Indigenous Lands Initiative

Securing Land Ownership Rights for Indigenous Communities in Mexico and Central and South America – 

Indian tribes in Mexico and in Central and South America are treated terribly almost everywhere.  The most important thing we can do to help them is to help them protect and hold on to their lands – lands they need in order to have food and to survive.  This is why we are working to assist Indian communities, especially in Mexico and Central and South America, to get strong legal rights to their lands.  If Indian communities can be sure of holding on to their lands, they have a much better chance of improving their health and their lives and carrying on their cultures and their traditional ways of life.

Helping Indian peoples get strong legal control of their lands will also to a great deal to protect the forests and the other environments where they live.  Experts agree that Indian ownership and control is the most successful way to protect and preserve forests and other natural ecosystems.  There is also wide agreement that getting lands under the control of Indian communities or peoples is one of the best ways to slow down climate change.

There are millions of Indian people today, making up thousands of Indian communities throughout Mexico and Central and South America and trying to hold on to and use their ancestral lands.  They need help – mostly help from experts such surveyors, mappers, lawyers, and historians who can help them prove their rights and get secure land titles.  

We are making plans now to provide the needed experts on a much larger scale so that hundreds of Indian communities and millions of acres of land can be legally protected from invaders, land grabbers, and others who want to destroy Indian communities and cultures. We want to make these experts available on a permanent basis for Indian communities for years to come, and hope to create an independent agency or group that will provide expert technical and legal assistance without charge to indigenous communities seeking to gain legal control and ownership of their lands and resources.  Secure ownership of their lands and resources will have an enormous impact on the poverty, powerlessness, discrimination, killings, and other human rights violations experienced by nearly all indigenous communities.  Helping indigenous communities to protect their lands is now recognized as one of the most effective means to protect the environment, reduce deforestation, and mitigate climate change.  The project will create and make available a network of experts from many fields to assist indigenous communities to overcome the pervasive impediments to gaining ownership and protecting their lands.