Recently, SIT International Honors Program Human Rights staff in Chile led a fundraising effort to send a delegation of indigenous Mapuche leaders to the Protecting Mother Earth Conference near Seattle, Washington.
“At SIT, we talk a lot about reciprocity, and the importance of building meaningful two-way relationships with our host communities. … Now it’s our turn to return the hospitality through a shared commitment to support Mapuche activists to advance their movements.”
-Chris Westcott, Program Director, SIT IHP, Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Advocacy
The conference was organized by the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). The IEN, founded in 1990, is an effort by and for indigenous people “to address environmental and economic justice issues.” IEN’s goal is to aid indigenous people worldwide in building economically sustainable communities and protecting sacred sites, land, and natural resources.
Leonardo Simón Crisóstomo Loncopán was raised in a Mapuche community with his grandparents. He is a spokesman for the Mapuche communities and lecturer on Mapuche ancestral philosophy.
Ruben Sanchez Curihuentro, is the son of the Lonko (head of the local Mapuche community), and speaks the Mapuche language. He represents communities resisting hydrolectric plants in Chile.
At Protecting Mother Earth, the Mapuche delegates joined hundreds of indigenous activists for four days of workshops and events.
SIT’s program Human Rights: Foundations, Challenges, and Advocacy visits Chile, Jordan, Nepal, and the United States to study human rights movements and the roles of culture, identity, political economy, and international law.