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9th Session of UNPFII
Statement
 

UN HEAD QUARTERS, NEW YORK
April 19-30, 2010

Agenda Item 3: Indigenous peoples: development with culture and identity: articles 3 and 32 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Statement Paper Presented By Mr. Ngwang Sonam Sherpa, Executive Chairman, Nepal Indigenous Nationalities Preservation Association - NINPA
Collective statement of Nepal Indigenous Nationalities Preservation Association NINPA, Sherpa Association of Nepal

Mr. Chair Person,
I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this floor on behalf of Nepal Indigenous Nationalities Preservation Association, and Sherpa Association of Nepal SAN.

Nepal is a multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-linguistic country. The national data listed 59 ethnic groups spread across entire Nepal in 2000. Short distances create wide variations within social situations in a country so diverse in its geography as Nepal, so that some areas may have homogenous populations belonging to one or another ethnic group making them a national minority, but a local majority. In other areas, the population may be totally heterogeneous. Although Nepal espouses values of multiculturalism, the indigenous people in Nepal, who have their own unique cultural, social and linguistic identities, which remain vastly distinct from the mainstream or dominant cultures shaped by one or two groups belonging to so called high caste, their economic, social, educational and political achievements remain negligible. Many of their languages and cultures in a decade or two will become extinct. This is a bitter reality, the indigenous groups’ linguistic, cultural, social, educational and political status therefore needs urgent attention.

The indigenous peoples were only finally considered in the ninth Five-Year National Plan between 1997 and 2002 in Nepal. They were marginalized or almost invisible in the previous eight Five-Year National Plans leading to the sad and worrisome underdeveloped socio-economic state of the many indigenous groups today. The ninth plan is the first plan that has a specific section on indigenous people under social security sector. The social ferment brewing in Nepal for last decade which includes indigenous peoples’ issues and concerns is the direct outcome of the suppression of the groups during past several regimes. Traditional patterns of dominance based on caste ascription and the State’s systematic discriminatory policies that favoured the few dominant groups have been challenged by activist groups with ethnic, linguistic and religious alliance.

The future action plans, by the government or by the political parties, therefore need to encompass political (Article 3 of UNDRIP), social, and economic problems of the indigenous people. These plans should not only include the aspects of socio-economic developments of the indigenous people but also recognize their culture, religion, and languages at the same pedestal as the dominant cultures, and have political rights of proportional representation and autonomy in the agenda. The development programs for indigenous people in Nepal should have four objectives: to eradicate social imbalance; to uplift cultural status; to enhance capability of indigenous people, and to involve indigenous people in nation building.

Indigenous peoples have organic and symbiotic relationship with the land they inhabit. Many of their social practices equate natural environment: Land, Forest and water as a sacred space or entity. They have own designated territories since time immemorial with unique social, economical and cultural values. Indigenous people are holder and providers of knowledge and resources. The state has to recognise Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) and Mutually Agreed Term (MAT), and fulfil indigenous people's requirements and respect their community protocols. The Article 32 of UNDRIP states that the indigenous people do not have to compromise their citizenship because of their unique culture and customs; moreover the article gives the people the right to determine state structures and policies based on their own local practices.

Mr. chairperson, As outlined in Articles 3 and 32 of UNDRIP, the objectives and priority programs for indigenous people, and as are the ethos of the indigenous peoples’ movement, are:

To establish social equality and justice;
To promote indigenous culture to enhance identity of Nepal;
To empower indigenous people for utilization and conservation of local resources; and
To mobilize indigenous people through capacity building for national integration.

Remarkably, in recent times Nepal has undergone political and social changes unprecedented in its history. Nepal today is in the process of writing its new constitution. Indigenous people of Nepal have been raising their voices for proportional representation, federalism and autonomy on the basis of their ethnicities, state restructuring, implementation of secular state, multi-lingual and cultural policies, indigenous peoples’ land rights, implementation of the UN instruments like UNDRIP, ILO Convention 169, CBD Process and so on. The indigenous peoples in Nepal therefore have been finally able to establish their identities at the national level, and furthermore, they are seeking rights though the political injunction by restructuring the state and claiming autonomy on the basis of ethnicity.

This could lead to full and effective participation of all the state structures. However, the homework does not just end here with the acknowledgement of the indigenous peoples’ identities at the national level, unless the State or the key players include the recommendations that empowers the indigenous peoples as outlined in articles 3 and 32 by UNDRIP, the indigenous peoples’ culture, lands, language and religion ever remain in the danger of extinction in coming years.

