Giving Back to Indigenous Communities

Supporting plant medicine by nurturing ecological wellbeing, including land rights activism, bolstering food security, and strengthening economic resilience.

The IRI Program’s purpose is to encourage investment into Indigenous communities by large donors. The money donated will be distributed evenly among the 30 organizations showcased in the IRI webpage, discounting an administrative fee of 7.5% by the Chacruna Institute, and a report on the money raised will be issued by April 2022. The IRI Program is one unified pathway to support all the grassroots organizations involved—however, in order to keep the resource open and allow for unmediated support, private donors still have the option of donating directly to an initiative of their choice by using the IRI resource page to immediately connect with any of the projects listed* (see below).

It is vital that members of the psychedelic community help support Indigenous groups and the traditional ecological knowledge they practice. Many organizations and individuals have a genuine desire to help, but struggle to find ways of connecting directly with local communities. Sometimes, the only option is donating to massive non-governmental organizations (NGOs) based in Western countries. Many who care about the environment and its interdependency with Indigenous lives are aware that money given to large NGOs often fails to reach the people on the ground due to the large infrastructural costs needed to run these organizations. Yet, small grassroots groups doing the most impactful work often labor to connect with people wanting to offer direct support through donations. For this reason, Chacruna has created the Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas.

Introduction

Heartbreaking news of fires ravaging the rainforest leaves many feeling helpless in the face of overwhelming crises, compounded by new challenges resulting from a novel coronavirus. Home to the highest biodiversity of plant species on Earth, the Amazon is incalculably valuable to humanity; however, the local peoples who protect and maintain it are under constant threat from the myriad forces of globalization. While falling emissions and reduced pollution had many in the West patting themselves on the back, deforestation jumped to record highs when their backs were turned. Indigenous activists and leaders are being murdered and predatory land-grabs are being conducted by opportunistic developers. Local peoples who already strain to find the support and protection they need are uniquely vulnerable to the devastation caused by deforestation, economic instability, food insecurity, and lack of political autonomy, all of which is only amplified in the context of a global pandemic.

The connection between biological and cultural diversity is well established, including the correlation between healthy forests and Indigenous people, whose territories hold 80% of the world’s biodiversity, while only comprising 5% of the world’s population. With an abundance of research linking forest loss to the emergence of diseases like COVID-19, the fact that Indigenous-managed land is home to significantly more biodiversity than protected areas makes the case for supporting forest peoples more prescient than ever. The current pandemic crystallizes the importance of grassroots efforts that value biocultural relationships, strengthen sustainability and conservation, and build the foundation for a lasting future of healthy Indigenous communities.

The IRI Resource

The Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas (IRI) is a comprehensive online resource that allows people to connect with and donate to grassroots Indigenous nonprofits and community initiatives at the local level. Through a network of relationships with trusted organizers throughout the Americas, this Indigenous-centered, community-driven list represents a range of projects addressing everything from food and environmental health to land-tenure, reforestation, and cultural conservation, including educational, economic, and institutional support.

Our ultimate goal is to build a grassroots support network, create an educational resource, and promote organizations designed and implemented by local Indigenous people to address their own self-determined needs. Rather than imposing outside ideas of sustainability, IRI is the product of working directly with Indigenous leaders and small, non-profit coordinators who prioritize the autonomy of local people. To accompany this resource, as well as serve the needs of those who do not have institutional support or capacity to receive donations online, Chacruna also developed the IRI Program.

Sacred Plants in the Americas II: Global Psychedelic Summit; April 23-25, 2021

Watch the Recordings Here

The IRI Program

In addition to individual acts of reciprocity from our readers, IRI strives to foster a relationship of reciprocity between the rapidly growing industry generated by the mainstreaming of psychedelics in the Global North, often far removed from the needs and struggles of Indigenous peoples. Going beyond symbolic acts, retreat centers catering to Western visitors, or income streams from the tourism economy, we created the IRI Program to act as a mechanism for businesses, foundations, and private donors to address the disparities stemming from the globalization of psychedelic plant medicines.

In the United States alone, philanthropic contributions supporting Native Americans have declined by 54% over a period of just 10 years, amounting to less than 0.4% of total foundation giving between 2002 and 2016. Meanwhile, the urgent needs of Indigenous communities have grown as they remain at the forefront of combatting climate change, nurturing biodiversity, and supporting local food economies. At a time when less than 1% of philanthropy in the U.S. goes to Indigenous groups (the majority of which goes through non-Indigenous organizations), there is a vital need to decolonize philanthropy and bridge this massive gap. The IRI Programis an opportunity to direct some of the enormous profits anticipated by the commercialization of psychedelics back into the hands of Indigenous people.

