1997 Annual Report South and Meso American Indian Rights Center

SAIIC's 1997 Annual Report

Please select from the list or scroll down for the full text:

Letter from Gina Pacaldo, President of the Board of Directors
Abya Yala News Journal
Voces Indígenas Radio Program
Visitor's Program
Internet Project
Biodiversity Education Project
Local and International Activism
Organizational Restructuring
Thanks and Appreciation to Volunteers and Former Staff
Revenue and Expenditure for 1997
Contributing Foundations and Donors

Dear Friends,

With a renewed sense of commitment, we report another year of successful work with Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala, the "Continent of Life." I am honored to be serving as the current President of the Board. The vision we had fourteen years ago has become a reality through the hard work of a staff and Board. We have prepared this report for the friends and supporters of SAIIC, who have helped make our visions a reality. As you read our annual report, it is clear that SAIIC's education and organizing work with Indigenous Peoples fulfills an ongoing need. This year, our work extended to more communities throughout the hemisphere

As we forge into the next millennium, we are as determined as ever to continue the education and empowerment of Indigenous peoples. Our work is guided by a powerful set of values that reflect our identity as an Indigenous organization in constant interaction with with sister communities and organizations who share these values of love, respect, honesty, communication, unity, creativity, and commitment.

Our efforts are fueled through your support and our committed staff and volunteers, all of whom strengthen SAIIC and assure our presence and programs for the future. As we look ahead, we are refining our understanding of what systems work, developing integrated tools of organizational development, and streamlining our programming. Our approach is one of flexibility and trust in meeting our goals.

We envision a future in which your contribution, small or great, will assist in the empowerment of Indigenous Peoples. We believe that when we direct our energy and actions to be of service to the Original First Nations, that we all are strengthened in a good way. We are thankful for everyone's participation and support.

En paz y armonía con la Madre Tierra,

Gina Pacaldo, President of SAIIC's Board of Directors

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SAIIC experienced many transitions that re-focused our organization on our mission and the essentials of our work on behalf of Indigenous peoples throughout Mexico, Central, and South America. We welcomed Laura Soriano (Mixteca/Zapoteca) as Executive Director in June. Under her direction, SAIIC has strongly emphasized organizational and resource development, recognizing that successful programming is tied to strategic planning, organizational capacity building, and resource development.

We held a three-day retreat on board and resource development facilitated by Adriana Ballén of the Community Consulting Network and emerged with a two year strategic plan. We have strengthened our focus on our three main program areas, which serve as educational and organizing tools for Indigenous peoples: the Abya Yala News Journal, the Voces Ind’genas Radio Program, and the Visitor's Program. We also expanded our networking and collaboration with local and international Indigenous and social change organizations. In addition, we have almost entirely new staff, excited and dedicated to SAIIC's work.

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Abya Yala News Journal (AYN), also published in Spanish as Noticias de Abya Yala, is an unrivaled source of information on the Indigenous movement in the Americas from a grassroots Indigenous perspective. The journal analyzes and reports on critical issues for Indigenous peoples such as biodiversity, self-determination, writings by and about women, and international conventions, with 85% Indigenous authors.

In a world where information is power, the information AYN provides is vital to promoting Indigenous organizing around issues such as human rights, environmental crises, and development projects. AYN connects Indigenous communities and disseminates strategies for social change. Luis Macas, a Quechua Congressman and former President of CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), tells us that "through SAIICŐs journal, we are able to inform ourselves about what it is happening in the international Indigenous movement ... We make copies of key articles and hold meetings to discuss the issues. It would be great if all Indigenous communities could receive Abya Yala News."

In another example, our most recent edition of AYN covered the resistance of the Pehuenche people in Chile to the Ralco hydro-electric project. An Indigenous radio station in Quebec, whose listeners face the same type of development project, learned SAIIC was putting together the article and contacted us for information on the Pehuenche's resistance strategies.

Our English speaking subscribers see AYN as an alternative news source, where first hand and often unreplicated information on the Indigenous movement of the Americas is available. AYN is an invaluable resource for schools, libraries, institutions, and cultural centers. We send AYN to 145 educational organizations, 175 NGOs, and 83 foundations and institutions around the world, including the UN Environmental and Development Programmes. In addition, AYN is sent to 93 North American Indigenous organizations, to further link these groups with Indigenous in South and Central America. Currently the journal has a circulation of over 2,500 and we provide it for free to 591 Indigenous peoples and organizations in Mexico, Central, and South America. We have streamlined AYN production to produce two bilingual issues, devoting our resources most effectively to timely, high-quality, and informative publications.

