#FuturosIndígenas: New Initiative Seeks to Transform Narratives for Climate Justice

A new communications collective that seeks to challenge and transform narratives for climate justice began its work the first week in June with a great enthusiasm and a warm welcome from local groups. Based in what is known today as Mexico and Guatemala, they are a solutions-based collective that uplifts the work and lives of indigenous people. “We, the voices of peoples who for thousands of years have defended life on earth, have a message of hope to share: alternatives to the climate crisis already exist, they are alive,” reads their manifest. 

With members from Kiliwa, Cucapá, Nahua, Acolhua, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Ñu Savi, Hñatho, Amuzga, Purépecha, Ayuuk, Afro-descendant, Zapoteca, Popoluca, Maya, K’iche’, Wayuu, Zoque, and mestizo people, #FuturosIndígenas is challenging the idea that fighting the climate crisis can be done by returning to a romanticized past. “We know that the climate crisis is a result of the systems of structural inequality that govern the world today,” they write, “We are not proposing a return to the past. We do not romanticize precarity. We do not deny the existence of anyone. We do not apologize. We call for a taking of responsibility to stop this machine of extermination.”

That “machine of extermination” are powers of historical privilege and structural inequality that place “progress,” “development,” and the corporate economy above life itself, without a care of the limits of our planet or the imposed ethnocide on indigenous, campesino, and Afro-descendent people. 

#FuturosIndígenas was brought together through a collaboration between Hackeo Cultural, a narrative and communications collective that became active last year during the pandemic, and Ambulante, a documentary nonprofit organization, with financing from the British Council. Twenty-six fellows were chosen from over 200 leaders, artists, writers, communicators, and land and rights defenders to be able to participate in this narrative laboratory and work collaboratively to make #FuturosIndígenas possible.

We spoke with one of its members, anthropologist and communications expert María Tzuc Dzib, about her experience. She explained how they formed different groups in defense of water, land, territories, food sovereignty, and after a detailed analysis of current corporate media stories, they built a clear response with indigenous and campesino narratives. The result has been an impressive solutions-based initiative that calls to heal the earth through community management of water and energy, trusting local indigenous autonomies, which are best positioned to care for life in their territories.

“They generally refer to them, to us, as an enemy against progress or development,” said Tzuc Dzib about their efforts to change that narrative in corporate news media and that the alternatives are well and alive in the original peoples.

Through a series of visually and auditory impactful actions–from multilingual radio clips to songs from local artists to recipes of resistance and social justice posters–#FuturosIndígenas pushes participants to go beyond calling out oppression and celebrate our identities and linguistic diversity, search for memory and justice, honor the knowledge and spirituality of our ancestors, and organize locally to resist but also to celebrate through community and neighborhood festivals. 

“This change of narrative can help us see things in a different way, also demonstrate a different way of struggle. And show that despite the violence that we may be experiencing, that many regional groups and localities may be experiencing, we continue to exist and we have life,” dijo Tzuc Dzib. “We need to see reality, but we can’t lose hope. We also need to share our joys.”

#FuturosIndígenas collective also doesn’t cease to question the structural problems that prevent us from advancing comprehensive solutions. Their #EnergíaParaQuién (EnergyForWhom) action, for example, questions the push for clean energies while ignoring the exploitation of indigenous territories, such as lithium mining. “The current energetic model is not focused on satisfying the needs of the people but machines that enrich a few,” they explain.

To quote again their manifest:

There is enough water, food and land for all people and all lives to exist with dignity in this territory called Mexico, in this common home called Earth. We can regenerate the life systems to which our future is linked. But change must be at the root. Because after every crisis, we don’t want to return to normality, we want to return to the earth.