Today was a day of listening and sharing amongst some of the most important delegates at the 2010 Terra Madre: those who represent the network of indigenous peoples. Fifteen indigenous delegates from countries and regions across all parts of the globe spoke on issues of rights to land and food production, farming and biodiversity, food and taste diversity, cultural sovereignty and caring for “terra madre” – mother earth.
“As indigenous people we have a lot to tell the world; we have great food systems and agro biodiversity,” said Phrang Doy an indigenous man from north east India who is part of a partnership between Slow Food and the Christianson Fund, working to unite global indigenous communities. “When today people are looking for answers about many of the world’s crisis, we have the answers”, he continued. This message resounded amongst the delegates gathered and was reiterated by many who spoke. All agreed that amongst the network’s diverse groups, they have much in common and a wealth of knowledge.
Bringing the work done by the partnership of Slow Food and the Christianson Fund into fruition, today’s session was a chance to identify local communities and their representatives with the aim to go to the United Nations as stewards of their knowledge. Ola-Johan Sikki, president of Slow Food Sami, and Lars-Andes Baer, member of the Sami Parliament invited delegates to join in the first Indigenous Terra Madre, organized by Slow Food Sami and planned for June 2011, as a way to further consolidate this commitment and continue growing this crucial network of indigenous peoples.
Food sovereignty and rights to access and manage the land were central issues for many who spoke. “The government wants to change our eating habits, they ask us to grow artichokes when we eat maize,” said a delegate from Peru. “Land resources are so important; for many indigenous people land is life,” said Ola- Johan Sikku. However, many of the delegates also added that the issues discussed were not only issues of indigenous rights and the right to choose what to grow and eat, but also a matter of biodiversity and caring for the land upon which all people rely.