who: "[…] traditional and local knowledge systems, as dynamic expressions of perceiving and understanding the world, can make, and historically have made, a valuable contribution to science and technology, and […] there is a need to preserve, protect, research and promote this cultural heritage and empirical knowledge." (extract from the “Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge”, World Conference on Science for the Twenty-First Century, Budapest, 1999). In other terms, science considers tribal traditional knowledge as fundamental in nature conservation.
what: Survival International (or, simply, Survival) is a worldwide organisation supporting tribal peoples. It stands for their right to decide their own future and helps them protect their lives, lands and human rights. It was founded in 1969 after an article by Norman Lewis in the UK's Sunday Times highlighted the massacres, land thefts and genocide, taking place in the Brazilian Amazon. Like many modern atrocities, the racist oppression of Brazil's Indians took place in the name of 'economic growth'. Today, Survivalhas supporters in 82 countries. All its work is rooted in the idea that public opinion is the most effective force for change and that its power will make it harder for governments and companies to oppress tribal peoples.
activities: Survival works for tribal peoples' rights in three complementary ways:
building the future: since 1969, the 'developed' world's attitude to tribal peoples has changed beyond recognition. Then, it was assumed that they would either die out or be assimilated; now, at least in some places, their experiences and values are considered important. Survival has pushed tribal issues into the political and cultural mainstream. This, perhaps, is its greatest achievement of all, but there are many barriers of racism, tyranny and greed, which we must still overcome...
- educational work: Survival’s programmes, aimed at people in the 'west' and 'north', set out to demolish the myth that tribal peoples are destined to perish through 'progress' and promote respect for their cultures, explaining the contemporary relevance of their ways of life. Survival's educational work takes various forms, both inside and outside schools, for children and for adults. It provides free educational materials for teachers and students, gives talks and lessons about tribal peoples in schools, and informs the interested general public through public talks, books, conferences, photographic exhibitions and so on.
- advocacy: Survival provides a platform for tribal representatives to talk directly to the companies which are invading their land. It also disseminates information to tribal peoples, using both community radio and the written word, telling them how other tribes are faring and warning them about the threats posed by multinationals. In this way, it gives them access to the information they need to make their voices heard. Survival also plays a major role in ensuring that humanitarian, self-help, educational and medical projects with and for tribal peoples receive proper funding. A good example is the Yanomami medical fund, which succeeded in virtually eliminating malaria in some Indian areas.
- campaigns: Survival runs world-wide campaigns not only directed at governments, but also at companies, banks, extremist missionaries, guerrilla armies, narrow minded conservationists or anyone else who violates tribal peoples' rights. In many cases they have been successful. In 2000, for instance, the Indian government abandoned its plan to relocate the isolated Jarawa tribe after receiving 150-200 letters a day from Survival supporters around the world. Shortly before that, the governor of western Siberia imposed a five year ban on oil drilling in the territory of the Yugan Khanty within weeks of Survival issuing a bulletin. And there have been many other success stories thanks to people mobilising and participating.