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1. Prioritise the safety and wellbeing of Indigenous Peoples

EN: Juma Xipaya was the first "cacique" (female chief) in the history of the Xipaya, according to oral records. ES: Juma Xipaya fue la primera cacique de la historia del pueblo indígena Xipaya, según los relatos orales. PT: Juma Xipaya foi a primeira cacique da história do povo indígena Xipaya, segundo relatos orais.

Honouring the people who fight for land and climate justice is vital but anonymity of people and places may be necessary in cases where public disclosure generates risks to human lives, charismatic fauna and forests. Gathering evidence and reporting irregularities and violations of human and nature rights are key responsibilities of media professionals. 

It is also important to raise awareness of colonial history and human rights violations committed in the past against women, Afro-descendants and ethnic minority groups in the Indigenous Americas (Abya Yala). Abya Yala can refer to the Americas as a whole but is most commonly used by Indigenous peoples in Latin America as a pre-colonial term for their continent.

Indigenous Peoples continue to face victimisation, physical violence and a threat to life as a result of their efforts to claim and defend forests within Indigenous Territories. Human rights abuse remains a major issue throughout Central and South America, where environmental and the struggle for land rights can be linked to political instability, social inequality, insecurity, narco-trafficking, gender inequality and sponsored violence against environmental campaigners.

We know that Indigenous peoples are in a context of violence and criminalization… That’s why it is important to have clear communication and share with them the goals we pursue with our work and check that these goals are in some way shared with theirs. When it comes to online presence, a lot of the time people underestimate the relationship that communities have with the internet. Many of them do have social media accounts, are constantly posting, and they are aware what having an online presence implies. However, when working, it is important to have constant communication with them in order to avoid putting them at risk with what we say, photograph or record because it is they who really know far more about the risks that these things could pose, because they're in the field all the time.”

Pablo Albarenga, documentary photographer and visual storyteller, Uruguay

The son of the Guapoy occupation poses for a portrait after confronting Police because of being attacked by the rancher with fire guns the previous night. In order to protect their identity and avoid being threatened they paint and voer their faces. Mato Grosso do Sul is home of one of the most violent conflicts in Brazil where indigenous people are being evicted and bloodshed by agri-business development. Caarapó, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Photo: Pablo Albarenga

We must end parachute journalism. These are people who are interested in breaking news when some bad thing happens and land into a community without prior research or connection, desperate for heart-breaking tabloid images, usually exotic or violent. And in many cases the dignity of the people is left to the wayside as is their safety … Sometimes journalists overlook this because the publication itself has certain norms, which are archaic and not foregrounding these relationships.”

Pablo Albarenga, documentary photographer and visual storyteller, Uruguay

Ethics and solidarity must drive and form the basis of all public engagement work. Full awareness of the risks that media interventions can generate among communities must be evidenced in careful planning and consultation and sensitively managed work processes.

Media professionals must also seek the permission and guidance of traditional authorities, particularly when working in the Territories or in sacred sites under laws that prohibit the use of photography and film recording.  The term Territories refers to areas where recognised Indigenous communities have legal titles of ownership, and where these communities enjoy autonomy and self-determination as well as the right to use land and protect the forest.

Strive to create work that recognises Indigenous Territories or land struggles, as well as practices that connect memory and imagination with the demands for sovereign land.

I will not use images that violate them or that are used by other people or institutions that violate their image because [the Yuqui people] have a long history of publications, news stories, where they are just shown begging or sleeping on the streets or badly dressed.”

Sara Aliaga Ticona, photojournalist, Aymara people, Bolivia

Salomon Quispe is a fisherman from the Yuqui community. Each member of the community has a specialty; some are hunters, others are collectors. Women generally carry out crafts and others like Salomon, devote themselves to fishing as their main activity and thus feed their families.

Anything you say can be used against you. So we have to be very careful when we show Indigenous communities, because a photo, a detail can mean a line between the appreciation and transformation of the collective imaginary or the perpetuation of discrimination and colonialist language towards these communities... Because first and foremost they are people, they are not topics. So always defend the humanity of people, the dignity of people.”

Sara Aliaga Ticona, photojournalist, Aymara people, Bolivia

Carmen Isategua Guaguasubera, 35 years old, and her niece Dina Ie Guaguasubera, 27 years old (pictured), commented on several occasions about how complex it is to incorporate into urban society. Dina says that Yuqui women sometimes suffer discrimination when they go to the town of Chimoré. “They speak badly of us, they say the Yuqui are dirty, the Yuqui are lazy…When you are sitting there eating they ask, Why do they eat in the street…why don’t they eat at a table? … But people work outside. And they eat, they don’t have a house, they work, they make a living.”

I feel that we're trying to find a balance in between photographs that are powerful in the way they're asking different questions from the audience instead of giving pre-established answers.”

Laura Beltrán Villamizar, Photography Editor, Atmos Magazine

EN: Juma Xipaya was the first "cacique" (female chief) in the history of the Xipaya, according to oral records. ES: Juma Xipaya fue la primera cacique de la historia del pueblo indígena Xipaya, según los relatos orales. PT: Juma Xipaya foi a primeira cacique da história do povo indígena Xipaya, segundo relatos orais.

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.