Thank you for your time Mr. Chairperson and everyone present today.

More...
NEFIN
 
Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NFIN) has announced a series of protest programmes to exert pressure on the Constituent Assembly to guarantee the rights of indigenous people in the new constitution.

The national convention of NFIN held in Sauraha, Chitwan, decided to launch the protest programmes from July 18 to August 15. During the course of the protest, NFIN will conduct training programmes in various districts and will submit its constitution and memorandum to the leaders of political parties and district administration offices across the country, seeking guarantee to the rights of indigenous communities.

Similarly, torch processions will be carried out across the country on the eve of the 'blockade' in the capital on August 15.

The three-day convention ended on Friday, issuing a 20-point declaration, which calls for guarantee of the right of indigenous people to natural resources and free education up to higher secondary level, among others.

The umbrella organisation of indigenous groups also called on the parties in the CA to come up with the constitution-building timeframe and form a government of consensus at the earliest.
Massage from Ban Ki Moon: General Secretary of United Nations
 
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
"Indigenous Peoples Still Experience Racism, Poor Health and Disproportionate Poverty"

Message on the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, 9 August 2010

VIENNA, 9 August (UN Information Service) - The world's indigenous peoples have preserved a vast amount of humanity's cultural history. Indigenous peoples speak a majority of the world's languages, and have inherited and passed on a wealth of knowledge, artistic forms and religious and cultural traditions. On this International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, we reaffirm our commitment to their wellbeing.

The landmark United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in 2007, lays out a framework for governments to use in strengthening relationships with indigenous peoples and protecting their human rights. Since then, we have seen more governments working to redress social and economic injustices, through legislation and other means, and indigenous peoples' issues have become more prominent on the international agenda than ever before.

But we must do even more. Indigenous peoples still experience racism, poor health and disproportionate poverty. In many societies, their languages, religions and cultural traditions are stigmatised and shunned. The first-ever UN report on the State of the World's Indigenous Peoples in January 2010 set out some alarming statistics. In some countries, indigenous peoples are 600 times more likely to contract tuberculosis than the general population. In others, an indigenous child can expect to die twenty years before his or her non-indigenous compatriots.

The theme of this year's Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is indigenous filmmakers, who give us windows into their communities, cultures and history. Their work connects us to belief systems and philosophies; it captures both the daily life and the spirit of indigenous communities. As we celebrate these contributions, I call on Governments and civil society to fulfil their commitment to advancing the status of indigenous peoples everywhere.

Source: http://www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/en/pressrels/2010/unissgsm207.html More...
Good News for Indigenous Peoples in the World
 

Remarks by the President at the White House Tribal Nations Conference

Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you very much.  Thank you very much.  Everybody please be seated.  Thank you.

Thank you, Fawn, for that wonderful introduction.  Thanks to all of you.  It is wonderful to be with you here today.

I see a lot of friends, a lot of familiar faces in the house.  I want to thank all the tribal leaders who have traveled here for this conference.  And I also want to recognize all the wonderful members of Congress who are here, as well as members of my Cabinet, including Secretary Salazar, who is doing terrific work here at Interior on behalf of the First Americans and on behalf of all Americans.  So thank you very much, everybody. 

Yesterday, I had the chance to meet with several tribal leaders at the White House, continuing a conversation that began long before I was President.  And while I’m glad to have the opportunity to speak with you this morning, I’m also very eager to see the results of today’s meeting.  I want to hear more from you about how we can strengthen the relationship between our governments, whether in education or health care, or in fighting crime or in creating jobs.

And that’s why we’re here today.  That’s a promise I’ve made to you.  I remember, more than two years ago, in Montana, I visited the Crow Nation -- one of the many times I met with tribal leaders on the campaign trail.  You may know that on that trip, I became an adopted Crow Indian.  My Crow name is “One Who Helps People Throughout the Land.”  And my wife, when I told her about this, she said, “You should be named ‘One Who Isn’t Picking Up His Shoes and His Socks’.” 

Now -- but I like the first name better.  And I want you to know that I’m working very hard to live up to that name.

What I said then was that as President I would make sure that you had a voice in the White House.  I said that so long as I held this office, never again would Native Americans be forgotten or ignored.  And over the past two years, my administration, working hand in hand with many of you, has strived to keep that promise.  And you’ve had strong partners in Kim Teehee, my senior advisor for Native American issues, and Jodi Gillette, in our Intergovernmental Affairs office.  You can give them a big round of applause.  They do outstanding work. 

