Abya Yala Fund for Indigenous Self-Development in South & Meso America

Progress Report

General Information

Projects, Money, People and You

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Abya Yala Fund (AYF) strives to further Indigenous Peoples' vision of living in respectful harmony with Mother Earth and with each other, while honoring 500 years of indigenous resistance.


Abya Yala Fund seeks to:

1) bridge the gap between Indigenous Peoples and prospective funders; and

2) promote the indigenous vision of development as a holistic process which integrates the human, natural and spiritual worlds.

We are grateful to the many individuals and foundations that are helping make this dream a reality.

                Special thanks to Victoria Ward, Public Welfare Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Share Our Strength, Richard & Rhoda Goldman Foundation, Foundation for Deep Ecology, Indiasca Forbunden, Funding Exchange, Solidago Foundation, Aurora Foundation, Resist Foundation, Needmor Fund, Maya Miller, La Fetra Foundation, Non-Profit Services and the many other people who have supported AYF with gifts, volunteer help and moral support!

Mission of Abya Yala Fund

The mission of Abya Yala Fund (AYF) is to strengthen the self-reliance of the original nations of Abya Yala - from an indigenous perspective and through our own models - by supporting Indigenous Peoples' priorities, initiatives and processes.  AYF provides training, grants and technical assistance for self-development projects that originate in and are controlled by indigenous communities and organizations.

 Dear Friends,

Indigenous prophesy tells of certain signs leading to the end of civilization—one is increasing winds; the other poor treatment of our children. We are witnessing disturbed weather patterns, from hurricanes to floods, likely the result of global warming. And we see more children living in poverty than ever before. Governments have eased the way for transnational corporations to wield unchecked power, while the welfare of people is neglected and Mother Earth is destroyed. Yet hope is not lost; the prophesy is not written in stone.

I am encouraged by the growing consciousness of the interconnectedness of all beings. This consciousness—one that Indigenous Peoples have promoted for centuries—must expand if we are to heal our broken Earth. The models of self-development being pursued by Indigenous Peoples has a significance that extends far beyond the physical limits of indigenous territory to the entire world. Abya Yala Fund was established by indigenous leaders from Mexico, Central and South America to give these fledgling approaches a chance to survive and flourish.

Abya Yala Fund (AYF) took form in 1994, but has been a dream of Indigenous Peoples for decades. AYF was created to meet the demands of Indigenous Peoples to participate directly in all aspects of the development of our communities and regions—from deciding community priorities and securing funding for our initiatives to evaluating the impact of the completed project.

AYF channels funds and provides support to indigenous projects which move beyond the growth-oriented focus of current development approaches toward increased local autonomy, equitable benefits distribution and enhanced community cooperation while maintaining harmony with the natural world. We bolster Indigenous Peoples' efforts to confront destructive governmental policies and economic globalization which continue to threaten our existence. Yet, we are not content to simply react, we intend to emerge from this struggle with our indigenous vision and culture intact. With your help, we will succeed!

Nilo Cayuqueo
Director, North American Office

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A little background

Examples of AYF Funded Projects in Latin America

Indigenous Women's Rights Training Project, Chiapas, Mexico

$32,000 to organize eight conferences to train indigenous women as advocates for their rights at every level of society, including national politics.  * Description *

Construction of Community Solar-Powered Well, Bella Vista, Bolivia

$20,000 to purchase materials and construct a well to provide potable water for the community, llama breeding, a nursery of traditional medicinal plants and communal gardens.  * Description *

Strengthening of Indigenous Community Organization, Mosquitia Region of Honduras

$7,000 to construct small local offices in each of the seven Mosquitia zones to coordinate Moskitu efforts to legally demarcate their traditional homeland and protect it from external logging, ranching and military interests.
* Description *

Human Rights Awareness Raising and Training for Mayan Women, Chimaltenango, Guatemala

$20,000 to hold local and national training workshops and seminars to raise awareness of human rights–from a gender perspective–and analyze the meaning and effects of recent peace accords on the indigenous Mayan women.   * Description *

Indigenous Women's Rights Training Project, Chiapas, Mexico

$32,000 to organize eight conferences to train indigenous women as advocates for their rights at every level of society, including national politics.  * Description *

Looking ahead

AYF plans to provide increasing funding each year for grants to indigenous communities and organizations. We are also in the initial stages of implementing a technical assistance program to provide organizational and project development trainings for indigenous communities and their organizations in Meso and South America.

