The knowledge and wisdom of indigenous heroes around the world is largely unknown. Concurrently, wider humanity is at a crossroads, wondering where it came from and searching for a path forward. Where and how? This reality begs for a convening platform, a meeting place. When? Clearly the time is now: the window for sharing to take place is closing, as people are seeking answers precisely at a time when native communities are disappearing rapidly due to the forces of globalization. The place and urgency for a solution is the genesis of The Answers Project.
The mission of The Answers Project is thus two-fold: to provide a platform for native communities to share their knowledge and wisdom while simultaneously inspiring millions of people globally to rapidly share these stories and support indigenous cultural resilience.
The Answers Project does this by beautifully presenting short videos which pose questions from an international audience, and then hearing corresponding answers from indigenous leaders. While the content is all provided free of charge through the support of foundations, companies and individuals, viewers are able to donate to vetted non-profits that support specific indigenous community projects (e.g. language preservation, indigenous media, legal protection, safety, fair trade, energy independence, etc.), and possibly purchase products, should they be moved to do so.
The vision is for The Answers Project viewers to eventually support hundreds, if not thousands, of indigenous community projects through inspired appreciation of the knowledge they are receiving.
Emmanuela Shinta is a Dayak activist, filmmaker and storyteller whose work is widely known in Southeast Asia. She is the founder of Ranu Welum Foundation.
With a reputation for leading and empowering young people, she regularly speaks at workshops, graduations, panel discussions, activist forums and even in churches, around the region. She is at the forefront of taking and active and peaceful role in preserving the heritage, humanity and environment of Kalimantan, amidst the infamous haze that engulfs the region each year.
Self-taught as a documentary photographer he has been dedicated since 1991 to register the native world of Latin America. Publishing in 2004 the book “Guardians of Time,” Portraits of the spirit of Latin America. He traveled across 8 countries and lived in 25 native indigenous communities. José Saramago, Nobel Prize in Literature, wrote the prologue.
He is currently working on his new editorial project called: “Africa in the Americas,” documenting the existing heritage of African people in the Americas. For this project he has traveled to 18 countries.
His works have been published in books and magazines such as National Geographic (Cover February 2005), Time magazine, L.A. Times, Newsweek, UNICEF, Travel & Leisure, and has done numerous workshops, lectures, and exhibitions in museums and art galleries throughout the world including: Bhutan, China, Bali, USA, Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Cuba.
He recently moved to Bali, Indonesia to keep documenting the lives and traditions of the people from the minority tribes in Asia. One of his new projects in Asia is called: “Sumba tribal people,” a unique island from Indonesia.
Professor of Linguistics, Rome, Italy.
Maurizio Gnerre is an anthropological linguist who teaches ethnolinguistics at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the University of Naples in Italy. Most of his ethnolinguistic research has been carried out in Southern and Central America, since his main interest is in Amerindian languages. He spends considerable periods of time each year visiting Indian tribal societies in Ecuador, Peru and Brazil to expand his studies of linguistic change and development in everyday contexts.
Maurizio began working with The Answers Project in 2017 during the first expedition to visit The Shuar of Morona, Santiago in Ecuador.
Dr. Martín von Hildebrand is an ethnologist and anthropologist who has led efforts to secure indigenous territorial rights and the protection of the Colombian Amazon tropical forest. He has been awarded the Right Livelihood Award, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and The Order of the Golden Ark in recognition of his work with Fundacion Gaia Amazonas and the COAMA program.
Known as an activist for indigenous rights, cultural and ecological diversity, his work in both government and non-government sectors have led to more than 26 million hectares of the Colombian Amazon territory being officially handed back to the local indigenous inhabitants enabling indigenous organizations to manage their own education, health and other programs through local governance and state policy decentralization. Hildebrand established in 1990 the COAMA program, winner of the Right Livelihood Award, and is founding Director of the NGO Fundación Gaia Amazonas, ranked #40 among the top 100 NGOs of the world by the Global Journal.
Non-profit and philanthropy executive, at nexus of social, environmental justice, technology and global culture.
Joshua Fouts is a veteran social entrepreneur, academic, non-profit and philanthropic executive who has lead and launched numerous organizations focused on cultural collaboration, the future of technology education, social justice and environmental causes.