Last year, we held the largest gathering of tribal leaders in our history.  And at that conference -- you remember, most of you were there -- I ordered every Cabinet agency to promote more consultation with the tribal nations.  Because I don’t believe that the solutions to any of our problems can be dictated solely from Washington.  Real change depends on all of us doing our part.

So over the past year my administration has worked hard to strengthen the relationship between our nations.  And together, we have developed a comprehensive strategy to help meet the challenges facing Native American communities.

Our strategy begins with the number one concern for all Americans right now -- and that’s improving the economy and creating jobs.  We’ve heard time and again from tribal leaders that one of the keys to unlocking economic growth on reservations is investments in roads and high-speed rail and high-speed Internet and the infrastructure that will better connect your communities to the broader economy.  That’s essential for drawing capital and creating jobs on tribal lands.  So to help spur the economy, we’ve boosted investment in roads throughout the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Reservation Road Program, and we’ve offered new loans to reach reservations with broadband.

And as part of our plan to revive the economy, we’ve also put billions of dollars into pressing needs like renovating schools.  We’re devoting resources to job training -- especially for young people in Indian Country who too often have felt like they don’t have a chance to succeed.  And we’re working with you to increase the size of tribal homelands in order to help you develop your economies.

I also want to note that I support legislation to make clear -- in the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision -- that the Secretary of Interior can take land into trust for all federally recognized tribes.  That’s something that I discussed yesterday with tribal leaders.

 We’re also breaking down bureaucratic barriers that have prevented tribal nations from developing clean energy like wind and solar power.  It’s essential not just to your prosperity, but to the prosperity of our whole country.  And I’ve proposed increasing lending to tribal businesses by supporting community financial institutions so they can finance more loans.  It is essential in order to help businesses expand and hire in areas where it can be hard to find credit.

Another important part of our strategy is health care.  We know that Native Americans die of illnesses like diabetes, pneumonia, flu -- even tuberculosis -- at far higher rates than the rest of the population.  Make no mistake:  These disparities represent an ongoing tragedy.  They’re cutting lives short, causing untold pain and hardship for Native American families.  And closing these gaps is not just a question of policy, it’s a question of our values -- it’s a test of who we are as a nation.

Now, last year, at this conference, tribal leaders talked about the need to improve the health care available to Native Americans, and to make quality insurance affordable to all Americans.  And just a few months later, I signed health reform legislation into law, which permanently authorizes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act -- permanently.  It’s going to make it possible for Indian tribes and tribal organizations to purchase health care for their employees, while making affordable coverage available to everybody, including those who use the Indian Health Service -- that’s most American Indians and native -- Alaska Natives.  So it’s going to make a huge difference.

Of course, there are few steps we can take that will make more of a difference for the future of your communities than improving education on tribal lands.  We’ve got to improve the education we provide to our children.  That’s the cornerstone on which all of our progress will be built.  We know that Native Americans are far more likely to drop out of high school and far less likely to go to college.  That not only damages the prospects for tribal economies; it’s a heartbreaking waste of human potential.  We cannot afford to squander the promise of our young people.  Your communities can’t afford it, and our country can’t afford it.  And we are going to start doing something about it. 

We’re rebuilding schools on tribal lands while helping to ensure that tribes play a bigger role in determining what their children learn.  We’re working to empower parents with more and better options for schools for their kids -- as well as with support programs that actually work with Indian parents to give them a real voice in improving education in your communities.

We’re also working to improve the programs available to students at tribal colleges.  Students who study at tribal colleges are much less likely to leave college without a degree and the vast majority end up in careers serving their tribal nation.  And these schools are not only helping to educate Native Americans; they’re also helping to preserve rich but often endangered languages and traditions.  I’d also like to point out last year I signed historic reforms that are increasing student aid and making college loans more affordable.  That’s especially important to Native Americans struggling to pay for a college degree.

Now, all these efforts -- improving health care, education, the economy -- ultimately these efforts will not succeed unless all of our communities are safe places to grow up and attend school and open businesses and where people are not living under the constant threat of violence and crime.  And that threat remains real, as crime rates in Indian Country are anywhere from twice to 20 times the national average.  That’s a sobering statistics -- represents a cloud over the future of your communities.

So the Justice Department, under the leadership of Eric Holder, is working with you to reform the way justice is done on Indian reservations.  And I was proud to sign the Tribal Law and Order Act into law, which is going to help tribes combat drug and alcohol abuse, to have more access to criminal databases, and to gain greater authority to prosecute and punish criminals in Indian Country.  That’s important. 