Over the next two years, AYF will be allocating special resources to consolidate this program and assist indigenous organizations in strengthening their organizations, as well as the Fund itself. As part of the program, AYF will research and document traditional and new indigenous approaches to survival and development of our communities and cultures.

All funded projects will include integrated organizational development and/or technical assistance components (see summaries of approved projects).

Board of Directors

(Click on the board member to see their country report in Spanish; some are linked to projects with which they are involved.)

Alicia Canaviri - President

Aymara from Bolivia. Social worker and community organizer, instrumental in formation of the National Coalition of Indigenous Women of Bolivia which unites women from the highlands and the rainforest.

Amalia Dixon

Miskitu from Nicaragua. Active for over 20 years in the Indigenous movement working on education, health, and women's organizing. Played an important role in the negotiations during the conflict between Miskitus and the Sandinista government.

Rufino Dominguez - Treasurer

Mixteco from Oaxaca, Mexico. Coordinator of the Binational Oaxacan Indigenous Alliance. Active in indigenous development in Oaxaca and creating unity between indigenous peoples in Oaxaca and populations of Indigenous Peoples from Oaxaca in the United States. rufino@igc.apc.org

Abraham García Hernandez

Maya-Quiche from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Member of the Council of Mayan Organizations of Guatemala and Director of FUMEDI. Works with Mayan communities to develop and implement alternative economic models. fumedi@c.net.gt

Margarita Gutiérrez

Nñañhu from Hidalgo, Mexico. Coordinator of Women's Commission of the National Autonomous Indigenous Assembly (ANIPA) and Advisor to the Indigenous Culture and Rights Commission for the peace negotiations between the Zapatista National Liberation Front and the Mexican Government.

Luis Macas - Secretary

Quichua from the highlands of Ecuador. Congressman. Past president Secretary of CONAIE andwinner of the 1994 Goldman Environmental Award. Has become one of the most prominent leaders of the Western Hemisphere. One of the leaders of the uprising of Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador in 1990 and 1994, and world-renown for his work to protect the environment.

Marcela Machaca

Quechua from Peru. Coordinator of the Bartolome Aripaya Association, working in Andean biodiversity issues.

Aurelio Ramos Allen

Miskitu from Honduras. Technical consultant for MASTA in Honduras.

* Note: The Board of Directors plans to invite a representative from Council of All Lands in Chile to be integrated in their membership prior to their Spring 1999 Board Meeting.

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Nilo Cayuqueo Mapuche from Argentina. Founding member of the South & Meso American Indian Rights Center (SAIIC). Director of Abya Yala Fund. abyayala@earthlink.net

Andrew Kang Bartlett Central America activist with specialty in community development planning and evaluation; development coordinator. abyayala@earthlink.net

Mariana Bustamante Activist for Latino and international issues with specialty in communication; communications coordinator. abyayala@earthlink.net

Board of Advisors

Wara Alderete Calchaqui from Argentina. Epidemiologist, Ph.D. Public Health  wara@uclink2.berkeley.edu

Adriana Ballén Native of Columbia, Development Professional

José Roberto Borges Environmentalist, Rainforest Action Network  amazonia@igc.apc.org  

Araceli Burguete Native of Chiapas Independent Front of Indigenous Peoples

Guillermo Delgado Quechua Professor, University of California at Santa Cruz

Elizabeth Bobsy Draper Journalist  ebdraper@cruzio.com

Charles Hale Professor of Anthropology, Univ. of Texas at Austin

Debra Harry Pauite Indian from Nevada, Development Professional

Antonio Hernandez Maya-Tojolabal, Congressman of Mexico

Ailton Krenak Krenak from Brazil. Founder of Union of Indigenous Nations and director of the Indigenous Research Center. Played a key role in introducing reforms in the Brazilian Constitution, approved in 1992. Recipient of the Letelier-Moffit Award of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

Atencio Lopez Kuna from Panama. Coordinator of the Kuna Legal Office and international journalist napguana@pty.com

Maya Miller Social Activist

Glen Switkes Journalist / Filmmaker, International Rivers Network  glen@nutechet.com.br

Leopoldo Tzian Maya from Guatemala. Director of the Mayan Council

Stéfano Varese Professor, Director of Native American Studies, University of California at Davis

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ABYA YALA FUND for Indigenous Self-Development in South & Meso America
P.O. Box 28386
Oakland, CA 94604
Phone (510) 763-6553
Fax (510) 763-6588

Web Design & Editor: Andrew Kang Bartlett