Holly jean Buck talks to Oliver Morton
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Follow the stories of If Not Us Then Who, the winners of the Frontline Programme 2018 who are developing a communications network for Mindia India indigenous organisation, in the Territory Arariboia in Maranhão, Brazil.

Mídia India was founded to give voice to Brazil’s indigenous peoples, and disseminate news of indigenous campaigns from across Brazil via their Facebook page. Currently they use whatsapp and facebook to share news from indigenous territories across Brazil and have over 5000 followers at present. Their aim is to develop a Latin American indigenous communications network where indigenous people can tell their own story - media by indigenous peoples for indigenous peoples. They work at a national level to connect with other indigenous communicators, to show the true reality of their peoples: “Comunicar para lutar y demarcar” - “Communicating to fight and demarcate our land!” 

Three fundamental concepts that underlie Midia India’s communication of their struggles:

  1. Our people understands that we are the earth, we are the water, and this makes us closer to the essence of Mother Earth. When people begin to distance themselves from this feeling, that’s when the destruction, the devastation and the privatisation begin to happen. They forget that they too are part of nature, they are part of Mother Earth. This confronts a western value system that sees people as separate from nature and therefore able to buy and trade natural resources to be monetised, rather than a mother to be cared for as it cares for us. Attacks on our land, earth, forests and water, are attacks on our mother, our way of life, our future.
  2. There is a lot of prejudice against us, about what it is to be ‘indigenous’.People say that we are not indigenous anymore if we are wearing clothes, using phones, cameras, technology, if we study in universities, if we enter their legal world, if we enter political races. We are caught in a corner where we must fight them through legal and political channels, yet when we do that they try to deny that we are indigenous and therefore they try to deny our indigenous territorial rights, to erase us, and erase our territories. Then they think they can take our territories and its resources because ‘there is no one there’. We must fight this prejudice, to show that our identities as Guajajara, Pataxó, Guarani, Krikati, Yawanawa, Huni Kuin, Tuxá, Juruna, and many others, is much more than what we wear and does not change whether we hold a bow and arrow in our hand or a camera. Indigenous roots are in our blood, connecting us to our ancestors, our Mother Earth. We will not be erased by their prejudice!
  3. We indigenous peoples have been organising and maintaining our way of life for thousands of years before colonisation. We need our autonomy and decisions respected to continue our cultures, our way of life, in harmony with our environment. Any actions in or related to our territories must have free, prior and informed consent of the communities. We must be able to say no to destructive proposals and that must be respected.

If Not Us Then Who will support Mindia India increase the capacity to make good quality documentation. Mindia India want to develop more beyond livestreaming from our phones and produce better quality mini-documentaries so that they can gain more attention online, to gain more viewers and reach beyond our current audience.

Midia India began in April 2017 and having now grown a network of 30 indigenous contributors around Brazil. Follow their firsts steps and story here:

  • For the first time, the 2018 Free Land Camp had a Youth Plenary. Indigenous youth all over Brazil managed to contribute with new ideas to the leaders and hopes of better days for the indigenous communities. Click here to see their testimonies (subtitles in English - activate them in youtube!)
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  • Samarco and Mariana Dam Collapse in Minas de Gerais transformed Rio Doce river into a sea of toxic waste, which is considered the biggest industrial and environmental disaster of Brazilian history. Kathy Krenak,  from a village in the region, aged 13, shares his experience on the suffering and death of Rio Doce. See his testimony here (English subtitles provided - activate them in youtube

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