A Few Words about AYF's New Publication, "Living Traditions"Welcome to the first issue of Living Traditions, the Newsletter of Abya Yala Fund for Indigenous Self-Development in South and Meso America (AYF). AYF is the first foundation run and guided by Indigenous Peoples in what today is called Latin America. Our Board of Directors are leaders with different cultural backgrounds and a history of activism with the Indigenous Rights Movement of South and Meso America, including Mexico. All of them possess extensive experience in development work and have been at the forefront of the fight to protect Indigenous rights and territories in their respective countries. We are fortunate to have a dedicated and committed staff, as well as a group of advisors who have helped move AYF toward the new Gregorian millennium.
Living Traditions aims to inform organizations and foundations in the United States and Europe about the struggles and challenges Indigenous People face, and the strategies they are designing to overcome them. We are hoping that Living Traditions will also serve as a tool for communication and dialogue between Indigenous People and potential funders. We, as Indigenous People, think that an important strategy for survival as human beings on this planet is communicating with each other and developing an understanding of the diversity of cultures and species living in this world.
Another purpose of the newsletter is to educate our allies and potential funders about the holistic approach of Indigenous Self-Development (ISD). In the Indigenous World, when we talk about development or improvement of our way of life, we refer to everything in the natural world, which is interconnected. We cannot conceive of a linear development, which focuses solely on education, environment or agriculture, since all aspects of our lives are interrelated. Indigenous People have witnessed too many failed projects and the disruption of Indigenous communities caused by the imposition of a Western-style definition of development.
There is a growing movement of Indigenous People who are organizing around the issues of territorial demands, environmental degradation, and human rights. AYF is proud to be part of this movement, and is committed to creating a more healthy and sustainable model of development. By creating alternatives to development, Indigenous People are contributing to a worldwide effort to understand the delicate balance of life on this planet.
Due to the senseless exploitation of natural resources by governments and corporations around the world, Indigenous People are forced to organize and defend our survival for the benefit of future generations. This has been a big challenge for us, since we have little experience implementing major development projects and managing funds for them. For this reason, AYF Board members and staff, are committed to helping Indigenous organizations develop the necessary skills to implement and manage their own projects.
We want to thank everyone that has believed in Abya Yala Fund and has supported us in the past by contributing with their enthusiasm, their spirit, and commitment. We give a warm welcome to Victoria García Ajucum as our new Co-Director. She brings a new breath of experience as an activist in her native Guatemala and a fresh perspective on Indigenous issues for the next millennium. Finally, we want to reaffirm our commitment to justice and continue the struggle to nurture Mother Earth who reinvigorates our spirit and makes all of our cultures flourish.
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