Dismantling privileged views to support the struggles of Amazon's indigenous peoples (Interview with Mitch Anderson of Amazon Frontlines, Part One)
This is a conversation on Green Dreamer with Kamea Chayne, a podcast and multimedia journal illuminating our paths towards ecological balance, intersectional sustainability, and true abundance and wellness for all. This preview has been edited for clarity. Subscribe to Green Dreamer Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcast app to stay informed and updated on our latest episodes.
Mitch Anderson is the founder and Executive Director of Amazon Frontlines (@amazonfrontlines), an international group of human rights lawyers, environmental activists, forestry specialists, environmental health scientists, filmmakers, journalists, anthropologists, and farmers working to support the struggles of indigenous peoples and defend their rights to land, life, and cultural survival in the Amazon Rainforest.
In 2011, Mitch moved to Ecuador’s northern Amazon to begin a clean water project with the indigenous communities living downriver from contaminating oil operations. Through building nearly 1,000 water systems in over 50 indigenous villages, Mitch supported the creation of the Ceibo Alliance, an indigenous movement for land, life, and cultural survival in the western Amazon.
On this podcast episode, Mitch sheds light on his journey dismantling his privileged worldview in order to truly understand and meaningfully support the struggles of indigenous peoples across the Americas; how to help the indigenous people of the Amazon Rainforest and beyond to achieve their goals of conservation without perpetuating white saviorism or further marginalizing them with our senses of morality and idealism; and more.
To start, get a glimpse below into the conversation between Mitch and Green Dreamer Podcast's host, Kamea Chayne.
On the wisdom of Amazon's indigenous cultures being lost:
"Instead of hunting and fishing in the backwoods and streams with grandpa and grandma, many in the younger generation are forced to look towards the city for survival and take up unskilled work for mining companies or on the African palm plantations.
Thousands of years of knowledge and tradition are being threatened in a matter of generations
Each year the way of life of the dominant society of capitalism and consumerism keeps taking root deeper and deeper in the forest. It's also taken root deeper and deeper into the minds of the youth."
On how the Amazon's indigenous communities are working actively to protect their native lands:
"The indigenous communities in Ecuador's Northern Amazon, who've been living down the river from the oil fields, are developing the power and the resources with the Ceibo Alliance and the help of Amazon Frontlines to document these spills and hold these companies accountable.
We've been able to stop pipelines from being constructed and revoke environmental licenses to drill over the last several years with the indigenous communities because they're fighting for their survival, for their water, for their hunting grounds, and for the ability to live well and thrive in their territory.”
On what it will take to conserve the Amazon in modern day society:
"I think that the fate of the Amazon rainforest is in the hands of the indigenous youth, the next generation of leaders, and how they navigate this complex reality that they're living in.
The youth do not have the same relationship with the land and the forest that the elders have. They have one foot in the forest and one foot in the city.
What needs to happen is a massive investment in the indigenous youth across the Amazon, building out platforms and opportunities for them to propose bold, radical, alternative visions for the forest and their way of life in the 21st century."
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