Surrounded by a misty green forest the Nahua community in Tlaola welcomed the indigenous peoples of the Americas, with warm hospitality and nourishing food as a vehicle to discuss pressing topics affecting their communities.
“We need to return the value our food and tradition deserve, it keeps us connected to our land and our ancestry, specially as younger generations decide whether to leave or stay to fight for our rights and our land.”
This message bounced around the room as indigenous peoples from Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, and the United State identified themselves and their community with the words telling their story.
The Nahua women blessed the delegates with a flower ceremony before the conversations about land rights, biodiversity, environment and climate change, and innovation within the communities began. Delegates in the different panels greeted the crowd with a message in their own native language, honoring their heritage on World Indigenous Language Day. The collective message was a push for change within society toward a more fair system where indigenous peoples and their knowledge is valued as much as other modern visions, with an emphasis on empowering the youth, specially young women who can create change within their communities, like the women of Tlaola strive to do every day.
“30 years ago when we started our work with Mopampa I didn’t even dream this would ever happen, to host the first Slow Food Indigenous Terra Madre of the Americas, and have people from all over the world in our little town of Tlaola. My heart is swollen with emotion and gratitude,” said Maria Lucia Cruz de la Rosa, one of the founders of Mopampa.
Encouraging words and projects from different corners of the continent brightened the rainy day.
“We are working with children in our community teaching them the importance of our cultural traditions and our food heritage, as a push back to the government and multinational companies looking to take hold of our land and strip us of our ancestry,” said Cecilia from Ecuador
The conversations extended to the topics of food as a way to safeguard traditional knowledge, the land, and culture. Examples of this came from different communities from around Mexico and Latin America, like giving the value indigenous women deserve for their work with medicinal plants and nurturing foods, that provide health and well-being to the community, and preserve the biodiversity of the ecosystems.
Delegates mingled with the local community as they exchanged knowledge, crafts, and traditional foods, growing the Indigenous Terra Madre Network to support a food system that is good, clean, fair for them. A system that protects their food sovereignty, their right to their land, and respects for their ancestry.
The event continues tomorrow with workshops aimed to create projects that can provide communities with the tools to continue their hard work to preserve their land, protect biodiversity, and create a viable living from their native products. All of this with an emphasis on the fast moving world around us, the demands created on the land due to climate change, and the daily challenges they face.