Criteria (How were these organizations chosen?):

  • Each organization is small-scale, targeting specific group of local communities.
  • Each featured initiative is operated by members of the Indigenous communities being supported.
  • Each initiative is locally-designed and implemented to address self-determined needs and priorities.
  • 19 of the 30 organizations deal directly with one specific Indigenous group.
  • 21 out of the 30 featured organizations are wholly Indigenous-run.
  • 9 of the featured projects are led by Indigenous women and focused primarily on women’s issues.
  • The non-profits that are externally-based or helmed by non-Indigenous organizers are run by Indigenous leaders and directed by community consensus on a local level.
  • Each organization is multidimensional, aimed at strengthening community resilience and autonomy.
  • Each project is framed around long-term, sustainable strategies, rather than short-term relief efforts.

IRI’s diversity of Indigenous traditions stresses relationships to the land irrespective of psychoactive plant use, striving to include Indigenous groups often left out of the conversation in psychedelic circles and tourism. The community-centered nature of IRI’s projects focuses on collective efforts and avoids concentrating funds in the hands of one or two well-connected families or solo shamans. With a structure that avoids intermediaries wherever possible, the IRI Program seeks to serve Indigenous communities without creating extra bureaucracies or barriers to funding, ensuring that the agency, autonomy, and focus remains with the recipients rather than with the donors.

BRAZIL

RAIN (Reforestation Agroforestry Impact Network) is a tree-planting and ecosystem regeneration non-profit focused on empowering community-led reforestation and agroforestry projects. These include an initiative with the Kaingang, helping them to reforest ancestral territories with Paraná pine, a tree nursery with the Terena in the Buriti Terena Indigenous Reserve, and a partnership with the Noke Koi (also known as Katuquina) of the Amazon. Additionally, they support women’s groups in nine city favelas, planting sustainable plant-based food and medicine through agroecology, as well as recuperating the Atlantic Forest with 50,000 pernambuco saplings.

The Paraná pine (Araucaria angustifolia) is central to the Kaingang culture, and is used for baptisms and demarcating territories. Over the centuries, the Kaingang selected strains that ripen in different months, making it a superb species for regeneration of both flora and fauna, as the animals and birds it attracts also eat other seeds and spread them around as they roam. After WWII, 100 million were felled to rebuild Europe, and much of the forest has been cleared for cattle and soya beans. The endangerment of this ancient species adds to the many serious challenges faced by the Kaingang; they plan to build two large nurseries capable of producing around 70,000 trees per year to reforest their traditional territories.

Click the logo to visit their website, or follow this link to their donation page.

The Yawanawa Sociocultural Association is exclusively managed by the Yawanawa, and focuses its efforts on addressing the needs of their communities along the Gregório River in the heart of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil; whether they are bringing equipment, food, medicine, or products that enable food production from sowing to harvest, they navigate their boats on a six-hour river journey from the first to the last village. They completed a successful reforestation campaign last spring and remain continually engaged in a variety of capacity-building projects, including environmental education courses, organic agriculture and agroforestry systems workshops, the formation of a handicrafts cooperative, and English and computer classes. Their current initiatives are centered around cultural revitalization, environmental conservation, and healthcare access, with the goal of providing a sustainable support system for their people beyond the limitations of an ethnotourism model.

Click on the logo to visit their website, where donations can be made via Paypal, or learn more about how your funds support the community by downloading a PDF of the Yawanawa “Life Plan.”

The Yorenka Tasorentsi Institute, founded by Ashaninka leader Benki Piyãko, is engaged in reforestation, education, and community-building projects in Marechal Thaumaturgo, Acre, Brazil. Along with the Ashaninka, they partner with neighboring Indigenous groups, including the Pyanawa, Kuntanawa, and Apolima in permaculture, cultural revitalization, and environmental remediation initiatives. Their current efforts to purchase degraded land for restoration and preservation has already achieved the planting of over two million trees in the last ten years, with the hope of reaching ten million more in the next ten. The Institute is involved in building a regenerative natural ecosystem that provides food security and bolsters biodiversity by integrating organic vegetable gardens with fish, bird, and bee habitats.

In addition to their environmental work, they are creating a space for local workshops and conferences where communities can share and exchange traditional knowledge, develop sustainable management techniques, and train and practice agroforestry. They are also implementing a project called Iraporo Pawa (“living museum”) which seeks to collect and document the community’s traditional knowledge and cultural heritage, employing both physical and digital databases through multiple media platforms to address local needs for conservation, research, and communication.

Click the logo to learn more, or visit this link to find their donations page. Donations are processed through The Boa Foundation, which supports a range of grassroots projects throughout the Americas, including a Yawanawa reforestation project.

