OrigiNations is a non-profit organization which accompanies indigenous peoples and local communities in their efforts to become effective protagonists in the protection and promotion of their natural and cultural heritage and in the defense of their rights.
OrigiNations believes in the potential of indigenous youth and elders working together to become powerful agents of change for the benefit of their communities. Our initiatives draw on the human and cultural resources existing locally, bringing into play the creativity, restlessness and courage of the young alongside the experience and historical memory of the elderly in order to generate processes of self-reflection and search for solutions.
Through immersion workshops, excursions, and practical projects, youth and elders find a space that allows them to debate issues of concern to their communities and develop strategies to tackle the challenges that confront them. In the process, they discover their own talents and learn to appreciate the achievements of their ancestors. The resulting pride and cultural self-esteem are the bedrock on which their commitment and future endeavors rest.
Many indigenous peoples and local communities today face similar challenges: their traditional ways of life have come under immense pressure and the continuity of their ancestral practices and knowledge systems are being undermined. Furthermore, the destruction of their territories not only undercuts their economies and impoverishes their livelihoods, but also deprives them of significant places of worship and learning. Acculturation through media and the education system, as well as the exodus of indigenous youth to the cities, further disrupt the transmission of time-honored values, knowledge and skills, including those needed for the protection of their territories’ biodiversity.
Just as the continuity of these societies depends on the integrity of the lands they occupy, the reverse is also true: the conservation and sustainable use of these areas can best be secured through the cultural vitality of the peoples that inhabit them and know them best. Yet to reverse the erosion of their cultures and to adapt to rapid change while retaining their distinct identities and traditional values is a daunting challenge for these communities.
The communities we collaborate with aim to:
- Protect and promote their cultures and knowledge systems
- Conserve the integrity of their territories and their natural resources
- Defend and further their cultural and political rights
- Strengthen their civil society structures and support the self-realisation and agency of local actors, especially the young
- Improve their livelihoods, health, and education in accordance with their own values and priorities.
OrigiNations responds to each situation individually. The communities themselves are encouraged to take control of the process, so inevitably each initiative will produce different outcomes according to different needs and aspirations. Some results of past collaborations include:
- The founding of youth organizations dedicated to the protection of the cultural and natural heritage of their peoples and the promotion of their rights
- The documentation of endangered knowledge and traditional practices and the establishment of cultural centers or historical archives
- The development of innovative educational materials which acknowledge the cultural specificity of indigenous communities
- The production of community maps that serve as instruments to protect cultural and natural resources threatened by external economic interests.
You can find our German website here.