The first issue of 1997, Indian City: Indigenous Survival in the Latin America Megacity, focused on the very timely topic of Indigenous life in the Latin American metropolis. It examined the special challenges and situations of Indigenous migrants to major urban centers, with special attention on the identity questions and gender conflicts that arise from a migration to the city. In addition, it discussed the developement of urban Indigenous cultures, and the unique position of urban Indigenous born to migrant parents far from their native communities. It also discussed how links are being forged between rural and urban Indigenous around social action for land rights and alternative forms of development that would not cause Indigenous population shifts to urban areas. Of particular interest are the articles that uncover this distinctly modern reality and discuss what it really means to be Indigenous and urban in Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela.

Our latest issue, ILO Convention 169 in Latin America, focused on how Indigenous communities are using the Internatinal Labour OrganizationŐs Convention 169 as a tool for self-determination, autonomy, and the protection of their rights. This Convention is the only legally binding international human rights instrument to address Indigenous people directly, and our issue was dedicated to informing Indigenous peoples and organizations, as well as the international community, about this crucial document for the protection of the rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples. ILO 169 is an important reference for Indigenous peoples in defending their rights. This issue investigated if and how Central and South American countries are implementing the Convention, and whether it has influenced their national constitutions. We have almost finished translating the issue into Spanish, for distribution to the more than 600 Indigneous organizations throughout Mexico, Central and South America with whom we maintain contact. It is vital that Indigenous communities learn about the Convention and its implications.

1998's first issue, already in process, will focus on environmental justice and health issues as they affect native communities throughout the hemisphere. Specifically, this issue will examine environmental racism, land rights, and the impact of multi-national development on the health, culture, and natural environment of Indigenous communities. It will include such topics as mining, oil and timber exploitation, nuclear power plants, hydroelectric dams, pesticides, and toxic waste dumping. This issue will profit from contributions by Indigenous individuals in the United States and Canada, which will underscore the similar situations that Indigneous peoples throughout the hemisphere often find themselves in with regard to these issues.

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Voces Indígenas Radio Program (Indigenous Voices) is a Spanish-language radio news program distributed to 123 Indigenous radio stations. These radio stations cover hundreds of Indigenous communities, where large segments of the population are often illiterate. Our programs keep Indigenous peoples informed about social, cultural, and international news. This is particularly important as most of the international agreements impacting Indigenous rights, laws, and lives are not communicated well, if at all, to the Indigenous peoples affected. And while Indigenous are often isolated from important news and information, they are not isolated from exploitation by multinational enterprises and bioprospectors.

The high level of interest in Voces Indígenas and its importance to Indigenous peoples is demonstrated by the numerous requests we receive for our radio programs. Sofia Marisol Berlin, of the Council of Directors for CEROODE: "I want to tell you that the material is of great use for the information that it provides about the Indian movement of the continent and its principal demands. Possibly SAIIC's program is the only of its kind on the continent, at least it is the only one we know of." (translated from Spanish) In addition, we send the radio program to international bodies, such as the Organization of American States. Again, SAIIC provides them with a valuable Indigenous perspective on key issues for Indigenous peoples. We increased our distribution by 15% last year.

SAIIC produced four radio programs in-house in 1997. Each was self-contained and half an hour in length. The radio programs are designed to be conversational, accessible to all listeners while educating and informing them on various Indigenous issues. Our first two programs were an update on international biodiversity issues and one on Indigenous news. The biodiversity update examined the third Conference of Parties (COP) meeting of the Convention on Biodiversity. It examined the issues and agreements reached, the Indigenous representation, and Indigenous positions. The news program complemented the articles in our AYN issue Confronting Cultural Extinction, but addressed the issues in a more simplified manner to ensure that this important information reaches the widest audience.

We recently distributed our latest two programs. One focused on ILO 169, as well, as our radio programs reach even very remote Indigenous communities without access to print media. The other radio program examined the connection between human rights violations and globalization through case studies. For example, the constitutionally-guaranteed autonomy of Indigenous peoples in Nicaragua is being threatened by the government's logging concessions to multinational corporations, though these concessions violate a ruling from Nicaragua's own Supreme Court. One community has already been evicted from communal lands and roads are being built into the fragile rain forest. This radio program is part of an ongoing series on human rights violations against Indigenous peoples, used as a tool to disseminate Indigenous strategies for social change as well as for public education.