The Yube Inu Institute was founded by Txana Ikakuru and other Indigenous leaders in Aldeia Boa Vista, Kaxinawá Indigenous Territory of the River Jordan in the state of Acre. The creation of the institute was a longstanding dream of local leaders who, since 2015, have been mobilizing themselves to found an Indigenous institution that would autonomously promote the political, economic, social, cultural, and spiritual development of the Huni Kuin people.

They establish projects linked to themes of tourism and sustainable development, food security, and support for community initiatives and small Indigenous businesses. Currently, their biggest challenges are to diversify income sources for local families dependent on the now-paralyzed tourism industry. They have projects involved in producing handicrafts and textiles and hope to gather resources to organize technical and training workshops for local communities.

Click the logo to visit their website or follow this link to their donations page.

COLOMBIA

The Land of Origins Project supports Indigenous-led initiatives for community resiliency in Sibundoy, Colombia. Their partnership with the Kamëntšá people is engaged in stopping extractive practices that exploit resources and knowledge from Indigenous people. Projects include the Seeds of Life Initiative, designed to improve community food security and access to crucial ancestral foods, helping Sibundoy’s tribal leadership to deliver supplies of viable seeds to each household and ensuring each family can depend on a reliable food crop harvest, as well as the Dignified Shelter Initiative, focused on building homes for Sibundoy’s 40 most vulnerable families to ensure no Kamëntšá child lacks a roof over their heads, and funding community-led efforts to secure their basic human right to adequate shelter.

Click the logo to visit their website, or follow this link to make a tax-deductible donation.

ECUADOR

Yakum works with Shuar, Kichwa, Cofan, and Siekopai communities to protect indigenous forests and build cultural, medicinal, and food sovereignty through reforestation with carefully selected native tree species and territory mapping. Tree species are chosen by community members to guarantee production of culturally relevant foods constituting a complete diet, traditional handicraft materials, and recovery of important medicines. Planting highly valuable timber also protects giant trees in the forest from felling and acts like a “community bank.” In addition, they produce maps for locals that identify the locations of potentially transformative forest products, highlighting areas of deforestation for forest guardians to focus on, while training community members to use GPS and satellite imaging software. They recently completed a project with the Shuar that collected 50,000 seeds of over 100 useful species and planted them in 15 pilot tree nurseries in 10 communities. They are currently focused on training local experts in agroforestry so that these initiatives can expand organically and independently within Indigenous communities under their own direction.

Click the logo to visit their website, or follow this link to their donation page.

The Sacha Warmi Foundation supports Indigenous peoples and organizations in the Ecuadorian Amazon with the revitalization and strengthening of their natural, cultural, educational, and health systems by working at the point where all these elements of community wellbeing interact.  An integrated team of primarily women—with Indigenous Kichwa, Indigenous health, first response care, biology, anthropology, administration, and engineering backgrounds—builds resources for traditional medicine documentation and education. They raise awareness of the importance of maintaining respectful and harmonious relationships with nature, promote the cultivation of medicinal plants, the reforestation and regeneration of degraded ecosystems, and intercultural sensitization and education.

Their current projects include conservation and reforestation initiatives, as well as a partnership with an Indigenous organization in the Pastaza region called “Sacha Taki – Los Cantos de los Bosques” (The Songs of the Forests). Their proposal links biocultural diversity through natural and cultural soundscapes, supporting the connection between culture and nature and the need to preserve and conserve both. The ultimate goal of their proposal is to have UNESCO declare a new category of protection, designating a Natural Sound Heritage, and declaring Biocultural Immaterial Heritage for the people and the land of the Kichwa.

Click the logo to visit their website, or follow this link to their donation page.

Amazon Frontlines is committed to defending Indigenous rights to land, life, and cultural survival in the rainforest. They partner with the Ceibo Alliance, an Indigenous-led organization comprised of members of the Siona, Secoya, Kofan, and Waorani peoples who are building a movement to heal the damage done to their freshwater creeks, rivers, streams, and watersheds by oil companies and government “development” projects.

They support the grassroots efforts of Indigenous communities to hold the perpetrators accountable, fighting for a moratorium on oil extraction, for environmental justice, and the protection and enforcement of Indigenous rights, food security, and access to clean water and renewable energy, cultural survival, and women’s empowerment. In addition to supporting the struggle for land rights and forest protection through an Indigenous rights defender program, a territorial mapping program, and an environmental monitoring program, Amazon Frontlines is training Indigenous youth to use film, photography, and other storytelling techniques to transmit the knowledge and histories of their ancestors within their communities while creating films allowing those outside of the Amazon to understand their changing realities.

Click the logo, or follow this link to their donation page.