We’ve also resolved a number of longstanding disputes about the ways that our government has treated -- or in some cases mistreated -- folks in Indian Country, even in recent years.  We’ve settled cases where there were allegations of discrimination against Native American farmers and ranchers by the Department of Agriculture.  And after a 14-year battle over the accounting of tribal resources in the Cobell case, we reached a bipartisan agreement, which was part of a law I signed just a week ago.  We’re very proud of that and I want to thank all the legislators who helped make that happen.

This will put more land in the hands of tribes to manage or otherwise benefit their members.  This law also includes money to settle lawsuits over water rights for seven tribes in Arizona, Montana and New Mexico -- and it creates a scholarship fund so more Native Americans can afford to go to college.

These cases serve as a reminder of the importance of not glossing over the past or ignoring the past, even as we work together to forge a brighter future.  That’s why, last year, I signed a resolution, passed by both parties in Congress, finally recognizing the sad and painful chapters in our shared history -- a history too often marred by broken promises and grave injustices against the First Americans.  It’s a resolution I fully supported -- recognizing that no statement can undo the damage that was done; what it can do is help reaffirm the principles that should guide our future.  It’s only by heeding the lessons of our history that we can move forward.

And as you know, in April, we announced that we were reviewing our position on the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  And today I can announce that the United States is lending its support to this declaration.  

The aspirations it affirms -- including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native peoples -- are one we must always seek to fulfill.  And we’re releasing a more detailed statement about U.S. support for the declaration and our ongoing work in Indian Country.  But I want to be clear:  What matters far more than words -- what matters far more than any resolution or declaration -– are actions to match those words.  And that’s what this conference is about. That’s what this conference is about.  That’s the standard I expect my administration to be held to.

So we’re making progress.  We’re moving forward.  And what I hope is that we are seeing a turning point in the relationship between our nations.  The truth is, for a long time, Native Americans were implicitly told that they had a choice to make.  By virtue of the longstanding failure to tackle wrenching problems in Indian Country, it seemed as though you had to either abandon your heritage or accept a lesser lot in life; that there was no way to be a successful part of America and a proud Native American.

But we know this is a false choice.  To accept it is to believe that we can’t and won’t do better.  And I don’t accept that.  I know there is not a single person in this room who accepts that either.  We know that, ultimately, this is not just a matter of legislation, not just a matter of policy.  It’s a matter of whether we’re going to live up to our basic values. It’s a matter of upholding an ideal that has always defined who we are as Americans.  E pluribus unum.  Out of many, one.

That’s why we’re here.  That’s what we’re called to do.  And I’m confident that if we keep up our efforts, that if we continue to work together, that we will live up to the simple motto and we will achieve a brighter future for the First Americans and for all Americans.

So thank you very much.  God bless you.  Thank you.

Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Knowledge
 
PFII/2005/WS.TK/8
Original: English
UNITED NATIONS NATIONS UNIES
DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS
Division for Social Policy and Development
Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE
Panama City, 21-23 September 2005
Indigenous Peoples of Nepal and Traditional Knowledge
Contribution by
Ngwang Sonam Sherpa
Nepal Indigenous Nationalities Preservation Association
(NINPA)
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF NEPAL AND TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE
1. BACKGROUND
Nepal is a sovereignty country with 0.1% world’s land and is rich in biodiversity and
natural resources due to its’ diverse geography, ecosystem and cultures. Nepal is leading 25th and 11th position on biodiversity in the World and Asia respectively. Also, Nepal is 2nd World largest in water resources. It is reported that 118 types of ecosystems are naturally occurred in different geography. Each geography, ecosystem, biodiversity bears a long historical attachment of native society as their cultural identities. With distinct language, religion, customs, folklore, culture, knowledge, ancient territory, 59 indigenous nationalities are legally recognised and has formed Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) as umbrella organisation. There are still groups of indigenous peoples beyond the right to affiliate on the federation. Nepalese indigenous nationalities are excluded from main streams of national policies and are being legally apart from their ancient natural heritages, biodiversity, ethnobiology, ancient foods, medicines, agrobiodiversity, skills, technology, knowledge, customary law/lore/practice/values, traditional ethnics and sacred sites. Indigenous peoples are contributing own cultural wisdom on restoration,
conservation, and wise use of biodiversity, natural resources, and traditional knowledge’s associated with their life from millennia. Nepalese indigenous peoples are residing on different geographic belts with traditional life styles are closely attached with ecosystem, biodiversity, natural resources, and environment
from millennia. Indigenous societies bear dynamic ancient epistemology, wisdom, knowledge, skills, technologies, endogenous or cosmological believe, folklore, customs, oral tradition associate with nature, earth, biodiversity, and natural resources. Biodiversity and natural resources are valuable sources for foods, medicines, vitamins, minerals, threads, building materials, and ritual, intrinsic, spiritual, customs, religious, cultural significances of the society.Biodiversity and natural resources i.e. wetlands, rivers, rivulets, ponds, lakes, water, stones, landscapes, natural objects and archaeological symbols are sacred objects, places bear religious,
cultural, aesthetic values in the societies such biocultural heritages are identities of indigenous peoples need to account in national legislation and have international standard legal right .
National Policies
None of national policy and legislation has emphasised on indigenous issues. Such as
leasehold Forestry Policy (2002) and 10th Forest Action Plan (2002-2007) and Forest Act 1993 are silent in the case of indigenous peoples. National Reserves, Protected Areas and National Parks Acts and policies are not recognised indigenous peoples’ rights over traditional lands, bio and natural resources along with their historical territories. Wetland Policy 2002 (2059 B.S.) also have not respect customary rights of indigenous nationalities. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal has prepared a draft national legislation 2002 (2059 B.S.) regarding biodiversity and traditional knowledge (access to genetic resources, right and benefit sharing) without recognised and participation of indigenous nationalities. Based on the draft legislation, World Conservation Union Nepal has completed community registration and
documentation programme on traditional knowledge about biodiversity in more than 20 districts in historical territory of indigenous peoples without consulting with indigenous peoples and respect the theme of Convention of Biological Diversity 1992, RAMSAR Iran 1971. The draft legislation 2002 on access to genetic resource, right and benefit sharing itself incomplete, unfavourable to indigenous. The activities of registration and documentation programme of World Conservation Union (IUCN) Nepal encourage to bio piracy and violate indigenous peoples’ customary rights over their resources and knowledge. Indigenous voice was raised to World Conservation Union (IUCN) Nepal to stop collect information, and the collected
informations should back to proper indigenous peoples till the draft legislation recognise indigenous peoples as well as confirm their participation in each step of decision making and should not even disclose the report to funding organisation. Similarly, different multilateral, bilateral organisations, INGOs, NGOs are working at indigenous peoples’ territories in the sense of conservation, sustainable, development and sustainable livelihoods of people without respecting indigenous issues. There are not any sign and symbol of existing activities to address indigenous issues such as Terai Arc Land (TAL) programme of World Wide Fund (WWF) Nepal, biodiversity translocation programme of International Centre for integrated Mountain (ICIMOD).
Also, researchers, development workers are collecting indigenous informations related with natural resources, biodiversity, traditional knowledge, skills, technologies, traditional life style, archaeological research without any legal frame i.e. Free prior and inform consent, participation in decision making, censorships, co author and ownership of the products and mechanism of benefit sharing are the ethical issues of indigenous nationalities.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS
Nepal has ratified different conventions e.g. wetland convention (Ramsar 1971),
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD 1992), Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage 1972, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC 1992). National sovereignty over biodiversity, natural and genetic resources seems any country is free under CBD to close its borders and stop gene export (GRAIN 2005)7 /CBD Article 15(1). CBD article 15(5) address each member country should have national legislation with
