Indigenous communities and broader climate justice movements have long been confronting capitalism, colonialism, white supremacy, and related forces of exploitation and destruction. Indigenous-led resistance to these threats has woven ancestral wisdom with emerging tools and tactics– including audiovisual technology. Visuals evincing the deterioration of the planet have strengthened demands for urgent, globally coordinated responses to the climate crisis.
#Video4Earth is an affirmation of the power of video in advancing culture change, supporting court-based accountability processes, and promoting healing and solidarity through storytelling.
#Video4Earth is also a call to center Indigenous sovereignty and wellbeing. It is a recognition that protecting Indigenous peoples’ rights is crucial to securing justice for peoples who have suffered genocide, criminalization, and marginalization.
#Video4Earth is a strategy rooted in the reality that there is no future without Indigenous people. As guardians for over 80% of the world’s biodiversity, Indigenous nations safeguard the planet and make healthier, vibrant futures possible for us all.
#Video4Earth underscores that a better world is possible – and we have the tools to get there.
We cannot forget that violations of the rights of the Earth and her stewards will always intersect with and compound existing violences. Climate health (and the requisite foundation of Indigenous sovereignty) is inseparable from fights for racial justice, disability justice, migrant justice, right to life, gender equality, and decolonization. The interconnectedness of our struggles, our power, and our futures are undeniable. Nowhere is this clearer than in the fight for our planet.
Support Indigenous communities and protect the territories they steward. Keep adopting and adapting all the tools at our disposal. Stories, evidence, demonstrations, relationships, rituals, guides, cameras in the sky, and cameras in our pockets all have a place in caring for the planet and its peoples. Fight for life!
Keep reading to learn from examples of the use of #Video4Earth!
Exposing abuse and Indigenous resistance
Video has amplified Indigenous peoples’ demands for accountability for the degradation of the environment and related damage to their livelihoods and lifeways. #Video4Earth has also elevated Indigenous wisdom and uplifted the strengths of communities.
- The Juba Wajiin in Mexico used video to win a landmark court case against two mining companies and share their organizing experience with other Indigenous communities resisting mega-projects
- Guardians of the Amazon used drones, mobile phones, and satellite imagery to monitor and combat violations on their lands
- Sahrawi media activists in Western Sahara are bravely exposing the brutality of Morocco’s occupation of their home and systemic exploitation of their natural resources
- Several thousand Indigenous activists gathered at #ATL2022 in Brasil to collectively combat the threats faced by extractive industries in their territories
- Mexico Caravan for water and life is journeying through territories in Mexico for 34 days to make visible the resistance of peoples against capitalist dispossession, as well as to continue the fight against Bonafont company at Juan C. Bonilla, Pueblo
- Construir Los Mundos Que Soñamos: An interactive guide by WITNESS Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) + La Sandía Digital on strategic communications for defense of territories [download here in Spanish] [download the Cycle for Strategic Communications in English]
- Indigenous Voices: A webinar by WITNESS USA and Seventh Generation Fund on the use of video to advocate for Indigenous rights [download here]
- Making the (In)Visible Powerful: Our blog on leveraging climate visuals in courtrooms (featuring cases led by the Kofan Indigenous Guards of Sinangoe, Ecuador and Our Children’s Trust)
- Audiovisual Na Luta Pela Defesa Dos Territórios Indígenas: A blog by WITNESS Brasil on their collaboration with Forest Guardians to integrate video and tech into defense of the Amazon
- Communication for Land Defense newsletter: A digest in Spanish of resources on communications for land defense sent out by La Sandía Digital and the WITNESS LAC team (sign up here)
Challenging patriarchal culture
Audiovisual storytelling created by Indigenous peoples and independent media has put a spotlight on the powerful leadership of women and 2-Spirit people in the movements for life.
- The leadership of women in Brasil during times of crisis is at the forefront of Manual 20.22, a web series by Bombozila features two films about Indigenous women. One highlights the struggle of Cacica Cunllung Veitcha-Teiê and the defense of her ancestral territory. Another film tells the story of Marcia Mura, who, in response to the systematic neglect and abandonment of Indigenous people, organized a solidarity network that ran donation campaigns and shared information about COVID-19 in the region.
