• Challenges Facing New Generations of Indigenous Youth

    by Bianca Avila and Keira Anderson

    This article will explore the main challenges that new Indigenous generations continue to face.
    I. Struggle to protect their territory
    Land eviction has been a critical problem facing Indigenous communities for generations. In early 1970, the Peruvian government gave multinational companies permission to exploit the region’s oil reserves [1]. Still today, Indigenous peoples in Peru do not hold the collective titles that would give them the legal right to control their own territory and prevent future exploitation. Even though such a right has been constitutionally recognized since 1920, the state has shown a lack of interest in taking the necessary measures to safeguard Indigenous territorial privileges. The government’s lack of consultation in regard to legal and administrative measures that affect Indigenous communities poses further problems [2]. If state policy does not change, land eviction will continue to present a serious challenge to the newer Indigenous generations.

    II. Struggle to protect their heritage

    Also of concern is the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage, which includes the languages, traditions, and customs that have been passed down for generations. In regard to language, many Indigenous peoples struggle with finding a balance between maintaining their native languages and learning the colonial language of the state, as the latter is often a necessity for engagement outside of their communities. Consequently, in Peru, many parents chose Spanish as the first language for their children and, as such, the use of Quechua (as one example) has dwindled significantly amongst Quechua youth.

    Another factor that has contributed to the decrease in the use of Indigenous languages amongst youth is the lack of these languages in the media. In recent months, however, a news spot in Quechua was launched on a national Peruvian channel. “Ñuqanchik” (“We” in Quechua) was founded as an initiative to promote the Quechua language within an overwhelmingly Spanish media [3] Ñuqanchik provides an impressive example for other Indigenous languages as well as other forms of media, including radio and newspapers. Kichwa-Hatari, a Quechua radio broadcast, was founded recently in the Bronx, New York [4]. These new media provide Indigenous youth with a means for protection and promotion of their cultural heritage.

    The task for Indigenous youth is carry on the legacy of protecting and promoting their identities and communities despite the challenges they face due to colonial attitudes and policies. Changing these attitudes within the broader population is part of this work. Support initiatives, such as bilingual programs for youth, can enrich cultural heritage through a strengthening of language and traditional practice.

     

    1. Barclay, Frederica, Estudio antropológico e histórico del Pueblo Quechua del Pastaza y su territorio, Coordinadora Regional de Pueblos Indígenas, San Lorenzo CORPI-SL (inédito), 2013.

    2. Organismo Supervisor de la Inversión en Energía y Minería, Eliminación del mayor impacto ambiental de los campos petroleros. Lima, 2009.

    3.https://www.democracynow.org/2016/12/15/headlines/peru_launches_first_daily_national_news_broadcast_in_quechua

    4. http://pavementpieces.com/indigenous-language- is-alive- on-a- nyc-radio- station/

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