Abya Yala Fund (AYF) was created by and for Indigenous Peoples from Central and South America and Mexico. Abya Yala is a Kuna (Panama) word meaning Continent of Life which includes all of the Americas. Abya Yala has become a universal concept for Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and stands for unity and belonging.
Responding to the need for Indigenous Peoples to realize our own community development initiatives, indigenous leaders from throughout the Americas gathered in 1994, in Oakland, California, to create the Abya Yala Fund (AYF). AYF is the first foundation to be founded and run by Indigenous Peoples from Central and South America and Mexico.
Abya Yala Fund emerged out of the historical indigenous responses to the problems confronting our communities. Indigenous leaders had long identified the urgent need for a permanent network to promote international understanding of and advocacy for issues of indigenous communities in the South, as well as to improve communications among these communities.
The idea of creating an indigenous foundation rooted in our vision and for the direct benefit of our people gained momentum through numerous gatherings since 1990. During the international Commemoration of 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance in 1992 Indigenous Peoples from across the Americas came together with a heightened feeling of unity and a sense of the work necessary to accomplish our goals. We decided that we must represent ourselves directly to funders in order to receive financing relevant to our reality and needs.
This represents and important step in the evolution of our communities and organizations as a prerequisite for our survival and well being. In addition, the unique Indigenous approach to development based on principles of harmony with all beings, community cohesion, and respectful care for nature provides the world with valuable tools and a vision for addressing the threat to human survival which recent Homo Sapiens have created.
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