. Fundación Mujeres del Agua used their grant to convene gender-focused and culturally-oriented leadership trainings aimed at enhancing the presence of Pemon women in traditional and contemporary political forums throughout the Gran Sabana.


Indigenous Lafkenche Community of Llaguepulli (Chile) – The Lafkenche-Mapuche peoples of Llaguepulli have been working toward Indigenous autonomy and preservation of their heritage through various community initiatives, including a community-run school that teaches students their native Mapudungun language. In developing these initiatives, the Llaguepulli Mapuche decided to partner with MAPLE Microdevelopment to create a Mapuche-owned, values-based financial institution. Having a history of successful self-managed development, starting their own community financial institution seemed like the next step for the Lafkenche-Mapuche peoples. The community uses its KOEF grant to support two female community managers working to develop the alternative Mapuche banking institution.


Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (Guatemala) – The Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP) is helping Mayan farmers return to their traditional seeds, for better health benefits and their resilience to disease and changing climatic conditions. The project enabled Mayan farmers to attend workshops on seed saving and home gardening at IMAP's educational center and permaculture demonstration site. Mayan cosmology, which emphasizes agriculture as the unifying foundation of communities, is fully integrated into the workshops. The IMAP is also developing a computerized seed bank for the storage, management, and exchange of traditional seeds and the traditional knowledge behind them.


Oxlajuj B'atz' (Guatemala) – This organization facilitates Mayan women in utilizing their traditional crafts to alleviate the adverse effects of poverty and improve their quality of life. The mission of Oxlajuj B'atz is based on the principles of harmony, democracy and sustainability. The KOEF supports a community-based project to return to Mayan ancestral roots of natural medicine.


Parlamento de los Pueblos Indigenas del Chaco Americano y Zicosur (Argentina) – This project focuses on 74 long-established jungle communities of the Mbyá Guaraní living in the Biosphere Reserve of the Misiones, Chaco, and Santa Fe provinces. While they live on 19,500 hectares of land, their community is continuously threatened by expansion of the logging industry, which has effectively cornered them onto less than 300 hectares. The Mbyá Guarani continue to fight to preserve their rich cultural identity and to remain living in the jungle. The KOEF supported creation of a community management committee to collectively evaluate its existing biosphere management plan, demarcate their land, and develop a claim for restitution and a ban on exploitation.


Servicios Para El Desarrollo Humano Sustentable (Mexico) – In Chiapas, Mexico, the traditional sustainable farming methods of the Tzeltal Peoples are being threatened by agro-chemical use that destroys soil health and causes erosion. The peoples' health and harvest of basic foods, like corn and beans, has diminished because of poor soil and water quality. The community is implementing its Strengthening of Agricultural Practices project to establish 10 theoretical and practical workshops on the benefits, use, and handling of organic fertilizers. Indigenous farmers are empowered to practice care, protection, and improvement of community land, and to demonstrate community values of solidarity, respect, and collective effort.


Unidad Indigena de Pueblo Awa (Colombia) - The Awa Peoples of southwestern Colombia experience massive and systematic violations of their rights due to the presence of various armed groups in their katza su (territories). With a small grant from the KOEF, the Awa Peoples convene leaders from various Awa reservations to exchange traditional seeds and discuss the history and mythology of their peoples. The leaders are planning and creating a self-sustaining Awa farm, which will infuse their traditional farming practices with contemporary permaculture techniques. The farm will serve as a model for other farms in Awa territories as a means to combat poor nutrition, environmental degradation, and cultural deprivation in Awa communities.


North America


International Indian Treaty Council (USA) – The IITC is world renowned for its advocacy for and protection of Indigenous human rights. For four decades it has worked to obtain and retain the rights of Indigenous Peoples from the local to international community level. Its long history and list of achievements on behalf of Indigenous Peoples make IITC a leader in culturally relevant community development. With funds from KOE, the IITC will implement a series of capacity-building workshops for community leaders on issues of human rights.


Euchee (Yuchi) Language Project (USA-Oklahoma) – The Euchee Language Project was established to keep the rich heritage and language of the Yuchi people alive. There are only two fluent speakers of this unique language, creating a great sense of urgency to document the language and teach Yuchi youth. Through breath-to-breath immersion methods, Yuchi youth are connected to elders in the We Walk with the Elders project, enabling youth to travel to the elders' homes, or provide transportation for the elders to gather with youth in a central location, for in-person learning and exchange. Verbal and physical nuances unique to the Yuchi language must be instilled during teaching so these sessions are documented using both audio and video recording.


Healing and the Horse (USA- South Dakota) – On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, an animal-based therapy project focuses on healing historical trauma that transcends to the current day lives of Native American youth. The project creates confidence, trust and responsibility through horsemanship and a foundation for healing. A small grant from the Keepers of the Earth Fund helped the organization gain legal recognition and increase its ability to attract new resources to support the project. Meanwhile, youth on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation engaged in horsemanship, recollecting their equine ancestry, language, culture and spiritual base as a means of retaining their proud identity and place in community and the world.


Hui Malama I Na Kupuna o Hawai'I Nei (USA - Hawaii) – The "Hui" is a Native Hawaiian organization working to identify and repatriate the remains of Native Hawaiian ancestors. The people are "Oiwi", which literally means "of the bone" and refers to one's Native Hawaiian ancestry. They believe in an interdependent relationship between themselves and their relatives, and the responsibility of care and protection between the living and deceased. The organization works to identify Native Hawaiian skeletal remains, specifically in the collection at Oxford University, Museum of Natural History in England. After four years, the organization received a determination from the University that three of four skulls were Native Hawaiian. Two of these were repatriated with an initial grant from KOE, and a second grant helped to repatriate the one remaining artifact. By returning the ancestors home for reburial, the Hui restores and strengthens the Native Hawaiian ancestral foundation and maintains its responsibility of care.


Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative (USA-Oklahoma) – The Seminole Sovereignty Protection Initiative (SSPI) is a community organization that supports Seminole and Muscogee Creek tribal members. A KOEF grant enabled the SSPI to rebuild a Seminole chickee—a structure used for housing, cooking, and eating, which fell into disrepair over time. The SSPI was able to obtain traditional cypress and palm fronds to rebuild the chickee in time for the 2nd Annual Corn Conference and the 40th anniversary celebration of the International Indian Treaty Council Conference (IITC).


Vancouver Native Health Society (Canada) – The Keepers of the Earth Fund supported a traditional Native foods component of this Tu'wusht Garden/Kitchen project to reconnect Vancouver's urban Indigenous population to their Indigenous traditions through food production and sharing, improving their physical, mental, cultural, and spiritual health. The group is enhancing food harvest and preparation, inviting the community to learn the cultural protocols through harvest and preparation of foods traditional to their Native diet, which are shared throughout the year.


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