- Josefina Tunki, President of the Shuar Arutam People of the Ecuadorian Amazon, has used video to denounce large-scale mining projects in their territory and the death threats she faced for speaking out against Solaris
- Guía – Realización de Video Con Perspectiva De Género: A resource from WITNESS Español and La Sandía Digital with considerations for including the voices of women in video projects concerning land defense [download here in Spanish]
- Video Production Through a Gender Lens: Our resource to support making video production processes more inclusive and participatory for people of marginalized genders [download here]
Drawing connections between state violence, capitalism & extraction
At its core, environmental defense disrupts capitalism and colonialism. Because of this, environmental activists are criminalized and targeted when attempting to stop land from being exploited by private companies working in cooperation with governments. The number of environmental activists murdered every year is increasing. Indigenous self-determination and global solidarity are crucial to ending non-consensual extraction and occupation of territories. Activists must be supported with the skills and tools necessary for effective and safer resistance to these threats until this priority of sovereignty and security is achieved.
- The ongoing Save Barbuda campaign led by Barbudans aims to stop disaster capitalists from further land grabs on the island that are destroying its natural ecosystems
- The Sovereign Bodies Institute offers a database and accompanying organizing toolkit for tracking cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people (WITNESS USA has written a blog on this that is also available in Spanish)
- The Batwa People of the Democratic Republic of Congo are facing assault and sexual violence from security forces at the national park (read more about this from our partners at Minority Rights Group International)
- According to Global Witness, Indigenous communities disproportionately suffer attacks among environmental defenders– with over a third of all fatal attacks in 2020 targeting Indigenous people. These were reported in Mexico, Central and South America, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
- Filming Secure Scenes– A section of our Video as Evidence Field Guide that provides guidance on documenting the aftermath of a human rights violation [download here]
- WITNESS’ land defense mini guides – coming soon!
- Documenting Standing Rock: Our Video as Evidence guide adapted by WeCopWatch and our allies at Standing Rock to help Water Protectors integrating documentation into their efforts to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline [download here]
- Right to Record in Ecuador – Set of audio files that answer questions related to the Right to Record and extractive industries under Ecuador’s laws (developed by Alianza Ceibo, Amazon Frontlines and WITNESS LAC)
- Samir Vive: A blog and video on the legacy of murdered land defender Samir Flores who spoke out against the Proyecto Integral Morelos thermoelectric project in Mexico
- Digital Security Primer: Our basic guidelines of digital security for those capturing or storing human rights media on their devices
Fighting forced evictions
Forced evictions are a tool used to land grab and disrupt Indigenous communities. They are a tool of imperialism, capitalism, and authoritarianism that rob Indigenous peoples of their rights while undermining their ability to organize and resist. Even so, resistance persists with power!
- Palestinians have long been fighting ethnic cleansing and other violences employed by occupying Israeli forces, with international attention brought to their cause during heavily documented evictions and protests in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah
- The Endorois lived around Lake Bogoria in Kenya for centuries until the government evicted them in order to establish a game reserve and continued to violate their rights even after the Indigenous community won a key court case affirming their ownership
- In seeking to reclaim their land from Sudan, the Nuba peoples have faced evictions, raids, and military campaigns and still have received no adequate compensation or redress (learn more in coverage by Nuba Reports)
- In Brazil, demonstrations take place against “Marco Temporal”, an action that argues that Indigenous people can only claim the right to their land where they were already on October 5, 1988, the day the Brazilian Constitution came into force. This situation causes many Indigenous people to be expelled from their lands or not have the right to return to it.
- #SaveSheikhJarrah Resource Map– A resource from WITNESS MENA that pulls together resources in Arabic related to filming forced evictions and state violence
- Filming Forced Evictions – Our multi-lingual toolkit with tip sheets, documentaries, screening guides, and more for using video to fight forced evictions in the name of “development”
- Implement African Commission Endorois Decision 276/03: A report published by WITNESS Africa in collaboration with CEMIRIDE and Minority Rights Group on the consequences of forced eviction and lack of redress for the Indigenous Endorois community of Kenya
Uplifting young people
We must pay attention to the voices of youth– especially when it comes to the climate justice movement. Youth are creating content for social change, getting involved in historic environmental law cases, educating peers (and elders!), and protesting in mass numbers.
- Millions of young people coordinated a global day of protests to challenge inaction by governments in respond to the urgent threats of the climate crisis, with many youth live-streaming and sharing media to gain traction and promote key messages
- 21 youth in the U.S. filed an ongoing climate lawsuit (Juliana v United States) with the support of Our Children’s Trust, charging that the government knowingly failed to uphold their rights to life, liberty, property while also failing to protect public trust resources
- Tell Your Story: Our tip sheet on filming selfie videos for human rights [download in English, Spanish, and Arabic]
- Filming Protests: Our tip sheet for anyone planning to film a protest to do so more safely, ethically, and effectively [download here]
- Protect Our TRUST, Restore Out Atmosphere: A playlist of all the videos in the award-winning web series we collaborated on with Our Children’s Trust, featuring 9 youth who sued the U.S. government for failing to protect the planet and their futures