mechanism of Free prior and inform consent and equal benefit sharing by using of a components of biodiversity, natural and genetic resources. That could be bioprospecting or genetic resources and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities. Prior inform consent is an international legal frame which leads customary rights of indigenous peoples over natural resources, biodiversity, and whole environment. There is provision to account the legal term (prior inform consent) before implement any kinds of activities in indigenous historical territories
and indigenous peoples have right of censorship, co authorised as well as ownership on the out comes of the activities. It needs to clearly illustrate in national legislation and subject to indigenous peoples’ participation in each step.
CBD article 8(j) states on indigenous peoples’ rights over biodiversity and contribution of indigenous peoples for conservation, restoration and sustainable uses from millennia. It is a provision as a member of the convention, Nepal should build respective national legislation or the convention can acts as national law. As a citizen of member country of the convention each individual, policy makers, researcher, and any organisation should respect and obey the rules and regulations of the conventions. UN indigenous peoples draft declaration 1993 has clearly emphasised on indigenous issues are in human right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive
spiritual and material relationships with lands, territories, waters, costal seas, flora and fauna and other resources have traditionally owned or occupied or used. Indigenous peoples have right for restitution of lands, territories, bio and natural resources and have been confiscated or occupied, used or damaged without their free and prior informed consent. ILO 196 respects the collective aspects of land, territory, biodiversity and natural resources, culture, customary relationship of
indigenous peoples. 7 Seedling, Biodiversity, Rights and Livelihood 2005
3. TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGES OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Nepal, in this context, is one of the richest sources of traditional knowledge. Since
Nepal is a country of geographical diversities and consists of different communities, it is obvious that all these communities have some amount of traditional knowledge. Although Nepal is a small country, it consists of different multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multiethnic diversities. The traditional knowledge mentioned below is only a small fraction of the combined traditional knowledge of the communities. To learn about the TK of all these communities, there has to be a wide range of research on them.
3.1 PEST MANAGEMENT
The Mewahang Rais have indigenous methods of pest management that are heavily relied on in areas where external inputs (e.g., chemical pesticides) are in short supply. In remote areas, common pests such as stem borer (chillozonellis) attack wheat and maize stocks. The grounded pulp of the Khira leaf is spread on the wheat crop and the scent of the pulp is sufficient to kill the pests. In the case of paddy, the pulp is introduced into the paddy field through the irrigation channel. In the case of specific pest attacks, like the rice moth which creates clusters of rice on paddy, they are combed out with sticks and the moths deposited in the water; to ensure decomposition, the operation is carried out in sunlight. In maize, the dried disease-infected stalks are manually removed.
3.2 WEED CONTROL
Fields are ploughed approximately fifteen days before planting in the belief that exposure to the sun will kill the weeds. During intercultural operations, manual weeding is carried out and burning is still prevalent. On rainfed field, flooding through irrigation is carried out for effective weed control. This kind of TK is practicing regional level.
3.3 SINGI NAWA
This is one of the important community level traditional knowledge of the Himalayan
people, living in the highest part of the world to conserve the forest and wildlife. ‘Singi’, in Sherpa language, means wood or trees and ‘Nawa’ means to ask. So ‘Singi Nawa’ means to ask someone before cutting any trees or woods. This is a custom the Sherpas have been practicing for many years. People choose a leader, old but an intellectual person, among them who can perfectly handle the community. The leader prepares a calendar, where it is mentioned that people are allowed to cut trees on that date only otherwise some dreadful things may happen in the community. The people of the community ask the leader when they are allowed to cut trees.
Because of him, the people maintain their discipline and do not cut trees anytime. This, in the long run, conserves the forest. Nowadays, because of the system of Wildlife Reserve introduced by the government, this tradition has been endangered. People are not allowed to go to the forest and so it is difficult to follow the tradition.
3.4 WATER SHADE
This is also one of the national level traditional knowledge which helps in the conservation of forest as well as keeping the source of water clean. People have the belief that they should not cut trees or woods surrounding the source of water. They should not throw litter around the water shade. If they do not obey, bad things may occur to them. This tradition or belief preserves the forest as well as it preserves and keeps the source of water clean. This is still practiced nowadays in the remote villages of the country.
Since some areas have been occupied by the National Parks, the tradition is slowly
disappearing as people do not have access to these forests and water shades.
3.5 USING ‘SYOSIM’ FOR ACCLIMATIZATION
One of the effective community level traditional knowledge icy cold place of Himalayan region is ‘Syosim’. It is a kind of medicine used to cure altitude sickness. To prepare this, milk is kept in a wooden container for many days. Once the milk is poured out, the thick layer of the milk is seen stuck on the walls of the container. This is scrubbed and fried for some time. Then it is boiled deeply. The liquid you get is called ‘syosim’. It has been found to be very effective in case of altitude sickness. Nowadays it has become so popular that the local mountaineers use it as an acclimatization diet.