De La Tierra is dedicated to preserving the Amazon rainforest by promoting thriving Indigenous communities. They formed in alliance with the Kofan community of AVIE and other Kofan groups bordering Ecuador and Colombia. Driven by the self-reported needs of several communities, they work to provide administrative support for cultural, social, and environmental initiatives. Their focus is on empowering local people to enact shared visions related to land restoration, including permaculture, aquaculture, and bioconstruction of infrastructure that utilizes natural filtration systems to provide clean water. Their projects involve building education centers for ancestral knowledge, elder mentorship programs, and support facilities for Indigenous women.

The ancestral settlement of AVIE is an isolated community within the Cofan Bermejo Ecological Reserve on the banks of the Bermejo and San Miguel rivers. Due to their small size and large distance from urban centers, they have difficulty accessing institutional support as well as resisting state and corporate interests as they seek to protect their land and culture. All De La Tierra’s projects are initiated, led, and coordinated by and with the Kofan people; together, they plan, strategize, and mobilize their ideas into action.

Click on the logo to visit their website, or follow this link to their donation page.

PERU

Alianza Arkana is an intercultural grassroots organization committed to the protection, development, and wellbeing of the Peruvian Amazon and the Shipibo-Konibo peoples. They serve as a bridge, facilitating access to financial, administrative, and educational tools and services so Shipibo communities can live healthy, fulfilled lives. They honor their commitment to celebrating Indigenous traditions while protecting the rainforest by cocreating regenerative solutions in the Amazon.

Their initiatives include empowering an Indigenous Youth activist association, sponsoring Shipibo youth permaculture training, supporting Indigenous botanical gardens, promoting community health in the Peruvian Amazon, revitalizing Shipibo Language through a radio program, and supporting Shipibo artisans and fashion designers.

Click on their logo above, or follow this link to their donation page.

Xapiri Ground is a non-profit organization dedicated to grassroots work with Indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforest, focused on art, culture, and sustainable economy. They emphasize the fundamental necessity of economic sustainability for the autonomy of rainforest communities and the protection of their ancestral territories. One of their current projects is supporting the Comunidad Nativa Shipetiari, located in the Manu Biosphere Reserve, to recover and document traditional Matsigenka songs and stories while providing resources for cultural transmission and connection with local youth (in cooperation with SePerú).

The Matsigenka’s singing and storytelling represent their people and their art. It is a fundamental part of their cosmovision and way of understanding life. Through the documentation of their oral traditions, Xapiri supports Matsigenka art as a way of promoting sustainable economy and a global awareness of their culture. Xapiri’s approach emphasizes the development of fair-trade projects and workshop facilitation in Indigenous communities, self-directed photographic and video documentation, and youth engagement and skill sharing to uphold the sociocultural value of ancestral art for present and future generations.

To learn more, click the logo or follow this link to their donation page.

Mosqoy, meaning “dream” in Quechua, partners with Indigenous communities in the Andes mountains, empowering local leaders to revitalize their land, art, and culture in the face of unsustainable tourism and development’s harmful effects. Since 2006, they have supported over 70 youth in their pursuit of post-secondary education and over 150 weavers through capacity-building workshops and fair-trade market outlets. Under the guidance of their board of directors in Peru made up of primarily Indigenous women and the Quechua community members running their projects, they seek to build lasting stability in the face of the global pandemic’s cascade of detrimental economic costs on the wellbeing and cultural heritage of inhabitants of the altiplano. Their mission is to empower local communities through international solidarity and networking, sharing stories of celebration, struggle, and strength.

Mosqoy’s work includes community-led socioeconomic development projects with Quechua weavers, supporting their authentic hand-woven textiles using natural fibers and dyes—a cultural cornerstone under threat from saturation of synthetic machine-made replicas in the globalized marketplace. Their partnerships also support weavers and community leaders in providing culturally responsible tours and field courses, as well as a youth program providing post-secondary educational scholarships to promising yet marginalized youth from remote communities in the region.

To learn more about Mosqoy and the important work they do, click the logo or follow this link.

Based in the Oxapampa region, The Seven Elements supports Indigenous Yanesha communities with social projects and organic, regenerative agriculture training, cultivating the land according to permaculture principles and allowing local farmers to achieve higher yields and the finest quality produce. In partnership with the local federation of Yanesha communities, the sustainable specialty coffee they grow and export brings economic sustainability to Yanesha living in the Oxapampa-Ashaninka-Yanesha Biosphere Reserve.

One of their current projects is creating an apiary managed by women in the Comunidad Nativa Tsachopen, which involves constructing bee boxes and raising stingless bees (Tetragonisca angustula) to produce honey. This new element to the local permaculture initiative will serve to regenerate biodiversity, protect the land, and provide a powerful antibiotic medicine, while simultaneously creating a secondary economic resource for Yanesha families.

Click their logo to learn more, or follow this link to their donation page.

