Since 1969, Survival International has worked in partnership with tribal communities around the world, and together with supporters from over one hundred countries worldwide, to lead hundreds of successful campaigns for tribal peoples’ rights. But as well as concrete victories on the ground, our movement is helping to build a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected. Since our foundation, we’ve firmly established the case for tribal peoples’ rights around the world. And we’ve also moved public attitudes to being more supportive and understanding of tribal peoples. The movement for tribal peoples rights is broader than ever before.
Our general impact
When Survival was founded it was generally believed that there would be no more tribal peoples in Brazil by the 21st century. Today, tribal people number more than 150 million individuals worldwide and add hugely to the diversity of humankind. Their annihilation is no longer a foregone conclusion as more tribal peoples than ever before are seeing their land rights recognized.
From the headwaters of the Amazon to the forests of central India, tribal communities living on the lands of their ancestors are thriving.
Tribal rights continue to be violated, in contravention of international and national law. But the time when entire peoples could be wiped out without anyone noticing is drawing to a close.
Courts are more willing to stand up to governments and invasions of tribal lands are rightly recognized as the major human rights violation they represent.
The abuse of tribal peoples’ rights now makes worldwide headlines and, today, those who violate tribal peoples’ rights fear the force of public opinion.
In Survival’s director Stephen Corry words, “Tribal peoples’ rights are now enshrined in international law, and in the constitutions of many countries, particularly in South America. The Indigenous movement worldwide is more vocal and powerful than it has ever been. Uncontacted tribes threatened with extinction are the focus of international public attention for the first time. Attitudes are changing too: tribal peoples, once reviled as ‘primitive’ or patronised as ‘noble savages’, are much better understood now as the vibrant, contemporary societies they really are. All of these things have changed for the better since 1969.”
What do our tribal partners say about us?
“We have the highest respect for this great work in exposing the existence, problems, and needs of the different peoples in the Americas and, above all, for insisting that they survive.”
"If Survival hadn't been around for the last 50 years, the world wouldn't know what's going on in uncontacted tribes' territories. Many more peoples may well have been made extinct."
“We are tremendously grateful to your great human rights organization for defending the inalienable rights of all endangered Indigenous peoples around the globe. Because of your ceaseless efforts we are still surviving. With your help, we are winning the war.”
“Without international pressure, I might be dead. (…) You are still trying to help us after all these years. Still struggling even with all that you face. Thank for the work you have done.”
“We need people and organizations like Survival International to unveil the truth about how Indigenous and tribal peoples’ lands and resources are used without their consent.”
“We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We thank all of you who spent hours and days working on campaigns, writing letters, sending e-mails… For our elders, the sense of liberty is stretching across to the mountains on the horizon (…). Now we have the right to fish in our rivers once more without fear of being shot at by the farmers’ gunmen.”
Indigenous people of Raposa Serra do Sol Brazil
“Survival has limited resources, but it does gargantuan work.”
Our work is not yet done…
There is a long way to go before we can say our job is done. Tribal rights will continue to be violated, in cases where victories have already been won enemies will be back when they’ll think the public light is off, and so we’ll always need to remain vigilant and alert to stand up again and protect their territory.
Survival believes that public opinion is the only effective force for change: a rising groundswell of public opinion the world over will put paid to the abuses forever.
We’ll always need effective voices to help and ready to react to any new assaults. And we won’t give up until we all have a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected.
Help us to build that world by joining the movement: Please donate now