Nagercoil, 9 August 2014
International day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was celebrated by Tribal Foundation at Vellambi tribal settlement on August 9, by highlighting the traditional vanishing food culture of the forest inhabitant kaani tribal people.
Addressing the tribal participants S S Davidson, environmental educator said that owing to the change of food culture by modernization and the impact of the current communication revolution, the traditional food culture was reserved to the background. The prevailing man versus animal conflict had made the tribal people to refrain from agricultural operations, where they could not harvest their produce.
He said that when people at the global level seek the concept of back to Nature to find remedies for their various ailments, there is a dire need to revive the traditional food items of tubers being consumed by the tribal people. So to revive the food culture tuber food was provided to the participant tribal people that included tapioca, sweet potato , colocasia and yam. A traditional herbal tea which was prepared based on forest herbs was also provided to the participants, which had medicinal value.
Kaani elders were honoured with shawls during the celebration.
Commenting on this year’s theme, “Bridging the gap: implementing the rights of Indigenous peoples” , he said that every people had the basic right to education in India and pointed out that very low percent educational level existed among the Kaani tribal people. He said the educational facilities provided by the government should be utilized by the community for empowerment and development.
According to UN statistics there are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries around the world who constitute 15 per cent of the world’s poor and about one third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.
Irina Bokova, head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) noted that the agency, tasked with protecting cultural diversity, is leading the way with two angles of action – first, to promote the use of indigenous cultures, languages and traditions, and second, to provide knowledge and skills that enable indigenous peoples to participate fully and equally on the national and international stage.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007, recognized their right to self-determination and to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. This year’s theme, also marks the 20th anniversary of the celebration, which dates back to 1994.
Photos and report: courtesy S S Davidson © 2014 Tribal Foundation (Nagercoil)