COSTA RICA

The Stibrawpa Association is a community of Bribri artisans and families from the village of Yorkin, in the Bribri Indigenous Territory of Talamanca. They seek to bring sustainable income to their community while also protecting their forests and conserving their culture, which is threatened by the rapid loss of the Bribri language. After decades of environmental degradation, plant pathogens that decimated cacao and banana plantations, and devastating floods, Stibrawpa organized a handicrafts co-op, rebuilding projects to restore their homes, and construction of a local health center. The goal of their current project is to increase their self-sufficiency and guarantee food security in times of crisis when tourism cannot be counted on as a reliable source of sustenance.

This initiative is working to preserve traditional agricultural practices and bring back the potential of diverse local foods through the establishment of organic vegetable gardens and the planting of 5000 cocoa, fruit, and other trees in an integrated agroforestry system. Supporting this project protects biodiversity, prevents soil erosion, and contributes to climate protection, while also directly benefiting Bribri families. You can learn more about the Stibrawpa Association here. Donations are processed by Amigos of Costa Rica, who also support several other humanitarian aid and biocultural conservation projects for Afro-descendant and Indigenous communities in Costa Rica.

Click the logo to visit their website, or follow this link to their donation page.

MEXICO

Hablemos de Hikuri is a group of Wixáritaari and mestizos concerned about the conservation of hikuri (Lophophora williamsii, a.k.a. peyote) and the considerable decrease in wild populations both in Wirikuta and in other desert regions. Through dialogue with the Indigenous peoples who have traditionally consumed hikuri, they seek to generate an exchange of ideas for their conservation, and promote rational and sustainable management that will allow hikuri to thrive for many generations.

Hablemos de Hikuri collaborates to re-establish hikuri populations and achieve sustainability within their traditional ceremonies and activities, sacred sites, and transit areas. They sensitize and raise awareness about the current situation of hikuri both within their communities and society beyond, as well as promote a biocultural management plan that integrates the Wixáritaari and highland communities for their care and conservation.

Their projects include creating non-commercial nurseries in Wirikuta guardhouses and holding dialogues in Wixáritaari communities to exchange knowledge about the current situation of hikuri, addressing socio-historical, biological, and legal dimensions. They will design and elaborate a bilingual memory book (Spanish and Wixárika) of the dialogues, which records the stories and the wisdom of the Wixáritaari about hikuri, in addition to producing audiovisual materials for workshops and social networks.

To support their mission of nurturing conscious use of the plant with an awareness of its ecological situation, and achieving the cultivation of two hikuri for every one cut or consumed, click the logo to visit their website or contact them at this link.

Xka Pastora is an organization focused on the conservation of Mazatec traditional knowledge surrounding the use of Salvia divinorum through the collaboration of local Mazatec practitioners. Salvia divinorum, endemic to the Sierra Madre Oriental of Oaxaca, is a deeply important and sacred plant for the Mazatec, inseparable from their worldview. As custodians of Salvia divinorum practices for hundreds of generations, their care and interest in relationship with the plant has ensured that humanity can continue to benefit from its medicinal properties far into the future.

Xka Pastora incorporates a diverse range of professionals, from researchers and academics to native Mazatec ethnobotanists and curanderos, promoting ethnobotanical research and fieldwork to document traditional knowledge of Salvia divinorum and support Mazatec community conservation efforts in the face of ecological and cultural pressures. They are working to produce a Spanish-Mazatec manual on Salvia divinorum for use by Mazatec communities in knowledge transmission and preservation. In addition to serving as a bridge between the Mazatec, the scientific community, and the general public, they also strive to provide public education and guarantee the plant’s legal status and accessibility.  Other projects include a Mazatec women’s cooperative, a community botanical garden, and building the capacity of different Mazatec communities to network with each other and receive support.

Click on their logo or visit their website here.

IXIM, from the word for corn or maize, is an organization among Tseltal communities in Chiapas building alternatives for a dignified and self-managed life in harmony with Indigenous Tseltal values and local autonomy. Since 1996, they have accompanied Tseltal communities in the Zona Selva of the State of Chiapas that seek to navigate in a social and solidarity economy from a healthy Tseltal domain and perspective.

They intend to be a solid and dynamic organization that promotes the self-development of Indigenous communities, linking different sectors of society. Projects consist of improving the conditions of families through the implementation of eco-technologies that allow for purified water, eliminate health concerns, such as smoke in the kitchens, while reducing the consumption of firewood, promoting good nutrition through seed packages and vegetable production in home gardens, and taking care of the environment with Indigenous agricultural practices. Since the beginning of the pandemic, IXIM also facilitates the delivery of vital healthcare supplies and the transportation of patients and family members for treatment during medical emergencies.

Click the logo to visit their website, or follow this link to their current food security initiative.