3.6 DHUKUTI, TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE AS SMALL BANKING
This is one of the most successful traditional knowledge of national level. Most of the
communities practice this tradition to uplift their living standards. It was first started by the Gurung and Thakali communities. Dhukuti is the way of saving and investing the money accumulated by a group of people in the community. In this tradition, people form a group and collect the same amount of money from each member every month. The money collected will be given to one of the members who is in need and so every month, by rotation or priority, one of the members gets the money collected by the group. The person who gets the money is free to invest in anything. This tradition will allow the people to be self-dependent and help in poverty alleviation. Overall, people will be benefited by ‘Dhukuti’ in a number of ways like investing in
some business, educating some family members or carrying out ceremonies etc. Ultimately, this will make the people self-dependent and alleviate the poverty of the community.
3.7 KWATI ( MIXED CEREAL SOUP )
This is a community level traditional knowledge of Newar community living within or
the surrounding areas of Kathmandu valley. ‘Kwati’ is one of the important cuisines of the community prepared during many occasions or festivals of Newars. It is a soup prepared by the mixture of many types of beans and lentils. This cuisine is one of the favourites of the Newar community. It is delicious as well as good for the body. Since this dish contains a lot of vitamins, people become healthy after having it. Although it is just a tradition, Kwati is a good dish scientifically as well. It strengthens and makes the body warm during winter. Although it was originally a tradition of the Newar community, it is found in other communities also. Nowadays, most of the communities of Nepal have ‘Kwati’ during the festivals.
3.8 ‘SIMRIK’ CRIMSON AS A MEDICINE
This is a regional level traditional knowledge practiced by most of the communities in
Nepal. ‘Simrik’ Crimson it seems deep red is used as medicine in the villages. It helps cure infections and mostly cures injuries to bone in animals like cows, buffaloes etc. People believe that consuming ‘simrik’ will join the fractured bone, especially of the animals. So whenever, there are injuries to the bones of these animals, ‘simrik’ is fed to the animals. Although, this is yet to be scientifically proved, it has been noticed to work successfully. This tradition is practiced since there are no veterinary hospitals in the villages and people would have to walk many days just to reach these hospitals. So a short and effective way to heal these injuries is to follow this
tradition. This sort of treatment is found to be very effective and very inexpensive so people resort to this tradition rather than visiting the veterinary hospitals which is very far away and expensive.
3.9 PONGMAR (MEDICINE)
This is also one of the national level traditional knowledge of the country. Pongmar is a kind of herb found in the remote villages towards the himalayas. Since the villages are remote and hospitals are out of reach of these villagers, people opt for this tradition to cure poison. For a person who has just taken poison, ‘pongmar’ has been very effective. It is found to cut the poison and save the life of the person if given in time. People in the remote villages are still found following this tradition. This is so because there are no hospitals in the villages. The nearest hospital would be 4-5 days walk and anyone consuming poison would be dead before reaching the hospital. Even if he/she reaches the  hospital, it would be very expensive to save the person’s life. So people in most of the villages of Nepal use ‘pongmar’ to cure poison. Pongmar is found to be effective and cheap.
3.10 PARMA, (NGALOK), EXCHANGE LABOUR
Ngalok is a Sherpa word meaning exchanging labour. Parma (Ngalok) is a regional level TK of the indigenous community. In this system, people form a group and work for each other without paying money. Since it is hard for one man to work in own field, people form a group for this purpose. This group of people works on the field of one of the members of the group whenever necessary. If there is a need to work on the field of another member of the group, they again work for that person. Simultaneously, this group of people works on each and every field of the members of the group without receiving or paying. This tradition is called ‘Parma’ or the exchange of labour.
This is also one of the effective traditions of the community. People help each other by exchange of labour. Here, no cost is incurred and people get a lot of benefit from it.
3.11 YARSAGUMBA
Yarsagumba literally means summer plant and winter insect in himalayan community.
Before the rainy season begins, spores of this herb settle on the heads of caterpillars’ that lives underground. The fungus gets so much into the body of the caterpillars’ that it grows out through its head and drains all the energy from the insect and ultimately it dies. Yarsagumba, Yarshagumba or Yarchagumba is a rare and unique herb that grows in the meadows above 3,500 meters (11,483 feet) in the Himalayan region of Nepal. There are various types of famous medicinal plants found in Nepal but the popularity of yarsagumba is simply overwhelming. For the last couple of years, the trade of yarsagumba is increasing and it has been regarded as an expensive life saving tonic. Headache, toothache or any other disease - yarsagumba is the remedy. And not only that, it is also believed to be a cure for sexual impotency – a Himalayan Herbal Viagra. Collection of yarsagumba was illegal until 2001 but following its popularity and the lobbying from various organizations, the Government lifted the ban but imposed a royalty rate of Rs. 20,000 (US$ 280) per kilogram (2.2lbs). One kilo of yarsagumba that costs about Rs. 315 (US$ 5/6) in 1992 increased to Rs. 105,000 (US$ 1,435) by the year 2002 and the price has been shooting up so as the international interest on the mysterious half-caterpillar-half-mushroom known as yarsagumba.
