Do you respect the land you live on?

Kat Haber
Posted April 6, 2021 from United States
Yawanawa Life Plan
Tashka Yawanawá is Chief of the Yawanawá people in Acre, Brazil. As Chief, he leads 900 people stewarding 400,000 acres of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The son of the former leader of the Yawanawá, Tashka grew up witnessing the virtual enslavement of his people by the rubber industry and experiencing the near annihilation of the tribe’s culture by missionaries. Since the 1980s, Tashka has actively fought for the rights of indigenous peoples. Realizing that he needed further education to improve the situation of the Yawanawá, he pursued higher education in the U.S. and abroad. He was directly involved in the creation of the Indigenous Lawyers Association and co-founded the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Youth Alliance, through which he shares the experiences and knowledge of the Yawanawá with youth around the world, and works with projects that guarantee the preservation of different indigenous cultures. In 2001, Tashka returned to Brazil, and chose to use the knowledge gained from his experiences abroad to help his people transform their future. He became the youngest Chief in the history of the Yawanawá at age 25. In a short amount of time, Tashka and Laura have managed to double the extent of Yawanawá territory, reinvigorate Yawanawá culture, and establish economically and socially empowering relationships with the outside world. Tashka and Laura have two daughters - Kenemani and Luna Rosa - and divide their time living and working in the Yawanawá community and Rio Branco, Brazil. Laura Yawanawá is a Zapotec and Mixtec Indian from Oaxaca, Mexico. She holds a degree in international relations, focused on indigenous peoples political affairs. Laura speaks three languages fluently (English, Spanish and Portuguese). Previously, she served as the Executive Director of the South and Meso-American Indian Rights Center in Oakland, California. She has worked for the rights of indigenous peoples from all over Latin America for many years. Together with her husband Tashka, she travelled with a backpack all over Latin America, visiting remote indigenous communities to empower them with information to fight for their rights and self-determination. She co-founded organisations to support indigenous peoples, such as the Nawa Institute, and INIYA (Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Alliance). She also worked for the Climate Change Institute of the State of Acre, organizing workshops in indigenous communities about climate change, and environmental services. She comes from a matriarchal culture in the northern hemisphere. Seventeen years ago, she married a Tashka Yawanawá. Since then, they have worked together for the good of the Yawanawá people. She now serves as president-director of the Yawanawá Sociocultural Association/ASCY. She has considered herself as an instrument, helping to transform a community from a deeply male-oriented culture to one that is more open and inclusive of women.

Do you recognize the original people who live/lived on the land you now call home? If you are the original people, what messages might you share with humans as we transition through the pandemic, climate migration and Earth warnings of Xtreme weather, wildfires, floods, sea level rising? We are in the middle of the 6th mass Xtinction. Is your place quieter, lonelier, with fewer life forms to keep you company and entertained? 

In the midst of assembling the pieces to launch a 3 day climate activation called LIVING BRIGHTLY, a team mate suggested we offer a land acknowledgment for the Yawanawa Tribe. At the end of Day 1 we are hosting an after party online with singer-songwriter Elizaveta (her SOS video is charming and deeply moving), Mark Matson doing a comedy piece on climate impact, and Tashka & Laura Yawanawa. 

This is what we came up with: 

TRUST acknowledges the 500,000 acres of Amazon rainforest in the state of Acre, Brazil of the traditional homeland of the 1,200 who protect and reinvigorate the The Yawanawá Tribe and it's culture. We respect their economically and socially empowering relationships with the outside world. Revenue from the all access after party will be gifted 100% to the Yawanawa Tribe for their LIFE PLAN. We respect The Yawanawá Life Plan, a model blueprint for how indigenous communities everywhere can think and act to strengthen their culture, their message, and to protect Mother Earth. The Yawanawá Life Plan is like a tree; it has many branches. It is a strategic plan that The Yawanawá developed over a five-year period for the whole community, and its children, men, women and elders. Its aim is to secure their territory, health, education, culture, language, economy, and identity, so they can continue being Yawanawá in their preserved land for the next generations. By listening to and making alliances with indigenous people, all humankind can benefit from maintaining living forests and ways of life. We are grateful to The Yawanawá for the care they give to life in their lands. For more from Sanctuary India.

How would you acknowledge your land? How do you celebrate the water upon which all life depends? Do you have a ritual that celebrates the air we breathe? Are local songs ways of linking ancient wisdom with practical daily living? What are you teaching your children about Earth?

