For over 40 years in Nicaragua, the Mayangna indigenous group has fought for legal rights to traditional lands with the expressed purpose of protecting their rainforest. On December 21, 2009, the last of nine Mayangna territories were granted rights by Nicaragua to a majority of their historical claims, in addition to rights to have illegal colonists removed by Nicaraguan police and military. Indigenous leaders pursued land rights as a measure for cultural survival and the protection of their broadleaf rainforest, also the site of a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve, the BOSAWAS. While Indigenous lands are encroached upon by the frontline of imperialistic consumerism, people like the Mayangna ask for international and national respect for their autonomy, self-determination, land ownership, and even sovereignty.
The Mayangna lead the way to understand necessary steps for protecting the rainforest. Their actions demonstrate the possibility for social justice given respect for true ecologically sustainability. To begin, they fought to obtain ownership of their homelands, thereafter, they battled legally and even with their lives to defend their boundaries and everything within them. The Mayangna insist indigenous land ownership, the protection of their rights, and a respect for their traditional forms of management lead to the continued protection of the rainforest and other areas critical to the survival of the global ecosystem.
This writing has been sponsored by the University of Hawai “i – Kaua”i Community College’s National Science Foundation – Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (T.C.U.P.), grant #HRD – 1265462. Special thanks to the Mayangna people, Noe Coleman, Eng. Agustin Jarquin Anaya, Ignacio Javier Hernandez Policarpo, Claus Kjærby, Dr. James Dire, Dr. James McManis, and my family, dad, mom, Michael and, my daughter Kristina.
Greer, N.M. (2014), "The Mayangna Resolve to Save the Rainforest, their Homelands", Occupy the Earth: Global Environmental Movements (Advances in Sustainability and Environmental Justice, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 117-136. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2051-503020140000015004
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