Indigenous people all over the world face hardships on a daily basis. They lose their rights, land and culture. The non-profit organization, Cultural Survival, strives to help indigenous people keep their properties and promotes sustainable livelihoods.
Last weekend, the hosted the 10th annual Cultural Survival Bazaar to raise funds and awareness for the organization.
The bazaar saw approximately 4,000 guests during its two-day run in Tiverton Four Corners, providing local businesses with a welcomed boost. Many artisans set up shop during the two-day fair, educating people about their culture and selling their hand-made crafts. Bolivia, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Kenya, Ecuador, Vietnam, Laos and Native American tribes were among the many countries and people represented at the bazaar.
“Everything we do is a partnership," said David Favreau, event organizer and program director, explaining the mission of Cultural Survival. "We help indigenous people defend their lands, languages and cultures.”
Founded in 1972 by a Harvard anthropologist, Cultural Survival was originally established in response to the rainforest deforestation taking place in Brazil. Eventually, the organization evolve into an international hub for maintaining sustainable livelihoods around the world.
As Hawk Henries, a member of the Algonquian Nipmuck People, played his native flute in the background on Sunday, Favreau said his organization wants to help sustain livelihoods around the world.
He said that many companies partner with Cultural Survival, providing artisans with healthcare and education so they can be sustainable. Sometimes, Cultural Survival will get a project on the move and then pass the reins to an indigenous leader who will then take over. They also provide legal assistance to indigenous groups in need of advice.
In return for providing artisans with the ability to maintain long-term income, a certain percentage of all money generated from the bazaar goes back to Cultural Survival while the rest goes directly to the artisans.
Sixty-five percent of their funding comes from private donors, both personal and corporate, according to Favreau. Many of the major corporate donors are fair trade companies who want to show support, while other companies sponsor specific projects, such as the Soros Foundation that supports work specifically in Guatemala, and some donate products and space, such as Nature’s Own and Tiverton’s very own Four Corners Arts Center.
Favreau added that one of the stipulations that Cultural Survival adheres to strongly is that they do not invite themselves into the issues that indigenous people face.
“We have a strict invite-only policy,” he said. “Many times, an indigenous group will learn about us through one of our board members and we will receive an official letter or email asking for help.”
If bazaar attendees took one thing away from the experience, Favreau hopes it’s educational.
“I want people to know Colonialism still goes on, it happens across the globe," he said. "As much as the earth is losing land and animals, it is also losing cultural diversity.”
Many of the vendors at the bazaar are based locally, but help international indigenous people.
Expanding Opportunities is a non-profit organization whose main goal is to assist artisans in under developed places in Africa. All of the profits go directly back to the artisans and their street projects, including The Street Children Fund, Books for Kenya and Friends Across the Ocean.
Originals from Africa is another non-profit that brings African wire creations to the U.S.
“I started them when I was a boy," said artisan Bernard Domingo, explainng how he developed the idea to bring these unique objects to a mass audience I would make wire cars and little toys. "After school I couldn’t get a job so I began selling my wire creations.”
Occasionally, Domingo gets order requests for life-sized items, such as animals and motorcycles.
EarthFrendz takes a different approach to the issue of sustainability. They act as a one-stop shop for eco-friendly products. Their business model is based on fair trade and going green and their mission is to give underprivileged people a global platform to display their talents and help create green communities.
Priya Samant, founder of EarthFrendz, said the three most important goals of her business is environmental sustainability, social responsibility and economic feasibility.
For more information about Cultural Survival or to become a member, please visit www.cs.org.