Increasing knowledge and awareness of Indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge

In last week’s article, we learnt about a Darwin Initiative project which has been focusing on promoting discussions on traditional knowledge, both in communities and among various decision-makers at the governmental level. A main output of the project is the development of a Traditional Knowledge National Action Plan (TKNAP) that aims to increase awareness, inclusion, and safeguarding of the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of our Indigenous peoples.
Today we will focus on the first objective, which looks at how people can better understand Indigenous culture and the role they play in national development. Through the project activities, it has been found that the use of videos is an effective means of documenting important cultural values of Indigenous peoples. Community researchers trained in the communities have produced several short videos that feature important customs and practices in the lives of Indigenous peoples. These include traditional hunting, fishing, farming, craft, and much more. Would you like to learn more about our Amerindian brothers and sisters, and their unique traditional practices and customs? You can watch some of these local produced videos by visiting: www.communityownedsolutions.org/library/.
It has been pleasing to see the growing number of videos produced and aired nationally that feature Indigenous communities in the field of conservation and tourism. The Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme (being implemented by the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission), the Guyana Tourism Authority and REEL Guyana have used videos to shine a spotlight on Indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge and practices. Indigenous-led initiatives such as through the Amerindian Peoples Association and online platforms such as Facebook pages like ‘Indigenous Guyana’ have also been contributing through use of videos and photos that provide insights into Indigenous life. Still, more can be done to highlight how Indigenous peoples in Guyana protect biodiversity. Both governmental and non-governmental agencies can highlight linkages between their work and the support provided by Indigenous communities, and short videos would be an ideal way to present this.
Another opportunity to increase awareness would be to have a local observance of the International Day for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (IDRIP). This is observed annually on August 9th and focuses on raising awareness of the needs of Indigenous peoples globally. Locally, it has been the custom to launch ‘Amerindian Heritage Month’ celebrations on this day. Indeed, the month of September exposes a wide cross-section of Guyanese society to the cuisine and culture of Amerindians. However, local activities for the observance of IDRIP provide an opportunity to focus on Indigenous youth. During discussions in communities, many people voiced their concerns, including the youth themselves, that there is an urgent need to give opportunities for Indigenous youth to have dialogues about traditional knowledge and practices, to discuss their concerns and even identify solutions. Indigenous youth are the future stewards of biodiversity. IDRIP might be an opportune time to consider activities that focus on Indigenous youth – on the day itself or even incorporated into the Amerindian Heritage Month activities.
More actions are being proposed which could support knowledge and awareness efforts. In next week’s article we will continue to share with you information based on a drafted Traditional Knowledge National Action Plan (TKNAP) for Guyana. If you would like to learn more about some of the work that has been done in communities by the project please visit the following website: https://cobracollective.org/tag/darwin/.

Also, how do you feel about traditional knowledge and the role it plays in conservation? What do you think about a Traditional Knowledge National Action Plan for Guyana? Please share your thoughts via 592 650 6632 (whatsapp or SMS only).
Additionally, you can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O ECEA Programme, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, GEORGETOWN, or email us at: [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel.