Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gond Indigenous Peoples of India: Systematic Displacement Destroying Traditional Lifeways

I was sent an urgent request from a indigenous colleague in India about their current situation, and thought I would try and help get the word out. Please, if you can email this entry to friends and colleagues, or help spread it around so that word gets out on the current situation in India concerning indigenous peoples.

Dear Friend,

I belong to the Gond tribe of India and you must be aware that in India tribal are being systematically displaced and killed in the name of development by the Indian Government policies and USA expansion policies in India.

We have registered a political party by the name "Prithak Bastar Rajya Party" where we will be demanding a seperate Bastar State to safe gaurd the interest of the tribal. Evo Morales is an inspiration for us.

Below is also a video link which might give you some insight to our plight.

I would be grateful if you can mobilize some support for us in your country.


You can read more about this at Prabhat's blog:

For a greater insight into the current situation of indigenous peoples in India, a great resource to have that provides an excellent overview is: Disappearing Peoples: Indigenous Groups and Ethnic Minorities in South and Central Asia by Left Coast Press and edited by Barbara Bower and Barbara Rose Johnston. A full review of the book can be found on the Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources site.

A similar situation is occurring among the Dongria Indigenous Peoples of India as a result of mining operations.


The South Central Gond indigenous people live in the forests and hills of India in Maharashatra and Andhra Pradesh, north of the Godavari River. They are essentially concentrated in the Chandrapur, Adilabad, and Garhichiroli districts. The Southeast Gond indigenous people live in the forests and hills of southern India. They are primarily concentrated in the state of Andhra Pradesh, south of the Godavari River and in bordering districts north of the river.

The South Central Gond speak a Central Dravidian language called Adilabad Gondi. Today, The Southeast Gond are bilingual, speaking both their native language, Koi Gondi, and the Telugu language. The Telugu, their bygone rulers and present neighbors, immovably influenced both the South Central and Southeast Gond indigenous peoples.

The Gond were historically one of the most significant group of original Indian tribes. In the 1500's, several Gond dynasties were firmly incorporated by the Gond rajas, or kings. They ruled like Hindu princes until Muslim armies overthrew them in 1592. In the 1700's, the Gond lost all power to the Maratha kings, who forced the Gond and their culture to retreat to the hills.

Sixty percent of the Gond are Hindus, while the remaining forty percent are animists. The Animist Gond believe that the wood is the dwelling place of the gods and hereditary spirits. As such, the forests in which they live are considered extremely important to them. They habitually pray to the ancestral spirits for guardianship and blessings. This is one of the natural resources currently being impacted by developments in India as demand grows for wood - resulting in the destruction of Gond indigenous territory and lifeways.

Both the South Central and the Southeast Gond are semi-nomadic framers, who use swidden or "slash and burn" agriculture to survive. Most of the South Central Gond survive by farming, hunting, and eating the fruits of the forest groves, but they also trade and sell cattle. Others hold wage-earning jobs.

If anyone knows of specific groups that are working to protect indigenous peoples rights and sovereignty in India, please leave their information in a comment. This is an important issue and we need to make more people aware of the situation.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

August 5 -12, 2008: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Weeks of August 5 - August 12, 2008

Kaka-Does New Era of Indigenous Tourism

Kakadu traditional owner Freddy Hunter has the most wondrous stories to tell, if only tourists could drop their obsession with crocs.

"Of course we see them, but I tell people, it's not always about looking for crocodiles," he says.

"When we get out there we see birds, the creation mother – it's beautiful out there in the pitch black with millions of stars."

The 39-year-old, who started working in the park at 15, set up the Kakadu Cultural Camp three years ago with his sister.

Together they run camps and night cruises while sharing the history of their ancestors, the Bolmo Dedjrungi.

"We get out there and talk about our country and our culture, whereas before there was nothing," Freddy says from the southern border of the iconic national park, at the head water of the East Alligator.

"We wanted to talk about the country we were born and bred in, and about our culture as well.

"So people could come here to share our stories, get a little bit of our culture and hopefully they take a little bit back with them."

The 20,000 sqkm national park – home to Aboriginal people for 50,000 years – is undergoing a quiet tourism revolution. Read more about Kakadu Aboriginal story here....

