A series of reports on issues facing indigenous peoples around the world
Many of the following reports bear remarkable similarity as indigenous communities around the world are struggling to defend their territories, their health and their cultural identity.
A Breton song at Eurovision, a baton race to raise funds for the language and a law to support regional languages against the government’s wishes in my report for “An Là” on BBC ALBA (13/06/2022).
Sweden is one of Europe’s leading mining nations and is estimated to have 91% of the continent’s iron ore. The town of Kiruna was built as a result of a mine and now the whole town centre has to move two miles to the East because of the advance of the mine. But reindeer herders are saying the mining has a detrimental effect on their livelihoods, the environment and the indigenous Sami culture. Near the town of Jokkmokk, British mining company Beowulf, are hoping to open a new mine and a decision on their concession is due soon with local opinions divided. But mining companies argue that they contribute to a green economy transformation (An Là, BBC ALBA, 10/3/22).
Five years left to save the Amazon? At COP 26 in Glasgow Brazil signed the declaration to end deforestation by 2030. But the rainforest may reach a tipping point before then from which there may be no turning back and the whole area will dry out, increasing the temperature in the region and ultimately globally. (An Là, BBC ALBA, 19/12/21)
COP26 is a “Big Theatre of Lies” according to an Amazonian visitor. People from the Brazilian rainforest blessed a Caledonian rainforest in Argyll, call COP26 a big theatre of lies, say that rich people and governments are only interested in money, creating a false green economy: “There is no green economy without indigenous people”. (An Là, BBC ALBA, 7/11/21)
The Atrato River in Colombia is flooding villages and fields more and more often caused by climate change. A court afforded the river a legal persona – the third time this has happened world-wide. It’s voice is expressed by residents – Guardians of the River Atrato. But there is also violence and intimidation of community leaders.
The Colombian President, Ivan Duque, promised at COP26 that 30% of the country’s territory would be protected by 2022. But community leaders say this needs to come with funding and economic opportunities for locals to work. (An Là, BBC ALBA, 6/11/21)
Classified by Unesco as severely endangered and spoken only by around 10,000 people you would think a “model” democracy like Germany would pull out all the stops to support Northern Frisian. But Welsh and Scottish Gaelic enjoy much more government help. Here is me singing the “national” anthem of Oorem/ Amrum island. I hope this little video increases awareness (sorry for the wind noise at the start).
The state of the Frasch (Northern Frisian) language: Since recording this video on the island of Oomrem/ Amrum I have found out that you can do an A-level/ Higher in Frisian only in one (1) high school situated on Feer/ Föhr. A very brief overview of the current situation:
As part of my report on the German general election I interviewed the candidate for the Danish and Frisian minority for parliament, Stefan Seidler, where he explains that the Frisian language and culture have no continued funding, but rely on project funding, which he hopes to change. For the first time in 60 years his party, the SSW is represented in the German parliament, the Bundestag. (An Là, BBC ALBA, 24/9/21)
My latest report on Northern Frisian and a follow-up to the above interview: There are 10,000 speakers of Northern Frisian, but in most schools the subject is not marked and was often dropped during the pandemic. The Frisian Council call for it to become compulsory. But the first member of the German parliament to represent the Danish and Frisian minorities for 60 years says he is making progress in rallying support in Berlin. (An Là, BBC ALBA, 05/01/22).
Canada’s Supreme Court recently granted the Sinixt hunting rights in their traditional territory. Some celebrated this as a reversal of the declaration of extinction of the Sinixt people by Canada in the 1950ies. But others say it’s not, as they still don’t have land rights. (An Là, BBC ALBA 1/6/21; Sinixt territory footage by Ali Kazimi)
Is it possible to revive a dead language? The Wampanoag language had died in the 19th century, but with the help of an old Bible (and other documents) they have reconstructed it and are now teaching classes. There are said to be around 10 fluent speakers so far. An exhibition about their culture has opened in Plymouth. (An Là, BBC ALBA 22/5/21)
Indigenous peoples in Peru are feeling threatened by oil, mining and logging companies grabbing their lands. Their cultural identity is also softening. (An Là, BBC Alba, 7/1/20)
The language and way of life of the Sakha people of Siberia is under threat. One of the challenges is climate change which also threatens their identity. (An Là, BBC ALBA, 18/11/20)
Illegal mining destroys Canaima World Heritage Site in Venezuela and threatens indigenous Pemon people. (An Là, BBC ALBA, 31/8/20)
Indigenous tribes of Colombia fighting for their ancestral lands in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta endangered by mining. (An Là, BBC ALBA, 20/07/20; Lockdown broadcasting: Created from Zoom interviews and User Generated Content)
In the Year of Indigenous Languages (2019) I scrutinised the state of the indigenous languages of the United Kingdom in five reports over one week
Scots is one of two indigenous languages of Scotland alongside Gaelic. It has a history as a literary language and dialects of it are today spoken mostly in the Lowlands and Northern Isles. (An Là, BBC ALBA, 18/11/19)
Cymraeg/ Welsh is widely considered to be a successful example of language revitalisation efforts. (An Là, BBC ALBA, 19/11/19)
Kernewek/ Cornish is a language once considered dead has again got hundreds of fluent speakers. (An Là, BBC ALBA 20/11/19)
Gaelg/ Manx is another language that was once extinct and is now experiencing increasing popularity. (An Là, BBC ALBA, 21/11/19)
Gaeilge/ Irish is one of the most popular minority languages worldwide is Irish. An Là, BBC ALBA, 22/11/19)