Indigenous Peoples, Youth and Leadership

Video interviews with youth members of the Indigenous Terra Madre network

Indigenous Youth and the leadership issue, as explained by young members of the Indigenous Terra Madre network interviewed during Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2016 in Turin.

Leadership is a tool to connect the next generations with their communities and the ancestral work that they have developed over centuries. “To be an indigenous leader you need core strength in your mind”, says Dai Kitabayashi of the Ryukyu people of Japan, as the problems indigenous peoples face are many and complex: discrimination and lack of training, opportunities and access to resources in general.

Teresa Zapeta Mendoza, Maya k’iche of Guatemala and Executive Director of FIMI-IIWF (International Indigenous Women’s Forum) offers us a very clear analysis of this situation in the video. But the communities are not passive and Teresa talks about strategies to put in place: first, empowerment of the youth and, in particular, training on indigenous peoples’ rights; then networking with other movements and the strengthening of local knowledge.

In this context youth represents both the present and the key to the future. They are fundamental in ensuring the transmission of the food knowledge capable of protecting Mother Earth. Preserving such wisdom is essential because the link between the identity of indigenous peoples and their local knowledge is indivisible. In fact, the concept of food passes through spirituality, the connection with the community and the land. Thus, it is necessary to continue to advocate for the independent development of indigenous food systems.

Events such as Terra Madre connect the communities and give you the strength to continue, says Ayu Chuepa, a young leader of the Akha People (Thailand). We must realize how lucky we are to be indigenous, says Ayu, since we have retained the possibility to learn many things, such us our language and our culture; that many have lost. The youth leader, addressing other young people, recalls that defending their own culture is important, as is connecting with other cultures. Isolated, each small group is weak, united in solidarity, we are strong!

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