July 19, 2018
Mapuche NL participates in the Nature’s Narrative series.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Mapuche in Amsterdam

The second edition of the Nature’s Narrative series took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands at Pakhuis de Zwijger. The event opened with a few words from the person who spearheaded the initiative, Antoin Deul. The objective of this series was to create a more inclusive and diverse discussion within environmental activism and to give a platform for people of color, including indigenous peoples to make their voices heard.

A first presentation was given by campaign manager Chihiro Geuzebroek, relating to the origins of environmental protection, some examples of its homogeneity, an assessment of the politics surrounding environmental movements in various countries, as well as specifically mentioning the United Nations Clime Change Conferences in Copenhagen and Paris, and the role – or lack thereof – for indigenous communities at those fora.

The panel session followed, with the first speakers being Rafael Railaf (MapucheNL) and Celine Kun (MasterPeace). Rafael discussed the unique struggle of the Mapuche people in Chile. Explaining the difference between the traditional way of life for his people, and the situation they find themselves in now. He highlighted the persecution faced by Mapuche individuals, particularly those who have joined the fight for their people’s land rights. As Rafael stated, without the land, there would be no Mapuche. Their relationship with the land in which they live is an integral part of their identity.

Celine discussed her own background as well as a project called The Walls of Connection, through which different walls throughout South America were painted by indigenous artists and locals, as a way to demonstrate pride in their backgrounds and bring people together. Later on in the event she also indicated how she believed social entrepreneurship could be a partner to activism within indigenous and environmental movements.

Then the panel was joined by Freek Bersch (Milieudefensie) and Kees Kodde (Greenpeace). Each of them discussed the partnerships their organizations had created with locals in order to combat environmental pollution and the negative effects this has on the populations in these areas. In the first case, individuals affected in Nigeria were contacted through Milieudefensie’s partner organization and as a way to begin to improve inclusivity, partnership has been sought in this matter with those within the Nigerian Dutch community. For Greenpeace, a shift from focusing perhaps more on flora and fauna and now looking specifically at the impact of environmental contamination on people made the organization able to partner with Mapuche in Argentina, along with help from their office in Argentina.

In conclusion, this evening was about showcasing the stories, viewpoints and knowledge of a more diverse group of environmental conservationists, activists and those who are the most acutely affected by environmental destruction and pollution. A specific point of the evening was to demonstrate how organizations and indigenous peoples can come together to create more effective and lasting partnerships. A complex topic that no doubt will be the cause for many more discussions and exchange of thought in the future.