Around the world, there are about 370 million indigenous peoples in some 90 countries, representing over 5,000 languages and cultures. Indigenous peoples face systemic discrimination and exclusion from political and economic power and they continue to be over-represented among the poorest, the illiterate and the destitute. They are also displaced by wars and environmental disasters.
On 7 December, Nilson Tuwe Huni Kuĩ, an indigenous young leader and filmmaker from the Western Amazon in Brazil, shared his experiences and vision for the future.
“I am coming straight from the forest to New York with a very important goal”, said Nilson Tuwe Huni Kuĩ, representing the Huni Kuĩ Kaxinawá peoples of the Acre State in the Brazilian Amazon, as he shared his experiences advocating for the rights of the Kaxinawá peoples. “We are working for our empowerment, our autonomy,” he said.
Tuwe is the President of the Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the Humaita River – ASPIRH, a filmmaker, and an indigenous agro-forestry agent. But above all, Tuwe is a spokesperson and a messenger of his people. His work as an advocate and filmmaker intends to raise awareness on the situation of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation in the Amazon.
During the event on 7 December, hosted by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues within DESA/DSPD, Tuwe also highlighted how his community uses resources with future generations in mind. “We are using the resources in a sustainable way, thinking about guaranteeing the future of the generations to come,” he said.
He also described how wealth is looked upon differently within his community. There is an appreciation for nature, biodiversity, quality life and living in harmony with nature. “But above all to have the freedom to do what you want. That is the true wealth for us,” Tuwe explained.
With determination to learn English to be able to convey the important message of his people, and to improve his skills as a filmmaker, Tuwe came to New York in September as the 2012 recipient of Tribal Link’s Indigenous Fellowship. The importance of communication skills to be able to carry out his political advocacy, promoting the rights of indigenous peoples at national and international levels, was also something Tuwe underscored during the event.
Tribal Link’s Indigenous Fellowship Program (IFP) aims to assist indigenous peoples from around the world in fulfilling their educational and cultural/capacity building needs by enabling them to pursue training in their field of interest with the ultimate goal of improving life in their community. The IFP is tailored to the needs of each individual, keeping his or her community in mind.