Ka’ Kuxtal Much Meyaj is an organization based around Mayan food sovereignty and biocultural conservation of crop varieties in the Chenes region, Hopelchén, Campeche, Mexico. For the Maya, the seeds that feed them and have accompanied their people for centuries are not only an element of production and food but also represent a relationship with their ancestors, the memory of their people, their present resistance movement, and the promise of their future well-being.   

To address the problems of displacement by various programs and subsidies that prioritize industrial agriculture, 24 Mayan men and women from 12 different communities came together in 2010 to build the educational, productive, and organizational conditions for Mayan self-determination and autonomy. The name for their organization, meaning “the rebirth of collective work,” first manifested itself in the creation of annual native seed festivals and seed exchanges to promote the revitalization of indigenous crop biodiversity. Their projects have expanded into broader agroecology and conservation initiatives, the defense of land-rights, sacred spaces and spiritual practices, economic autonomy in the formation of cooperatives, and the strengthening of Indigenous healthcare resources and access.

Click their logo to learn more, or follow this link to their website.

PSYDEH is an award-winning Mexican grassroots nonprofit organization of Nahautl, Otomí, and Tepehua communities with national and international reach. Empowering their communities to lead bottom-up initiatives in their own marginalized areas, they connect Indigenous leaders with human rights-based community organizing for locally-led, high impact project production.

The majority of their multi-national team are Indigenous women serving as professional full-and part-time staff, contractors, and volunteers working as project coordinators, community organizers, workshop facilitators, photographers, and event organizers. Centered in four Indigenous municipalities of the Otomí-Tepehua region of Hidalgo, central Mexico, they produce novel programs and projects with female founders, an all-women board, Mexican and international funders and friends, and a majority Indigenous women-led team. PSYDEH’s current projects include the ongoing “Fruits of Change” initiative, supporting Acaxochitlán-based Nahua women leaders of “Yolki Ino Yolo” in the creation of a community foundation for future fundraising and project building.

To view all of their projects, click the logo or follow this link.

UNITED STATES

Sia (the Comanche word meaning “feather”) brings over four decades of research, public education, and conservation to the establishment of a Native American feather repository owned and operated by Indigenous people. William Wahathuweeka Voelker founded Sia with the mission of eagle preservation through cultural, historical, scientific, and spiritual understanding. The essence of the eagle in traditional life, informed by generations of cultural oneness and ancestral bonds with these sacred creatures, is the basis for Sia’s commitment to Indigenous cultural and spiritual needs. Sia is one of only three tribes to be granted the Native American Religious Use Permit that allows for the permanent housing of non-releasable Bald and Golden Eagles. Under this authority, feathers molted by these eagles can be distributed to Comanche tribal members as well as the members of over 44 different federally recognized tribes.

Reconnecting cultures with the living bird in ways supportive of the species’ conservation is accomplished through uniquely formatted, culturally oriented live avian species educational programs with emphasis on Eagles and Raptors. They promote Numunuh (Comanche) historic lifeways by maintaining extensive historical archives and conducting lectures, seminars, and training courses pertaining to the legality of acquisition and possession of avian feathers and parts. Sia’s efforts ultimately support the flourishing of the species and their associated communities, and the dissemination of legally produced and held feathers and parts.

Click the logo to visit their website, or follow this link to their donation page.

Co-founded by Rosalie Little Thunder (Sicangu Sioux), the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) began as a mission to protect Brother Buffalo. Currently led by James Holt, a member of the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) Tribe, the BFC is the only group working both in the field and in the policy arenas to stop the harassment and slaughter of America’s last wild buffalo.

Formalized as a nonprofit in 1997, they represent the desire of multiple Indigenous groups of Turtle Island and First Nations peoples to honor the sacredness of wild buffalo and protect the natural habitat of wild free-roaming bison and other native wildlife. Through the development of tribal programs and the petitioning of federal authorities within the Yellowstone Ecosystem, their primary goal is to create permanent year-round protection for bison and the ecosystem they depend on—including respect for the migratory needs of this long-exploited and clearly endangered species. This includes urgently addressing the adverse impacts of climate change and habitat degradation, protecting the rights of treaty tribes to bolster the long-term capacity of on-reservation bison restoration, halting state and federal actions that are forcibly domesticating Yellowstone bison, and allowing for holistic co-management by the tribes themselves.

Click on their logo, or follow this link to learn more about and support their efforts.

The Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective is a Lakota-led initiative that aspires to train, educate, empower, and protect future generations while fighting for their right to a safe and clean world. They strive to spread knowledge and awareness of the many various political, environmental and socio-economic battles faced by Indigenous Lakota communities.

