A Life in Travel

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We Celebrate International Day of the World's Indigenous People

Today, August 9, is the United Nations' International Day of the World's Indigenous People, first proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 1994, to be celebrated every year during the first International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1995 - 2004). 

Indigenous territories constitute 20% of the Earth's land mass that harbors 80% of the world's remaining biodiversity.  From: First Peoples Worldwide.
According to the United Nations, there are approximately 400 million Indigenous people worldwide, making up more than 5,000 distinct tribes. Together they are one of the largest minority groups in the world, spanning over 90 countries. While Indigenous Peoples total only about 6% of the world’s population, they represent 90% of the cultural diversity.

The focus of this year's International Day is "Indigenous peoples building alliances: Honoring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
Coincidentally, just two weeks ago I received this video clip of uncontacted native people emerging from the Amazon rainforest in Peru making their first contact with outside civilization. It was taken just 5 hours upstream from the Amazon Resources Conservation Center, a jungle lodge in the Tambopata region where we have sent many guests into the rain forest. We knew from our friend, Jose Luis who runs the ARCC lodge, that they were in the area but we avoided ever going into their territory or attempting to make contact. 
A group of ethnic Mashco Piro recently emerged from the Amazon rainforest in Peru pressured by illegal mining and logging in the area. (El Commercio, Peru) Planned expansion into the Amazon of Peru of a gas project, known as Camisea, threatens several uncontacted tribes the Peruvian Amazon that have emerged fleeing intrusive exploitation of oil and gas reserves. 
According to a report from Survival International, the Peruvian government has confirmed the existence of other uncontacted tribes in five areas of the rainforest, including the proposed Yavari-Tapiche Reserve where the Colombian-Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales is carrying out exploration activities that involve detonating thousands of explosive charges and drilling exploratory wells. 

It's amazing to know that there are still small groups of indigenous peoples who continue to live in isolation from the modern world. And we know from our own travels among the Maasai of East Africa, the Embera of Panama, and other tribal groups we encounter that many First Nations are struggling to protect their culture and the native lands in which they live and retain ancestral rights. 

We have developed long-standing reciprocal relationships with several Maasai communities in Kenya and Tanzania whereby they share their culture and invite us as guests to participate in programs they have designed and operate as a community-based ecotourism initiatives. 
"When we encounter native peoples they often remind us of our interconnectedness with each other and all living things. They have much to teach us about how to take better care of our Mother Earth.  And they need us to be a voice for them in the modern world." Kurt Kutay, President, Wildland Adventures

Cultural Survival, First Peoples Worldwide, and the #Proud2BIndigenous coalition have dedicated this week to FPIC - Free, Prior and Informed Consent, which stipulates that corporations, governments, and NGOS must include Indigenous Peoples in the planning and implementation of all development projects on traditional land, and obtain their consent before beginning a project, including respecting their right to say no to such projects.  

And this goes for tourism projects as well. At Wildland Adventures we've always been careful to avoid cultural encounters that exploit local people. We only work with colleagues in tourism who respect the rights and traditions of native cultures in their country.  We make sure that cultural encounters on Wildland Adventures with indigenous communities are on their terms, not ours.   

Two great indigenous activist organizations we support are: 

Selected Wildland Adventures that include extended visits with indigenous peoples include: 

Maasailand Safari: Living Among the Maasai
Serengeti Wilderness Safari
Ethiopia: Land of Legend
Highlands of Guatemala
Panama Explorer
Bedouin Trek to Petra
Inca Trail Trek and Amazon

keeping in wild, 

Kurt Kutay
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