Survival International works closely alongside indigenous peoples in the fight to protect their ways of life, cultures, rights and lands from merciless destruction at the hands of industries driven blindly by profits and prejudice.
The Onaway Trust have recently made a further donation to help fund the vital work of this globally-renowned charity.
Survival International was born in 1969 from the passion of a group of people who felt called to action after reading in a newspaper about the horrific murder of indigenous peoples in the Amazon. In the decades since, the charity has grown into a powerful force for change which has achieved over 200 victories for indigenous causes, thanks to its members’ tireless work in lobbying governments and campaigning for the rights of tribal communities. In order to retain its independence and integrity, Survival refuses all government funding, and can therefore also attribute its past and future successes to the continued support and donations of its generous followers all around the world.
Today, Survival focuses on a number of important campaigns, being guided by the needs of the indigenous peoples themselves in order to achieve the best outcomes. Working in partnership, they fight for indigenous rights and the protection of their ways of life, tribal lands, cultures, languages and livelihoods in the face of discrimination, injustice, violence and theft from destructive forces such as the logging and mining industries, who seek only to further their own power and profits.
Survival’s Decolonise Conservation campaign arose from the unfortunate need to protect tribal communities from being violently and unlawfully forced off their own land by conservation NGOs and the government, to make way for so-called Protected Areas and National Parks. These areas, which are presented as being an essential step in the fight against climate change, are then used to generate profits for the tourism and extractive industries, robbing the land from the only people who truly know how best to care for the delicate biodiversity of the region and who have kept it healthy and thriving for centuries.
“It is no coincidence that 80% of the world’s biodiversity is found on the lands of tribal peoples”Survival International
Through their Uncontacted Tribes campaign, in addition to protecting these people from the violent theft of their lands, Survival fights for the right of the remaining uncontacted indigenous tribes to remain anonymous, isolated and undisturbed. This has become increasingly difficult in recent times, with the rule of President Bolsonaro in Brazil putting the Amazon rainforest’s many uncontacted indigenous people at great risk of forced contact. Thanks to the lobbying and campaigning efforts of Survival and its supporters, and following over 10 thousand protest emails sent to the Brazilian Justice Minister, the head of Brazil’s Uncontacted Tribes department and evangelical missionary, Ricardo Lopes Dias, was recently removed from his position for the second time.
Under Bolsonaro’s leadership, missionaries such as Dias have been ramping up their campaign to reach these uncontacted tribes, robbing them not only of their lands, which will then be handed over to loggers, miners and cattle ranchers, but also their unique and sacred ways of life, cultures and rich histories. In addition, such contact with the outside world puts uncontacted peoples at great risk of contracting potentially lethal diseases, with some tribes tragically losing 90-100% of their population within a mere few years following initial contact with people from outside the tribe.
For this reason, the Onaway Trust was proud to support Survival International’s recent Uncontacted Tribes campaign with a donation of £4000 during a Giving Tuesday appeal, which was doubled by a generous donor. This appeal helped to lead to the successful renewal of the Piripkura Land Protection Order, which was hoped would greatly assist this long-persecuted tribe in defending their forest, shown by satellite data to be the worst impacted area of all uncontacted tribes’ territories in Brazil, with deforestation of the region having soared by 27,000% in only two years. Unfortunately, in November 2021 it was discovered that the Land Protection Order had already been breached when Piripkura-owned land was unlawfully invaded, deforested and built upon by the money-grabbing beef industry.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Similar Land Protection Orders covering over 1 million hectares of forest are currently in place, however some are shortly due to expire, placing not only the ancestral lands and ways of life of these tribes in jeopardy but, most importantly, the very lives of the people. Without access to their own lands, in which they build their homes, gather food, and derive all the medicinal plants they need, these communities cannot survive, or certainly not without making drastic changes to their ways of life and risking the total loss of their unique cultures, languages, and wealth of knowledge passed down through the generations. This would not only be a tragedy to the indigenous people themselves, but to the whole of humankind.
However, the harmony between tribal peoples and their environment is a symbiotic relationship in which each ensures the survival of the other; indigenous people are by far the best guardians of the natural world, with an invaluable intuitive knowledge of how best to protect and nurture it. It has been repeatedly shown that it is only when these areas are torn from indigenous hands, whether by those who claim to want to protect it or otherwise, that biodiversity begins to plummet.
There is no doubting that conservation efforts in recent times have been important in the battle against this loss of biodiversity and the changing climate, however they would not be necessary at all were it not for the destruction we ourselves have caused as a society, with our unsustainable lifestyles which are completely detached from nature. For this reason, it is equally important to ensure the protection of what remains of the natural world and that we don’t stand by while more is destroyed in our constant race for ‘progress’. This is why indigenous lands must remain under the custody and collective ownership of those who truly belong there, the people best placed to teach us how to live in harmony with our environment.
It is due to this conviction that the Onaway Trust is dedicated to providing funding and support to these vital causes and organisations such as Survival International who carry out invaluable work, not only to protect the natural world and to fight for the rights and safety of indigenous peoples, but by extension the rich cultural diversity of humankind and the wealth of undocumented wisdom, culture and history which are completely unique to these people and which would disappear entirely along with them were it not for the relentless dedication of these charities. Thanks to their work, and not forgetting the power of the public voice, such crimes against indigenous people no longer go unnoticed and unchallenged.