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Photo credit (clockwise): Courtesy of Mariana Harvey, Courtesy of Nia Tero, Nils Cowan, Tracy Rector
TEAM SPOTLIGHT: Meet Sharon Austin
By Margarita Mora 

At Nia Tero we have the privilege of working with Indigenous leaders from all over the world. Sharon Austin, Nia Tero’s regional lead for the Amazon, is one of them.

Sharon is an Akawaio woman from Phillipai, an Indigenous village in the Upper Mazaruni River of Guyana. From the moment she was born, she got to know and love the land of her people. She learned how to grow casava with her mother and how to fish with her brothers.
Phillipai (photo credit: Sharon Austin)
At a young age Sharon’s parents sent her to school in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana. They wanted their three daughters to have a good education, so they could have better opportunities in the future. Life in Georgetown was very different than life in Phillipai. It was not only the issue of Georgetown being a city and Sharon missing her family. One of the main challenges was that no one spoke Akawaio or knew where Sharon came from. Sharon had to learn English and adapt quickly to life in the city.
 
After graduating from university, Sharon started working on Indigenous peoples’ issues. Through her work at Guyana’s Ministry of Amerindian Affairs she got to learn about the priorities of Indigenous peoples from different regions of the country. Afterwards, as the lead on Indigenous issues at the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, she got to work with Indigenous peoples from the entire Amazon basin.
Sharon Austin (photo credit: Margarita Mora)
Currently, Sharon manages Nia Tero’s portfolio of projects in Suriname, Guyana, Northern Brazil and Colombia. Her technical knowledge and lived experience have enabled Nia Tero to build a strong program in the Amazon. It has also allowed us to respond better to the priorities of our partners in the region.
 
Sharon is thoughtful, tenacious, and patient. She cares deeply about her people and all Indigenous peoples. She is also a trailblazer, as she is one of the few Indigenous women, the only one that I know about, leading the work of an international organization in the Amazon. Sharon’s leadership has strengthened our work in the region and has made us a better organization.
Announcing the First Two Sue Taei Ocean Fellows: 
Tepoerau Mai and Te Aomihia Walker

 
The Sue Taei Ocean Fellowship is a new education and professional development opportunity for Indigenous Pacific Island women seeking to improve the lives of their communities through ocean guardianship. The fellowship was established by the Taei family, together with Conservation International and Nia Tero, in honor of Sue Taei, a tireless ocean champion and advocate for Pacific Island communities and the engagement of women as leaders and problem solvers.

Tepoerau Mai and Te Aomihia Walker both bring the insights of Indigenous knowledge to some of the most pressing challenges for sustainable development in the Pacific region.
Tepoerau Mai has transformed her lifelong interest in traditional herbal medicine into a career focused on understanding how the chemistry of the natural world can help bring sustainable social and economic development to her home in Oceania. Originally from Tahiti and of Tahitian and Marquesan descent, Tepoerau holds a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry, physics and analytical chemistry with a specialty in the chemistry of natural products. She has published research on the chemicals produced by marine sponges that help fight bacterial infections in fish farming—a potential alternative to the use of antibiotics which can harm the environment. Currently based in Kanaky/New Caledonia, Tepoerau has expanded her professional experience through participating as a scientific guide for a local non-profit and supporting the restoration and protection of a marine reserve.  The fellowship will allow Tepoerau to further research on micro-algae, focusing on the risk of toxic and harmful micro-algae on human health and shellfish farming. Ciguatera fish poisoning affects up to 200,000 people in Oceania annually—a significant threat that further study may help prevent.
Hailing from Aotearoa New Zealand, Te Aomihia Walker (Ngāti Porou) has a deep passion for the ocean and her Māori heritage and culture. Through her work and studies, she seeks to support the aspirations of whānau (family), hapū (sub-tribes) and iwi (tribes) to achieve their collective vision of political, social, cultural, environmental and economic self-determination. Currently, Te Aomihia works as a Policy Analyst at Te Ohu Kaimoana, the Māori Fisheries Trust established in 2004 to protect and advance the interests of Māori in the marine environment. In this role, she brings together the knowledge of government, kaitiaki (Māori environmental guardians who hold Indigenous knowledge), and fishing industry representatives to provide policy and fisheries management advice to iwi and the wider Māori community. Te Aomihia holds a degree in marine biology and statistics, as well as a diploma in Te Pinakitanga o te Reo Kairangi — Māori language and protocols. The Fellowship will support Te Aomihia’s participation in the UNESCO Fisheries Training Program in Iceland where she will develop her understanding of fisheries management, industry and resource economics. While there she will develop a research project to implement on her return to Aotearoa, using Indigenous knowledge and practices to inform good fisheries management at a local and national scale.