Forrest's Plan to Create 50,000 Jobs for Aborigines

AUSTRALIA'S richest man will attempt to create 50,000 jobs for indigenous people under an ambitious scheme that will shift the emphasis of Aboriginal job creation from government to business.

Mining magnate Andrew Forrest, chief executive of Fortescue Metals Group, has announced that the Australian Employment Covenant will sign up hundreds of companies to employ a total of 50,000 indigenous people within the next two years.

- 50,000 jobs for indigenous people
- Hundreds of companies to be signed up
- Government to fund training

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has thrown his support behind Mr Forrest's plan committing to fund training for the workers throughout industry - including in mining, agriculture, hospitality and finance. Read more about Forrests' Plan for Aboriginal Jobs here....

Cofán Indians Help Map Rain Forest, Produce DVDs on Disappearing Tribal Traditions

An amused smile spread across the face of Martín Criollo as the 30-year-old Cofán Indian from a remote South American reserve looked over a collection of artifacts in the anthropological storage area of the Field Museum.

He had spotted one of his own shirts, a loose-fitting traditional garment called a cushma.

"I literally took it off his back when we were in Ecuador last year," sociologist Daniel Brinkmeier said. "It was a good example of typical but traditional clothing, so I asked Martín if we could buy it."

The Cofán are a rain forest tribe that barely had contact with the outside world until an American company struck oil on their land in 1966. Since then, members have struggled to hang on to their lands, traditions and culture in the face of the invading 20th and 21st Centuries.

Tribal leaders have enlisted the Field Museum in their effort, inviting Brinkmeier and two other museum scientists to Ecuador last year to gather and preserve about 100 Cofán artifacts, including beadwork, feathered shamanic headdresses, wooden flutes, ceramic griddles, blowguns, darts and spears.

"We were looking for handicrafts that the Cofán might not make in the future, everyday things that might go out of use and disappear," Brinkmeier said. Read more about Cofan Indigenous Peoples here....

Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal in Colombia: Corporations with a License to Kill

July 23 marked the end of a two and a half year process carried out by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (TPP) in Bogotá, Colombia. A panel of international judges, including a Supreme Court justice from Italy, a handful of university professors, a Nobel Laureate, and authorities from the Guambiano and Mapuche nations presided over the final session of the TPP.

The Leon de Greiff auditorium at Colombia’s National University was packed to the rafters for the occasion, with participants and supporters of the process spilling out into the Plaza del Ché, the well known gathering place in the centre of the campus.

Before beginning the session, TPP general secretary Gianni Tognoni invoked the memory of Eduardo Umaña Mendoza, a Colombian member of the TPP jury who was assassinated during a previous session of the Tribunal in Colombia.

The final verdict, read to the large crowd, summarized much of Colombia’s recent history, condemning the Colombian government, 43 multinational corporations, and the U.S. government for their role in the violence that has long dominated the lives of Colombians. The audience was made up of people from a broad spectrum of social movements and organizations from around the country, and listened rapt during the reading of the sentence. Read more about Columbian Indigenous Peoples struggle here....

Indigenous People in CHT Become Victim of Land Grabbing, Displacement

Indigenous people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) are now under threat from large-scale displacement due to land grabbing, setting up of parks and social forestation, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum (BIPF) leaders said yesterday.

The situation might worsen further due to the absence of constitutional recognition of indigenous people's identity and rights, lack of effective policy, non-implementation of the CHT Treaty and non-functioning of the CHT Land Commission, BIPF leaders said at a press conference at the National Press Club in the capital on the occasion of the International Day of the World's Indigenous People to be observed on Saturday with the theme "Indigenous People's Economic and Social Rights".

"The indigenous people are in a bad condition as they are increasingly falling victims to land grabbing," said BIPF President Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, popularly known as Santu Larma.

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly decided to celebrate the day on August 9 every year adopting a resolution on December 23, 1994.

The BIPF has taken elaborate programmes including discussion, seminar, rally, fair, film show, photography exhibition and traditional dance programmes to observe the day. Read more about Indigenous Peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts here....

Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.

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