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Cultural Survival, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, International, International Human Rights, Minority Rights

Mission: Around the world, Indigenous Peoples face serious threats to their lives, human rights, hereditary lands and natural resources, and to their cultures and languages. Cultural Survival works in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to defend their endangered lands, languages, cultures, and human rights.

Results: This year alone, Cultural Survival and our allies have halted two highly destructive mining projects in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea; worked to alter an oppressive law in Guatemala; halted much police violence against the minority Samburu ethnic group in northern Kenya; assisted four Native tribes to secure funding for their language programs; and are building a website to provide curriculum resources for many more tribes. We have advocated for the Obama administration to sign the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, together with 565 North American tribes; sponsored several Indigenous community leaders to testify before Congress on violations of Indigenous Peoples' human rights; and succeeded in bringing a case to the Inter American Court on Human Rights, where a government (Panama), in concert with an American-owned energy giant (AES Corp. of Virginia) used violence, intimidation, and trickery to push Indigenous Panamanian people, the Ngobe, out of their river valley to make way for a giant hydroelectric dam that will flood their villages and farms, and threaten the biodiverse river ecology of the region.

Target demographics: Indigenous Peoples worldwide, of all ages from children through elders.

Direct beneficiaries per year: About 1.5 million Indigenous persons worldwide

Programs: Global Response (advocacy around Indigenous human rights and environmental concerns); Endangered Languages (language revitalization); Guatemala Radio (indigenous rights and empowerment, health, civil rights, culture and languages); Communications (public education around Indigenous Peoples' issues)

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 3

SC has not published its 990 IRS forms for several years, nor any annual reports in some time. So it is impossible to get much idea of what they are spending. They seem to be involved in a program involving the revitalization of American Indian languages, including one that has been "dead" for over two hundred years. They also seem to count their bazaar fundraising simultaneously as a program activity as well as fundraising. The rationale is that it provides a market for indigenous craftsmen. To some extent this seems to be true, but the goods sold at the bazaar have in recent years become less interesting and more commercialized.

Review from CharityNavigator



Rating: 5

I have donated to several nonprofits, and I must say that Cultural Survival [CS] is one I will continue to give to, even when resources are tight. CS is the only nonprofit that has personally reached out to me after I made a donation, and sought to established a personal relationship. Also, I have found ways to contribute to CS apart from being a donor. This past summer (2010), CS supported me in applying for grant funding from the University of Iowa's Center for Human Rights to spend three months in Guatemala working with several Mayan community-based radio stations. I taught playwriting workshops to radio staff and volunteers, with the goal of supporting the two radio stations in writing original plays in Mam and Tz'utujil about local concerns and fading oral traditions. The work was a true partnership, for we were joining out respective areas of expertise (playwriting and dramatic structure on my part, and radio production and cultural knowledge on theirs -- I know almost nothing about radio production). As a donor, it was particularly gratifying to see how my financial contribution has a concrete and immediate effect in the field.

Review from CharityNavigator



Rating: 5

Cultural Survival has done so much not only for us as artists, but for the Indigenous peoples of the world. As Native Americans, we have seen so many organizations who say that they are helping Native people, but Cultural Survival actually does it! They have been instrumental in finding ways to save Native languages from obscurity, and they LISTEN to what areas Native people want assistance.
The most public face of Cultural Survival is their wonderful bazaars. These multicultural celebrations not only give us a great venue to sell our artwork, but they also create an environment where the public gets to meet artisans from around the globe, ask questions about our culture and see first hand the different styles of art created by indigenous people .
Gifts purchased from the bazaars come from hands and hearts instead of from malls and catalogs.”

Leonard and Amalia Four Hawks