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
Indigenous communities documenting the historic mobilizations at ATL2022 in Brasil

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
Related resources
Challenging patriarchal culture 
Pataxó women filmed by the Indigenous audio collective Coletivo Daje kapap Eypi

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 
Related resources 
Drawing connections between state violence, capitalism & extraction   
Samir Flores broadcasting on community radio

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.

 Related resources 
  • 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.
Related resources
Uplifting young people  
Video profiles of youth suing the U.S. government in the Juliana v United States case

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 
Related resources 

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