In From the Director,News and Views

During a Pandemic, Indigenous Voices Matter More Than Ever

April 15, 2020

In late February, when we launched the theme for the upcoming issue of Langscape Magazine, “The Other Extinction Rebellion: Countering the Loss of Biocultural Diversity,” the coronavirus still was but a remote threat for most people. Just a few weeks later, much of the world is in lockdown and social, economic, and educational activities are disrupted as we struggle to “flatten the curve.” While the pandemic is affecting people everywhere, the problem is especially acute in Indigenous and local communities worldwide. Now, more than ever, Indigenous voices matter.

Cristina Mittermeier

Photo: Cristina Mittermeier

In many Indigenous communities, water is scarce or unsafe, making frequent handwashing a challenge. Food security is at risk when people have to stay home and cannot farm, fish, hunt, or gather. Health services may be distant and unreliable. And it’s not just people’s physical health — particularly that of Elders — that’s at risk. By drastically altering Indigenous Peoples’ ways of life, the pandemic also threatens their cultural and spiritual well-being. For many of them — who are already suffering the effects of climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, pollution, and countless other assaults on their lands and waters, cultures, and lifeways — the pandemic is one more calamity that stems from ecological and social imbalances they had no role in creating.

The mainstream media are hardly covering such stories, so we at Terralingua and Langscape are stepping in to fill the gap! Stay tuned: we’ll soon be posting first-person stories and dispatches — several of them coming from Indigenous youth — that illustrate both the obstacles that Indigenous and local communities face in fighting the pandemic, and the resilience, ingenuity, and unity people are showing in their efforts to overcome those challenges.

Meanwhile, if you’re at home and in the mood for reading inspiring stories about diversity in nature and culture, check out the Langscape Magazine articles on our website and on Medium. You’ll be able to access a cornucopia of stories from past issues of the magazine — to our knowledge, the largest repository of biocultural diversity stories in the world!

You’ll especially enjoy those from Vol. 8, “Re-storying Biocultural Diversity: Wisdom from Young Indigenous Leaders.” In that issue, you’ll find the fruits of our new Indigenous Youth Storytellers Circle (IYSC), which in 2019 was chosen as an official project of the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages.

We invite you to explore this remarkable collection of 30 stories written, photographed, or video-recorded by Indigenous youth from 20 different countries. And the IYSC continues this year, with more amazing stories soon to be posted online.

At Terralingua, we have worked hard for the past 25 years to bring you insights and views on our bioculturally diverse world, through our many research, educational, policy, and on-the-ground projects, as well as through Langscape Magazine. As a small nonprofit, however, we now face much uncertainty about what the future holds. We know that for many people making donations is not in the cards at this time. But if you’re able to donate, your support will be greatly appreciated! It will help ensure that we can continue to raise awareness of the vital value of biocultural diversity and to offer a platform for bioculturally diverse voices to be heard.

biocultural diversity

You can also support us by purchasing PDF or print copies of Langscape Magazine or subscribing to it for 2020.

And, above all, please help us spread the word by sharing this message widely with your own network!

Thank you for your continued support. Stay safe, keep healthy. With unity in biocultural diversity, together we can overcome this crisis and begin to build a different world!


Luisa Maffi
Terralingua Co-founder and Director
Langscape Magazine Editor

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