Sharing and exchange is at the heart of Indigenous Terra Madre, with farmers, shepherds, fishermen, activists and more from around the world coming together to discuss and promote their sustainable food systems, alternative economies and visions for the future. The theme of Indigenous Terra Madre is in fact “The Future We Want,” and with representatives from hundreds of communities and organizations gathering for five days (November 3-7, 2015) of meetings and workshops in Shillong, India, participants are sure to leave the event with inspiration and plans for future collaborative initiatives.
From Slow Food’s Terra Madre network, participants include members of food communities, producers of Ark of Taste and Presidia products, and more: individuals working with governmental and non-governmental agencies to protect their native lands; educators maintaining traditional knowledge of herbalism and the resources of their ecosystems; and guardians of biodiversity, cultivating local crops for community food security or keeping native bee species.
Pastoralists ranging from the Evenk (or Tungus) people of Eastern Siberia, whose livelihoods are based on keeping horses and reindeer, to the Diné (or Navajo) of the North American southwest, who are keepers of sheep adapted to their desert environment, will have the unique opportunity to speak about the shared issues that affect their ways of life, despite their very different backgrounds. Indigenous peoples facing threats of landgrabbing on all continents, like members of the Juruna tribe from northern Brazil and the Masaai community of northern Tanzania, will share both their struggles and their strategies for maintaining their ancestral lands with an international public.
Fishermen will present native traditions and techniques not only as elements of their history, but as ways to better understand the environment and marine populations, as the Syilx (or Okanagan) people of British Columbia, Canada who have long relied on responsibly-fished salmon to provide for themselves. Furthermore, conferences will reiterate the cultural importance of food, and how it provides nourishment not just for the body, but also for the soul. This is the importance of corn to the Tarahumara community of Mexico, and of milk and meat, considered sacred to the Khongodor clan of the Buryat-Mongolian people.
With hundreds of delegates coming together, this second edition of Indigenous Terra Madre is not only an occasion to celebrate the wonderful cultural and biological diversity of indigenous communities, it is also the beginning of collaborations and shared initiatives regarding the evolving food and agroecological issues that affect indigenous peoples. The future we want is the future that will be planned together, giving a voice to the worlds indigenous youth, women, farmers, pastoralists, hunter-gatherers, fishermen and more.