An anthropologist by training, Joshua studied art and documentary film production. He began his career in Washington, DC in the 1990s where he worked at the US State Department and began to experiment with new ways to use radio, television and Internet technology for cultural collaboration. He went on to launch two first-of-their-kind think tanks focused on digital media innovation and cultural relations at the USC Annenberg School in Los Angeles where he founded the first-ever blog about digital journalism and later created a new master’s degree in public diplomacy.
During his 20-plus years career in international and cultural relations, Joshua has personally worked with the peoples of Malaysia, Africa, and indigenous tribes of the Amazon. He has led or directed various intellectual projects in collaboration with governments and universities in over 20 countries on the planet.
Joshua was raised in the world of arts and social good. His parents spent their entire career running a non-profit dedicated to defend the rights of animals. He has deep familial roots focused on holistic development and the courage to rethink a better future for the world as a whole. Joshua brings this to his work as an executive, social entrepreneur, and a communicator for peace between the diversity of cultures, peoples and living beings on the planet.
Kamal grew up in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, spending his formative years in the San Juan Islands. He studied biomedical sciences and linguistics at the University of Manchester, UK, then managed life sciences software internationalization projects for global pharmaceutical and medical companies for 17 years.
After living in China for 8 years and studying Chinese botanical medicine at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine he returned to the USA and co-founded Vitanova, a natural food supplement company, with family members. He combines his lifelong love of minority languages and empathy for the people who speak them with his belief that humans the world-over need to hear the sounds, knowledge and lessons embedded in our indigenous brothers’ and sisters’ languages, particularly at this time of precipitous biocultural extinction and climate change.
Supporting his biocultural preservation work, he believes modern technological innovation should emulate the 3.8 billion years of lessons from nature (whether in medicine, energy, transportation, architecture, urban planning, etc.) and advocates the “nature-as-technology” movement through volunteer work as the former chair and current board member of The Biomimicry Institute and supporting its expanding design database known as AskNature.
Evelyn Arce Erickson, of Colombian Muisca descent, is the Co-founder and Co-director for Global Resiliency, a NGO that helps to bridge Indigenous communities globally with the world. Under Evelyn’s leadership, International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP) became a self- standing NGO while she lived in the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory.
As the Founding Director of IFIP for fourteen years, Evelyn built Indigenous Philanthropy to a respected and credible field in the world of Philanthropy. Her work with IFIP created a network of funders, NGOs and Indigenous Peoples and was instrumental in leveraging millions to the most marginalized communities of the world. Evelyn brought Indigenous leaders and youth from over 40 countries to the IFIP conferences, organized donor site visits to over a dozen Indigenous communities, and brought alliances of donors together to create Indigenous-led funds.
Evelyn has spoken about the importance of funding Indigenous communities at over a dozen conferences including United Nations Permanent Forum, SOCAP, Bioneers, Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmakers Support, Council on Foundations, Environmental Grantmakers Association, EDGE Funders Alliance, IUCN and others globally and nationally.
Evelyn has been a nominator for the Goldman Environmental Prize for the last 10 years and she remains an active nominator. She served as one of the judges for the World Bank’s “Indigenous Adaptation to Climate Change Fund”, a two million dollar fund that chose 20 of the best Indigenous global projects. She also helped to develop several critical publications including “Funding Indigenous Peoples: Strategies for Support” which was published in collaboration with the Foundation Center.
David Metcalf is a New Zealand born professional photographer and film director based in Bali, Indonesia. He regularly travels to indigenous communities in Indonesia, Asia and the United States photographing and writing for various publications including Garuda inflight magazine, Air Asia, Now Jakarta, Jetstar and has been involved in publishing three books on Borneo, Bali and Indonesia.
His passion is helping indigenous people raise their voice through stories, documentary filmmaking, music, dance and writing particularly in Borneo with the Dayak tribes of that Island.
In May 2017 David organised a collaboration of music, dance and story telling between Lakota, Pawnee, Dayak and Balinese in Ubud, Bali. In Jan 2018 he is organising the very first Indigenous film festival in Bali, bringing together indigenous filmmakers, producers and writers from indonesia and abroad.
He also supports cultural education, music, dance and young Dayak activist filmmakers in Central Borneo and Eco tourism projects in other parts of Indonesia.
More information can be found on www.davidmetcalfphotography.com