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6. Facilitate full Indigenous self-representation, visual storytelling and participation

EN: "Stories between the lines". Embera woman with body painting made with the jagua fruit. ES: "Historias entre líneas". Mujer emberá con pintura corporal elaborada con la fruta de jagua. PT: "Histórias entre linhas": Mulher Embera com pintura corporal feita com a fruta jagua.

Indigenous knowledge keepers need the freedom to speak, act and control how, why, where and to what effect and impact their stories are transmitted and communicated. Stories are best told by those who know; those who have lived in forests and who are frontliners in their struggle for land rights and an equitable stake in the climate transition.

Simply addressing Indigenous matters in the media does not necessarily give opportunities for communities to tell their own stories; on the contrary, media coverage can oppress minority voices and perpetuate invisibility. Strive to create content from, by, for and among Indigenous Peoples.

If you send a photographer from New York who's never been to a reservation, they're going to give you just like some really basic, basic imagery, because they don't...they're know, they're not feeling in a way that someone that is from that reservation or even Indigenous will feel it. There's certain things that you understand.”

Josué Rivas

We must accelerate the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples by allowing content production, shaping of narratives and distribution of information to remain within Indigenous control. Media professionals should reach out to Indigenous Peoples and learn their own unique approaches to visual storytelling, dynamic content production and media distribution. All media, narratives and information gained by content producers within Indigenous communities should be shared back with the participants and subjects wherever possible.


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Help build capacity so that Indigenous Peoples may produce, disseminate and consume their own media products, thus allowing them to participate as equal partners and stakeholders in the global media economy. Increase the capacity of Indigenous media and Indigenous networks by supporting professional advancement of Indigenous photographers, photojournalists, editors, producers, filmmakers, academics, advocates, community workers and other communication practitioners within the Territories or Indigenous communities.

If a photographer who has lived in that place for so long and who knows the history takes that photograph it shows a different scene ... When I see that photo, it touches my heart. The dramatisation of everything that our ancestors, our grandparents, suffered, everything that happened at that time, I captured in an image, and it really touched me a lot.”

Norlando Meza, Guna photographer

EN: During a reenactment of the historic Guna Revolution of 1925. ES: Durante una recreación de la histórica Revolución Guna de 1925. PT: Durante uma reconstituição da histórica Revolução Guna de 1925.

Each photographer externalises his or her opinion shaped by his or her context and the information he or she has, in this case Indigenous Peoples. So how we are represented, through photography, depends on the opinion of the photographer ... the Indigenous worldview is different, and this particularity is evident in the photographs.”

Mara Bi, photographer, Embera people, Panama

EN: "Ûma's Eye": Ûma is one of the three star gods in Embera culture. ES: "Ojo de Ûma". Ûma es uno de los tres dioses de las estrellas en la cultura Embera. PT: "Olho de Ûma": Ûma é um dos três deuses das estrelas, na cultura Embera.

It is very difficult to detach yourself from your way of seeing reality, and adapt to the way of the non-Indigenous receiver - the appreciation or the message in the image must be brought to the expectations or reaction mechanisms of someone who sees life in a totally different way from you.”

Mara Bi, photographer, Embera people, Panama

An exhibition during NYC Climate Week, 2019. Showcasing work from Indigenous photographers, Edgar Kanaykõ, Mara Bi, Nura Batara, Alejandro Fresly. The work was shown at Our Village, an event organised through the Indigenous-led charity If Not Us Then Who.
The Colombian-Venezuelan border cuts through the Wayuu people's territory. Wayuu girls from the Alakat community told and wrote that many of them did not know what the border was. Karla and Luzbeidy Monterrosa, who participated in documentation, are also in the photo.

In one of the projects I worked in Colombia with Agenda Propia. The journalists that wrote the texts were all Indigenous and mainly from the territories that we were working in. That exchange was great because everything that we did was done in a collective way. The texts were then published in Spanish, Portuguese and in each Indigenous language."

Pablo Albarenga, documentary photographer and visual storyteller, Uruguay

EN: Photo for Ome, Pütchi, Poraû, a project by Agenda Propia, Colombian independent media. ES: Foto de Ome, Pütchi, Poraû, un proyecto de Agenda Propia, un medio de comunicación independiente colombiano. PT: Foto para Ome, Pütchi, Poraû, um projeto da Agenda Propia, mídia independente colombiana.

I think that giving people of colour and Indigenous communities, Indigenous communicators, a platform for them to write whatever they feel that is important to them is crucial, you know."

Laura Beltrán Villamizar, Photography Editor, Atmos Magazine

Download the full report

Download the full report

This report provides the foundation for this web-based resource. Commissioned by Climate Visuals and produced by Nicolas Salazar Sutil with picture research by Jaye Renold, it includes conversations with Indigenous leaders and photographers, media stakeholders and NGOs in 10 countries.