Comments 19

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Nini Mappo
Apr 07
Apr 07

Hello Kat,
That is such a grounding image in the midst of a pandemic! Thank you for sharing the visionary leadership of Laura and Tashka to redeem a culture, a way of life, and the systems that sustain that. In my part of the world, traditional owners of the land are acknowledged, and there are plaques in most public spaces to that effect, but the First Australians continue to be marginalized and stowed out of 'sight' in Aboriginal stations away from the cities. So I have often wondered as to the sincerity of these acknowledgements and their role in inclusion, cultural education and transformation. I am still wondering. But it is refreshing to see indigenous people in an 'occupied' country in their own land.

Kat Haber
Apr 08
Apr 08

Thank you kindly, Nini!
We have much to humbly learn at the feet of those who live still close to the ground.
May you find strength and many ways of protecting your waters.

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Apr 08
Apr 08

Greetings Sis Kat,
This is the first rewarding read of my day logging on to WP to encourage women and I must say it is a very rewarding read and topic I can relate to. I work and live in Africa and the USA and have worked and very familiar with our Native American brothers and sisters (concerns, issues, etc) living in Massachusettes and visiting Colorado. I can go on and on and would love more of this conversation because it moves me and a educational interest of mine. I say Thank you for sharing this informative read of enlightenment. Cheers to you!
Mama Queen

Kat Haber
Apr 08
Apr 08

My Queen...
It will take everyone everywhere doing everything to turn the destruction of earth's living systems capable of sustaining homo sapiens 7 generation forward. I am grateful for the indigenous learnings generously gifted me in my 63 years. May you protect the waters in your land.

Dawn Arteaga
Apr 09
Apr 09

Wow Kat thank you so much for sharing this beautiful land acknowledgement. I love it is not only kind and respectful but practical in dedicating real resources and support to the Yawanawa Tribe. Well done!

Kat Haber
Apr 09
Apr 09

While words are lovely, I believe in the power of acts. It is what we choose to do that changes our worlds. Each World Pulse writer is changing her world by putting her stories, feelings, and lived Xperiences in words. We see new worlds, possibilities, and pains from these worlds. We belong to each other. We see each other in ways we could not otherwise have known. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

METIEGE OKON NOEL EVE

Thanks for sharing I love the picture illustration

Kat Haber
Apr 10
Apr 10

Are there words you say in Cameroon to honor the elements where you live?

METIEGE OKON NOEL EVE

Sure to describe our unity we always use
(1) One and Indivisible CAMEROON
(2)LA REPUBLIC.
AND FOR OUR our English Speaking identity
(1) Boyses in the bushes
(2) AMBAZONIANS
(3) SEPARATISTS
((4) WATER NA WATER
(5) WHERE DEM DEY?

Kat Haber
Apr 12
Apr 12

Thanks, Metiege!
What do these relate to?
(1) Boyses in the bushes
(2) AMBAZONIANS
(3) SEPARATISTS
((4) WATER NA WATER
(5) WHERE DEM DEY?

METIEGE OKON NOEL EVE

Those are words that best describe the separatist War in Cameroon. When you meet the separatist fighters on road blocks and you say those words they immediately understand you are one of them and supporting their cause. So they will let you go if not you risk being kidnapped for Ransome or even killed

Kat Haber
Apr 12
Apr 12

and how is the land faring in the time of war in Cameroon?

ARREY- ECHI
Apr 14
Apr 14

Hello Kat,
This is a beautiful piece. It shows that human lives is intricately linked to the land they inhabit. When development brings woes and destruction, the traditional owners and custodians of the land usually always bear the brunt. It is important to respect the culture and way of lives of indigenous people.
I watched the video and I am impressed with the visionary leadership of Laura & Tashka. May we all learn from them,

Kat Haber
Apr 14
Apr 14

Thank you. How do you honor your land and waters?

ARREY- ECHI
Apr 14
Apr 14

I don't really know. I think by pouring libation and doing some form of sacrifices for the gods of the land, something mostly done by men.

Kat Haber
Apr 14
Apr 14

Is it possible for women to celebrate the waters in your region?

Jessica Robinson
Apr 14
Apr 14

Thank you Kat. I love this challenge for us. I do particpate in land acknoweldgements and love your offer of celebrating the water upon which all life depends and developing rituals for the elements that give us life on a daily basis. Thank you...

Kat Haber
Apr 14
Apr 14

Please share yours, Jessica. Or if you are designing them now, how might they shift depending on the body of water to which they are offered?

Nari
May 01
May 01

Thank you for sharing your story, it was truly inspiring.