Their primary focus is centered on fighting and advocating for social and environmental justice through nonviolent direct-action training, education about courtroom processes, experience in rallies and marches, creative release through art, and frontline coaching. To strengthen the continued resistance to threats from projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline to the health and safety of tribal lands, they seek to provide the safe spaces needed to radicalize, strategize, organize, and mobilize Lakota Oyate.

To learn more about their initiative, click their logo or follow this link.

The Native Women’s Collective is a grassroots nonprofit organization led by members of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the Yurok and Karuk peoples of California. It supports the continued growth of Native American arts, culture, leadership, and community development through public education, workshops, exhibits, research, cultural preservation projects, programs, and technical assistance. The collective works to advance emerging and established artists and creative professionals by providing a network and forum for capacity building that centers social and environmental justice.

Their projects include a series of workshops focused on teaching and making regalia items for use in women’s coming-of-age ceremonies, cultural demonstrations, and community events. The workshop series is designed as a way for participants to give back to their community while also learning the process of making regalia, singing songs, and connecting in a meaningful way with culture and heritage.

To help fund the completion of this series and learn more about their other work, click the logo or visit their website here.

The Indigenous Seed Keepers Network (ISKN) is an initiative designed to nourish and assist the growing Seed Sovereignty Movement across Turtle Island (North America). Coordinated by members of the Mohawk, Ojibwe, and Odawa Tribes, it is a national network under the auspices of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance that leverages resources and cultivates solidarity and communication within the matrix of regional grassroots tribal seed sovereignty projects. They provide educational resources, mentorship training, outreach, and advocacy support on seed policy issues, and organize national and regional events and convenings to connect many communities engaging in this vital work.

ISKN seeks to create a collaborative framework and declaration for ethical seed stewardship and indigenous seed guidelines for tribal communities to guide them as they protect their seeds from patenting and biopiracy. Their work includes facilitating and implementing training through the Indigenous Seed Mentorship Initiative, providing education to empower and strengthen community members’ ability to not only grow good seed in their communities, but also grow the next generation of seed stewards and protectors. They assist in the reclamation of a critical aspect of Indigenous culture by helping communities to revitalize traditional seeds and food, rooted in the restoration of relationships between communities and their seeds.

Click the logo or follow this link to see how this work complements community initiatives that focus on the cultural restoration of relationships inherent in agricultural revitalization.

The Navajo Water Project is an Indigenous-led initiative of the Navajo Nation, bringing hot and cold running water to Diné homes without access to water or sewer lines. This community-managed utility alternative is the first system of its kind in the United States. DigDeep, a human rights nonprofit, began the project with a single family in 2014, and went on to install water systems inside the homes of hundreds of Indigenous families across New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Since COVID-19 emerged in March 2020, over 18,000 donors have come together in support of the Navajo Water Project, helping deliver clean water to 1000 Navajo families (and counting) so they can stay home and stay safe.

Today, a third of Navajo still don’t have running water, sinks, or toilets in their homes, and the project is far from complete. To continue supporting their vital work, click the logo or follow this link for more information.

CANADA

The Unist’ot’en (C’ihlts’ehkhyu/Big Frog Clan) are the original Wet’suwet’en Yintah Wewat Zenli distinct to the lands of the Wet’suwet’en. Today, all of Wet’suwet’en territory is unceded Aboriginal territory, and the 22,000 square km of land in British Columbia, Canada is divided into 5 clans and 13 house groups, each having full jurisdiction under the law to control access to their territory. Despite this, the Unist’ot’en have had to take action to protect their lands from Lions Gate Metals at their Tacetsohlhen Bin Yintah, building a cabin and resistance camp at Talbits Kwah at Gosnell Creek and Wedzin Kwah (Morice River, a tributary to the Skeena and Bulkley River). These camps are necessary to resist the cultural and ecological threats of seven proposed pipelines from Tar Sands Gigaproject and LNG (liquefied natural gas) from the Horn River Basin Fracturing Projects in the Peace River Region.

The Unist’ot’en homestead is not a protest or demonstration, but an occupation and use of traditional territory it has claimed for centuries; a peaceful expression of connection to their territory and the use of an inherent right to both give and refuse consent to access. Their traditional Indigenous legal systems remain intact and continue to govern their people, dictating the proper use and access to their lands and water. A constant presence at these vulnerable entry points and year-round support is needed to prevent incursions from extractive industries who disregard the sovereignty of the land’s Indigenous inhabitants.

To support the Unist’ot’en Camp, click on the logo or follow this link.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is an organization giving political voice to Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people in Canada, including all First Nations, status and non-status, disenfranchised, Métis, and Inuit. NWAC was founded in 1974, with the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural, and political well-being of Indigenous women within their respective communities and Canadian societies.