3.12 CROSS-BRED ANIMALS
This is also one of the regional level traditional knowledge practiced by different
indigenous communities of the region. Here animals are cross-bred so that the outcome will be more strong and healthy. In the Indigenous people of Nepal, domestic yak is cross-bred with a wild yak in Tibet. People believe that the cross-bred yak would be bigger and stronger since the wild yaks are bigger and stronger than the domestic yaks. A number of cross-bred yaks are found to be much
bigger and stronger than the domestic yaks. These types of yaks give much more milk and their meats are delectable too. In other communities, buffaloes have been cross-bred with bison so the baby would be a strong and big buffalo. There are many other animals which have been cross-bred in different communities.
Nowadays, wildlife reserves have been established to protect wildlife and this has led to the endangerment of this tradition since domestic animals are not allowed to enter the reserves.
3.13 DUNG AS ALTERNATIVE SOURCE OF FUEL
This is one of the popular regional level traditional knowledge acquired by the
communities. In the himalayan communities, yak dung is collected and dried for many days in the sun. This dried dung becomes very hard and can be substituted for wood. This TK is innovated after the fire’s invention it has been providing the communities an alternative source of fuel and has helped in the conservation of the forest. Similarly, in the Terai region of Nepal, dried cow dung are used for cooking food and for keeping the house warm, as an alternative of wood.
3.14 TITEPATI, A HERB
‘Titepati’ is plant meaning bitter leaves in Nepali language. It is also an effective TK at a regional level. This plant is used as herb in most of the communities of the Soth Asian region. It is a small green plant found in mostly hilly areas. ‘Titepati’ is used as herb for many kinds of diseases. It is used as a paste for any cuts or bruises. It is also used a cleansing agent. The herb is boiled in water for few minutes and left to cool down. People drink this liquid as they believe that it washes away all the dirts or diseases inside the body. So this herb has a very important value in the communities.
4. THREATS ON TK
Although the traditional knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples has been found to be very useful and effective, it has still been neglected by the world. There are many threats like environment, urbanization, globalization etc on TK, some of which are mentioned below:
• Climate change or Global Warming is one of the major threats on the TK of the communities. This has led to the displacement of the communities from their places and made difficult to pass down the TK.
• Urbanization (Globalization) also poses threats on Indigenous peoples’ TK. It has occupied the territory of these communities which, in turn, has displaced them.
• The contradiction between the national policy, constitution and legislation with customary laws of the Indigenous peoples is also seen as one of the major threats on TK.
• Negotiations for access to global market has posed a threat on TK of the indigenous communities as the government’s negotiations has neglected specific needs of the indigenous peoples to protect traditional farming systems.
• The national parks or wildlife reserves established by the government without the
involvement of the indigenous peoples are also one of the major threats. The establishment of these parks or reserves has led to the occupation of the territories of these communities and has resulted in the loss of TK.
• Loss of Indigenous languages is also a threat on TK since the traditional knowledge of the communities is passed down orally.
• Loss or disappearance of traditional knowledge, particularly from indigenous peoples, is rapidly occurring due to the encroachment (intrusion) of State and market forces and the decease of elders carrying that knowledge. Once lost, orally based knowledge cannot be retrieved.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE UN AGENCIES, NGO’S, INGO’S AND GO’S
Nepalese indigenous nationalities are neither recognised nor emphasise on any of national policy that deals about biodiversity and natural resources. Indigenous associations or organisations are formed but most of them are unaware on national and international legal scenario for indigenous peoples. Lack of information, awareness, education, proper coordination, lobbying, networking and communication indigenous peoples are out of any kinds of service. It is being important for unification of collective indigenous voice and promote rapid capacity building, awareness, campaigning, networking among indigenous peoples’ associations and lobbying and advocacy for the right.
• An awareness program regarding existence and importance of TK of indigenous peoples should be launched through medias, publications and electronic means. Effective measures should be implemented to recognize, respect, protect and maintain traditional knowledge.
• UN Agencies or any NGOs, INGOs and GOs dealing with the TK of Indigenous peoples should give priority to the indigenous peoples having knowledge and experience rather than any other people having little or no knowledge. There should be active participation of the people of the indigenous communities at local level and policy making level regarding  indigenous knowledges.
• The customary laws of the indigenous communities should be recognized and included in the national policies of the government.
• Any ratified conventions regarding the indigenous peoples’ issues should be     implemented. The conventions, yet to be endorsed, should be ratified and implemented as soon as possible.
• The UN or other organizations should make policies to preserve and promote the traditional knowledge of the indigenous communities.
• Before making use of TK, free and prior informed consent must be granted by the Indigenous Peoples and communities who are the holders to the traditional knowledge. Legal provision should be made for this purpose.
• TK of Indigenous peoples should be included in the textbooks of the students according to its importance and applications.