In 1998 we plan to produce four programs on (i) human rights abuses affecting Indigenous peoples; (ii) the United Nations Decade of Indigenous Peoples, its history and use; (iii) interviews with Indigenous women on violence, resistance, and other issues of interest; and (iv) current issues and news of interest to Indigenous peoples.

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SAIIC's Visitor's Program brings Indigenous leaders to the US for conferences and two-week public speaking tours. This program is unique in enabling Indigenous leaders, especially women, to present their own views about the environment, sustainable development, self-determination, and gender discrimination to Northern Indigenous peoples, policy-makers, NGOs, and donors. Through this program, Indigenous leaders are able to communicate directly with institutions that form the policies impacting their lives and their communities. SAIIC is the only Indigenous organization facilitating this direct dialogue between South and Central American Indigenous leaders and US organizations.

These tours are designed to publicize Indigenous issues and concerns, to improve support in the US for Indigenous peoples, and to enhance and foster communication among Indigenous peoples in this hemisphere through the exchange of ideas and experiences. This last is particularly important as, throughout the hemisphere, many Indigenous struggles center around the same issues, such as environmental degradation and gender discrimination, compounded by racism and poverty. In addition, the tours will help Indigenous leaders establish valuable contacts with human rights groups, policy institutions, and foundations.

Together with Project Underground and the Rainforest Action Network, SAIIC brought Roberto Cobaría, Cacique of the U'wa people in Colombia to the Bay Area to denounce proposed oil exploitation. The U'wa, facing the threat of oil exploitation on their ancestral lands, are considering committing collective suicide. They have decided that this would be preferable to allowing their lives and their communities to be destroyed by toxic waste pits, oil pumping stations, and the related escalation of armed violence between guerrillas and the Colombian military. Roberto Cobar’a gave several presentations and a press conference in the Bay Area.

In addition, SAIIC collaborated with the Guatemala News and Information Bureau and Grupo Maya to sponsor Juán Pu Hernandéz, Leadership Council Representative of Saqb-ichil-COPMAGUA (Coordinadora de Organizaciones del Pueblo Maya de Guatemala). He spoke about the implementation of the Guatemalan Peace Accords and ongoing efforts toward a unified Indigenous movement.

In conjunction with the Abya Yala Fund, SAIIC sponsored the visits of Amalia Dixon (Miskita), activist and former Director of SAIIC; Luis Macas (Quechua), Congressman and former President of CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador); Leonardo Viteri (Quichua), Amazanga Institute of Science and Technology; Rufino Dominguez, (Mixteco), General Coordinator of the Indigenous Bi-national Front of Oaxaca; Abraham Hernandez (Maya), Consejo de Organizaciones Mayas de Guatemala; Alicia Canaviri (Aymara), General Coordinator of the Center for Aymara Women's Development (CDIMA); and Margarita Gutierrez (Otomi), Coordinator of the Women's Assembly of ANIPA, Member of the National Indigenous Congress Forum, and Member of the Independent Front of Indigenous Peoples in Mexico. SAIIC and Abya Yala Fund organized a panel on globalization, self-determination, development and Indigenous rights at UC Berkeley on which these individuals participated.

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SAIIC operates a PeaceNet electronic conference run through the Institute for Global Communication, . This is also mirrored to an electronic distribution list, , to which anyone in the world with access to e-mail may subscribe. SAIIC continually posts news, updates, first hand accounts, and Urgent Action Alerts to the conference. We issued over 100 Urgent Actions of our own in 1997. The conference is unique in dealing with Indigenous peoples of Mexico, Central, and South America and sends news to tens of thousands of readers across the globe.

Our Urgent Action network has become largely computerized, which allows for rapid, efficient, and large-scale dissemination of events as they occur. For example, through the conference, SAIIC disseminated information about the situation of the Pehuenche Mapuche of Chile's Upper Biob’o River. The Pehuenche face yet another relocation from their territory and the potential submergence of remaining traditional lands by the Ralco hydroelectric project. If allowed to continue, it will destroy the Pehuenche's semi-nomadic lifestyle, flood 25,000 acres of their lands, and displace 10,000 Pehuenche people. In addition, SAIIC responded to over 400 requests for information over e-mail in 1997. Our web site, recently featured in Cultural Survival, is located at http://www.nativeweb.org/saiic.

