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Ancestral Wisdom and Possible Futures at COP27 examined alternative modes of knowledge production, pedagogy, language and activism

Held on November 11 at Hope House in Sharm El Sheikh’s Four Seasons Resort, the Ancestral Wisdom and Possible Futures event invited a group of leaders to examine, share, and reflect on alternative modes of knowledge production, pedagogy, language, and activism.

During the opening ceremony, Rasu Yawanawa, Kenetsaini Yawanawa, and Iskukua Yawanawa performed traditional music and chanting from the Yawanawa community. This was followed by "Ancestral Knowledge as the Foundation of Contemporary Education," a conversation between Isku Kua and Indigenous activist and climate advocate Nina Gualinga. During their exchange, they emphasized the significance of language in preserving culture, heritage, and identity, and highlighted the need to prioritize schools and education programs for indigenous children, enabling them to maintain their specific forms of ancestral understanding.

“Indigenous Women on the Frontlines: How to Be a Good Ally” assembled a panel comprising Patricia Gualinga from the Kichwa community alongside Celia Xakriabá and Sônia Guajajara, the recently elected first indigenous congresswomen for the States of Minas Gerais and São Paulo in Brazil's new government. Also included were Gloria Ushigua and Casey Camp-Horinek from the Ponca Nation. They engaged in a listening session, sharing their personal experiences from diverse Indigenous communities across the American continent. The discussion focused on the pivotal role that Indigenous women historically and currently play in political and environmental movements, underscoring the essential work of each panelist who are actively advocating for the protection of their communities, territories, and the planet amidst exploitative industries and climate change.

We work on our healing and collective healing because we are hurt and we have to heal. Our planet, our Mother Earth, our land is hurt, and when the earth hurts we also hurt and when we hurt the land hurts. That is us as women, we are connected to the land. – Patricia Gualinga, Indigenous Leader and Defender of Native Rights from the Kichwa People

Indigenous women’s rich knowledge about the natural world, health, ancient rites and rituals, amongst other significant cultural expressions, are vital in the development of effective solutions to counter colonial legacies, such as cultural hegemony, ecosystem destruction and unequal power structures. Only through intersectional, interdisciplinary and intentional methodologies can we cede epistemological space in the world to Indigenous ways of knowing and being without intervention, assimilation, or appropriation.

It’s time to ensure security for the real guardians of Mother Earth (…) it’s also important that global funding foresees the implementation of global policies, it is only by ensuring the rights of Mother Earth that it is possible to save humanity. – Sônja Guajajara, Politician and Indigenous Environmentalist from the Guajajara community
In this time of prophecy, we understand that it is our honour, our responsibility and our duty to speak on behalf of the one true mother we all share, the Mother Earth, of the one true father we all share, the father sky and to move into that position as an elected official for my people, one of the first acts that we enacted, that I brought to the council, was to put a moratorium on fracking and injection wells within our territory. – Casey Camp-Horinek, Native Rights Activist and Environmentalist of the Ponca Community

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