Ancient and Indigenous Wisdom Award

For indigenous and traditional knowledge-led projects and organisations.

This award seeks to recognise, celebrate and explore the role that ancient knowledge and wisdom can play in shaping regenerative approaches and ways of being.

In a world full of movement and shaped by (historic and current) oppressive colonial and patriarchal structures, this award honours the necessity and relevance of traditional ecological knowledge and nature-based ancestral practices. This 2021 award was funded by Be The Earth.


Prize Recipients for 2021

In 2021 there are three prize recipients, sharing £10,000. One of the winning projects wishes to remain anonymous.

Below are two of the recipients and the other short-listed projects.

Winner

Associação Centro de Cultura Sabuká Kariri Xocó

The Kariri-Xocó sleep and wake up fighting for their existence. Within their territory is a unique biome, the meeting of the Caatinga – the only exclusively Brazilian biome – with the Atlantic Forest. Their village is located on the banks of the Opará, the São Francisco River in Brazil. Yet, even so, their lands and plants are dry because the river suffers.

The Centro de Cultura Sabuká Kariri-Xocó was born with the mission of fighting for the preservation of their life and that of all the beings that live there. It gathers children, young people and elders to be together, as their ancestors did. In addition to nurturing culture, they plant community gardens, harvest and feed themselves in groups of up to 100 people a day, and hold their Torés, dialogues, games, football and other activities.

They dream of taking back ancestral memory and guaranteeing food, collective work, union and the strengthening of their culture. With this project they see a great possibility of survival for their ethnic group and village. It provides the hope of resistance for their people.

  • Community
  • 2021
  • Ancient and Indigenous Wisdom Award
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Winner

The Marginalized Mirror

The Marginalized Mirror will provide knowledge sharing around responsible investments in agriculture and food systems for the marginalized Ovazemba communities in Namibia to produce their own organic food through regenerative agriculture for resilience to climatic instability.

The current and future impact of COVID-19 on the Ovazemba Indigenous community, compounded by the harsh reality of Namibia’s nationwide economic crisis, restricted movements, and recurring droughts, is immeasurable. The community depends on the production of crops and livestock. The droughts have resulted in the loss of sources of dairy products and traditional crops normally planted during the rainy season. With the restricted movement of people due to COVID-19 regulations, pastoralists are unable to head livestock to neighboring countries with better rainfall like Angola for better grazing pastures.

The project will provide training on crop production under an irrigation system to produce food and fodder for human and livestock production and sell the surplus for income generation. They aim to support a community-based irrigation project managed by Indigenous Ovazemba community members who will run the project sustainably for themselves and future generations.

  • Community, Food, Landscapes, Networks, Water
  • 2021
  • Ancient and Indigenous Wisdom Award
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Photo: The Marginalized Mirror

Project information


Also short-listed

Fundación Pachamama

Fundación Pachamama is a NGO with more than 23 years of experience working with the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon region. Its work aims to strengthen indigenous organizations, defend indigenous peoples’ land rights and promote alternative development models.

In partnership with the Indigenous Nations of the Amazon rainforest, they have protected millions of acres of pristine rainforest from oil and other extractive industries.

Fundación Pachamama is promoting a new Initiative called the Amazon Sacred Headwaters (ASHI). ASHI aims to permanently protect 86+ million acres of tropical rainforests in the headwaters of the Amazon River–the Napo and Marañon Basins of Ecuador and Peru.

ASHI will convene indigenous peoples, civil society and governments to establish a bi-national protected region, off-limits to industrial scale resource extraction and governed in accordance with traditional indigenous principles. This is the first holistic planning effort to address the key issues affecting such a large bioregion in the Amazon Basin.

  • Community
  • 2021
  • Ancient and Indigenous Wisdom Award
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Photo: Fundación Pachamama

Project information

Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP)

Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP) started in 2000 in San Lucas Tolimán, on the shores of Lake Atitlán in the Mayan highlands of Guatemala.

