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DM2009 Siberia Winner Reports on Indigenous Peoples' Progress

Tom Grubisich's picture

The 40 Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and Far East in Russia have had to struggle mightily -- not only against a hostile environment but also what they see as sometimes arbitrary governmental action. But they're making fresh progress, according to this emailed report from DM2009 winner Rodion Sulyandziga (holding award in photo at right), Director of the Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CSIPN), which has spearheaded recognition and -- more important practically -- enforcement of Indigenous Peoples' rights:

 

"On April 14-15 in Moscow the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) -- the umbrella organization that includes CSIPN -- will be hosting (in partnership with the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation) the Arctic Indigenous Leaders Summit, with the main focus on climate change in the Arctic. The participants are international experts, academia, Arctic states, regional governments, business, and Indigenous Peoples. The Summit will create a good basis for our future activities and networking. It's vital for us to involve federal, regional governments, and business from the scratch.

"We are also invited to the high-level international meeting "The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue" on April 22-23 under Russian Premier Putin to make a presentation on behalf of Indigenous Peoples. This is a good progress."

DM2009 to Help Indigenous Grassroots Grow in Siberia

Tom Grubisich's picture

The 40 Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and Far East in Russia endure one of the world's most hostile environments.  But it is man, not nature, that threatens the very existence of these communities, which have dwindled to about 250,000 people who live in sometimes besieged camps and villages sprinkled across the vast frozen landscape from the Barents Sea to the Pacific Ocean.  (Photo credit: EALÁT.)

Deforestation, industrialization, and flooding from hydropower drive Russia's Indigenous Peoples from their ancestral homelands.  Illegal fishing, poaching, and the auction of fishing grounds deprive them of their livelihoods.  Russia's Indigenous Peoples are, theoretically, protected by federal laws, but advocacy groups say there's no regulatory force to the laws.  The collective plight of the communities is grim evidence behind those arguments.

Leading the fight to put teeth in the laws is the Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CISPN).  Its tenacious struggle, which has won it some legal skirmishes in Moscow and at international forums, has now earned it one of the 26 awards given at the Development Marketplace 2009 competition.  The $200,000 award will go toward a grassroots project that will help indigenous communities leverage their traditional knowledge with contemporary techniques of communication and advocacy that involve engaging all stakeholders.  The goal is a "climate strategy" of adaptation that will finally lead to real, enforceable protection of Russia's indigenous communities.

CISPN Director Rodion Sulyandziga, proudly holding his crystal globe after the Nov. 13 awards ceremony in Washington, said: “It’s a great day.  I’m very proud.  The most important thing is the Indigenous Peoples’ voice is heard in Siberia and everywhere.”

And then it was back to Moscow for Sulyandziga -- to map the Center's new grassroots fight.