For over 500 years, Indian people of the Americas have been subjected to colonialism. Our peoples' lands have been dissected by political boundaries; our rivers polluted and our trees cut down to fuel industrial economies. The lives and rights of Indigenous people are threatened by military repression and mercenary groups. Foreign control of Indigenous lands is enforced in the name of free trade and economic growth. The laws of most countries fail to recognize Indigenous territorial rights and rights to autonomous development.
However, in spite of efforts to exterminate us and force us to assimilate into the societies of the colonizers, today over 43 million Indigenous people live in this hemisphere. In many countries in South and Meso America (Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean), Indigenous people make up much of the population. Our cultures, languages, religions, and medicines are diverse and very much alive.
Indians throughout the hemisphere are fighting for survival. From the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego, Indian people are uniting, strengthening each others' struggles, and nurturing hope for future generations.
In response to the need for international support for Indigenous rights, the South and Meso American Indian Rights Center (SAIIC) was formed at an Indian conference in Tiwanaku, Bolivia, in 1983. Since then, we have grown into a strong resource for the Indian people of the Americas, with the following programs.
When Indigenous people confront oil development, dams, and other exploitative projects, or when they face government repression for defending their way of life, SAIIC issues Emergency Action Alerts, mobilizing Indian groups and concerned people in the U.S. and other countries, to take immediate action.
SAIIC provides information on the struggles of Indian people of South and Meso America to the concerned public and to environmental and human rights solidarity groups in northern countries. We communicate the Indigenous viewpoint to policy and funding institutions whose work affects Indians. SAIIC produces and distributes educational audio-visual and print materials offering the Indigenous perspective on social justice, environmental and international issues. We also facilitate communication among Indigenous peoples in this hemisphere.
Radio programs of news and information on organizing efforts are produced on cassette tapes and sent to remote areas of Latin America where many people don't read.
SAIIC's Women's Project is actively engaged in the formation of Indigenous women's leadership in Meso and South America. We provide resources and produce materials to inform and encourage Indigenous women's full participation in decision-making processes that affect our lives, children and communities.
To make international resources accessible to Indians, SAIIC provides technical assistance to Indian organizations and communities. We provide training in computers, electronic communications, fund raising and journalism.
SAIIC facilitates cultural and spiritual exchange among Indigenous people by bringing leaders from South and Meso American Indian communities to meet with Native people in the U.S. and Canada. We also help Indian leaders establish contacts with environmental and human rights organizations, policy institutions and foundations.
Our journal, Abya Yala News, is the only publication of its kind, offering the Indigenous perspective on the vital issues that affect our lives and the world. Abya Yala News, includes interviews with Indigenous leaders of the continent, analysis on continental organizing efforts, and reports on issues affecting Indigenous communities such as biodiversity, intellectual property rights, self-determination, and health care. Abya Yala means "Continent of Life" in the language of the Kuna people of Panama and Colombia. It is published in English and Spanish.
Our offices in Oakland house an extensive m ulti-lingual reference library of periodicals, audio-visual resources, and books on Indigenous issues.
SAIIC facilitates inter-continental organizing among Indigenous peoples. In July of 1990, SAIIC sponsored an historic conference with the national Indian organizations of Colombia and Ecuador: The First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance. Indian delegates from Alaska to the Southern Cone and their allies attended and strategized for the future.
The following year, SAIIC joined with other Indian organizations of the Americas to form the Continental Indian Coordinating Commission (CONIC). This coalition of 26 Indigenous nations throughout Meso and South America communicates the Indian view to policy makers and international governing bodies. CONIC and North American organizations launched the successful l992 public awareness campaign from the Native American perspective in commemoration of 500 years of survival since the European invasion of the Americas.
Members receive SAIIC's acclaimed journal, Abya Yala News, plus Emergency Alerts and special briefings. To join, fill out this membership form.
P.O. Box 7829
Oakland CA 94601
(510) 534 4882 (Administration Office)
(510) 834 4263 (Abya Yala News)
(510) 834 4264 Fax
Peacenet conference: 'saiic.indio'
Interim Executive Director: Soledad Jerez