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“We Should Talk About Indigenous Struggles, But Acknowledge Our Achievements As Well”

Reframed Stories asks people to respond to dominant themes in news coverage about themselves or issues that affect them. The stories center on the reflections of persons who are more often represented by others than by themselves in media. 

Andrés Tapia is the person in charge of communications for the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) in Ecuador.

Yo veo dos cosas puntuales al mirar este posible análisis sobre nuestra representación en los medios. Por un lado, veo la parte triste de la historia, los problemas, la conflictividad existente y las luchas indígenas que hemos llevado a través de los años. Por otro lado, también veo los logros que vamos alcanzando.

Two things come into my mind when first looking at this analysis of our media representation. On the one hand, I see the sad part of history, the problems, the conflict, the struggles that indigenous communities have had over the years. On the other hand, I also see our achievements.

Dominant words from 240 articles published between April 2013 and June 2017 found within four Media Cloud collections of Ecuador’s Spanish-language media outlets. (View original query; View larger image)

Se ve un pico en la cobertura en el año 2014, que es cuando el estado ecuatoriano pidió disculpas públicas al Pueblo de Sarayaku después de que ellos ganaron la sentencia de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en el año 2012, después de casi 10 años de lucha sobre el territorio. Me parece muy importante transmitir la idea de que claro, hay conflictos, lucha, resistencia, pero hay logros también. En el caso de Sarayaku este gráfico refleja esta conquista que fue muy trascendente no solo para Sarayaku sino también para toda la Amazonía y el país.

There is a highlight in the coverage in 2014, which is the year when the Ecuadorian State asked for forgiveness of the Sarayaku people after they won the case in the Inter-American Court in 2012, after years of fight over land issues. I think it is important to acknowledge that, of course, there is conflict, fight, resistance,  but there are achievements as well. In the Sarayaku case, this achievement was very important not only for Sarayaku but also for the entire Amazon region and the country as a whole.

The Media Cloud collections on “sarayaku” with peaks during coverage from 2014.

También noto que hay algunas palabras importantes que hacen falta. Por ejemplo, no veo términos que demuestren que muchos de las dificultades que enfrentan las comunidades indígenas en Ecuador devienen fundamentalmente de problemas relacionados al extractivismo. Tampoco veo palabras como “militarización” que hablen de los problemas que enfrentan las comunidades. De pronto los medios están brindando un panorama general sobre ciertos temas, pero la profundidad de las problemáticas no está reflejada aquí, y tampoco están reflejadas las perspectivas de los pueblos y nacionalidades indígenas.

I also notice that there are several important words missing in this graphic. For example, I do not see terms that demonstrate that  many of the problems that indigenous communities in Ecuador have derive from issues fundamentally related to extractivism, and I do not see words like “militarización” that talk about the problems that indigenous communities face. Maybe the media is covering certain topics and providing a general overview of things, but the roots of the problems, and the perspectives of the indigenous communities and nationalities, are missing.

Sarayaku's preparation in 2014 for State's public apology over extraction project in their territory. Photo provided by the Sarayaku communications team and used with permission. Source:

This is part of a Rising Frames series developed in close collaboration with the indigenous community of Sarayaku and the Shuar nationality, both situated in the Ecuadorian Amazon region. The Sarayaku and Shuar people have battled at national and international levels to stop extraction projects in their territories, and public messaging has been an important part of this struggle. We asked members to respond to media analysis that suggests how topics related to their communities are represented in news.

This post was proofread by Belen Febres-Cordero.

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