The Sue Taei Ocean Fellowship is being managed by the Taei Family, Nia Tero, and Conservation International.

Photos & credits in the order they appear: Tepoerau Mai, Te Aomihia Walker
Meet the 2021 Nia Tero Storytelling Fellows

We are  proud to announce the  2021  cohort for  the Nia Tero  Storytelling Fellowship.   

These nine individuals come from a wide array of Indigenous backgrounds and creative disciplines, spanning numerous geographies and 14 time zones. Together, they come into the Nia Tero family, bringing decades of lived experience sharing and creating stories that are pertinent to their respective communities and Indigenous identities.  

The program is designed around the core values of kinship, reciprocity, and creative freedom, while providing financial support, mentorship, and built-in networking opportunities. All the Fellows were selected based on their commitment to sustaining Indigenous culture, worldviews, and values, as evidenced by their extraordinary vision and collective body of work. 

“This Fellowship was born from a recognition that storytelling has always been a fundamental pillar for Indigenous communities and is increasingly needed as a source of light and wisdom for all of humanity,” said Tracy Rector, Nia Tero’s Managing Director of Storytelling. To this end, Nia Tero is proud to support Indigenous creatives who have dedicated themselves to storytelling in all its forms – from the cosmic to the quotidian. 

Learn more about the 2021 Nia Tero Storytelling Fellows.

Pictured from left to right, top to bottom: Fenton Lutunatabua (Suva, Fiji), Joe Seymour (Olympia, WA), Jonathan Luna (Huila, Colombia), Katsitsionni Fox (Akwesasne, NY), Leonardo Cerda (Serena, Ecuador), Marja Bål Nango (Skibotin, Norway), Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone (Nome, Alaska – Bering Strait), Michael John Mc Garrell (Region 8, Guyana), Thomas Mangloña II (Rota, Northern Mariana Islands)

Nia Tero’s CEO Peter Seligmann
Season 1, Episode 3 (BONUS)
 
In this special episode of the Seedcast podcast, Executive Producer Tracy Rector talks with Nia Tero CEO and co-founder Peter Seligmann about why he dedicated his life to being an ally to all beings on the Earth and how that led to founding Nia Tero. Tracy also gives us a glimpse into who makes up the Seedcast team. Produced and edited by Jenny Asarnow; hosted by Tracy Rector.

Subscribe today and leave us a review! 
 
Save the Date! Upcoming Events
Photo credit: Emily Cohen Ibañez
cINeDIGENOUS Virtual Classroom with SIFF
Magical Realism and the Documentary
May 25, 6:30 - 8:00pm PT

Director Emily Cohen Ibañez shares the ways her documentary, Fruits of Labor, makes space for magical realism where spiritual forces live in nature and the extraordinary is entangled with the mundanity of everyday life.

Register for the Live Class: Tuesday, May 25 from 6:30 - 8:00pm PT
*This conversation will be bilingual en Español with interpretation available.
Technodigenous: Diversity of Tenure and Technology
June 1-2, 19:00 - 21:00 CEST (UTC+2)


Please join us on June 1 and 2 for a virtual gathering co-organized by Nia Tero and the Tenure FacilityTechnodigenous is a space to share knowledge, experiences, ideas, and inspiration while building a community of practitioners, technologists, and thinkers who can work together co-creating Indigenous-led solutions to strengthen Indigenous Peoples' rights and self-determination.

Register for Technodigenous: June 1-2, 19:00 - 21:00 CEST (UTC+2)
If you have questions please contact the event organizers at technodigenous@niatero.org.

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