It was created by a group of Maya Kakchiquel folk with the desire to use native seeds, permaculture, traditional Indigenous knowledge and education to create social healing after 36 years of internal armed conflict that wiped out hundreds of communities and displaced millions from their land and disrupted the transfer of their culture and ancestral knowledge.

IMAP was established to comprehensively address the poverty and malnutrition suffered by indigenous communities in the lake basin as well as throughout the Mesoamerican region, who were disportionately violated during the war and left largely dispossessed following the signing of peace. IMAP’s work revolves around providing communities with access to land, seeds, and excellent permaculture education.

IMAP has trained more than 10,000 smallholder farmers in basic principles of agroecology and seed conservation, increasing the capacity of communities to adapt to climate variability and combating malnutrition by promoting food sovereignty and strengthening the local market.

  • Community, Food, Landscapes, Networks
  • 2021
  • Ancient and Indigenous Wisdom Award
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Photo: Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP)

Project information

Meli Bees Network

Meli Bees Network brings systemic regenerative support to the most endangered areas in the Amazon. They do so by working together with local traditional communities, engaging them in a Network of trust, where they can connect with other traditional communities to interact, share experiences and find support to develop regenerative practices.

Meli already has members from more than 15 different groups of Amazonian traditional communities – Indigenous villages, quilombos and smallholder “assentamentos”. They aim to learn about their stories, local reality, wishes and skills – and from there find the best practices to work with. Meli also connects them with the needed technical and scientific support and provides the tools needed to develop the best practices to have a social and environmental positive impact, such as education, agroecology and native beekeeping.

They hope to be able to reach hundreds of communities in the next five years, and at the same time develop a deep connection with each one of them.

  • Community
  • 2021
  • Ancient and Indigenous Wisdom Award
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Permatil Global

Empowering people through community-driven permaculture projects since 2001, Permatil recognised the urgent need to regenerate Timor-Leste’s natural environment and create sustainable livelihoods and resilient communities, while strengthening culture and traditional knowledge.

Their work includes:

  • Planning and implementing permaculture projects with communities across Timor-Leste
  • Training of future trainers – including NGO and government staff, community leaders and local farmers – in water and soil conservation, agro-ecology, agro-forestry, aquaculture and organic farming
  • Establishing a national farmer’s food sovereignty network
  • Water restoration and preservation projects to rehabilitate springs and store water in the ground in 174 communities
  • Producing Timorese educational resources including illustrated readers, films, posters and the Permaculture Guidebook from Timor-Leste, 2008
  • Producing the Tropical Permaculture Guidebook, 2018, accessed online on a ‘pay-what-you-can’ basis
  • Incorporating a permaculture school gardens program in the national primary school curriculum, a global first.
  • Advocating with government, private sector and communities for permaculture-based change

Permatil would like to build more awareness of their work in the region, to help and inspire other groups to see the benefits of, and get involved in permaculture, through school gardens, water conservation, tree planting and youth ‘in action’ projects and start collaborating with similar organisations on future projects.

  • Community, Food, Landscapes, Networks
  • 2021
  • Ancient and Indigenous Wisdom Award
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Photo: Permatil Global

Project information

Radio Savia

Radio Savia is a narrative bimonthly podcast that features diverse (indigenous, black, farmers) Latin American women activists and healers. They believe in the transformative power of storytelling from a feminist, decolonial, regenerative and antiracist perspective.

Providing a bridge that communicates diverse struggles and territories, they seek to create solidarity and resonance between social movements going through similar situations and to amplify these powerful voices among urban contexts.

In every episode the listener dives into an immersive sound experience where the guests share their personal journeys about healing and their relationship with themselves, their communities and the planet. Each episode explore the local meaning of ‘cuerpo-territorio’ (body-territory), a concept crafted by indigenous communities all over Latin America to express the deep bond between humans and the planet.

Those in peasant communities or indigenous territories listen to the podcast through Whatsapp or community radios (where the content has become popular), hearing testimonies similar to their own – voices that are not normally heard in mainstream media.

  • Community
  • 2021
  • Ancient and Indigenous Wisdom Award
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