Indigenous Voice, Indigenous Rights - The Role of Community Media / by Dena Mekawi

Indigenous peoples make up 5% of the world's population, but 15% of the poorest  # DPINGO    @ UN4Indigenous

Indigenous peoples make up 5% of the world's population, but 15% of the poorest #DPINGO @UN4Indigenous

Have you heard about the UN Declaration of Rights for Indigenous People?


Moderator Suzanne Benally Executive Director of Cultural Survival, introduces the article 16 in the declaration, communications and awareness, as a significant part of cultural survival. Media can help bring about understanding and celebration of cultures.

Shaldon Ferris, Eldos FM in Johannesburg, South Africa, talks about the importance about community radio for it provides the people of the community with a voice. It plays as a common medium where your common voice can be heard. It not only provides entertainment, but it also a chance to celebrate people of indigenous cultures. Ferris points out how media never shows people that look like him and his community; there was no awareness. From Dutch to American entertainment, Shaldon learned about other cultures but never saw celebration nor awareness of his own. Ferris praises his sister for stepping up to the plate and creating a community radio station that focused on the issues in the community like having delayed ambulances in an emergency. Because of her and the radio, ambulances and emergency care are now able to come more quickly.

Avexnim Cojti is represents Indigenous Rights Radio, Cultural Survival in Guatemala. 60% of Guatemala is indigenous. The challenge in Guatemala is that there is monopoly of power from private sectors and businesses. In rural parts in the country, they do not speak Spanish, and education is very underdeveloped. For any entertainment, it is used to sell products from these businesses instead of bringing about news and awareness of indigenous culture let alone the outside world. Cojti also speaks about how people are embarrassed to be indigenous now.

Radio stations like Cojti's promotes indigenous pride not only from its history but also for today. There have been many petitions and promises from the government and state to allow indigenous to have media and a voice; however, the power still stays with the private sectors and businesses. For cultural survival, Cotji recommends we teach language through the radio, promote forums and policy, and gain more awareness on indigenous issues. Dev Kumar Sunuwar, Radio Kairan, Nepal, describes his country is a small nation between two big ones, China and India. 36% of the Nepal population is indigenous; however, very few are represented in politics and media. In 2014, the government has give 620 radio stations to community, but a very few are given to these Indigenous community and mainly to dominant groups. Without a voice, there is no influence nor awareness. Outside communities cannot learn about indigenous people if they don't have a voice. Indigenous people cannot be given appropriate treatment nor consideration in human rights and development if they're not given a voice.

Radio serves communities for empowerment, education, and other information. To gain more awareness, Cojti recommends we study and find out what indigenous cultures are around us and see how much it has affected ourselves and identity.

Check out a link to the UN Declaration of Human Rights for Indigenous People here.