Angel Conservation’s vision is global, as there are dozens, if not hundreds,
of indigenous cultures at risk of extinction every year. And it’s a loss that
the world cannot afford.
Although there are 370 million indigenous peoples in 70 countries
they are only 4 percent of the world’s population, but they represent 95 percent
of the planet’s cultural diversity. The earth’s more than 5,000 indigenous
groups are scattered from the rainforests of the Amazon to the deserts of India and
from the Arctic polar ice to the vast outback of Australia, and they speak some 6,000
different languages. But here comes the awful news: within the next century, 90 percent
or more of that linguistic diversity -- all but 250 to 600 languages -- will probably
disappear. In one way it is a trend that may facilitate communications between different
However, it also threatens to erase forever aspects of the cultural identity
of the tribes or ethnic groups affected. Language not only assigns names to objects
and abstractions, it also reveals the importance a particular culture places on kinship
and other relationships between individuals.
To keep these languages alive has therefore
become a pivotal interest in Angel Conservation’s work. So, with our “first
friends” the Pemón, we made our initial baby steps in what we hope will
become a global effort in sharing lessons learned through our successes in Canaima with
many other cultures worldwide that face the same threats.
board is an eclectic group of well traveled internationals from many different walks
of life but all have at least two things in common: the deep love for native cultures
and the fierce determination to help keep them alive.