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SAIIC's Biodiversity Education Program included completing the production and distribution of our newest publication, "Protecting What's Ours: Indigenous Peoples and Biodiversity." We sent over 700 copies to Indigenous organizations throughout Mexico, Central, and South America, including participants at the Human Genome Diversity Project in Panama.

In fact, the demand has been so high for our publication from Indigenous organizations that we have practically sold out of what we printed are are seeking funds to produce another 700 copies! In addition, copies in English have been requested by NGOs and Native American organizations, universities and researchers, policy-making institutions and individuals, who find its Indigenous perspectives valuable in their own work.

SAIIC recently held a book release reception for the publication as an educational event aimed at the Bay Area community. The event featured dance by Teocali, an Aztec dance troupe, music from Central and South America by Obaro, the premiere of Raices, a film on the impressions of two groups of Mayan elders who meet after three centuries separation, and poetry and dance by Gina Pacaldo, an Apache-Chicana. The film, in particular, was a powerful tool in to link with the book in raising awareness of biodiversity issues from Indigenous viewpoints. The event was successful in reaching out to new people in the Bay Area and in publicizing our book. So far the book has been published in English and Spanish and we are looking into doing a Portuguese translation as well.

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Local activism included strengthening SAIICŐs ties and collaboration with Native American organizations in the US, in particular through the Seventh Generation Fund. We attended their Conference on Creating and Maintaining Native Sustainable Communities, which brought together grassroots Native American organizations. We have also become active participants in the Bay Area American Indian Inter-Agency Representation, whose monthly meetings are attended by more than 100 different Native American organizations to exchange ideas and facilitate collaboration. Among the many local events we co-sponsored were an International Day of Action for Indigenous rights in Nicaragua, a march and International Day of Action for Indigenous in Mexico, tabling at such events as Indigenous Peoples' Day and the Digital Be-In. Most recently we are working with Comité Emiliano Zapata to launch a campaign in support of Indigenous rights in Mexico.

Also, SAIIC continues to serve as an important resource about Indigenous rights. In particular, we maintain an extensive library of books, videos, and periodicals on Indigenous subjects. The collection is unique and utilized by researchers, activists, students, and NGOs in the Bay Area. The library includes updates from hundreds of Indigenous organizations throughout the Americas and this year was completely re-organized and re-cataloged tobe even more accessible to the community. In addition, SAIIC compiled an address book with contact information for almost 600 South and Central American Indigenous organizations and key US social change and Native American organizations. We are looking into publishing this valuable resource.

International activism included co-sponsoring a benefit for the Yanomani people with Rainforest Action Network. We also sent a representative, Marta Colmenares, a Zapoteca journalist, to Mexico's National Indigenous Women's Conference to strengthen the process of coordination and organizing with Indigenous women in Mexico. Board Member Mariana Chuqu’n attended the Central American Conference on Indigenous Cultural Identity in Honduras, which discussed bilingual education, strengthening cultural values, cultural revival.

This year, SAIIC received access to United Nations Department of Public Information meetings, broadening our reporting on Indigenous rights at the international level. In addition, SAIIC is an active member in the United Nations Working Group for Indigenous Populations and works closely with various national and international environmental and human rights organizations.

In addition, to keep SAIIC in close communication with the Indigenous peoples we serve and the Bay Area community we are a part of, we are establishing a formal advisory council with Janeen Antoine, Director of the American Contemporary Indian Arts Center; Steve Bartz, film-maker and producer of Raices; Rufino Dominguez (Mixteco), General Coordinator of the Indigenous Bi-national Front of Oaxaca; Tirso Gonzalez (Aymara) UC Davis Post Doctoral Research Fellow; Florentino Laime (Quechua), painter and radio producer; Atencio Lopez (Kuna), International Relations President of NABGUANA; Luis Macas, (Quechua) Congressman and lawyer; Victor Montejo (Maya/Jakaltec), President of the Mayan Educational Foundation; Juanita Rieloff, community organizer; Stefano Varese, UC Davis Professor of Native American Studies.

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This year, SAIIC emphasized organizational and resource development, recognizing how successful programming is tied to strategic planning, organizational capacity building, and resource development. We successfully re-evaluated our priorities, strengthened both the organization and our programming, and accomplished a great deal this year.

