Video | Keynote “Whose environment, whose laws?” Oregon’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference – Survival International

Transcription from the video excerpt

From 30:38 What Survival isn’t about:

It’s not about keeping anybody as they are. It’s not about preserving cultures. And the reason we stress that is: because as soon as you say ‘culture’, as soon as you say ‘preserving’, people think you are talking about the past. People think culture is a static thing. Of course it isn’t, we know all it’s living, it’s dynamic, it’s constantly changing. […]

You can’t preserve anybody else’s culture. […]

From 31:30 on the use of the word “Tribal peoples”

We are talking about peoples who are still largely self-sufficient, that means basically in their housing, in their food. […]

They are also clearly different from the dominant society […] numbering about 150 million people. We call them tribal peoples for want of something better. That makes a certain sense in the UN documentation too. […]

What are they not? They are not backward, they don’t live like our ancestors, they don’t live like their ancestors, we don’t live like our ancestors, nobody lives like their ancestors, actually a very common mistake. […]

They are not disappearing through any kind of culture clash or meeting of cultures. They are disappearing, where they are disappearing, which is in several places, by the illegal theft of their land, their resources. It is against the law, it is against international law, it shouldn’t be happening but it still is. […]

From 37:00 on the eviction of the tribal peoples in order to create national parks in the USA

From 54:00 on WWF and evictions from so-called “tiger resorts” in India where there are in some cases no tigers

More information

How has conservation been responsible for the destruction of tribal peoples? Survival’s director explains… live on YouTube!

‘First we were dispossessed in the name of kings and emperors,
later in the name of state development,
and now in the name of conservation.’

Indigenous Peoples’ Forum

Date: Friday, February 28
Time: 5pm Pacific Standard Time
(1am GMT on Saturday, March 1)

Survival Director Stephen Corry is giving a hard-hitting talk on the impact of conservation on tribes worldwide at the University of Oregon’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference.

Explaining the role of ‘conservation’ in the ongoing destruction of tribal peoples, he will explore how conservation theories grew with ‘scientific’ racism, which underpinned colonial genocides and the Holocaust.

He will demonstrate that contemporary claims that tribal and indigenous peoples are ‘like our ancestors’, and ‘more violent’ than us, are no less spurious, and that they too damage the people they purport to describe.

Source: email newsletter [email protected] (27-2-14)

Stephen Corry.
Corry was Projects Director of Survival International beginning 1972 and has been the Director General since 1984.  […]

Corry’s work now is centered on building a groundswell of support for tribal peoples, significant enough to permanently change the false and harmful assertion that they are backward remnants destined to disappear. Recently, he has also challenged the resurgence of colonialist ideology about ‘brutal savages,’ which claims that science proves tribal peoples are more violent than industrialized societies. Corry’s published work includes a guide titled “Tribal Peoples for Tomorrow’s World” (2011).

Mary J. Pavel.
Mary J. Pavel was appointed Staff Director and Chief Counsel of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for the 113th Congress by Senator Maria Cantwell, the committee’s first ever Chairwoman, on January 14, 2013. […]

Pavel is the Founding President of the Native American Bar Association of Washington, D.C., and is a member of both the Washington State Bar Association and the District of Columbia Bar Association.

Source: PIELC 2014 Keynote 3: Stephen Corry, Mary J. Pavel – YouTube
Address :
Date Visited: Thu Feb 27 2014 14:46:15 GMT+0100 (CET)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Continents & countries


America (USA) & National Museum of the American Indian 




New Zealand


Tribal culture worldwide