My first two weeks in country involved traveling to an adjacent province called Las Minas, west of Waspam, with a delegation from Wangki Tangni, COHI’s community-based host organization. Wangki Tangni was invited to facilitate the First Forum of Indigenous Women of the Sumu Mayangana Nation- very exciting!
The forum was held in the town of Rositas, which is one of three towns known as the “mining triangle” and this area has a distinctly Western vibe- there is considerable gold prospecting going on, lots of cowboys on horseback, and lots of armed guards, police and soldiers. This is very different from the very rural, river-based communities surrounding Waspam.
The Sumu Mayanganas have only been granted nationhood within the past few years, and have generally avoided assimilating with others, but in no way are they unsophisticated or “primitive.” Wangki Tangni had previously successfully organized their own indigenous women forum in Waspam province, and because of this the Sumu Mayangana nation asked Wangki Tangni to facilitate their own First Forum of Indigenous Women. Both populations, Sumu Mayangana and Miskito Indians, share very similar experiences: both face marginalization and possible extinction, and both have the desire to gain the same access to healthcare and resources that other Nicaraguans have.
Over one hundred and forty indigenous Sumu Mayangana women spent five days building consensus, developing positions, and ultimately issuing a Declaration that inaugurated and established their indigenous women’s organization. Noted women’s advocates from other Central American countries and Mexico also attended and facilitated the forum. It was truly marvelous to participate in an event that demonstrated how empowering the act of convening can be! The discussions were animated and passionate, the energy constantly building, and the results uplifting. Wangki Tangni, our host organization, shares this same energy and passion, and I look forward to what COHI, Madre, and this organization can accomplish together for the Miskito women and infants.