Nearly 7,000 hours were donated by interns, volunteers, translators, staff, and board members. Our new staff reflects this commitment:

Laura Soriano (Mixteca-Zapoteca), our new Executive Director, shares with us her enthusiasm and determination to work for the ideals and rights of Indigenous peoples. She guided SAIIC through some difficult transitions and strengthened it with her emphasis on the three main programs and collaboration with other NGOs. She continues to coordinate the Voces Ind’genas Radio Program and is finishing her apprenticeship in radio production and engineering at KPFA.

We also have a new Journal Coordinator, Jess Falkenhagen. She produced our latest AYN issue on ILO 169 and is coordinating its translation into Spanish, as well as the upcoming English issue on ecojustice and health. She has restructured AYNŐs distribution policy to directly target bookstores and distributors that provide high visibility. AYN can now be found at Borders Bookstores across the US. Her renewal campaign has had substantial success in increasing paying subscribers.

Our new Development Coordinator, Jessine Foss, has proposals or inquiries pending with the Acorn Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, the Fund of the Four Directions, the Global Fund for Women, the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, the Moriah Fund, the Paul Robeson Fund, the Rubin Foundation. We re-established contact with previous funders, such as the MacArthur Foundation, Seventh Generation, Funding Exchange, the Vanguard Foundation, the Tides Foundation, and the Public Welfare Foundation. Our donor campaign has included a fundraising dinner, a book reception, direct mailings in May and November.

Our new Administrative Coordinator, Nick Luem, has overseen the continuing reorganization of SAIICŐs library and is working to create a computerized database of its resources. He has also expanded our exchanges of publications with other Indigenous and social change organizations to expand our collection. He is heading our public awareness campaign on Indigenous rights in Mexico and has written and disseminated Urgent Actions through our electronic conference. Currently, he is recruiting interns and volunteers from universities and organizations in the Bay Area.

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Akiyoshi Aiida, Intern
Edgar Ayala, Grassroots Publishing
Adriana Ballén, Community Consulting Network
Marc Becker, Former Web Master
Paulus Bouma, Intern
Nilo Cayuqueo, Abya Yala Fund
Gilles Combrisson, Former Journal Coordinator
Amalia Dixon, Former Director
Ross Fitzgerald, Intern
Samuel Gu’a, KPFA Radio Engineer
Scott Nielsen, Consultant
David Rothschild, Former Development Coordinator
Sibylle Schult, Former Grant Writer
Shoshana Spector, Intern
Wouter te Kloeze, Intern
Billy Trice, Volunteer
And to the many volunteers and interns who make our work possible!

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Grants/Foundations: $60,842.05
Contributions: $7,176.03
Subscriptions & Sale of Publications: $6,816.78
Other (includes sublease): $7,891.08

Total Revenue: $82,707.94


Administrative: $15,982.90
Programming (includes payroll): $54,491.38
Rent/Utilities: $12,850

Total Expenses: $83,324.28

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Foundation for Deep Ecology
Funding Exchange
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
El Norte Foundation
Public Welfare Foundation
Seventh Generation Fund
Stillwaters Fund of the Tides Foundation
Judith Stronach Fund of the Vanguard Foundation


Jeffrey Bronfman
Penny Cabot
Maya Miller
Timothy Wells


Carol Brouillet
Jean Colvin
Devra Edelman
W.H. & Carol Ferry
Healing Forest Conservancy
Marianne D. Hegeman
Roy H. May
James Moran
Scott Nielsen
Felicia Oldfather
Ernesto Quiroga
Bradford Reed
Margaret & Harold Rickard
Judith Stronach
John & Jean Stuckey
Emily Swetland
Robert & Julie Volckens


Dionisio Barrales
Marc Becker
Linda Belote
Pamela & William Bryan
Princie & Bob Falkenhagen
Michael Garrity
Lisa Galblum Gessow
Rita Halpern
Delanie Kellon
Michael Kemitch
Julie Litwin
Margaret Livingston
Brooke Manley
Frederique Apffel Marglin
Luisa Molinero
Madelene S. Nowell
Elizabeth Putnam
David & Barbara P. Risling
Madaleine Sann
Lawrence & Barbara Shaw
Milton Takei
Alison Tierney
Lorianne E. White
Tellervo Zoller

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