Today, NWAC allows for Indigenous women’s organizations from across the country to coordinate and engage in national and international advocacy aimed at legislative and policy reforms that promote equality for Indigenous women, girls, LGBTQ+, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people. By working on a variety of issues, including employment, health, violence prevention and safety, environmental justice and human rights, early learning childcare, and international affairs, NWAC uses advocacy, policy, and legislative analysis to advance the cultural and physical well-being of all Indigenous people and their families and communities.  

Click the logo to learn more, or follow this link to their website.

Tiny House Warriors was created by Secwepemc Indigenous people as part of a mission to stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline from crossing unceded Secwepemc Territory. Fifty percent of the proposed pipeline route runs through Secwepemc land in the province of British Columbia Canada, where Secwempec people have spent centuries developing a relationship with the river valleys, mountains, and waters inextricable from their culture, language, laws, customs, and way of life. The pipeline project threatens the glaciers, creeks, and streams that provide life to the rivers of salmon continuing to nourish the Secwempec and their relatives to this day.

While pipeline companies visit violence on Indigenous communities, salmon, and wildlife by drilling under sacred headwaters, Secwpemc have been attacked during ceremonies enacting their sacred responsibilities, and Indigenous activists face a range of criminal charges for land defense activities in opposition to the Trans Mountain Pipeline. They are forced to defend themselves in court for occupying the land they have lived on since long before the arrival of Europeans to Turtle Island. To continue protecting their land, they plan to maintain a constant presence by continuing to build tiny houses in strategic locations along the 518 km Trans Mountain Pipeline route, asserting Secwepemc Law and jurisdiction, and blocking access to this pipeline. The Tiny House Warrior movement is the start of re-establishing village sites and asserting Indigenous authority over unceded territory, while also providing homes for Secwepemc families facing a housing crisis due to deliberate colonial impoverishment.

To help support the construction and defense of the tiny houses, click on the logo or visit their website here.

What is Reciprocity?

The Chacruna Institute continues promoting publications and conversations around honoring the Indigenous roots of the psychedelic movement, reciprocity, autonomy, decolonization, commodification, conservationcultural appropriation, Indigenous perspectives on the globalization of plant medicines, inclusion of Indigenous people in the psychedelic circuit, and ethics in the new psychedelic industry (see also this). IRI invites a deeper consideration of what we mean by the idea of “reciprocity” and how we might embody that understanding in the most authentic way, contributing to a general culture and awareness around reciprocity in the psychedelic community. Often vaguely defined, paid lip-service by corporate interests, or used to launder the dubious promises of neoliberal development and access and benefit-sharing, reciprocity is an Indigenous concept that doesn’t neatly fit with the model of capitalist exploitation extracting profits from Indigenous cultures. “Ayni,” the Quechua term for reciprocity, refers to a society existing in a constant state of flux, perpetually reordering and correcting for the dynamic imbalance of every living moment in pursuit of collective well-being.

The legacy of monumental injustices left by colonialism and biological piracy can never be properly righted or adequately repaid by the same systems that now profit from Indigenous knowledge. Although conflated with equality or quid pro quo exchange, reciprocity is really a constant process of balancing that acknowledges one’s place in an ever-shifting story of relationship. IRI provides a unique avenue for psychedelics enthusiasts to reciprocate with their environment and its Indigenous defenders; but it is not just about donating money. IRI is a bridge between the Global North and South, building lasting relationships within a living, growing network; it aids communication and coordination between Indigenous groups who can support each other in solidarity, exchanging ideas for how to tackle the similar challenges they face.

The IRI Program will run continuously, with the possibility of a renewal and the inclusion of new participants after one year. Contributors can keep up to date with the groups from IRI through our social media series, Indigenous Reciprocity Thursdays, where we highlight a different Indigenous organization each week.

Other Ways to Help

Most non-profits, especially small, grassroots initiatives like the ones listed above, depend on the help of volunteers. If you feel called by one of the projects you have read about but lack funds or resources, you can always get in contact with them via their website and offer other ways to support.  Many of these organizations are often in need of electronic assistance in a variety of roles, and they also have newsletters and social media profiles that can keep you up to date on the status of their work.

*Participation in the IRI Program is still pending for a few organizations, however all organizations are available individually for direct donations through the IRI resource. 

Disclaimer
The Chacruna Institute does not endorse the mission or activities for its donors or sponsors, and neither sponsorship nor donor support for IRI come with any decision-making influence on Chacruna Institute’s activities, including IRI, or any authority regarding Chacruna Institute’s policies or practices.


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Wednesday, June 9th, 2021 from 12-1:30pm PST REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT HERE There is growing enthusiasm in Jewish communities about possible ancient use and modern applications of plant medicine in Jewish spiritual development.  Psychedelic Judaism introduce new potential modes of  healing...