Indigenous Leaders: What is Their Message to the World?

By Brenna Cunningham
Sep 4, 2019

If you had one message to the world, what would it be? This is something we asked over 20 indigenous leaders who joined us from all over the world for dinner co-hosted by Habitas RISE and Tribal Link.

Tribal Link is an organization which supports the empowerment of indigenous leaders by giving them the tools and building their capacity to protect and preserve their sacred lands and traditions. Every year, Tribal Link brings a group of indigenous leaders together from all over the world to participate in a program called Project Access. Project Access provides intensive training over the course of three days to participate in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. They are trained on how to effectively communicate, engage and participate in United Nations meetings and put forth the issues they face in their homeland. 

This year, Habitas RISE was fortunate enough to host Tribal Link’s Indigenous Leaders over a family-style dinner where we exchanged stories and traditions. They emphasized the importance of why preserving their culture and their land is so crucial for the future of our planet. So what was their response to that question? What would their message be?

“One of the most important messages we can share is helping people understand that their connection with the Earth is paramount to solving the climate crisis. If we understand our role in this creation, who we are and that we are all connected to everything we will start looking at each other as extended family rather than as others or enemies.” - Roberto Mukaro Borrero (Taino), Puerto Rico

“To care for people’s future. If we don’t care for the future, people become greedy, and don’t care for the planet or others. The world is for everybody and it is everybody’s responsibility to care for it.” - Oranee Jariyapotngam (S'gaw Karen), Thailand

“Please listen to Indigenous Peoples’ voices. We are the source of traditional knowledge. We are the source of the socio-economic and ecological spheres of humanity. It came from indigenous people.” - Carson Kiburo (Endorois), Kenya

"Indigenous Peoples can save the world's ecosystems and combat global warming if given a chance." - Leonard Mindore (Ogiek peoples), Kenya

Today, on World Indigenous Peoples Day, we ask ourselves - what is our message to the world? To do better. As a community, we must hold ourselves accountable to lead by example and invest in our future through sustainable business practices. Today, we celebrate those who take a stand and fight to preserve the environment and generations to come.

Photography by Alberto Vasari